Meditation - Understanding its Essence
Meditation is believed to be in existence since the beginning of time itself. The earliest clear references to meditation are in the middle Upanishads and the Mahabharata. In fact, an early Shaivite text called the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, believed to have been written around the 7th-8th century CE, briefly presents around 112 Tantric meditation methods (yuktis) or centering techniques (dhāraṇās) in a discourse between Bhairava and Bhairavi (believed to be Shiva and Parvati.) So, it is hard to establish a clear date when meditation came into being.
There are many examples of references to people practicing meditation in the olden times in our spiritual ballads and epics. One such example is the Indonesian shadow plays depicting Arjuna’s meditative journey from Mahabharata. In some of the oldest written records from around 1500 BCE in India, the reference of Dhyāna or Jhāna is mentioned as the training of the mind, often translated as meditation. While in China, early forms of meditation are referenced as far back as the 3rd and 6th century BC and linked to the Daoist Laozi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, and his writings. But, there is one point of absolute clarity: this ancient practice has prevailed and survived because its relevance through the ages has only increased and is widely recognized as a tool to connect with oneself better.
The practice of meditation has traveled across nations, religions, and traditions, and meditators have gathered different forms of meditation. With the vast knowledge base of meditation covering its basics, techniques, and styles, it can be overwhelming for beginners to start off on the journey of mindfulness and meditation, and inculcating it can be challenging. Furthermore, you need to understand the intricacies and tactics behind mindfulness to start a meditation practice. While there are numerous techniques to choose from, we are listing some of them here so that you can see which resonates with your true beliefs.
11 Different Meditation Techniques
While there are numerous types of meditation techniques to choose from, we are listing a few of them here for you to pick which ones work for you:
1. Breathing / Anapanasati meditation - Anapanasati is one of the simplest meditation techniques. Many practitioners find this form of meditation focusing on the breath, as a natural place to begin their meditation journey. With its roots in Buddhist teachings, this Breathing meditation technique is one of the easiest which makes it ideal for beginners. The practice—according to the Anapanasati Sutta is said to be the form of meditation used to bring the Buddha to full awakening. In this clear and detailed teaching, the Buddha presents a meditation technique that uses conscious breathing to calm the mind so that it is fit to see into itself, to let go into freedom. Because, intentional breathing can free your mind from stress and irritability and enhances clarity of thought. This meditation technique can be practiced whenever you feel overwhelmed before a presentation, an important meeting, or when you are about to start your day.
You can try out a short Anapanasati meditation and experience deep peace.
2. Mantra meditation - Mantra Meditation technique is taken chiefly from Hinduism and Buddhism. Shlokas or mantras are words, syllables, or sentences, usually in Sanskrit or Pali. The mantras are repeated over and over in a mantra meditation session. Mantra meditation may serve a more profound spiritual purpose as certain Hindu, Buddhist, and ancient Christian traditions (Latin), use mantras to center the heart and mind to mindfully connect with the divine power. The words often carry deep meanings that work as affirmations to become a part of our subconscious. Mantras can be a helpful tool for achieving a deep state of relaxation during meditation. Mantras help you go deeper into any spiritual practice and can be a genuine guide to help you navigate your meditation as it evolves. They may even lead you to discover and develop your spiritual strengths with honesty and integrity. For example, specific Sanskrit mantras like the "Soham'' carry profound meaning. The Soham mantra, which resonates with "I am that, "indicates an association with that divine intelligence, the oneness of all. If you have difficulty memorizing mantras, you can start with a simple chanting of OM or even the hum (''hmmm") as it is believed to be the sound that travels through the universe across galaxies.
You can try this Mantra meditation on our app that can help you experience positivity through OM chanting.
3. Body Scan meditation / Vipassana - This meditation technique is based on an ancient practice and encourages an introspective focus on various parts of your body. Vipassana, which means to see things as they are, is one of India's most ancient meditation techniques. It was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for all ills. Vipassana enables us to gain "insight into the underlying essence of reality through the study of "suffering", "unsatisfactoriness", "impermanence", "non-self", and "emptiness". Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. This meditative practice takes your body as the focal point as you gauge the various sensations that run through your body. When you put your non-judgmental attention to those sensations, it allows you to see the impermanence of those sensations and allows a clarity of thought to percolate to your life situations and reflect on the impermanence of everything. In some traditional Vipassana practice, you focus on your entire body to identify these sensations, while in other traditions you focus on specific body parts. However, either of them can help the meditators experience a better emotional and physical connection with themselves.
You can try Vipassana Meditation on our app that helps you align your body and mind to gain peace.
4. Chakra meditation - The word "chakra" comes from Sanskrit and translates to "wheel" or "disk," referring to the shape of these whirling energy centers that unite the mind, body, and spirit. According to Hinduism, Chakra meditation technique involves the 7 Chakras or the energy centers in our body, the number can vary marginally according to different religious or Yogic doctrines e.g: Buddhism and Taoism. These 7 Chakras are placed in a row, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. These are the Crown chakra at the top of the head, Third eye chakra in your forehead between your eyes, Throat Chakra located at the base of your throat, Heart Chakra at the center of your chest, Solar Plexus Chakra located in your abdomen above your belly button, Sacral Chakra situated at your pelvis, and Root Chakra at the base of your spine. Each Chakra is significant as they distribute energy needed for our health, well-being, and vitality. Imbalance in any chakras leads to headaches, inability to concentrate on tasks at hand, pain, stiffness in some parts of the body, blurred vision, loss of sleep, and irritability. You can learn more about how to balance our chakras in this blog. When we practice Chakra meditation technique, we can focus and heal the chakras by concentrating on each one. After experiencing an enlightening Chakra meditation session, you can feel an emotionally relaxed sense of contentment, peace, and heightened energy.This Chakra Meditation can be a great stepping stone for the activation of your Chakras.
5. Gibberish Meditation - Named after an enlightened Sufi master, Jabbar, and created by and popularized by OSHO, this cathartic meditation technique encourages expressive sounds and body movements, followed by a deep merging or a quiet relaxation. When practicing Gibberish meditation technique, you talk incoherently, like a child. The purpose of this incomprehensible jumble of letters is to disrupt our usual thought processes. Since we are able to string together words, we have considered them our primary means of communication. When we express ourselves in a language without meaning, the usual conventions disappear, and we find our true voices. Usually each session of Gibberish meditations is followed by moments of silence, so one can reflect on their thoughts and their rediscovered clarity.
Here’s a Gibberish Meditation on our app to help you clear your mind.
6. Qigong Meditation - Qigong meditation technique is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines controlled breathing, gentle movement, and meditation to promote good mental, physical, and spiritual health. Like Tai chi, Qigong meditation is believed to treat various health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and leg and back pain, among others. This is a time-honored and potent Chinese technique for maximizing vitality by maintaining free flow along the body's energy channels or meridians. It is believed that channeling this energy inward during meditation can aid in one's own healing and well-being while directing it outward can help heal another.
7. Sound Meditation - Sound has an ancient kinship with meditation and healing. Science is still catching up to understanding how sound heals, but the current research is promising. A review of 400 published scientific articles on music as medicine found strong evidence that music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood and reducing stress. This type of meditation technique uses sound to support meditation and achieve a state of deep calm. Its goal is to bring about a soothing yet profound experience that aids in physical recovery, mental tranquility, and a refocusing of awareness to the present. Sound meditation is a form of focused awareness type of meditation. One kind that has become more popular is called "sound baths", which uses Tibetan singing bowls, quartz bowls, and bells to guide the listener. These practices highlight themes of how the experience of sound manifests through hearing and tactile physical vibrations and frequencies.You can try this Sound meditation that will heal you with the vibration of a sound bath.
8. Yoga Nidra - Yoga Nidra, often called "yogic sleep," is a practice for achieving a meditative, sleep-like state of consciousness and total physical relaxation. Although this meditation technique has been practiced for centuries in India, it has only recently gained popularity in the West as a powerful tool for relieving stress and improving overall health and well-being. Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, typically induced by a guided meditation for deep relaxation. The practitioner follows instructions regarding different actions without becoming distracted while remaining completely awake and alert. Deep transformation can happen in Yoga Nidra because you can set a resolve that permeates the subconscious through practice, bringing the powerful potential for healing and self-growth.
Try out this ancient Yoga Nidra meditation that will help you manage stress and anxiety.
9. Reflection Meditation - Reflection meditation provides a window into our innermost thoughts and goals. The more time we spend reflecting on ourselves, the more accurately we come to terms with our genuine emotions, values, and principles. When we take time off to reflect, we make a concerted effort to examine our habits, values, and aspirations from the past, present, and future. The peace of mind cultivated through mindfulness practice has allowed us to approach this task with intention and insight. This type of meditation technique aims to help you get a sense of harmony and be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. Instead of suppressing your feelings, meditation teaches you how to accept them. Also, it can help reduce stress and make you feel calmer and more at peace.
Try out this Reflection meditation on our app that will help you observe your spontaneous thoughts by reflecting on them.
10. Loving-Kindness Meditation - Also known as Metta Bhavana is a practice used to develop compassion. Loving-kindness meditation is a Buddhist technique that may be adopted by anybody, regardless of religious affiliation, to cultivate love essentially. The Pali word for "loving-kindness" is "metta," which refers to a type of love that is both unconditional and inclusive. Metta meditation focuses on letting go of anger and frustration, increasing compassion and positivity. It is also a great meditation for solving personal conflicts.
Contrary to popular belief that meditation is mostly sitting in silence and working on your breathing techniques, loving-kindness meditation technique is an active form in which you focus more on sending good thoughts and goodwill. This is a meditation based on loving compassion, friendship, and self-care. Practicing it leads to a kinder, more loving outlook on life and a greater capacity for unconditional love. Being loving and compassionate involves not wanting anything from the other person. It's not based on guilt or obligation but rather an authentic desire to help others.
11. Healing Meditation - We have all heard stories of how healing meditation practice alleviated an illness that reached a turning point – considered medically impossible. Over the ages, there have been countless accounts of faith-based and prayer-based healing. Several cases stand out due to meticulous documentation of both the illness and subsequent recovery, as well as the investigation into it by a group of well-regarded medical professionals and academics. The miraculous recovery of a Lama's gangrenous leg is one such story. This type of meditation technique can help those dealing with physical and emotional discomfort due to chronic pain or other medical disorders. While some people experience profound changes from healing meditation, others benefit merely from the stress relief of practicing mindfulness.
Try out this quick meditation on our app that can offer rapid relief from chronic pain.
Finding your Meditative Comfort Zone
Meditation styles are varied to treat specific issues in our lives. One can always start with a simple, elementary meditation practice like breathing meditation. As and when one progresses and becomes more comfortable, one can proceed to other types of meditation practices. You can also try out different techniques and see which works for you the best.
You may face some difficulties as you are starting out. You can read how to overcome the common mistakes beginners make when starting with meditation, but you have to understand that it is okay to let your mind wander when you meditate; read about it here.
All you need to remember is not to judge yourself, to have an open mind, and not to force yourself to maintain a specific meditation position. Meditation is a natural state, and you will love how your body responds to it. An authentic meditation practice will help channel your inner happiness and self-awareness.
Idanim lets you explore different types of meditation. You can download the app from Google Play and App Store to experience the benefits of meditation.
In case you have any queries regarding meditation and mindfulness practices, you can ask our experts. We will get back to you within 48 hours.