When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into our lives: We lower our stress levels, we get to know our pain, we connect better, we improve our focus, and we’re kinder to ourselves. Let us walk you through the basics in our new mindful guide on how to meditate.
In our modern, hectic world, meditation has gained traction in recent years as a way to manage stress. Scientific evidence has also emerged that shows meditation can be a helpful tool in fighting chronic illnesses, including depression, heart disease, and chronic pain.
While meditation isn’t a cure-all, it can certainly provide some much-needed space in your life. Sometimes, that’s all we need to make better choices for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
And the most important tools you can bring with you to your meditation practice are a little patience, some kindness for yourself, and a comfortable place to sit.
We will practice various types of Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the process of being fully present with your thoughts. Being mindful means being aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not being overly reactive to what’s going on around us.
Mindful meditation can be done anywhere. Some people prefer to sit in a quiet place, close their eyes, and focus on their breathing. But you can choose to be mindful at any point of the day, including while you’re commuting to work or doing chores.
When practicing mindfulness meditation, you observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgement
Tantric meditation is a dynamic form of meditation that awakens consciousness for the purpose of liberating shakti energy. In fact, Tantra is derived from the Sanskrit, tan, meaning “expansion,” and tra,meaning “liberation.” This type of meditation is in contrast to most yogic meditation as practiced in the West, where the goal is tranquility and relaxation.
Tantra practices and meditation have become associated with spiritual sexuality, Traditional Tantric meditation expands the mind and activates consciousness in conjunction with Kriya yoga.
Tantric meditation is a form of meditation that uses energy for the purpose of transformation. Because energy is at its core, the depth of its reach is quite significant and it has the ability to touch a person on all levels and aspects of the being.
Here are a few Benefits and effects a practitioner may experience, from the most gross to the most subtle:
- Physical: Reduced blood pressure, reaching parasympathetic states, a remodeling of the nervous system, heightened immunity, improved health and well-being
- Energetic: Reactivation of vital energy centers, purification of energy channels, increased awareness of subtle energies, development of energetic intelligence and how to use energy at will for a desired purpose or outcome
- Emotional: Balance and stability in emotional states, control of thoughts and feelings, increased emotional maturity
- Mental: Development of higher mental functions, greater mental capacity, improved memory, enhanced concentration and focus, attainment of paranormal powers in some cases
- Spiritual: Panoramic observation and introspection of self, realization of the inner atman, higher states of consciousness, enlightenment
The results of tantric meditation are inevitable but undefinable. They depend entirely on the individual practitioner and a number of spiritual factors such as karma, level of purity, blockages, degree of aspiration, and divine grace.
’the more emotion and psychological tension we build up inside, the less open and receptive we are of the people around us, and the life we have in general.’’ We shall engage in a very healthy form of catharsis: tantrums.
Dynamic meditation was first created by Indian guru and mystic Osho (or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). It’s a full body catharsis that involves sporadic and spontaneous movements and noises that are aimed to increase alertness, and purify the body of toxic, repressed emotions.The whole point of dynamic meditation is to become more open, aware and embracing of life, in the present moment.
Dynamic meditation is a type of practice that involves moving the body while meditating. The practice was developed by 20th-century Indian spiritual leader Osho of the Rajneesh movement, but the name is sometimes used generically to describe any active meditation practice.
The trademarked style of meditation, officially called OSHO Dynamic Meditation, was created to move stagnant energy and break conditioned patterns in the body-mind. It involves chaotic breathing — fast with no rhythm or pattern — followed by wild movements and shouting. The full practice takes an hour to complete.
Guided meditation, which is sometimes also called guided imagery or visualization, is a method of meditation in which you form mental pictures or situations that you find relaxing.
This process is typically led by a guide or teacher, hence “guided.” It’s often suggested to use as many senses as possible, such as smell, sounds, and textures, to evoke calmness in your relaxing space.
Transcendental meditation is a simple technique in which a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound, or small phrase, is repeated in a specific way. It’s practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
The idea is that this technique will allow you to settle inward to a profound state of relaxation and rest, with the goal of achieving inner peace without concentration or effort.
Self Compassion Love and Kindness
Metta meditation, also called Loving Kindness Meditation, is the practice of directing well wishes toward others. Those who practice recite specific words and phrases meant to evoke warm-hearted feelings. This is also commonly found in mindfulness and vipassana meditation.
It’s typically practiced while sitting in a comfortable, relaxed position. After a few deep breaths, you repeat the following words slowly and steadily. “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
After a period of directing this loving kindness toward yourself, you may begin to picture a family member or friend who has helped you and repeat the mantra again, this time replacing “I” with “you.”
As you continue the meditation, you can bring other members of your family, friends, neighbors, or people in your life to mind. Practitioners are also encouraged to visualize people they have difficulty with.
Finally, you end the meditation with the universal mantra: “May all being everywhere be happy.”
Sound is energy. Sound — in the form of your voice chanting — causes subtle vibrations. If you consider the body as an intricate energy system, with seven nodes of concentrated power located in what we call the chakras, then it stands to reason that the energy of our vibrating or chanting voices can influence the energy of our body systems.
Dr. Zhi Gang Sha, a renowned specialist in Chinese medicine, suggests that sound vibrates our organs, «thereby stimulating and accelerating the flow of energy» (or qi). Different sounds stimulate vibrations in different body parts. In his book, Power Healing, Dr. Sha points out that «for over 5,000 years, Buddhists, Taoists and Confucians (the three main spiritual groups in Chinese cultural history) have applied sound power techniques for healing and blessing.» Individual sounds affect different parts of the body. For example, says Dr. Sha, «if you touch your chest while chanting the … sound ar, you’ll feel the vibration there.» In India, it is common for people to chant mantras for hours or even days on end, as a form of prayer, to achieve certain healing goals.
Chakra Meditation involves a focus on energy centers in the subtle body.
“Chakra” is a Sanskrit word that literally means wheel or cycle. In the context of spiritual disciplines such as yoga, the chakras are considered to be wheel-like energy centers that are not physically discernable but belong to the subtle spiritual body and connect it to the material one. The 7 main chakras are situated along the spine from the sacrum at the bottom up to the crown at the top of the head. Practice can focus on a single chakra or move through all seven. The intention is to stimulate and unblock each energy center.
How the chakras relate to our lives
We are conditioned to believe that when we are upset it is because something happened to us that caused the upset. However, this is exactly backwards.
When an upsetting event occurs, such as pain, disease or discomfort in the body, or an «outer» circumstance such as losing a job or a relationship, that occurrence is a reflection of an «upset» that was already within us, usually below our conscious awareness.
For example, let’s say your husband or wife wants a divorce and you feel upset. The event of your partner wanting a divorce is a manifestation of a part of you that is «divorced» from another part of you – a place where you have pulled away from yourself.
However we experience being treated by someone else is a reflection of how we treat ourselves, which is how we believe (usually unconsciously) we SHOULD be treated.
The chakras would reflect the beliefs as well, most likely in the solar plexus and heart in this example, as well as the throat and the first two chakras, to varying degrees. All the organs and cells in the areas of the body related to the chakras would also be affected.
In this type of chakra meditation, by embracing whatever arises in awareness that we call «upset,» the trauma within a chakra is gradually released, allowing it to spin and work in synchronicity with the other chakras as a team.
This facilitates inner harmony and balance as your entire energy field shifts to a more unified whole. Once our energy field is aligned with wellbeing in this way, healing begins organically.
The Japanese term “Zen” is a derivative of the Chinese word Ch’an, itself a translation of the Indian term dhyana, which means concentration or meditation.
Zen meditation is a traditional Buddhist discipline which can be practiced by new and seasoned meditators alike. One of the many benefits of Zen meditation is that it provides insight into how the mind works. As with other forms of Buddhist meditation, Zen practice can benefit people in myriad ways, including providing tools to help cope with depression and anxiety issues. The deepest purpose is spiritual, as the practice of Zen meditation uncovers the innate clarity and workability of the mind. In Zen, experiencing this original nature of mind is experiencing awakening.
For Zen Buddhists, meditation involves observing and letting go of the thoughts and feelings that arise in the mindstream, as well as developing insight into the nature of body and mind. Unlike many popular forms of meditation that focus on relaxation and stress relief, Zen meditation delves much deeper. Zen tackles deep-rooted issues and general life questions that often seem to lack answers, and it does so based on practice and intuition rather than study and logic.
The true key to happiness and well-being isn’t wealth or fame – it lies within us. On the everyday level, Zen trains the mind to achieve calmness. Meditators are also able to reflect with better focus and more creativity. Improved physical health is another benefit: people who practice zazen report lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and stress, better immune systems, more restorative sleep, and other improvements.
The practice of yoga dates back to ancient India. There are a wide variety of classes and styles of yoga, but they all involve performing a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises meant to promote flexibility and calm the mind.
The poses require balance and concentration and practitioners are encouraged to focus less on distractions and stay more in the moment.
Which style of meditation you decide to try depends on a number of factors. If you have a health condition and are new to yoga, speak to your doctor about which style may be right for you.