Even scientists have acknowledged how undeniably useful meditation is. It is a rare moment of unanimity between scientists and spiritual societies. All of them acknowledge that regular practice of meditation positively affects the body and mind. But here’s the deal-breaker! Which way of meditating is the best? And there are lots! There are dozens of meditational practices in various religions, spiritual teachings and just recreational activities. There is no definitive answer as everyone has their own method and our individual preferences define our choice. However, we’ve put together top of the most popular and interesting meditation practices after sorting through tons of them. This article will be useful both to newbies and those who had been meditating for some time already. Everybody will be able to find something new and useful
Controlled and Uncontrolled meditation
If you are just a beginner, then you’ll have to make a choice between two ways of meditating: controlled and free.
Controlled meditations are conducted in the presence of a mentor who guides you through step by step. It is either a person or a special app or a video course. Such practice especially suits beginners as a mentor possesses wisdom, and apps and video courses are developed by professionals. Such kind of meditation will help avoid mistakes and save time as well as pick the best way to achieve maximum result. Usually, a mentor explains a student how mind acts during meditation, walks him through a certain meditation technique and then explains how to incorporate that technique into your everyday life.
Uncontrolled meditation doesn’t require a mentor. You’re on your own and there are tons of methods you could use. Some prefer to just sit quietly and pay attention sift through their thoughts. Others combine meditation with yoga. There are many practices for self-directed meditation. Mainly, our review concentrates on them.
Meditation techniques are often used to calm emotions or troubled minds. The goal of calming meditation is to come to a balance with oneself and the world. Breathing techniques and mantras are used as a rule. The simplest kind of calming meditation is concentrating on some object or your own breathing. You might get distracted from the object but should bring your thoughts back to it and keep concentrating on it. Such meditation is often used to increase cognitive abilities. It “reboots” the brain in a certain way and allows it to work better. Here’s what’s interesting about meditation: it doesn’t have to be definite: calming or making you wiser. One thing leads to another. Meditation reduces the risks of heart attacks, makes you calmer and helps concentration no matter what method you choose. It’s just that something may work better for you than others.
Meditation techniques collected in our review mainly originate from Tibetan and Birman traditions. Though, having reached West they somewhat changed, their essence remains the same. Now you don’t need to believe in Buddha or attend temples in order to be able to meditate.
Observe Your Breathing
This method isn’t the most difficult and perfect for beginners. Slow breathing and full concentration on breathing. Inhale-exhale, inhale-exhale. As soon as your mind begins wandering, note which thought exactly troubled you and get back to breathing. Start with five minutes a day and gradually increase the time of your meditation to half-an-hour. That is the very first step on your meditative journey, but it alone will give you sufficient results. Soon, you’ll notice that you’ve grown calmer and more concentrated. Besides, you can practice such meditation anywhere.
Researching Your Body
Body scanning. Very often, our body does one thing while our mind is somewhere else. This technique’s purpose is to sync-up your body with your mind through mental scanning from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Imagine that a scanning ray of light slow moves over your body bringing your attention to the slightest discomfort, sensations, stress or pain. This technique helps relax, become aware of oneself and reduce anxiety, which we usually feel all the time and which becomes almost unnoticeable for your mind but albeit negatively affects your body.
This practice is similar to observing breathing, but the important part of it is marking thoughts that distract you. Usually, they are either chronical fears or injury consequences. We “mark” a thought or feeling to restore self-awareness, create some space, as a way to let go and learn more about our thinking patterns, tendencies and dependence. It is a good way to get to know yourself better and understand true nature of your emotions, decisions and deeds.
This technique might appear complicated because it requires concentrating your attention on a real object rather that an imaginary one. But, in fact, it is quite simple. You can imagine anything: a beautiful scenery, close person or miracle, dawn or rain, and concentrate on them. Such kind of meditation perfectly suits people with visual imagination. While visualizing you still observe your mind, breathing and try to keep concentrated as long as possible. You have to be especially attentive to physical sensations. Don’t be surprised to find them unusually clear.
Such a technique is great for those who is experiencing consequences of a conflict or wants to become kinder. You have to concentrate on a mental image of a person. It doesn’t matter if you know him or not. You imagine a wave of kindness which fills you and washes over that image. Such meditation helps let go of the negative feelings, calm down and restore relationships with other people.
Just like the loving kindness technique this method includes concentrating on a person who you know or love, as well as attention to sensations and feelings coming from your heart. By opening our hearts and minds for the sake of other people we get an opportunity to experience the feeling of happiness in our own mind. Such a technique will make you kinder, more empathic and teach you to better understand people around you.
Instead of concentrating on breathing or visualization you allow your thoughts to flow calmly, just observing them from the side. You watch as your mind works, observe your ideas, but don’t get too involved to forget that fact that you’re only an observer. This technique helps learn of oneself and understand the reasons of one’s thoughts and deeds. You may get an unexpected insight, but don’t get distracted. You will have a chance to carefully brood over it later.
This technique requires you to ask yourself a question. Something kind of “What do you think is good for you?” (notice that while asking you use a pronoun “you” and by doing so you don’t give your mind a chance to answer that question rationally). What’s important is to become aware of sensations which appear when you focus on the question rather than your thoughts.
This technique is similar to attention concentration meditation. However, instead of concentrating on breathing to calm your mind you focus on a mantra (which can be a syllable, word or phrase). The point is that subtle vibrations connected with repeating the mantra may result in positive changes, possibly increasing self-confidence or compassion. It will help you dive deeper into meditation. Such meditation is much more effective when practiced with binaural beats, which you can learn more about on our website, for example, here.
As there are many kinds of meditation, there are also various styles of yoga (especially Kundalini), which aim to strengthen your nervous system, which is why we deal with everyday stress and problems better. However, in order to integrate neuro-muscular changes happening during yoga and get maximum benefit from such practice we should spare some time for Shavasana known better as a corpse pose and relaxation of your body to get rid of stress. Yoga meditation is better to be explored with an experienced mentor.