It 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:
- Clear comprehending
- Reflections of repulsiveness of the body
- Reflections on material elements
- Contemplations regarding to the cemetery
- The hindrances
- The aggregates
- The sense-bases
- The factors of enlightenment
- 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.
Meditation 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.