“How can I begin to practice meditation?”
Visualize a lone cloud on a hill, floating effortlessly through space and time. Imagine you are that cloud and with every inhale and exhale, you are blowing yourself gracefully across the heavens, forgetting all sorrow, pain and worry of the hills below…
The art of meditation takes many forms and titles. Meditation has been practiced for over 5,000 years mainly in eastern religious traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Other religions that have used forms of meditation include Janism, Sikhism, New Age, Taoism and Islam. Christianity and Judaism have forms of meditation as well that are very different from eastern religions but still create relaxation and peace in the body.
By clearing the mind, relaxing the muscles and focusing on deep breathing, circulation, posture and concentration are improved. Yoga is deeply tied to eastern religions and its goal is to improve health and well-being and reaching Moksha which is the release from the cycle of life, death and rebirth and all the suffering attached to it.
There are many different types of meditation techniques including: Mantra, Trakata, Chakra, Vispanna, Raj Yoga, Zazen, and Nada Yoga. All of them include focusing on breathing, entering into an alternate state of consciousness and focusing on a strong sense of self.
Beyond being conscious of one’s breathing, there is a wide variety of techniques that help with reaching the developmental goal that the person is aiming for which include:
- Upward which acts to reverse the pull of gravity on the consciousness by lifting the consciousness out of the body
- Mind-centered in which the mind is a blank slate
- Monastic which involves exploring death’s mystery
- Observer where you watch your thoughts and emotions as they happen from an outside perspective
- Passive where the mind makes no judgment similar to daydreaming or sleep
- Fantasy-based where the person goes to an alternate place in his/her mind
- Trance which included rhythmic chanting
- Denial or Dualistic where divisions in the universe are realized and questioned
- Religious where one thinks about an inspiring religious leader
Transcendental Meditation was introduced in 1957 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, disciple of the Indian spiritual leader, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. Yogi developed programs and initiatives to promote transcendental meditation and spent time touring the world teaching what he had learned.
The technique involves sitting with one’s eyes closed for twenty minutes, twice a day and not contemplating but setting up a framework for the mind to move inwardly instead of being flooded with different ideas and feelings.
Music is a tool that is not only used for entertainment but for healing as well. Certain tones and chords can stimulate brainwaves, produce deep relaxation, increase the ability to learn, relieve stress, and even heal the body as a result of listening and feeling the music.
Almost everyone has experienced deep feelings from a song a favorite artist plays or an experience at a concert.
Music can increase self-growth and fulfillment in certain areas of one’s life. Meditation music is one of many forms of music that can accomplish this. It acts to correspond with meditation practices to promote self awareness and relaxation as well as deep connection. It is also used in spas during massages to help the patient relax fully.