Buddhist Meditation

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Buddhist MeditationIt goes without saying just how important meditation is to the Buddhist religion. To state the obvious meditation  is the core of the Buddhist practice. Buddhist meditations have a variety of techniques derived from ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhist meditation has evolved over a span of many thousands of years. These techniques helps to develop some great virtues of the human mind, namely mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight.

The benefit derived from these techniques is not only confined to Buddhists. Buddhists consider meditation as a path towards attainment of Enlightenment and Nirvana. Non-Buddhists pursue these techniques for purely mental and physical well-being and non-religious spiritual aims. Even medical science has adopted Buddhist meditation techniques to deal with the various aberrations of human mind.

These Buddhism meditation techniques have been adopted all over the world including the west for health and spiritual reasons. One reason for such a wide acceptance is these techniques do not have any authoritative doctrines.

Among various Buddhist traditions, Theravada tradition contributes to over ninety methods in developing mindfulness meditation and concentration collectively. Likely, the Tibetan tradition also has abundant meditation techniques which have elements of visionary qualities.

According to the Pali Canon School, Buddhist meditation can be practiced to develop right mindfulness, right concentration, and right view.

There are various inferences or suttas. Among them in the Sattipathana sutta, Buddha has framed four ways of attaining mindfulness. They are the body, feelings, state of the mind, and mental objects. He has further divided them into different parts:

Body (kaya)

  1. Breathing
  2. Postures
  3. Clear comprehending
  4. Reflections of repulsiveness of the body
  5. Reflections on material elements
  6. Contemplations regarding to the cemetery

Feelings (vedana)

Mind (citta)

Mental content(dhamma)

  1. The hindrances
  2. The aggregates
  3. The sense-bases
  4. The factors of enlightenment
  5. The four noble truths.

Buddha has framed two qualities of the mind, which is attained through meditation, namely serenity and insight. Collectively they are called the swift messengers of Nibbana.

Buddha has preached forty methods of meditation which will develop concentration and consciousness. Moreover, he has advised to choose the most suitable path among the forty methods, which align with ones mental makeup. One should seek a knowledgeable individual for guidance.

Buddhist meditation techniques have also incorporated practices from others like Zongmi Typology, which has been utilized by the Chinese and others. According to this, all meditation techniques appear to be the same externally. But they differ on a wide basis internally in the motive and purpose. They have five categories of meditative techniques: ordinary, outside way, small vehicle, great vehicle and supreme vehicle.

According to a meditation teacher Kamalashila of western Buddhist order, there are five basic methods of meditation:

1. Mindfulness of breathing

2. Metta bhavana including all four Brahma-viharas

3. Contemplation of impermanence including contemplation of decomposing corpse, reflection on death, reflection of Tibetan book of the dead’s “Root Verses”, Contemplation of mental states and external objects

4. Six element practice

5. Contemplation of conditionality.

To make sense of all this, Buddhist meditation techniques are well suited for anyone interested in advancing their meditation practice. You may practice them for a number of reasons, such as general well-being and spiritual advancement.

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Mindfulness MeditationMeditation is the path to self realization and tranquility. One of the most important meditation techniques is the mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness is a mental state that enables you to stay with a calm mind. It helps you stay aware of all the physical and mental activities of the present.  It is a form of Buddhist meditation that has been practiced for eons. According to Buddha’s noble eight fold path, it is the seventh element. Mindfulness develops wisdom of the human mind.

Insight is another name for mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation helps to concentrate on the present. This technique allows you to let go of  the past and future thoughts, hindering a certain peace of mind. During mindfulness meditation, you stay aware of the mind’s thoughts that are going on, and any actions that are happening in the present moment. This meditation technique helps to focus on the real present and develop concentration.

To really understand the meaning of and the benefits of mindfulness meditation you will need to practice it. The basic preparation and guidelines to practice this meditation technique properly is discussed below:

Create a favorable environment. This is one of the most important things to do.  Mindfulness for beginners is quite easy, if you take that all important step and get started. There should not be any sort of distraction in the place that you will select for practicing this meditation technique. This place should be calm and quiet. There should not be any sound or noise to distract you and disturb you during your meditation. This place should be such where you can forget all your pain, sorrow and can get rid of all your stress. This place should emit a sacred feeling. It can be a religious place or any place of your choice which gives you positive vibes. You don’t need to be a practicing Buddhist to see the benefits that come from a mindfulness practice.

Starting your meditation is a rather simple process. It may help to start meditating for just short periods, but do so frequently. Do not sit for long periods of meditation initially. You’ll need to slowly adjust to the meditation techniques for best results. Utilizing a meditation timer is a great way to keep track of time without worrying about a clock.

Having the correct posture is crucial step in mindfulness for beginners. There is a strong connection between the body and the mind. Hence, to control your mind you need to control your physical posture. The right way of meditating is to have an upright erect posture. Think of the traditional cross legged (lotus) pose. Keeping an erect posture helps with concentration, though you should not experience any discomfort. When it comes to meditation for beginners staying focused is one of the biggest hurdles.

Your focus should be down around the few inches around your nose. The eyes can remain open and still not be distracted by your  surroundings.

The goal here is to focus on your breath during meditation. Your natural breathing process should be the object of concentration during your meditation. You may focus on your exhale as it passes through the back of your nasal cavity or you can feel the air as it escapes past your nostrils. If you get distracted, that’s okay, just refocus and feel your breath as you come back to the meditation.

Remove your thoughts and focus on the present through your breathing. It may be easier said than done, but this is what we strive for. Initially it will be very difficult to focus and concentrate your mind. You will feel yourself getting distracted by the constant chatter of the mind. By feeling your breath to the core, you can gradually root your mind in the present and stay focused.

These are the very basic fundamentals, as they relate to practicing mindfulness meditation. There are many Buddhist texts and guided meditations that will certainly help advance your practice.

Types of Meditation

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Types of Meditation

Today meditation is no longer a practice being done by people who belong to the new age subculture or those who subscribe to an ancient religion such as Buddhism or Hinduism. Even health practitioners are considering meditation as a form of therapy to relieve people of stress. This is because several studies have already proven the wondrous effects of meditation. The various types of meditation have had significant impact on a health and well-being of millions. Therapists have prescribed meditation as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. It also relieves us of some ailments such as insomnia, migraine, and high blood pressure. Consequently, meditation can also prevent lots of different illnesses.

As a result of this trend, several types of meditation are being taught by both therapists and gurus alike. Among these meditation techniques, there are a few common types of meditation that have proven to be effective and easy to follow. Most of these can be done in the comfort of your own home.

After all, meditative techniques usually run along a common thread. For one, all of them emphasize the need to quiet the mind. This means that during meditation, you have to stop thinking about anything that causes stress, not even the probable solution to stress. You simply have to let the voice in your head be quiet by thinking about nothing at all.

Aside from the obvious, it’s also important with all types of meditation  to focus on the “now” rather than the past or the future. The key here is for you to be able to experience every moment of your day and simply let it go, so that you can experience the next. This is easier said than done since most of us are constantly thinking. Common thoughts about what the future may hold or what type of day we had are not always easy to relinquish.

During meditation, we are taken to an altered state of consciousness. This is different from what we experience during sleep, or our waking life. Because of this, meditation is able to increase the level of brain activity in our minds in the areas that govern happiness and positive thoughts and emotions.

So whatever meditation techniques we choose to subscribe to, the results usually remain the same. However, they say that the different types of meditation techniques also have their own specialization. Such specializations are not constant though; as everyone is different and will  have different effects with a variety of techniques. Nonetheless, there are a few common types of meditation techniques you can begin with for you to find which suites you.

One basic technique is as simple as sitting comfortably, usually in a full lotus or cross-legged position, as you try to quiet your mind by thinking about nothing. This is called the “empty mind meditation.” The key here is to think of yourself as an observer of your own thoughts. Just let all your thoughts flow inside your mind as if a voice is narrating them but you must only listen and not be engaged by them. This is somewhat tricky at first because we have the tendency to become preoccupied with our thoughts, thus, defeating the purpose of emptying your mind.

You can try this very basic meditation technique and after that, you might want to consult an expert to help you choose the technique that suits you best. In addition, there are also different types of meditation techniques for different purposes. Below are some of these popular meditation types:

Body Meditation – this relaxation meditation usually involves a scan of the body. From head to toe you focus your attention on one body part at a time.

Transcendental Meditation – Another relaxation meditation that vrings on a state of deep restfulness. Introduced by the popular Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950’s.

Chakra Meditation – Popular Buddhist meditation that focuses on the seven energy centers known as chakras.

Energy Meditation – Focuses on the energy around us, as well as within us through meditation.

Mantra Meditation – This popular technique involves repeating specific sounds known as a mantra.

Body Meditation: How It Works

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Body Meditation

Body meditation is a type of meditation that may be considered different from the conventional meditation techniques that we have known of and used for quite some time now. Indeed, what makes it different is the way we meditate, which we will explain further here as we move along.

You see in conventional meditation techniques, we let our minds focus on a single object throughout the exercise, like a lighted candle for instance, until eventually your mind becomes relaxed mentally. In body meditation, however, our focus changes to every part of your body as this exercise progresses. This in turn would allow each part of our body to relax in the process.

But how does one begin doing a body meditation? As with any meditation exercise, it all begins by placing yourself in a position you are most comfortable with. You can do it sitting down or laying down somewhere, as long as you do it in a quiet place, without any disturbances or distractions around you.

The next step would be take slow, deep breaths; we let our eyes close on their own as we do our breathing. We then focus on the scalp and let it relax completely. Don’t mind any itchiness you may feel on your scalp, let your meditation take it all away.

We move downwards now to the forehead. Let the furrows in the brow smooth themselves out in your mind. We then let our eyes relax, followed by the ears, nose, and then the mouth. These parts of our body are some of the most used body parts in our day-to-day activities, so it’s important to free them from stress experienced in our daily lives. Always remember that as we move from one body part to another, we must keep that part of our body relaxed throughout the whole exercise, even if it’s tempted not to do so.

We then move to the neck and then down to the shoulders, letting them drop a little bit to make them feel less rigid and help them relax. We now proceed to the arms; you have the option to either work on each arm or both of them at once to relax, depending on what works best for you.

From the shoulders, we move down to the hands and fingers and let them totally relax. Then working the way down the trunk of the body, we proceed to relax our lungs, chest, stomach and the abdominal area. With the top half of the body relaxed by now, we continue our way down towards the legs (working on each leg or both) then to the feet and toes. Keep your body relaxed for a few minutes; allow your eyes to open by themselves to end the exercise.

Always remember to check on the base of your spine that you feel no pressure in that area. Try not to fall asleep, this is common during relaxation exercises where we’re in the lying position. That’s why the traditional (lotus) meditative posture is often recommended with other types of mediation; it keeps us alert.

Another thing you need to know, especially if you’re doing body meditation for the first time, is that you may feel other parts of your body “un-relax” by themselves which is normal. All you have to do is to bring your focus back to that affected body part to let it relax again.

Chakra Meditation

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Chakra Meditation

In this day and age, meditation is becoming a tool for us to achieve a well-balanced physical, mental and spiritual health. Chakra meditation is arguably the most popular type of meditation that western culture has shown interest in. This is attributed to the fact that chakra meditation is simple and, at the same time, effective in relieving our everyday stress.

The idea behind chakra meditation is understandable. Buddhists have always believed that the human body is governed by seven energy centers known as chakras. To achieve a sound mind, body and spirit, the energy flow throughout the body has to be balanced. This means that during meditation, you have to concentrate on each of the chakras, allowing energy to flow throughout your whole body. But before we get into that any further, here are the seven chakras and how each governs our physical, mental and spiritual self:

1. The Crown Chakra – This is located at the top of your head. It governs our thoughts, providing us with wisdom, knowledge, and the development of our consciousness.

2. The Third Eye Chakra – This energy center relates to the power of light which gives us the power of visualization and perception. It is located in between our eyebrows.

3. The Throat Chakra – Found at the base of the throat, this chakra relates to the elements of sound. It governs our communication ability and our creative endeavors.

4. The Heart Chakra – This governs our compassion and capacity for love and relationships. It is related to the element of air and is located at the center of the chest, close to the heart.

5. The Solar Plexus Chakra – It is also known as the power chakra simply because it governs our will power and metabolism. It is located on top of the navel, just below the rib cage. It relates to the element of fire.

6. The Sacral Chakra – This is responsible for our creative impulses. It governs physical love and our generative organs. It is located just below the navel.

7. The Root Chakra – This is considered as the first chakra and is located at the base of the spine. This chakra is responsible for our physical health, in general, as well as security and prosperity. It relates to the element of earth.

Again, these energy centers have to be properly aligned and well-balanced for you to achieve a healthy lifestyle—physically, mentally, and spiritually. There are techniques to do this. The first technique is grounding. The aim here is to be physically and spiritually connected to the earth. What you should do is to sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes and visualize a root growing out from your body, seeping into the ground beneath you. You have to be extremely focused while doing this technique for it to be successful.

Another technique is centering. What you need to do is to take a few deep breaths in order for you to achieve the proper breathing. Every time you breathe, try to tighten each and every part of your body and then loosen and relax them afterwards. Do this from the bottom to top. Try to visualize your self doing this relaxation. After doing this, imagine a piece of pottery being centered on a potter’s wheel.

The last technique in chakra meditation is the relaxation technique which taps directly on the energy centers of the body. This may take but longer, twenty minutes of relaxation time being the minimum duration, but it is considered to be one of the most effective and easiest to follow among the three techniques. All you have to do is to relax yourself. You can either sit or lie down as you close your eyes. The important thing is to remove any external stimuli so that you can concentrate on your energy centers. Again, you only need to breathe naturally and let all distracting thoughts flow throughout your body naturally. The body shall find its way to achieve its natural state, allowing you to deepen this meditation.

Now start your concentration with your Root Chakra and imagine it exuding a vibrant red energy field. Feel safe and grounded while doing this. Imagine this energy rising up to your Sacral Chakra. As it fills out the area with energy, imagine the color turning into orange. From here on, concentrate on feeling attractive and sensual. Take your energy upward to the Solar Plexus Chakra, imagine the color becoming yellow here. Feel powerful and vital while the energy fills the area until it goes up your chest towards your Heart Chakra, filling the area with love and peace. Visualize the energy field turning into the color green. Let this energy flow to your Throat Chakra and as it reaches the energy center, notice a ball of blue light forming. Concentrate on your artistic endeavors and self-expression. The energy will then reach your forehead, in between your eyebrows, where the Third Eye Chakra is located. The energy becomes purple as it fills this area, increasing your psychic abilities and intuitions. Finally, the energy field would turn into white as it reaches your Crown Chakra. This energy shall connect your energy with the rest of the universe providing you with wisdom, knowledge and spiritual development.

After concentrating on your seven chakras, individually, you can conclude your chakra meditation by visualizing your whole body glowing with all the energy colors. The combination creates a rainbow throughout your body with a beam of white light crowning your head. Breathe deeply several times and once you are ready, open your eyes as wide as possible and feel the energy revitalize yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.

Learning Transcendental Meditation

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Learning Transcendental Meditation

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced the world to the wonders of transcendental meditation back in 1958. In his time, he has written several books and has toured the world to conduct lectures on learning transcendental meditation to over 40,000 teachers and practitioners. Today transcendental meditation is commonly practiced in the medical field as a therapeutic remedy for stress and anxiety symptoms such as depression. It is also widely known in the Western world as a form of deep relaxation that can be performed at home or even in the workplace.

People nowadays need an escape from the fast paced world. Transcendental meditation is one way of attaining peace, even for as little as 20 minutes a day. During a session, the body is engaged in a deep restfulness while still maintaining a lucid and alert mind. Learning transcendental meditation became popular because it is easy to perform. You only need to choose a word, an image or a symbol to focus on while doing the meditation. This symbol has to be something that you really love or has a profound meaning to you. It can be something in nature, a religious or cultural symbol, or a word that means a lot to you personally. During meditation, you have to concentrate on this word or image and replay it to yourself. Soon enough you will find yourself falling deeper and deeper into a state that is neither deep relaxation nor sleep. It is a state of deep restfulness they often refer to as theta brain wave pattern. This should take place in a tranquil setting, away from any type of distractions.

The meditation techniques used in learning transcendental meditation have been researched extensively not only by Maharishi Yogi. Other Hindu practitioners and new age therapists have studied the benefits that one can derive from this kind of meditation and how to properly perform it in order to achieve such physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Again, during transcendental meditation, our mind falls into a deep restfulness that is slightly related to sleep and relaxation, with many positive results. After spending 20 minutes to an hour on this meditation, this restfulness is then carried over to a state of wakefulness.

After which, the body will automatically feel a little lighter. There will be an increase in mental comprehension, focus and alertness. Other studies suggest that learning transcendental meditation also enhances the creativity of the practitioner. This is one of the reasons we see so many celebrities practicing this type of meditation. Some of the celebrities who are known to be practitioners are Mick Jagger, David Lynch, Heather Graham and, of course, The Beatles.

Aside from this, the International Journal of Neuroscience conducted a study on transcendental meditation, they found in some cases that this type of meditation can actually reverse the aging process. The results of the study show that the biological age of the people who practices transcendental meditation is 12 years younger than their chronological age. Additionally, they found that this meditation has positive effects on some old-age ailments such as insomnia, high blood pressure, and hearing loss.

Aside from gaining a positive response from the medical community, learning transcendental meditation is also supported by most religions, though its actual roots are of Hindu origin. In transcendental meditation, you are not encouraged to either assume a Hindu lifestyle nor convert to the Hindu religion. It is advised that while conducting the session, you should focus on a religious symbol or object that you really believe in. So if you are a Christian, you can still affirm your belief in Jesus Christ while doing the meditation by simply focusing on the crucifix during the session.

The whole point in transcendental meditation is that one has to be at peace with one’s self in order to attain peace with one’s surroundings. Having this kind of spiritual consciousness shall then give you a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Energy Meditation

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Types Of Meditation

Energy Meditation

Energy meditation is fast becoming a popular form of meditation available to those who are constantly looking after their spiritual and mental well-being.

But what exactly is energy meditation all about? This form of meditation is founded on the belief that everything in this world is made up of energy, most especially in our body, mind, and soul. Such being the case, it is important for us to channel this energy to everyone and to the world around us, freeing our mind and soul in the process of the burden brought about by inner conflicts and issues. At the same time, we become more aware and understanding of our own selves as well as of the things around us.

In addition, there are physical benefits that we get as well from doing these types of meditation. You will notice your stress levels become lower as you will experience lower instances of heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Now that we know what it’s about and it can do for us, the next is learning it. But before we begin doing this meditation, we must first let ourselves feel compassion and love to every being and to the world around us as well. This has to be shown in a sincere manner. Also, find a way to say things that would give joy or encouragement to everyone around us and express thanks to God for everything we have right now.

We then let our minds be filled with positive thoughts, thoughts that would make you feel relaxed and at ease. We continue doing so until the mind is fully at rest. Once it is rested, we then shift our attention to the world around us.

Imagine all the things around as forms of energy: the people we meet, the animals or objects around us, even physical structures like buildings and monuments. Now imagine the energy of these living and non-living objects coming together to create an energy field around you, waiting for you to absorb it. The energy field is now established, so we now begin working on the inside now coming from the outside.

Here we focus on our body meditation. Let us picture our whole body also as energy, even our internal organs like the stomach, heart, lungs as well as every bone and muscle found in our body. We now begin to create in our minds a perfect balance between the self and the outside world, working in harmony to achieve that spiritual well-being. This would be done through deep meditation which should last for about 20 or 30 minutes. Afterward, we then let our mind and the world around us revert back to their physical form before we stop our meditation exercise.

Whether you do it on your own or with the guidance of a meditation guru, energy meditation is a form of meditation that anyone can practice. So if you would like let your mind as well as your soul free, this definitely a form of meditation you should consider.