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Home Pranayam Pranayam Techniques and Types of Meditations
Techniques and Types of Meditations E-mail
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Pranayam - Pranayam
Written by Dr. Sarang Patil   

Techniques & Types of MeditationTechniques of Meditations

There are different techniques of meditation depending upon the object and the strategy chosen. Despite the difference in objects of focus and techniques of meditation, three key factors have to be present in the practice of any of meditation. Those three factors are :-

  • the object of meditations (locus of focus)
  • the centre of consciousness (point of awareness) where the mind is held during meditation.
  • the method employed to invoke concentration.

The object of meditation can be anything as described earlier, internal or external, stable or dynamic. The sacred texts of Yoga and Vedanta maintain that the object of meditation must not be frequently changed. The object of meditation is generally held within at a particular center, such as the heart, the forehead, the tip of the nose, or the crown of the head. Or the seeker may place it outside his body, in-front of him on the ideal. However, in some meditation techniques the object of conentration and the center of consciousness (awairness) where the mind is held are same. The method employed to invoke concentration is either selected by the seeker or prescribed by the teacher (Guru) and it also must not be changed.

In buddhist forms of mindfulness meditation technique the locus of focus and the center of awareness remain same and is dynamic, continually moves with the changing processes or phenomena. In cyclic meditation as well the locus of awareness keeps on changing along with the slow movements of body.

Traditional Techniques of Meditation

While the goal of all meditation techniques remains the same, the types of meditation vary because of the different approaches used by different systems of thought. The meditation techniques mentioned in the different traditional scriptures could be broadly classified as,

(1). Meditation on concerete (Dhyna on Sakra sauna vastu object)

(i) Meditation on sound (Sabda) i.e. on certain mantra, bija aksara (syllable in seed form) in form japa mediation (silent repetition of mantra) or meditation on inner sounds (nada).

(ii) Meidation on form (rupa) i.e. on sepcific ideal or image of deity (istadevata), tantric codified shapes called yantras or neutral symbol like flame or light (jyoti).

(iii) Meditation on inner objects like breath, movement of prana, chakras, genesis of thoughts or sense of 'I'.

(2) Meditation on abstract. (Dhyana on nirakara nirguna object or idea)

(i) Meditation on meaning of upanisadic statement of universal truths called as Mahavakyas like aham bramasmi, tattvamasi, ayamta brahma and prajnanam brahma.

Popular Techniques of Meditation

'Om' Meditation

OM Meditation

Yogic techings consider the syllable of 'Om' to be the force behind all thoughts. Either chanting or thinking about 'Om' is the primordial sound from which all other sounds and certain emerge. In 'Om' meditation the meidtator firct concentrates on an 'Om' picture and then mentally chants mantra 'Om' effortlessly and finally expands to an all pervasive lavel and goes to blissful silence.

Transcendental MeditationTranscendental Meditation (TM)

Transcendental meditation (TM) is based on the traditional yogic principles. In TM the meditator sits in a confortable position silently closing the eyes and repeats a specific mantra meantally from time to time to go beyond thought level. Thic technique is preached and practiced by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi. This is less regorous and demanding descipline, apparently easily learned and hence widely practiced. The TM is defined as 'turning the attention inwards towards the subtler levels of a thought until the mind transcends and experience of the subtle state of thought and arrives at the source of the thought'.

Tantric MeditationTantric Meditation

In this technique, the meditator has to repeat a sacred mantra given by the guru, with intense concentration. This meditation is practiced and propagated by the Ananda Marga orgnization. The technique consist two important steps. First, the meditators sit in comfortable relaxed position and withdraw the attention inwards by ignoring the external stimuli and paying attention to their breathing. Then they silently repeat the two lettered presonal mantra with their breathing.

Brahmakumaris Raja Yoga MeditationBrahmakumaris Raja Yoga Meditation

This meditation technique is preached and practiced by Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya. During this meditation, aspirants sit in a conformatble position with their eyes open, and with effortless gaze fixed on a Jyoti (light representing supreme consciousness). At the same time, they actively generate positive thoughts about the universal force pervading all over, as light and peace.

Zen Meditation

Zazen-Zen meditation is fundamental part of both the Soto and Rinzai Sects of Zen Buddhism. The aim in this form of meditation is the ultimate state of englightenment called Satori. This technique involves concentration. There are three types in this type of meditation. In the first type, the meditator concentrates on his breathing, counting the breaths or without counting. In second type of meditation the meditator has to solve kaon or say non-logical riddles. In third type of meditation the meditator just sits and breathes in a prescribed manner without any aids or concentrating on his breath.

Vipassana Meditation

Zen Meditation

Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of the ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gautam Buddha more than 2500 years ago. In vipassana meditation the meditator, sitting in a comfortable position, initially observes his own breathing and thereafter observes sensations and feelings in various part of the body with an attitude of witness. Vipassana is way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the subtle interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensation that form the life of the body and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation based, self-exploratory journey to common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

Preksa Meditation

This is also an ancient meditation technique practiced in Jainism. Preksa means to perceive and realize the subtlest aspects of ones own self,'to see the self'. Preksa is derived from Sanskrit word "Pra+iksha" which meast to observe carefully. Basically it sums up the perception of body, psychic centers, breath and observation of mind. In Preksa dhyana no thought is forcefully stopped. Instead the art of merely observing the thought process without forming any reaction or attachment is developed. By doing so, thoughts themselves cease to appear.

Yoga NindraYoga Nidra

Yoga-Nidra (yogic psychic sleep) is a meditative technique, derived from ancient Tantra popularized by Bihar School of Yoga (BSY). Yoga-nidra is described as systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation, while maintaining awareness at deeper levels. Yoga-nidra is performed in Savasana and it consists of progressive relaxation and rotation of awareness all over body, resolve and visualization of some images of nature and tantric abstract symbols.

Modern Techniques of Meditation

The modern way of life poses several hassles and stress to every body whether the person is an overworked executive in an office or a farmer tilling the field under hot sun. The modern man takes upto meditation not for Self realization but approaches these systems with objective of achieving -

  • Good physical relaxation
  • Holistic health
  • Peace of Mind
  • Stress Management
  • Balance of Emotions
  • Control of Mind
  • Development of Personality
  • Improvement in Interpersonal Relationship
  • Efficiency in Performance at Work

Today various types of meditation and relaxation techniques are popular in world by different names. Most of these are tailor made techniques and are practiced with guided instructtion on audiavisual aids.

These techniques could be broadly classified as:

(i) Relaxation Meditation :­

This type of meditation techniques comprise the instructions to sequentially relax the all body parts by part, slowing of breath and imageries.

(ii) Concetration Meditations :

This type of meditation consists technqiues to develop focused attention like gazing at fine points, listening to distant sounds, slow walking, etc.

(iii) Expansive Meditation :

This type of meditation techniques comprise the instructions to expand the awareness with infinite objects in nature, like sky, ocean, mountains, flow of river, flight of birds, etc.

(iv) Value Based Meditation : 

In this type of meditation techniques, after inducing the deep relaxation, firm instructions are give to remove fear and anixety and resolves are given to imbibe moral values like love, patience, compassion, trust and positive attitude, etc.

Source - Nisrgopchar Varta March 2011

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