(Last Updated on : 10/12/2008)
Meditation is a method which is considered to be an ancient approach for achieving a peaceful mind and attaining concentrated mind. It is practised to achieve a mind-body connection and to realize specific developmental goals. This very old method is considered to be about four thousand years and is present since the beginning of Yoga. There are many different types of meditation that are practiced at present. Thus, the benefits from number of different types of meditation are also felt. All meditation types are found to be effective in reducing stress. These methods eliminate stress by creating detachment. Meditation compliments the physical world as the final step in spirituality, and honours the problems of life as the stimuli of growth.
There are various types of meditation and they can be categorized into two broad approaches. Concentrative meditation and Mindfulness meditation are the major meditation types that have acted as a mode of welfare among human beings since their inception. Concentrative meditation is the form that mainly focuses the attention on the breath, on an image, or a sound (mantra), which can be a soothing music. Concentrative meditation is practised by sitting quietly and focusing the attention on the breath. It concentrates on opening up the mind, to sense the five given sagacity and allows the mind to achieve greater awareness and clarity.
Yoga and meditation is associated with a direct correlation between one`s breath and one`s state of the mind. Different types of meditation assert to keep the mind calm, and composed. The breath tends to become slow, deep, and regular. The mind revolves about the continuous rhythm of inhalation and exhalation which provides a natural object of meditation. Meditation can be initiated with the simple process of breath watching.
Among the several types of meditation, Mindfulness meditation involves in opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations, feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, touch and so on, without becoming involved with each of them. It is the process of watching the mind and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind. Furthermore in this sort of meditation, there is no reacting to the happenings of the mind or getting involved with thoughts, memories, worries, or images. Thus a non-reactive state of mind can be achieved.
Transcendental meditation is other diverse types of meditation which is related to repetition of a specific sound or a mantra. This mantra or sound has to be repeated or practiced according to specific procedure. The mind is engrossed in settling down or is "transcended" and a state of restful alertness is experienced. Zen meditation involves Zazen, which is the centre of Zen meditation. It is a study of self and is believed to be a form of attaining enlightenment. It evokes a thought- free wakefulness so that the mind can reach its own Buddha nature.
Among the wide assortment of meditations, religious meditation has occupied a vital position. Thus Buddhist Meditation has tried pacifying the mind. This kind of meditation is practiced in Buddhism. It is divided into Samatha and Vipassana meditation. Samatha calms the mind and develops one-pointed concentration and positive emotions. Vipassana builds on this calmness and positivity and develops an awareness of the inner self. Types of meditation include Raja yoga meditation. It is the kind of meditation which is considered to be the king of all yogas. It gives the power to control ones own mind. The mental connection between the soul and the Supreme soul or the remembrance of the supreme psyche by the soul is Raja yoga meditation. Through Raja yoga the soul achieves its peaceful and natural state very easily.
Mantra meditation is a formula with spiritual significance that can help one relax very deeply. It involves thinking of a mantra and concentrating on it, helps one to focus one`s attention on the inside and eventually reach a state of very deep rest. Chakra meditation is also among the varied types of meditation. This engages `chakra anusadhna` which means ` discovery or search of chakras`. It is a simple way of meditation for beginners and helps awakening them gently, in a balanced and integrated way. Thus all the meditation kinds differ from one another.
Although, prayer and postures of each of the meditation technique are dissimilar, yet, a few meditation types have analogous course of action. Zazen and Vipassana, meditations are such that require, the human body to be held in an immobile position and the attention of the mind is controlled. While in other meditation types like the Siddha yoga and the Latihan, the body and mind is left free, they are set open without any kind of control over them. However, all these meditation practices have one thing in common; they all attempt to bring the wandering and busy mind to a peaceful and calm state. Each of these meditation types make us aware of our five senses organs and also help in developing a sixth sense, to some extent.
Moreover, through every meditation type, the mind can be concentrated only on the present moment. When the mind is calm and focused on the present moment, it neither reacts to the memories from the past, nor is it being preoccupied with plans for the future. However, it is necessary to understand the basic principles of meditation. The human body is a complex pattern of physical energy. It is indispensable to keep the body fit so that one can deal with the ordinary life. Meditation helps to relax our muscles and brain and endow with the positive energy.
Types of meditation facilitate the practitioner to come close to one`s soul. Soul, or atma, is immortal. It is the inner self with three intrinsic abilities which include the ability to think, wish or will, the ability to judge understand or investigate and furthermore the ability to retain impressions of past thought in the form of attitudes, moods or habits. The first is known as the Mind, the second as Intellect and the third as Samskaras, Resolves or Latencies. These three abilities, which distinguish one man from the other and determine the mental and moral state of a person. The soul is a living or an observant being. It can think, reflect, experience pain and pleasure and can also make efforts and actions. The mind is considered to be the mental faculty of the soul. The mind thinks , imagines and forms ideas. This thought process is the basis of all emotions and actions. It is through this faculty that, in instant, thoughts can be projected to a different place, past experiences, emotions can be relieved and future can be estimated. Therefore one needs to be Body and Soul conscious before starting the meditation process.