What is Meditation?
Meditation is a process of letting go, not accumulating. Meditation is about undoing the years of mental habits we have all accumulated, to bring us to a natural state of happiness, peace and enlightenment.
Meditation is a natural process that provides a release valve for our emotions, an off switch for our incessant thinking. It provides a means for us to process and put down the burdens of the day, allowing us to relax and to lessen the stress of our day to day lives. It offers a means of dealing with and desensitising past traumas and also removes the fear of the future; it can give us insight into our own existence, our essence and the fabric of life itself.
Styles of Meditation
Different types of meditation techniques have evolved in various cultural backgrounds and can be classified under five basic categories:
- Reflective Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Heart-Centered Meditation
- Creative Meditation
At the heart of all the types of meditation, this technique can be used as a stand alone practice. Why is concentration so important? Because in order to gain the fruits of meditation, you need to train the mind to concentrate and focus on an object or nothingness, that is to cut all distractions. This allows your mind to be calm and awaken beyond thought elaboration and even beyond your sense of self. Once you hold this view of awareness, you can use it for your wellness and for the greater good.
There are several types of meditation techniques in concentration meditation category that can help you overcome distractions within and outside your mind and sustain mental focus.
The different types of techniques that will help you gain concentration include:
- Zen meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Om meditation
- Shine Meditation or Samadhi
- Chakra Meditation
Also known as analytical meditation and refers to disciplined thinking. In order to successfully practice reflective meditation, you will need to choose a question, theme, or topic and focus your analysis or reflection upon it. Initially, your thoughts may wander to other topics but then you need to train your mind to come back to the topic in question. In order to do this, you need to learn concentration meditation first.
As you practice this every day, your mind will be more in control and not wander off. It is one of the most important types of meditation and is considered to have a calming effect on the mind. It stimulates transformative power and provides you with great conviction and strength to change the course of your life.
There are different types of questions or reflective ideas that you can focus on, such as:
- Who am I?
- What is the true purpose of my life?
- What is my role in this universe?
- How can I help remove the sufferings of others?
One the most powerful and alternative meditation techniques, which lays emphasis on cultivating a highly receptive mindful attention toward any action or objects within your sphere of influence.
This is one of the important meditation types that helps you learn a simple thing: to pay attention or be “mindful”. This type of meditation is known to provide pain relief and help for those suffering from anxiety and depression.
There are different types of techniques in this category that you can practice, like:
- Vipassana meditation
- Deep breathing meditation
- Body scan meditation
- Visualization meditation
- Mindful breathing
- Mindful eating
- Sitting Meditation
- Walking Meditation
Loving Kindness or Heart-centered Meditation
Will help you release all your fears and sadness and bathe in the radiance of loving kindness and compassion. It is also known as the heart chakra meditation. Practicing this meditation over a period of time will help you to heal your heart and that of others.
This meditation technique helps in opening the heart chakra and removes any negative energy that exists. In order to practice this meditation technique, choose a quiet place, set the right posture and focus on the heart area while inhaling and exhaling slowly but smoothly. Starting first with yourself repeat the phrase (or in your own words) “May I be peaceful, may I be happy, may I be free from harm”. Repeat several times until you feel the words resonate with you. Next move your attention to someone you have a strong heart connection with, that you may feel an unconditional love for, and repeat the previous phrase with that person clearly in your minds eye. Next think of somone neutral and repeat the phrase a number of times.
Then someone you have trouble with, anger or unpleasant feelings towards and repeat the phrase with them in your mind. Finally send the phrase out to your local community and then the globe saying “may everyone be peaceful, may everyone be happy, may everyone be free from harm”. Finish your meditation coming back to your own heart and filling it with the light and love that has come through from your words and heart felt feelings.
Creative or Visualisation Meditation
A different type of meditation technique, this form of meditation will enable you to consciously cultivate as well as strengthen different qualities of your mind. It focuses on strengthening qualities, such as appreciation, joy, compassion, patience, empathy, love, gratitude, compassion, humility, fearlessness, and tenderness, among others. It may involve a guided journey from a facilitator, or you may lead yourself to a special place in your meditation minds eye to gain insight and answers.
Meditation is an Exercise
As an exercise of the mind meditation requires us to practice regularly to build up our ‘mental muscles’. Meditation requires skill, just as a gymnast needs skill to walk on a beam so too a meditator develops skill to quieten their mind. When our mind is unfit and we don’t take the time to develop the skill we suffer the consequences of busy thoughts, emotional turmoil and being caught up in repetitive thought patterns.
Meditation is an exercise that can be started at a young age and be practiced for your whole life. Not only can meditation be done for your whole life but it also is one of the few things that you can do that you will get better as you get older, your skill level will improve. You life will improve, it will feel smoother, less ups and downs, you will experience more happiness, your relationships will improve as will your feeling of belonging in life itself.