Types of Meditation
Meditation takes many different basic forms around the world. Among the most common are:
The quiet meditation technique, also commonly referred to as sitting meditation, is practiced in a quiet place, where the meditator can be free of distractions, noises, and other disturbances and discomforts.
Indeed, sitting meditation can be performed in places such as gardens and parks where sounds and distractions will occur, but it does tend to have better results - especially at the beginning with inexperienced practitioners - when the distractions are limited. Comfort and relaxation are important to sitting meditation, so many people find that burning incense or essential oils that will remain consistent in their smell can be helpful in building the right atmosphere.
Just because it is called "sitting meditation", though, doesn't mean that you must be sitting. You can also kneel, sit on a cushion or a special meditation stool (a zafu), or you can even sit on a chair as long as you're comfortable and stable. Whatever position you choose, make sure that you have a straight back (not rigid as a board, but not slouched) so that you avoid falling asleep and you don't end up hurting your back. If you are experiencing discomfort in your position, or if you have certain medical problems, simply ask your meditation teacher, doctor or other health professional about the right posture for you.
While some prefer to keep their eyes shut during sitting meditation, others are just as happy with their eyes open, looking at a specific object. Some people choose a candle flame as a point of focus.
Sitting meditation doesn't come automatically for everybody, as the mind tends to resist the quieting process, so the trick is to keep trying. Over time, quiet meditation reliably leads to a sense of inner silence and inner peace.
Also known as mantra meditation and chanting meditation, this is an active form which uses sound to channel the focus and achieve the meditative state. The sounds themselves may be words, mantras, or simply sounds, and are repeated over and over. The repetition is referred to as japa.
Though many people choose Sanskrit mantras (an ancient language from India), the mantra itself can be in any language. When repeated enough, the sound integrates into your consciousness, so that your mind stops thinking about all of the things that are always swimming around in your brain, and alters your state of awareness to an elevated place. This state is quite profound and meaningful.
For sounds some people hum, or repeat words or phrases such as "I am" on an inhale, with "at peace" on an exhale. Or simply "I am" repeated over and over.
Other common Sanskrit mantras include:
- OM (the vibration of everything living)
- Sat Nam (Truth)
- So Ham (Life/Death, Light/Darkness, Inhale, Exhale)
- Om Namah Shivaya (creation born of change)
- Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya (I join with the divine will)
- Aham Brahmasmi (I am the creative force)
- Tat Tuan Asmi (I am that I am)
- Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (peace, peace, peace)
- Om Mani Padme Hum (Tibetan)
Breathing is a natural, automatic process. Focusing on the breath is a common method to focus the mind during meditation. Some systems of Buddhist, Tibetan and Chinese meditation use prescribed patterns of breathing. This pattern breathing exists in the West as well, arising from the pneumatics of ancient Greece.
Osho meditation isn't just one form of meditation, but is instead a range of different meditative techniques. Designed by Osho, they are created to allow practitioners to consciously express and experience feelings, thoughts, and emotions that have been pushed deep inside over time.
Osho meditation techniques include:
- Osho Dynamic Meditation
- Osho Kindalini Meditation
- Osho Nataraj Meditation
- Osho Nadabrahma Meditation
- Osho Gourishankar Meditation
- Osho Mandala Meditation
- Osho Whirling Meditation
Also known as the Silva UltraMind System, Silva is a form of dynamic meditation which has a specific goal of helping practitioners to find their purpose in life and to help them to move toward a positive outcome. Jose Silva, creator of the system began his work in the 1960's in the effort to perfect the mind training system he'd already created. He was still working on the UltraMind System to polish it when he died in 1999.
Developed by Eckhart Tolle, the Tolle Meditation works to transform the consciousness to achieve greater enlightenment in our lives. The ultimate purpose is a union with the Divine.
Tolle asserts that he achieved enlightenment when he was 29 years old after having suffered an extensive depression. His former identity was broken down and worn away, and his life took on a new goal and purpose from that time forward. Tolle stresses awareness and living in the present moment.
Tolle Meditation -- according to Tolle -- is the "gateway to a heightened sense of peace and aliveness".