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Meditations Info ...

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Types of meditation ...

Before we examine the types of meditation it is important to understand that there are three underlying principles:

  • In order to concentrate, it is necessary to focus on only one object at a time.
  • As soon as one’s thoughts begin to wander, then they must be slowly brought back to the object of one’s focus.
  • During the act of meditation it is essential to try to ignore all sorts of distractions, such as the intrusion of irrelevant thoughts, and the sudden awareness of the sensations that the body feels.

These three points are true no matter which system of meditation is used. Let us look at six types of meditation:

  • Breath watching.
  • Empty mind.
  • Walking.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Simple mantra.
  • Concept.

Breath watching

Meditating can be as simple as paying attention to your breath for a few minutes. Relax in whatever position feels best, you can sit in an easy chair if you wish. Close your eyes and start to pay close attention to your breathing. When you breathe through your nose, the diaphragm becomes involved and the oxygen in the inhaled air goes all the way to the bottom of your lungs. Whenever you find your mind beginning to wander, just re-focus your attention on the air going in and out of your nose. When you commence using this type of breathing exercise, you should do it for no more than five minutes; until you have acquired sufficient practise in re-focussing your attention when it drifts. You can then extend the meditation session to fifteen minutes.

Empty mind

Meditating can create a kind of "awareness without a direct object," in other words although you have emptied your mind completely (or until you have a lot of experience, as empty as you can get it) the empty mind somehow becomes the object itself. The techniques for doing this involve sitting very still, often in a "full lotus" or cross-legged position, and quietly allowing the conscious mind go silent on its own. This can be very difficult, because in the early days of practising this type of meditation, any effort of emptying the mind just seems to cause more mental activity rather than less.

Walking

This type of meditation involves the whole body. It can be done outside or simply indoors by a back and forth pacing of a room.

The focus of attention here is directed to the movement of your legs, your breathing, your body, and to the feeling of your feet contacting the ground as you walk. When your mind wanders, you have to bring your focus back to the process of walking, and breathing. Meditating outside in this way can be very difficult, because of the many distractions. When doing this outside try and find a clear, quiet, open space, with level ground out in the countryside, preferably with no people or other distractions.

Mindfulness

This is the Buddhist practice called vipassana or insight meditation. Mindfulness is the art of becoming deeply aware of the present moment – of what is here right now. You focus on what is happening in, and around you, at this very moment, and thus become aware of all the thoughts, and feelings that are taking your energy from moment to moment. To carry out this meditation you can start by focussing on your breathing, and then move your attention focus to the thoughts going through your mind, the feelings in your body, and even the sounds, and sights around you. The key is to watch without judging, or analyzing – merely to observe without comment.

Simple Mantra

Many people find it easier to keep their mind from wandering if they concentrate on something specific, such as the recitation of a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat as you sit in meditation, and, in some traditions, it is chosen for you by an experienced master. When working on this alone, you can use any word or phrase that has meaning for you, and you can choose to either repeat it aloud, or in your head as you meditate.

Concept

Some meditative practices involve contemplation of an idea or scenario. A classic example is the "meditation on impermanence," in which you focus on the impermanent nature of all things, starting with your thoughts and feelings as they come and go. In the Buddhist "meditation on the corpse," you think about a body in the ground, as it slowly rots away and is fed on by worms. The technique is used to guide you to an understanding that your rationalizing mind might not bring you to.

© 2014 The School of Natural Health Sciences (MEDITATION, Lesson 1, pp. 4-6).



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