Meditation Styles and Tradition
Zen meditation is based on zazen. This has to do with sitting in one of several possible positions and using meditation to help achieve a better connection with reality's true nature. There are different forms of Zen meditation, which interpret and practice zazen in different ways. For example, while Rinzai meditation calls for practitioners to sit in a circle, facing each other, Soto meditation requires that meditators face a wall.
Yogic meditation is a practice developed in India, often combined with pranayama, a sophisticated practice of breathing techniques. The breath is used as a focus to quiet the mind. Within the calmness of the mind, there is a focus on the present moment, not on what has or what will happen. Combine with pranayama and yoga, it leads to physical and mental relaxation and improves health, while also alleviating several forms of illness.
Vipassana (Insight) Meditation
The word Vipassana means to see things as they actually are. It is among the oldest meditation techniques from India, and was rediscovered over 2500 years ago by Gotama Buddha, who then shared it openly with others to assist in overcoming what he referred to as universal ills. Non-sectarian, the goal of Vipassana meditation is the elimination of mental impurities in order to achieve freedom and the happiness that comes with it. It is a method of self-transformation by way of self-observation.
Tibetan meditation is the general term for all meditation practiced within the Buddhist philosophy of Tibet, with the goal of meditating in order to achieve salvation. Tibetan Buddhists practice hundreds, if not thousands of different meditation techniques, each with its own purpose and style in order to compliment the personality of the practitioner. Tibetan meditation works to take the practitioner beyond him/herself and into Nirvana.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
TM is a basic and natural form of meditation that works to achieve a settled state in the mind, referred to as the transcendental consciousness, which is a purer consciousness and which is the root of all creativeness. Transcendental meditation makes use of mantras, and is practiced twice per day, for approximately fifteen minutes each time, in the morning and in the evening. The conscious becomes open to itself when transcendental meditation is achieved.
Osho's meditations all begin with an active stage - frequently quite physical in nature - and are followed up by a silent time. Each Osho meditation technique is complimented by meditation music which has been composed specifically for the stage being practiced at that moment. There are different meditative techniques that are practiced at different times of the day. Osho meditation isn't considered a practice in itself as much as it is a way of life.
Meditation and Prayer
Prayer and meditation are two unique processes of the mind and body. Prayer is concerned with communicating personally with a deity, spirit, or other form of higher power. It can be an appeal, a wish, or simple communication. As thoughts and feelings are expressed, the path of thinking is altered and a better understanding of divine purpose is achieved. Meditation is a technique that helps to slow and focus the brain so that it is not swarming with the constant thoughts that usually flood it. It helps to bring the body and mind together to achieve a higher level of peace and happiness. Together, meditation and prayer combine for a high level of respect for others, compassion, and overall calm.
Guided Visualization is a form of meditation that allows the mind to take a journey toward discovery and change. It is a process that works well for overcoming fears and issues causing trouble or stress. It can either be performed with a recording or with a guiding person slowly reading a script out loud while the practitioner meditates. The tone of the speaker must be soothing in nature. It opens the conscious and subconscious minds to a communication between them. Perception through the actual senses is encouraged through the different guided visualizations. Guided visualization is similar to hypnosis in many respects.
Taoist meditation, rooted in ancient China, shares many features with Hindu, Zen and Buddhist systems, though the Taoist approach is more practical than the abstract, contemplative traditions of India and Japan. Taoist meditations feature the internal circulation of energy, or Qi, and are related to other Chinese arts such as Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong and Chinese martial arts.
Taoist meditation is built upon the ideas of jing (quiet, stillness) and ding (concentration). The breath is the usual focus of attention to achieve a state of meditation, with a one-pointed awareness the goal.
Moving Meditation: Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong
Tai Chi Chuan is a moving meditation developed in ancient China, practiced for its relaxation, health, flexibility, strength, and balance benefits. Tension is released through the toning of the muscles, development of balance, and increasing flexibility. As a meditation, Tai Chi Chuan dynamically harmonizes the mind and body. The mind is stilled just as in sitting meditation, but the body moves to actively circulate the Qi energy throughout the body.
Qigong is a meditation based on the breath. Qigong meditation is used to preserve the health to move the Qi in healthy rhythms throughout the body along the Yin and Yang axes, as well as the twelve organ meridians. It works toward physical health and mental wisdom for freedom from upset and sorrow. In China, Qigong meditation is used in hospitals for a wide variety of ills, and is also believed to extend life and protect health.