Have you ever received the magical advice of taking deep breaths and closing your eyes while you are in a fit of rage? Well, it is safe to say that most of us have!
This simple mantra calms you down in seconds! This example is only indicative of how powerful the process of turning inwards can be. Meditation, or Dhyana, involves focusing on our breath or current of thoughts to eventually achieve a heightened state of awareness.
In most books, our consciousness is compared to a free-flowing and unending stream of water such that we are aware of our sensations, thoughts, and emotions for a fleeting period. So it can be said that meditation helps us tune into this stream, observe its contents, and acknowledge them.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation as a practice is known to have its roots in the school of Vedantism. It is religiously tied to China, India, and even ancient Egypt.
A commonly accepted definition of the term is that meditation is a practice wherein an individual trains their mind and attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is free of judgment so that we can observe our thoughts objectively. It consequently results in peace of mind, thereby expanding the joy and love in our life.
TYPES OF MEDITATION
The benefits of meditating every day are abundant. Therefore, people may practice meditation for different reasons and through different techniques to achieve the aim. We have listed six broad types of meditation:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Being mindful indicates being aware of the present and being immersed in the present moment. Therefore, mindfulness meditation involves being observant of each passing thought. These thoughts are neither evaluated nor judged. Even if you feel overpowered by a feeling such as nervousness or anxiety, mindfulness meditation advises the individual to simply notice why their mind is reacting in a certain manner. It is a technique to let go of intrusive thoughts and eliminate negativity.
This type of meditation has its roots in Buddhist teachings. It involves deep breathing to increase awareness of the body and the mind. This meditation is best for individuals who do not meditate under a trained expert.
Benefits: Stress reduction, immunity booster, lowers heart rate, improved quality of sleep.
2. Spiritual Meditation
As the name suggests, Spiritual Meditation stems from spiritual or even religious traditions. It is not only a way to reduce stress or relax but also to form a connection between the Self and the Higher Power. These meditations can vary in their technique because of varying traditions around the world. The highest stage of this meditation can result in transcendence.
Benefits: Inner peace, high self-esteem, sense of self, balanced sense of being.
3. Focused Meditation
Focused Meditation involves concentrating on a certain activity. This activity could be our process of breathing, counting beads of the rosary (jap mala), hearing a rhythmic gong, or even staring at a candle flame.
This type of mediation is hard to master and requires a lot of determination. However, it is renowned for its instantaneous stress reduction. Individuals begin with attention spans of a few minutes and gradually master their focus for hours together.
Benefits: better attention space, improved concentration, stress reduction.
4. Movement Meditation
As the name suggests, Movement Meditation involves moving and energizing the body while embracing the power of gravity. This movement can be something as simple as walking or gardening or as refined as the art form of Tai Chi.
This meditation is guided and mostly practised with music. It helps individuals develop an awareness of their body and form a healthy relationship with it.
Benefits: Pain relief, stress reduction, promotes deep sleep, immunity booster.
5. Mantra Meditation
Mantras are words or phrases that an individual repeats over and over again. This helps in increasing awareness and concentration. Different mantras have different motives. These types of meditations have roots in Vedantic traditions in India (chanting of Aum) and even in Japanese Shingon tradition. Chanting of Aum now has scientific backing.
Benefits: Connecting with a Higher Power, increased compassion, sense of calm, a positive outlook.
6. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and has its roots in the Vedic tradition. This type of meditation is strictly guided by a trained expert. The individual moves on from the ordinary thinking process to an altered state of consciousness. There is a complete absence of mental boundaries.
Benefits: Managing anxiety, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, connecting with the authentic self
7. Progressive Relaxation Meditation
Progressive Relaxation Meditation aims to calm down the individual and bring their body to a state of rest. It is also known as body scan meditation as the trained expert asks the individual to gradually focus on every part of their body and relax it one by one.
Benefits: reduce anxiety, stress, tension, and improve quality of sleep.
8. Loving-Kindness Meditation
As the name suggests, Loving-Kindness Meditation reinforces the feelings of compassion, empathy, and acceptance not only towards others but also towards oneself. It mostly involves positive affirmations that the individual must repeat to instil the emotion in them.
Benefits: decrease negative emotions, reduce stress and pain, and enhance social connection.
9. Visualization Meditation
This meditation involves visualizing images and scenes to evoke feelings of peace and calm. This meditation is also useful in manifesting life goals. These meditations are guided as the expert instructs the individual to build the scene in their mind step by step. To gain maximum benefits, these meditations attempt to engage all the five senses of the body to make the experience as real as possible.
Benefits: promote peace; reduce stress, increase focus, and enhance motivation.
MEDITATION AND ITS HEALING POWERS
“With meditation, you become a sensitized superhero, completely in control, with endless possibilities at your fingertips.” — Tara Stiles
Even though we have listed the different types of meditations and their benefits above, it is safe to say that consistent practice of the art of meditation in itself is nothing short of transformational.
Every type of meditation is bound to provide you with a new perspective to look at your life with, decrease negative emotions, release unhealed trauma, let go of the negativity, increase self-awareness, and most importantly help you focus on the present.
In the daily hustle-bustle of our lives, we forget to enjoy the moment we are currently experiencing. We are not immersed in our present, simply occupied with the past, or worried about our future. It is imperative that in our brief lives we become aware of whom we truly are and cherish each passing moment.
HOW TO GET STARTED
If you feel you want to test the waters by yourself, it is safe to start meditating for short periods and gradually increasing the duration. This is also an economical option if you intend to simply reduce stress and gain control over your life.
Guided meditations are a great option if you would like to fully reap the benefits of this art. Furthermore, if you have certain set intentions, trained experts are a better guide in helping you achieve them. This is also a good option for people who tend to lose focus easily.
“Mediation is not spacing out or running away. In fact, it is being totally honest with ourselves” – Kathleen McDonald
We would 100% agree with you if you claim that meditating can be difficult. However, after reading its benefits at length, we can assure you that being consistent is not only going to make it seem easier day by day but also equip you with the key to a transformed life.
Even if you begin with meditating for a mere five minutes at first, consider it as a milestone unlocked! Soon enough, you will be patting yourselves on the back for meditating for an entire hour together!
Again, if the concept of passive meditation does not sit well with you, with a trained expert you can begin to master the art of active meditation. As stated before, active meditating involves movement that can range from walking, gardening, colouring Mandalas to practising Tai Chi and Yoga asana.