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What Types of Meditation Techniques are Best for Me?

Posted Sep 04 2009 3:31pm

What exactly is meditation? You ask people and they will very likely refer you to the internet to "Google" it. On the internet, you'll find thousands of web pages defining the exercise of meditating and trying to explain it in their own terms. Unfortunately, a lot of these sites explain meditating in a very complicated and esoteric fashion...extremely difficult to understand and just plain boring.

So far, the site that most clearly defines meditation is Wikipedia.  One of the best ways to define this exercise is probably an action or exercise that increases your awareness. 

In specific, meditative techniques allow you to achieve an awareness of self. An extremely useful tool for this is following a guided meditation video.  If you click on the link on the previous sentence, you'll see a list of Free Guided Meditations available to you.  It does this because meditation techniques focus the mind to pass the clutter of thoughts and jumbled thinking patterns.  The idea is to be able to think clearer and become more relaxed.  Hence, all these techniques allow us to accomplish this.

The stresses of life can have a dramatic effect on us.  As we attempt to deal with all the various problems that come our way, we are mentally worn down.  Much in the same way our bodies need proper exercise to remain healthy, so do our minds need proper stimulation to stay efficient.  By becoming better attuned with our consciousness, we achieve this.  In fact, practicing meditation techniques is really the only way to permanently accomplish this endeavor.  If you meditate properly, you free your mind of burdensome and chaotic thought patterns.  Who doesn't want to be less stressed and more focused?

Ok, so basically these techniques will help you become more relaxed, think clearer, concentrate better and more.  But these things in and of themselves are not the act of meditating.  Concentrating on something is not meditation.  Finding one self in a relaxing position or performing certain poses is not it either.  There are a number of meditation techniques that will help a person achieve plenty of benefits in their life.

Popular Meditation Techniques

1. Zen - One of the most popular and well known meditation techniques is called Zen Meditation.  This meditation technique was developed by Zen monks.  Zen is about achieving a state of absolute stillness and emptiness.   While Zen meditative techniques are regarded as some of the easiest and most effective to perform, they take time and effort to master.  This technique is centered on sitting in the lotus position to achieve a stillness of thought.

2. Mantra - Another well known meditation technique is Mantra.  Mantra is an exercise that many people tend to associate with meditating in their minds.  Mantra techniques involve chanting or 'mantra repetition.'  This is a meditation technique that achieves a state of awareness through the use of sound. In fact, one of the most popular techniques in the United States - transcendental meditation (TM)- is an example of a mantra meditation.

3. Vipassana - A third well known technique is Vipassana.  Vipassana is a Buddhist technique that focuses on breathing.  If we consider the fact that breathing is an every moment occurrence and a necessity for living, then we can begin to see how concentrating on this aspect of life can have a significance.  Vipassana is a meditation technique that essentially teaches one to be aware of their breathing, from which (when done properly) there is a state of awareness that is attained.

Other Techniques

There are many other techniques that are available.  These three just happen to be the most well known and practiced in the west.  What you will notice is that all three have the same goal in mind - which is to attain a higher state of awareness.  Remember, one of the most common purposes of meditating is to become better aware of the self, which in turn, produces a healthier mind.  It's interesting that regardless of the differences between meditation techniques, the goal remains the same.

All of the differences in the techniques mentioned in this article are actually examples of how each of them lead to the same goal- that of achieving awareness. It's like the saying goes "all roads lead to Rome."

In this case, all these different techniques lead to enlightenment and awareness in addition to many other kinds of mental, psychological, social, and physical benefits. 

Whether the meditation technique you use focuses on sitting, walking, laying down, breathing, repeating a mantra, or chanting, it will lead to benefits in your daily life and to benefits in the lives of those around you. 

Read the rest of this free 5 day article series and learn to meditate today!

Sonia Gallagher is a recovering workaholic, personality type A attorney.  She now shares the benefits of meditating with other stressed out parents, students, business owners, and professionals- who can most benefit from doing meditation (10 minutes) in their daily lives.

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