Types of meditations
Zen meditation: Zen is a school of Buddhism that originated in China. Zen meditation (also called zazen) is practiced seated in the lotus or half-lotus position. Keep your back and neck straight.Place your left hand (palm up) on your right palm, and slightly curve your hands so that your thumbs touch each other.Without focusing on anything in particular, keep your eyes looking one meter in front of you on the floor. Breathe quietly through your nose, taking a deep long breath in and out and then let it come to a natural rhythm. The essence of Zazen is to go beyond thinking, which means, avoid having intentional thoughts and images. When thoughts and images arise, do not pursue them or try to escape from them. Just let it rise and pass. Meditate for 20-30 minutes.
Mindfulness meditation: This meditation is about paying non-judgemental attention to the details of our experiences, without rejecting anything. So instead of struggling to get away from a difficult experience, we practice being able to be with them.
Sit comfortably with your meditation posture. Rest your gaze gently on whatever is in front of you. Do not stare or shift your gaze away. Just sit in this posture for a few minutes. Your mind will wander, when you notice that, come back to the body. Next rest your attention on your breath. Do not control it. Just notice your breathing. Finally, work with the thoughts. Here again, do not try to control what is happening. Be ‘mindful’ of your thoughts. When you notice that you are so caught up in your thoughts that you forgot you are sitting in the room, bring your attention back to your breath. Meditate for 10-15 minutes.
Transcendental meditation: Transcendental meditation (TM) was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from the Vedic tradition. Here you sit comfortably with your eyes closed and silently repeat a mantra. Meditate for 15-20 minutes. The mantra is a seemingly meaningless Sanskrit sound (a syllable) that would be selected for you by your meditation guru and it is called the beejmantra. The beejmantra is the vibrational sound of the universe at the time and place of your birth, so it is very personal and specific to you. The silent chanting of the mantra will bring about integration between inner silence and your outer energy and dynamism. Scientific evidence shows TM helps lower stress and stress-related diseases such as hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Primordial sound meditation: Primordial sound meditation is a chanting of the word Om, the eternal syllable or the ‘cosmic motor’. It is similar to TM in the way that you keep repeating the mantra silently and in a relaxed way. Dr Deepak Chopra popularised this meditation by including the beejmantra technique of TM. So, here you chant ‘Om, __(your beej mantra), namah’. This meditation is best practiced for 10 minutes in the morning and for 20 minutes before going to bed.
Vipassana meditation: One of the ancient types of meditation is Vipassana. Rediscovered by the Buddha 2500 years ago, it means ‘to see things as they really are’.Vipassana meditation is basically a breath meditation that involves mindfulness as well as reflective meditation. It was popularised by SN Goenka. Here you transform yourself through self-observation. The meditation begins by mindfulness of breathing and then you move on to developing clear insight into the bodily sensations and mental phenomena.
Sit comfortably erect, in a balanced position. Close your eyes and say ‘may I be truly happy and free from suffering’. Reflect on happiness. Here’s what the American Buddhist monk ThanissaroBhikku says –
‘It’s important to reflect on what true happiness is and where it can be found. A moment’s reflection will show that you can’t find it in the past or the future. The past is gone and your memory of it is undependable. The future is a blank uncertainty. So the only place we can really find happiness is in the present. But even here you have to know where to look. If you try to base your happiness on things that change — sights, sounds, sensations in general, people and things outside — you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, like building your house on a cliff where there have been repeated landslides in the past. So true happiness has to be sought within.
In your mind spread the good will to other living beings. Once you have cleared your mind by reflecting on happiness, bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Focus on that part of the body where breathing is easy for you to notice. It could be the nose, the chest, or the abdomen. Let the breath flow naturally and focus on how it feels. If your mind wanders off, bring it back gently.
Next, move your attention to a different part of the body. Breathe and notice how that area feels. If you feel tightness, try relaxing it. If the breathing is jagged, think of smoothing it. Repeat the process with other parts in your body. Keep your conscious awareness expanded.
Heart chakra meditation: Loving kindness meditation is also known as heart chakra meditation. This meditation technique helps eliminate any negative energy that exists and help you release your fears and sadness.
Choose a quiet place, sit in your meditation posture and focus on the heart area (visualise an emerald green chakra spinning slowly in the centre of your chest), while inhaling and exhaling slowly but smoothly. Feel the warm waves of love and compassion from the chakra fill up your body. Meditate for 20 – 30 minutes. Chanting the mantra – YAM – helps activate the heart chakra.
Self-inquiry meditation: If your purpose of meditation is not just to heal your mind and body, but want to go deeper, you can try the self-inquiry or atmavichara meditation. ‘Who am I?’ or the self-inquiry is a meditation technique taught by Sri RamanaMaharshi.
‘Who Am I?’ I am pure Awareness. This Awareness is by its very nature Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss). – Sri RamanaMaharshi
In asking the question ‘who am I’, your attention moves back upon itself and the mind stops, maybe for a few seconds, and you experience the consciousness or the Self, the pure being, the inner silence.
Meditation is about being present in the moment, in the consciousness. Do not try to force the experience in your meditative journey. Doing so will take you out of the moment. Just let go, trust in the process, and your Higher Self will orchestrate the experience at the appropriate moment. more