Meditation has evolved throughout history, with respect to location, religion and philosophy. It is widely recognized that there are many different ways to Meditate, even though many techniques have similar goals.
It reminds me of the saying, ‘There are many paths to God.’ I believe it is wrong to say that one Meditation Technique / path is better than another, because you are judging a person’s journey, and you don’t know from where they have come.
Their path is perfect for them, as yours is for you.
As such, I will not say that any of the meditation techniques listed below is better than the others. I encourage you to explore the doors that open before you to learn through experience, so you can decide for yourself.
This page gives an overview of the different forms of meditation that exist, with links to more specific information.
Concentrating on your Breath is a great place to start. You can consciously notice the movement of the air moving in and out of your nostrils, or you can count the breath in various ways.
Mindfulness is cultivating awareness of your inner experiences; such as bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts and memories. With this meditation technique you simply observe without any judgement.
Emptying the Mind is what many beginners believe needs to happen for them to be meditating correctly. The truth is that this is just one technique of many. Allow your mind to clear and ‘float’, gently pushing aside any stray thoughts, or allowing thoughts to float in and out of awareness like clouds moving across the sky.
Focusing your attention on an Object, (but not necessarily your thoughts), on a shape, sound or texture of an object, such as a flower, a candle flame, or a spiritually significant picture can assist you to create stillness in your mind.
Movement and Meditation is more common than you might think. A physical technique like yoga or tai chi helps to still the mind by coordinating the breath and the body with gentle movement.
Using a Mantra incorporates repeating a word or phrase over and over. This can occur aloud or silently, sometimes timed with the breath, to focus the attention and release different energies that benefit our bodies and minds.
Other organized aspects of Meditation are listed below. Each links to specific information.
While Vipassana meditation has grown in popularity over the course of the last few years, it’s been a well-established form of meditation ever since Buddhist times.
Specifically, Vipassana refers to seeing something as it truly is, with the ultimate goal of such meditation being to reach one’s maximum potential for happiness.
Furthermore, this specific form of meditation is often done to rid the mind of supposed impurities and negative thoughts.
When one practices Vipassana meditation, he or she focuses on his or her unique sensations. It is believed that, by doing this, one is able to see and understand the true nature of any given situation.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.
Vipassana is an art of living – a way of life.
While it is the essence of what the Buddha taught, it is not a religion; rather, it is the cultivation of human values leading to a life which is good for oneself and good for others.
Buddhist Meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that develop mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight.
Core meditation techniques are preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through the millennia of teacher-student transmissions.
Non-Buddhists use these techniques for the pursuit of physical and mental health as well as for non-Buddhist spiritual aims.
The Transcendental Meditation technique, (or TM technique), is a form of mantra meditation introduced in India in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
It is reported to be the most widely researched and one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques.
Taught in a standardized seven-step course by certified teachers, the technique involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced, while sitting comfortably, for 15-20 minutes, twice per day.
Meditation is one of the chief tools in the Taoists quest for inner peace.
The Chinese word for meditation simply means ‘sitting’, but Taoist Meditation techniques have developed into sophisticated and complex systems designed to have profound mental and physical effects. These techniques have developed over thousands of years.
Unlike most meditation techniques, much of Taoist meditation is performed while moving, as in Chi Gung and Tai Chi.
We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in Zen Meditation they come together as one reality. Basically, zazen is the study of the self.
The great Master Dogen said, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”
To be enlightened by the ten thousand things is to recognize the unity of the self and the ten thousand things.
There are four Brain-Wave Patterns in which we can function. Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.
Briefly; You experience Beta brain-wave patterns in engaging activities like when you are driving or working. (Anxiety and Stress are experienced at the top end of this Beta range).
Alpha patterns occur when you are more relaxed and brain activity has slowed. (e.g. Watching television, reading a book).
Theta brain-waves are most commonly encountered in dreams, or at moments of deep insight. And the slowest state,
Delta, occurs in deep, deep sleep, or by the masters while in meditation.
Christian Meditation stands alone as it refers specifically to meditation in a Christian context.
Christian meditation is often associated with prayer or scripture study. It is rooted in the Bible, which directs its readers to meditate.
In Joshua 1:8, God commands his people to meditate on his word day and night to instill obedience and enhance relationship and fellowship. This brings us in close touch with God’s reality, power, grace, faith and miracles.
In recent years, some evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have taught that contemplative meditation is dangerous, warning of its similarity to mysticism and New Age practices:
This concludes this short exploration into the different meditation techniques available for you to practice. Try the different styles to see what works best for you.
Always keep in mind the goal of meditation, ‘To get beyond reflexive thinking, into a deeper state of mind.’
As you work towards this, you will open yourself to the many benefits of meditation, and your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
If you would like to know about the physical changes that occur in the body when you are in meditation, check this link. It explains the difference between the 4 different brainwave patterns.