More and more everyday, people are coming to realize the affects that meditation can yield on our mind, body, and soul. Meditative practices have been around for the better part of human history and are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity among those individuals looking for a new approach to health and well-being. Meditation, at is core, is the ancient and powerful practice of training you mind to go into a certain state of being in which your consciousness or “spirit” detaches itself from your body and become but a mere observer of your life. This allows your inner self a reprieve from the hardships and stresses of modern living while placing your body into a deeply relaxed state. It also give you the time you need to asses your thoughts and emotions one by one which will help greatly in diminishing the constant mental chatter we find ourselves bombarded with in our everyday lives. This is the very objective that all forms of meditation strive for in one way or another.
Having said, there are meditation types much more suited for certain individuals than others. A practice of meditation that fits you may not necessarily work for others and vice versa. There are also some meditative practices that might be better tailored to the end result that the practitioner would like to attain such as: losing weight, alleviating stress, or exploring one’s inner self. It is essential that before you begin to delve into your own inner world, you define what is is exactly that you want from meditation and what changes you wish see happen to yourself and your life. Take the time needed to explore all the different facets of learning and styles of practice of this very old art form and settle on the one/s that you feel works best for you. In this post we shall outline 8 of the most common types of meditation:
Mindfulness is a favorite among new practitioners and certainly one of the more well know forms of meditation. It traces its origin to Buddhist traditions and is about training your mind to be aware or “mindful” of the present. This is done by focusing primarily on your breathing, accepting any wandering thoughts the float by, acknowledging that they are there, and then returning to the present moment which is your slow, constant breathing. Mindfulness can be practiced sitting down, laying flat on your back, or in motion depending on you. It may also be practiced going about in your everyday life. This practice will allow you to overcome almost any form of inner suffering and unlocks your consciousness to the natural wisdom that resides within us all. Routine Mindfulness Meditation has been shows to greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
This is a form of upward meditation in which you concentrate on the energy rising up through your body. A concept of Dharma, Kundalini comes from both Buddhist and Hindu traditions and when translated means “coiled one”. It refers to the primal energy believed to reside in the base of the spine. By focusing mainly on breathing and how your breath flows through the points of energy within your body, one can learn to “awaken” Kundalini and feel an altered state of consciousness which may be called enlightenment.
3. Qi Gong
Qi Gong is one of the oldest forms of meditation and can trace its roots in ancient Chinese society. It is a coordinated system or body postures, movements, breathing, and meditation. Qi Gong can be translated to “Life Energy Cultivation” and is the practice of cultivating and balancing one’s Qi (chi) with is “Life Energy”. There are 75 recorded ancient forms of Qi Gong and 56 common and contemporary. The practice of Qi Gong might require you to do an extensive amount of learning and research but the fact that this art has been in use for centuries proves that it will be more that worth it. Qi Gong’s focus on movement, breathing, and meditation helps the practitioner master his or her reaction to stress and stressful situations.
Zazen meditation is the cornerstone of Zen Buddhism, and can be literally translated to “seated meditation”. Your posture here is key because how you sit is how you take in the universe. Sitting comfortably cross-legged with a straight back will give you the centeredness you need to achieve a deeper level of awareness. Zen meditation has its roots in Buddhism and focuses in a union of mind and breath to acquire a deeper insight. Zazen or Zen meditation is fairly easy to to by yourself but will eventually require you to a teacher should you wish to progress into deeper meditative experiences. Benefits include a suspension of judgment and prejudice in all things.
5. Heart Rhythm Meditation
A form of downward meditation, Heart Rhythm Meditation or HRM is a practice which focuses on the breathing patterns and heart beats to lull you into your trance. The purpose is to experience a greater affinity with yourself and the environment around you. This will help you feel a greater sense joy and increased physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
6. Guided Visualization
This meditation is relatively new with inspiration from the teachings of Buddha. The idea is to meditate with a vision of your desired end in your mind. This can be anything from losing weight to the assimilation of a certain virtue you wish to have. By visualizing your objective with a can-do, positive attitude, you subconsciously flush out any negativity or pessimism that might prevent you from doing otherwise.
7. Primordial Sound Meditation
Rooted in Vedic traditions of India, making primordial sound or repeating a mantra is show to take your mind into a deeper place of awareness. Mimicking the sounds a baby might here when still in the womb, this form of meditating plays into deep subconscious level of our psyche that was always there, just forgotten. Your mantra can be anything that hold any significance in your life. You can look up ancient phrases or chants or simply repeat a phrase you wish to be true about yourself.
8. Transcendental Meditation
A modern school of meditation practice, Transcendental Meditation (or TM) aims to reach a state of enlightenment in which the individual feels an unparalleled state of bliss and inner calmness. The practitioner sits in Lotus, chants, and concentrate on rising above negativity and strife.
Be patient with yourself as meditation can be a trial and error process in the beginning. Keep a journal to record and compare the effectiveness of each form in relation to you. Do not despair if you and understand there there are those who dedicate their entire lives to meditating so no one expects you to get it on your first try. Keep at it!