Types of Meditation
The word ‘meditation‘ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘medha’ which, translated means wisdom. Although the roots of meditation stem back to South Indian cultures, 15000 years ago, the roots with regard to spiritual, physical and mental development lay in Asia, predominately India, Japan and China, documented in ancient Hindu scriptures. It wasn’t until the latter end of last century that meditation was introduced to the west and research evidence proved the positive effects on the mind and body and health in general.
Below is a brief overview of some of the different types of meditation.
Although meditation is associated with being seated, there are similar benefits and several advantages to meditating whilst walking. These advantages include:-
- Develop the ability to walk longer distances and increase physical fitness
- Develops patience and endurance
- Overcome illness, body becomes calm and relaxed
- Benefits to digestive system rather than being cramped when sat
- Prepares you for the sitting meditation because you are already focused and mental prepared
Walking meditation can be used as a motivational factor if you find that normal seated meditation is becoming staid.
- Begin by taking deep breaths, become aware of your posture and physical contact of your feet on the walking surface
- The walking area should be short, typically 5- 10 meters, as you will be walking back and forth
- Keeping relaxed, your hands should be clasped in front of you or behind and focus your gaze approximately 2 meters in front of you towards the ground
- As you walk, become aware of the sensation of walking, in particular the actions involved with the step from raising your foot, the forward movement, the sensation of the ball of the foot as it connects with the ground, the foot rolling forward onto the ball and then the toes.
- As with seated meditation, if your mind starts to wander, disregard the thoughts and bring your attention back to the meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the process of encompassing and welcoming all the different experiences associated with meditation as opposed to focusing on a single object, thus mindful not focused.
When we become distracted during focused meditation, we are taught to ignore the distraction, let it pass and regain focus; with mindfulness meditation we pay attention to the thoughts, feelings and other distractions that are present at that moment without getting frustrated or analysing the distraction.
Transcendental Meditation is a very simple form of meditation which enables the body and mind to rest, relieves you of stress and tiredness and generates energy. Because of its simplicity, it can be practised almost anywhere it is safe to do so.
Transcendental Meditation is generally practised twice per day for up to 20 minutes, once in the morning to enable the practitioner to begin the day refreshed and invigorated and once in the evening to relieve the stresses of the day. This form of meditation synchronises the right and left hemisphere of the brain as well as the front and rear of the brain.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed the Transcendental Meditation technique in India during the 1950 and progressively grew to be worldwide by the 1960s. Today TM is possibly one of the most practiced forms of meditations in the world with over 600 million practitioners.
Vipassana translated means insight and ‘to see things as they really are’. Developed in India, 2500 years ago it was a means to cure all illnesses. The goal of Vipassana Meditation is to improve the connection between mind and body using self observations and evaluation of thoughts, feelings and sensations.
During practice the mind and body become detached whilst still remaining aware of the thoughts and sensations that occur.
Vipassana courses are available worldwide and are usually residential courses, 10 days in length. There is generally no cost for the courses, accommodation or food but donations are made by participants who have completed the course and practice regularly.
Zen is part of the Buddhism culture, it not classed as a religion or philosophy but as a collection of teachings and methods that create wholeness, clarity of mind and allowing us to develop to our full potential.
Zen is focused on enlightenment and simply sitting and focus on the environment through the use of the senses. A practitioner will be aware of the noises that occur but will not embrace them; from this it is possible to feel more interconnected with body, self and the environment.
It is necessary not to repress, suppress or avoid thoughts and distractions, do not react in any way; instead simply let them rise and let them dissipate, clearing the way and letting our energy flow correctly.
During meditation, the practitioner is sat in lotus position, half lotus or seiza position.