OH MEDITATION, how I wish I was better at quieting my mind and truly enjoying you.
Well, it’s bedtime and I need to figure out how to calm down. I have the best meditation technique that truly works for me. I have found myself to be a little calmer and A LOT more positive. Because of this, I wanted to share some basic techniques of meditation and how to better quiet our minds. The meditation technique that works for me may not work for you, so I won’t share which type I use in hopes that I won’t bias you towards any specific practice.
Here are some basic steps to start meditating, I suggest you start here and work your way into something more specific (try meditating for one minute at a time, it’s not as easy as it may seem):
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
Here are some of my favorite types of meditation (hint: one of these types is the kind I like to do):
Zen Meditation (Zazen)
Zazen (坐禅) means “seated Zen”, or “seated meditation”, in Japanese. It is generally practiced seated on the floor over a mat and cushion, with crossed legs. focus all your attention on the movement of the breath going in and out through the nose. Each time you inhale you count one number, starting with 10, and then moving backward to 9, 8, 7, etc. When you arrive in 1, you resume from 10 again. If you get distracted and lose your count, gently bring back the attention to 10 and resume from there.
“Vipassana” is a Pali word that means “insight” or “clear seeing”. It is a traditional Buddhist practice, dating back to 6th century BC. The first aspect is to develop concentration, through samatha practice. This is typically done through breathing awareness. Focus all your attention, from moment to moment, on the movement of your breath. Notice the subtle sensations of the movement of the abdomen rising and falling. As you focus on the breath, you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. The object that is the focus of the practice (for instance, the movement of the abdomen) is called the “primary object”. And a “secondary object” is anything else that arises in your field of perception – either through your five senses (sound, smell, itchiness in the body, etc.) or through the mind (thought, memory, feeling, etc.).
Mantra Meditation (OM Meditation)
A mantra is a syllable or word, usually without any particular meaning, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind. It isnot an affirmation used to convince yourself of something .As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe. Some mantras include: om, yam, ham, and rama.
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation)
Demonstrated benefits of Metta Meditation include: boosting one’s ability to empathize with others; development of positive emotions through compassion, including a more loving attitude towards oneself; increased self-acceptance; greater feeling of competence about one’s life; and increased feeling of purpose in life. One sits down in a meditation position, with closed eyes, and generates in his mind and heart feelings of kindness and benevolence. Start by developing loving-kindness towards yourself, then progressively towards others and all beings. Usually this progression is advised. The feeling to be developed is that of wishing happiness and well-being for all. This practice may be aided by reciting specific words or sentences that evoke the “boundless warm-hearted feeling”, visualizing the suffering of others and sending love; or by imagining the state of another being, and wishing him happiness and peace. The more you practice this meditation, the more joy you will experience. That is the secret.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
It is a widely practiced form of meditation, with over 5 million practitioners worldwide, and there is a lot of scientific research, many sponsored by the organization, demonstrating the benefits of the practice. Transcendental meditation is not taught freely. The only way of learning it is to pay to learn from one of their licensed instructors. The support given seems to be good, though. In general, however, it is known that TM involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one’s eyes closed. The mantra is not unique, and is given to the practitioner based on his gender and age.
If you have any questions or would like to know which type of meditation is my favorite, comment below! 🙂