I have more and more of mine friends curious about meditation techniques and wondering how to start. So I decided to write up a short summary on different meditation techniques to help clarify some of the concerns and to perhaps ease up their decision making.
Meditation techniques – what to know first…
Some meditation techniques of yoga are suitable for people with no previous experience or without the need for an element of spirituality.These types of meditation can be practiced almost anywhere, anytime and are suitable for nearly everyone – even for those with health restrictions or older children. The only exceptions would be people with serious mental illnesses – they should avoid the meditation.
Than there are types of meditation which are suitable for advanced meditators as they require certain degree of knowledge, focus and experience.
Meditation itself is not difficult. What is needed is to have a certain amount of self-discipline to help overcome difficult beginnings.
The mind will jump from one perception to another. It will always crave the attention that you’re going to deny. Gradually, as your determination and mental strength increases, the “will of the mind” reduces. One day you will find that you have no problem to perceive a few minutes to an object without having to have addressed, why, how, why, what was and what will be …
How to train your attention
Meditation works by focusing attention on a chosen object. Therefor facilitating calming of the mind and diving into the depths of ourselves. There are concrete objects which is possible to concentrate (eg, breath, mantra, sound, etc.), or abstract types of feeling love, purity, tolerance, happiness, compassion and so on.
The selected object will be only observed. We will not judge its progress, or pass on ideas. The entire content of our minds come out to the surface, thus gradually “extinguished”. Extinguishing means that we are no longer identified with positive or negative in our life. We accepted it and we coped with it, so we can move forward.
In meditation, you can observe the following subjects:
Breathe. Observing your own breath is one of the easiest ways of meditation. Either individually feel any phase of breath, or observe the whole course of inhalation and exhalation. You can follow the movement of air in your nostrils, the breathing tubes or the lungs. Perceive the expansion and contraction of the rib cage and abdomen. You can count inhales and exhales in any part of the body – often through the point between the eyebrows.
The physical body. Feelings can observe it the same way as your breath. In doing so, you either scan the whole body from head to toe and back, or you pick one area (eg, hands, spine, etc.) and in detail you examine it microscopically. Meditation on sensations in your own body, are very effective in gaining a better ability to introspect and self-reflect. This technique is not suitable for beginners. It requires a certain degree of self-awareness, which is obtained through yoga exercises.
Meditation techniques in Yoga
MANTRA or sound. The healing effect of meditation brings a focus on a sound, phrase or affirmation. There is rhythmic recitation of mantras (japa) spontaneously. For many people this is a very simple way of withdrawal of attention inside because reciting or singing out loud easily attracts attention. It is simply less opportunities to roam. Therefore, if you are a beginner you can try reciting words, syllables or even prayers and you will definitely benefit from it. Mantras are very much in the beginnings of meditation, for example “Om” and “so ham”. Mantras are recited out loud first, then you can try to whisper or silently repeat them within.
If you feel that recitation of mantras is not for you, you can focus on the natural sounds such as rain, various nature sounds, birds singing in the woods. More advanced way is to listen to recordings, frequencies alpha, theta and delta by using sound vibrations which tune the brain to meditative state.
VISUALIZATION. You imagine the images that evoke in you a positive ideas (eg. Ocean, mountain, forest, flower, golden egg …). In classical yogic tradition they are also used ideas of deities that have a certain symbolism (Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Ganesha, Brahman, etc.) – And then those are visualized in a “live” a very detailed manner. We can also use Yantras – geometric shapes, which also have a spiritual meaning related to higher levels of consciousness. They are a good way to get started with meditation. Yantra regularly observed for 10 to 15 minutes has real calming effect on the mind.
RECOVERY. Specifically, modern types of visualizations are the ideas imposed on us which have psychological or even medical importance. This includes ideas to the healing process at the cellular level, ideas on happiness to combat the negative energies, visualize weight loss, and so on.
CHAKRAS (energy centers). Chakra meditation is to actively balance a particular chakra, which harmonises its activities. This meditation will improve the function of all organs govern by the specific chakra. Furthermore, it will affect behavioral traits that are associated with the chakra. Good preparation for chakras meditation is to practice body awareness through yoga exercises, or put your body through cleanse procedures.
ELEMENTS. Yoga identifies five elements – tattiev: earth (prithivi), water (apas), fire (agni), air (Vayu), ether (akasha). Meditation on the tattvas purifies on the gross and subtle level – significantly helps with self-reflection, and harmonises all of the features associated with the various tattvas. It should be preceded by practice of chakras and breathing exercises, as it is one of the more advanced techniques.
Emotions, Feelings. Meditation over abstract scenes and feelings are very diverse and advanced techniques. This includes scenes and projection from areas of the cosmos / universe, different emotions and feelings of love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, fusion energy around us, infinite consciousness etc.
The Bhagavad Gita
A special type of meditation is reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita. This is important ancient spiritual piece of art, considered one of the classic sources of yoga philosophy. It is a highly spiritual meditation used in India. However, if you are close to spirituality, it might be right for you. It is very interesting, cathartic and effective form of meditation.
How to choose the correct technique of meditation?
We all are at different stages of our lives – we have different needs, different purpose, what we want to achieve through meditation. We are ready for it differently and we have a different amount of time that we are able to dedicate to it. It is clear that everyone will proceed differently. Most beneficial for you will be the technique that will deliver real personal transformation.
If you are looking for a way to improve your physical or mental health and the need to develop a spiritual dimension, you can start with simple meditation-type such as concentration on the candle flame. Another option would be controlled meditation – listening meditation recordings, meditation on the breath to eliminate stress or weight loss by flushing negative thoughts…
No matter which meditation you choose, if practiced properly benefits will be delivered through persistence and repetition.
Its good to try multiple different types of meditation before you choose the one which speaks to your soul.
Happy meditating. Namaste!