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28 Sept 2021
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Understanding Meditation

Although an ancient tradition in many cultures, meditation is still practised the world over. People use it to regulate their stress levels and cultivate a sense of calm and harmony. It has been associated with a number of religious traditions, but in practice, it has more to do with changing your consciousness and finding peace.

In a time when we struggle to have work-life balance and schedules or are busy in general, meditation is taking off again. There are a variety of ways in which one can meditate, and there is really no right or wrong way of doing it. People can achieve physical and mental wellbeing through different types of meditation. Here's a look at some of them-

Types of Meditation

1. Mindfulness Meditation:

Now popularised in the West, mindfulness meditation began as a type of Buddhist meditation. Under this technique, you are required to be attentive to your thoughts by simply observing, and not judging them. It is helpful to concentrate on a particular object or your breath as you take note of your thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere. An individual just needs to stay calm and notice their surroundings by using all their senses like sounds, sights and smells. In fact, mindfulness is a major component in all types of meditation. It can help reduce fixation on negative emotions, improve memory and focus, and lower impulsive reactions.

2. Spiritual Meditation:

Spiritual meditation is very similar to praying, in that the point is to seek a connection with God. It is also commonly used in many religions including Daoism, Christianity and Hinduism. Spiritual meditation can be practised in a place of worship or at home. Practitioners usually use essential oils and incense to accompany their meditation.

3. Focused Meditation:

This kind of meditation involves the use of all five senses. You can focus on your breath or use mala beads, candle flames or a gong to focus your attention. It is very easy for the mind to wander, so beginners must work hard to focus. This practice can help cultivate our focus.

4. Movement Meditation:

Movement meditation is a word used for various types of meditation that involve bodily movements. These motions could include yoga, qigong, gardening and other forms of gentle motion. Movement meditation is an active kind of meditating which is good for those who like to let their mind wander.

5. Mantra Meditation:

Popular in Hindu traditions and a prominent type of Buddhist meditation, mantra meditation requires the practitioner to chant a particular word repeatedly. Chanting of a mantra such as 'Om' helps you remain more aware and alert. For some, mantra meditation may be an easier form of meditating than focusing on their breath. The vibrations that accompany the mantra's enunciation can encourage positive change like boosting self-confidence and increasing compassion.

6. Transcendental Meditation:

Transcendental meditation is considered to be a form of spiritual meditation in which one must sit down and breathe slowly. The idea is to rise above one's present state of being. Practitioners can make use of a mantra to focus their attention.

7. Progressive Relaxation or Body Scan Meditation:

The purpose of progressive or body scan relaxation is to lower bodily tension and become relaxed. One must slowly tighten and loosen a certain muscle group at a time to alleviate tension. This way, an individual can scan their body for tension areas and release it. Another form of body scan meditation involves visualising a wave drifting all over the body to release tension. It promotes feelings of calm and relaxation and helps gain relief from pain.

8. Love-Kindness Meditation:

This method of meditation is used to bolster feelings of kindness and compassion for others and yourself. A practitioner opens their mind to receive love from others and send good wishes to their loved ones and all living beings.

9. Visualisation Meditation:

Through visualisation meditation, you can focus on improving feelings of peace, calm and relaxation by visualising positive images or scenes. It is important to use all senses and visualise as vividly as possible. This method of meditation helps put the practitioner in a better mood and reduce stress levels.

Traditional Types of Meditation

Here are some kinds of meditation that are associated with certain traditions or religions. Here are some types-

1. Yoga:

The practice of yoga helps strengthen the nervous system and better cope with stress. Asanas like the corpse pose or savasana help relax the body. Yoga involves meditation along with physical exercise. Some types of yoga such as Kundalini blend movement with deep breathing as well as mantras. It can improve physical strength and reduce physical pain.

2. Vipassana:

Under vipassana, you are required to intensely concentrate with the objective of transforming eventually. It encourages you to contemplate aspects of human existence such as dissatisfaction, suffering and emptiness.

3. Chakra:

Chakra meditation uses a technique that tries to balance and align the different chakras or centres of energy in the body. Imbalance in the chakras makes you uncomfortable physically and mentally.

4. Qigong:

Qigong meditation is a Chinese practice that allows you to harness your bodily energy by allowing energy meridians to be more fluid and open. This helps the body function properly and heal when energy is sent inwards, and help another person when it is sent outwards.

5. Zen:

Another type of Buddhist meditation, Zen requires a person to sit upright and follow their breath as it goes in and out of the belly. The practitioner just lets their mind create a sense of alertness.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has a variety of benefits for the physical and mental health of an individual. It helps lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety. It also reduces anxiety, decreases pain, improves sleep and reduces symptoms of depression.

Building Your Meditation Skills

Building your meditation skills, like building any other skills, requires patience, perseverance and practice. Meditation is highly process-oriented and requires you to focus on the moment instead of the results. In order to truly hone your skills, it is important that you enjoy the process. Not being able to master meditation can cause frustration and anger, but it is important that you keep at it and persevere.

Conclusion

Meditation is a simple, sustainable practice that can help you get better health and be happier in life. A few minutes of meditation every day can help manage stress and anxiety. Although there are many kinds of meditation techniques, you can pick the right one or mix different methods.

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