The meditation process was the sole and unique characteristic of Buddhism and other Asian religions. These types of meditation became extremely popular in the West in recent years, probably due to a direct consequence of factors such as stress which are associated with the continuous acceleration of the rhythm of life and globalisation in a nutshell.
In this article, we will describe the characteristics of the 7 most common types of meditation, including transcendental, mindfulness, and guided procedures that can be found on the Internet or in a meditation class.
The term “meditation” refers to a set of practices seeking to induce a certain ‘state of the mind’ in the person who performs them. These exercises can have different objectives, but usually involve concentration, relaxation, deep reflection, creativity, or a feeling of spiritual significance.
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Meditation, as we conceive today, dates to practices carried out by the Buddhist monks at the dawn of the first millennium to achieve a ‘liberation of the spirit’. However, there is evidence that similar exercises were previously carried out in Egypt and Greece, and meditative-practices also emerged in Christian and Islamic countries.
While it is true that many people use meditation to support relaxation or sleep, the states of deep consciousness induced by these techniques will allow us to achieve many different objectives since they help us to liberate ourselves of the bonds that normally oppress the mind.
Since meditation is an extremely broad concept, there are many procedures that will allow us to reach an identifiable state of mind with all of the points mentioned above.
In the next chapters, we will describe the 7 main types of meditation. Many of them are framed in specific philosophies and religions (such as Vipassana and Zen meditation, are typical of Buddhism), while in other cases, we refer rather to very specific techniques and even to the format in which the exercises are carried out.
The concept “guided meditation” does not exactly refer to a variant of the meditation procedure, but rather its format. Thus, any type of meditation that we will describe below is capable of being carried out in a guided way.
We say that a meditation procedure is guided when someone else is leading the exercise. Although the ideal is to practice guided meditation live with the help of a professional, on platforms such as YouTube, it is possible to find specific audios and videos to carry out these exercises at home.
Yoga is a set of practices related to the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain religions. Although in the western world, yoga is fundamentally understood as a type of physical exercise that helps to relax and improve well-being, the truth is that, it is rather a philosophy that promotes harmony between the body, the psyche, and the spirit.
Mindfulness, which has become extremely popular in recent years is a central component of many new-generation psychological therapies, and is derived from Vipassana meditation, which we will talk about later.
In a very synthetic way, mindfulness consists of experiencing the perceptions and the mental contents that arise as completely as possible and without reflecting on it; in fact, it is important to emphasise the non-verbal nature of this type of meditation, which can also be considered a philosophy of life.
4) Zen or Zazen
Zen meditation (also called “Zazen”) is framed in the context of Buddhism. The two core aspects of this technique are focusing on breathing, which is often counted so as to focus attention, and the lotus position, in which the person sits cross-legged, feet on the opposite thigh, and a straight back.
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Like Zen meditation, Vipassana also emerged in Buddhist monks. In this case, the goal is the perception and observation of bodily sensations and mental content, as this favours inner harmony and promotes spiritual transcendence. As we see, the relationship of Vipassana meditation with mindfulness is evident.
Taoism is an Asian religion that seeks personal development and harmony with the environment and nature, at least in its traditional version. Within this philosophy, it is a form of meditation based on “emptying” the psyche content and later visualising the body and even the mind to decrease cognitive anxiety.
Transcendental meditation became exceedingly popular in the West in the 1960s and 1970s under the influence of celebrities like The Beatles. It basically consists of using a mantra (sounds or words that are repeated) as an aid to meditation, which is practiced sitting and with eyes closed.
So, my question to you today is quite simple. Do you meditate? Have you tried any of the types of meditative practices mentioned in this post? I would really love to read your thoughts too. Kindly leave a few lines if you are FOR or AGAINST meditation.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.