9 October 2015

10 Ways to Meditate! Types of Meditation & Techniques

Ways to meditate
Meditation shouldn't be daunting or confusing. Many types of meditation exist, so here are some of them for you. But first, if you just want to go ahead and meditate for the first time simply do the following; remove all stimuli from a room so it's nice and quiet and you are alone. Sit with a straight back, cross-legged if you wish, close your eyes and listen to your own breathing. When thoughts come, gently push them away and go back to your breathing. Do this for 20 minutes per day at first.

Over months or years of practice, you may no longer need to focus on your breath or anything at all. You can reach a point where there is no thought in your mind whatsoever, a state of total silence and complete stillness. Here you may feel at one with all things, peaceful and expansive.

All of the following techniques will help you to balance the self, improve concentration, increase empathy, feel universal love, find peace and help you along your spiritual path. Overall, meditation can be classified into two main groups: non-directive meditation and concentrative meditation.

Non-Directive Meditation
Generally, a main anchor is chosen, such as the breath or meditation music to calm and focus the mind - but beyond this, the mind is allowed to wander. Thoughts can be gently explored and experiences are permitted to flow into the mind. Intuition is used, and channelling can be done where concepts, visions and ideas spontaneously arise in the mind and are indeed welcomed.

We keep silent and remove the interference of the 5 senses as much as possible so that we can listen to creation. We are experiencing the moment, non-judgementally and non-reactively.

Concentrative Meditation
A specific focus is chosen, such as the breath, a mantra, a part of the body, a concept, an idea, a visualized object, or complete nothingness. This is so that attention is rooted to the spot. All other thoughts are therefore unwanted and gently pushed away while the attention is drawn back to the focal point or anchor.

Practice is required so that attention remains on the anchor for longer without thoughts intruding. The purpose of this is to improve concentration, train the mind, help certain concepts to sink into the subconscious mind, and (the same as non-directive meditation) to keep silent and remove interference from the 5 sense as much as possible.

As for all meditation, a good way to do it is to sit up with your back straight without support so that you don't feel like falling asleep. You can sit on a chair, cross-legged on a cushion or just on the floor - which ever suits your physical body and purpose.

Types of Non-Directive Meditation For You To Do

Creative Meditation
You can get creative with your thoughts during creative meditation; while still retaining a quiet mind and the absence of the 5 senses.

Sitting quietly, you begin a healing meditation. Visualize a ball of white healing energy coming down from the cosmos and enveloping your entire body. Visualize it all around you and it filling your body with healing energy. Dark, negative energy is neutralized by this healing light. Remain in the healing energy for as long as you wish.

Begin another meditation, again with your eyes closed. Meditate on generating a ball of pure love inside of your heart chakra. Visualize it growing bigger and bigger. Really feel the love that you are generating; love for everyone and everything. See the mass of energy grow bigger and bigger until it encompasses your entire city, country or even better still, the Earth. Meditate and visualize radiating love to the entire world - it needs it!

A concept can be contemplated and the mind allowed to mull it over. Although thoughts are not permitted to wander away, the mind can move around and explore a given concept. Here is an example concept given by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (Buddhist meditation master);

'Just as I wish to be free from suffering and experience only happiness, so do all other beings. In this respect, I am no different from any other being; we are all equal.'

Take a concept such as this and thoughtfully examine it, consider what it really means, and to whom, how much and what the outcome is for you. After this, you can condense the idea into one or two words and meditate on that. Clearing the mind and contemplating such a thought for a period of time really allows it to sink into the subconscious mind and have influence on your personality, perceptions and beingness.

Please see my detailed article on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a crossover between the two meditation categories, it's both concentrative meditation and non-directed meditation. The reason for this is that mindfulness is all about being present in the now and observing the present moment. We must focus on the present moment true, making mindfulness concentrative meditation, however, we allow our minds to explore the present moment, making it also non-directed meditation.

Eyes closed, preferably in the classic cross-legged upright (lotus) position, keeping silent with an empty mind, focus on this very moment non-judgementally. When thoughts come to you, push them away – we are highly focused here. Start by observing your breath, how it feels and what it sounds like. Then begin to examine parts of your body, sounds, sensations and how you feel right at this moment. Your mind is allowed to wander around your present experience.

The purpose of this is to remind ourselves that happiness and peace can be found in the present moment, and that we need not look to far horizons to reach happiness. Mindfulness also dissolves the ego because we are not mulling over the past, future, worries, lists and so on. We simply must be.

Types of Concentrative Meditation For You To Do

Zen Meditation
This is the essential Buddhist concentration meditation. Sitting cross-legged with back straight, observe the breath, breathing in and out through the nose only. The focus is on the breath. Hands on the lap, palms up. Your mind and breath should be 'one'. Breath should become deeper and easier, just like your state of consciousness.

We count each inhalation and exhalation, count one at the end of an inhalation and two at the end of an exhalation, all the way up to ten and then start again. If thoughts creep in and you forget to count, then start over. Counting helps you to realize when your mind has drifted away because you stop counting. This helps to train us to concentrate and focus.

After several sessions you can cease counting but continue with focusing on the breath. Ultimately singleness of mind should start to occur. The breathing and heart rate slow right down to just a few breaths per minute, and deep meditation is achieved. All life is reset, free of ego and attachments, we can approach life with fresh focus.

Mantra and Affirmations in Meditation
Mantra are syllables or words that are repeated to focus the mind. The word being repeated doesn't normally have a meaning. The choice of word for some is very important due to the vibration created. Words such as Om or Soham (pronounced as So Hum) are examples.

Today, modern mantras are popular which consist of a short word or phrase that are repeated to the self in order for the concept to sink into the subconscious to turn it into a belief. These are known as 'affirmations', examples being: 'I am a strong and intelligent person', 'I am thankful for all that I have' and 'I cannot control the actions of others'.

Mantra are a good focal point to aid in silencing the mind. Traditionally the vibration of the sound helps you to enter deeper, finely tuned meditation to alter your level of consciousness. Modern affirmations help to change one's deep-rooted beliefs and can be an aid to manifestation (as per the law of attraction).

Chakra Meditation
To cleanse our chakras, that's the seven main energy centres that run down the centre of our body; we can perform chakra meditation. As an example, we choose a chakra, hold our left hand out stretched and visualize healing energy pouring in through the palm and travelling down the arm into the chakra in question. Visualize the chakra opening, being cleansed and flowing freely, and then visualize the healing energy exiting, carrying with it any negative energy and flowing away.

In addition, please read my article 'how to unblock your chakras yourself' for information on balancing the 7 chakras. Chakra cleansing work is more to do with personality balancing than anything else, and the aspect of personality or self that each represents needs to be contemplated and meditated upon.

You can contemplate on the following, to help balance each chakra:

Red chakra: Finding emotional balance, best ways to channel raw emotion, turning negative emotion into something positive.
Orange chakra: Awareness of the self and others, acceptance of the self and others. Who are you as an individual?
Yellow chakra: Dissolution of the ego. To what degree are you 'service to self' or 'service to others' orientated?
Green chakra: How much love can you express? How much love do you require from others? Are your thoughts of love and unity or the opposite?
Blue Chakra: A balance of listening and communicating. Too much or too little of either?
Indigo chakra (Third Eye Meditation): Are you worthy or unworthy? Examine self worth. Focus on wisdom, love and unity combined. Listen to creation, work with the inner (intuitive) senses. Meditation itself activates indigo ray.
Violet chakra: Concentrate on the totality of self. Your mind, body and spirit as a whole. Work with all chakras helps to clear violet ray.

Heart-Centred Meditation
Heart-centred meditation also helps to cleanse and balance the green (heart) chakra. Visualize healing energies cleansing your heart chakra. Focus on love and unity of all things. Focus on feelings of pure love and compassion for all that there is during your meditation. Focus on pure love.

This is where consciousness reaches the gamma wave frequency brainwaves, this is experienced in abundance by Buddhist monks during meditation. It is said that to transcend this reality and move to the next layer of existence of fourth density, every thought that you have must be of love. A tall order perhaps! Meditation will help toward this and to cleanse your heart (green) chakra.

Sound Meditation
Gongs or singing bowls can be used to tune the frequency of energy within the room or within the self to a certain frequency, making singleness of thought and focusing of energies much easier.

In modern times, meditation music provides a useful tool to focus the attention single-pointedly without the need to a visualize an anchor or concentrate on the breath. Concentration is placed on the music while all other senses are quietened and thoughts are gently pushed away. Please see my article on binaural beats and altering brainwaves for further information on how sound can be used during meditation. But in a nutshell, sounds of a certain frequency can cause a person's brainwaves to alter and align with the frequency of the given sound. This is called the 'frequency following effect'.

This effect can produce some useful results because brainwaves correspond with mood and states of consciousness, therefore allowing the user, given the correct frequency of sound, to enter a much deeper meditative state.

In Conclusion
There are other forms of meditation such as Transcendental Meditation which is a very popular and effective, used by millions of people worldwide plus a number of celebrities. It involves the use of a specific mantra tailored to you and if you wish to learn transcendental meditation you must pay to learn from a registered transcendental meditation teacher.

These have been just a few examples of types of meditation and they cover a wide range of techniques. What ever meditation you choose (and it's useful to practice some different types) know that meditation is instrumental in brining you closer to the oneness of creation.

It's important not to approach meditation with a rigid goal or a set of expectations, this in itself can distract you and the mind cannot be clear to focus or freely wander. Great healing, self improvement, balancing, calmness, happiness, inner peace and focus can be achieved; if meditation is made a lifelong endeavour. Changes in yourself and your life can be seen quickly and the possibilities really are endless.

PDF version of 10 Ways to Meditate is available here.

10 Ways to Meditate! Types of Meditation & Techniques | Nicky Sutton 
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