Here is another great article on meditation by guest author Tom Von Deck. Previously Tom wrote about Managing Stress in the Workplace with Meditation, and today’s article is a deep dive into what is meditation fundamentally and what are the various types of meditation you can practice.
Tom is a widely respected meditation teacher who also practices Kriya Yoga, Reiki, ThetaHealing, Qigong and more. He is known for his expertise in workplace meditation training and is the author of Oceanic Mind. You can find more information on meditation and his teachings on http://www.deepermeditation.net/.
If you would like to be a guest author on Master of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Meditation, Really? Breaking It Down.
Tom Von Deck
There are tons of different meditation techniques all over the internet. You’ve probably found some in books, videos and websites such as this one. It can be hard to determine which technique is right for you because they all seem so different. If you want to find the meditation technique that you are most compatible with, it’s important to understand all of its components.
So, what is meditation? Let’s break it down.
Some of the variables in meditation include:
- Object of focus
- Warm ups for preparing the mind and body for meditation
- The methods for integrating meditation into daily life
Object of Focus in Meditation:
An object of focus is what you are paying attention to during your meditation. It can be a word, a phrase, the breath, a visualized object, a camp fire, a body sensation and many other things. You can choose an object that is devotional such as the phrase Om Namah Shivaya, the Shiva mantra. Many people also choose secular objects like the silently repeated nonsensical word they learned in TM or the feeling of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.
Meditation objects are usually repetitive like a mantra or constant like a visualization of a waterfall or tree. Some are roving like the body scan meditation in which you are calmly observing the sensations in one body part at a time.
Meditation is the art of falling in love. There is not one woman who is right for every man. There is also not one meditation object that is right for everyone. You need to have an object that you can fall in love with, relax into and merge with.
Concentration meditation works primarily with the object of focus. When the mind wanders, you simply bring the attention back to the object without judgment. However, most meditation techniques add another component. It’s called mindfulness, also known as insight or Vipassana.
Mindfulness is the art of being present with experience as it arises into consciousness. Thoughts, emotions and body sensations are all processes happening in the moment. When the mind gets distracted from the meditation object, you impartially take note of what’s going on. You can use the word “thinking” or “anger” if it helps you to register the experience better. It is as if you are the sky and these processes are the clouds. You are the vast ocean and they are the waves, just rising and falling.
After taking note, you bring your attention back to the object of focus.
The main benefit of mindfulness is equanimity. The ego pushes away uncomfortable experience and clings to comfortable experience. When uncomfortable, it restricts the breath so as not to feel something. Mindfulness trains you to gradually make friends with experience so that you are living life more fully and compassionately in all situations.
As you make friends with all of life’s experiences, you become more ocean-like. Calm observation of the processes happening within gradually awakens you to your true self, the place where true happiness exists. The Ocean is deep and still. A storm can only disturb the waves.
Meditation Warm-up Methods
Almost every meditation technique has some type of warm up strategy. In guided meditations, you’ve probably heard the words, “relax and take a few deep breaths.” This is a method for preparing the mind and body for a more profound meditation session. The activities you learn in yoga classes were designed to make meditation easier, regardless of the reasons people do yoga. In some Qigong practices, grounding practices such as body wiping and joint limbering are common. Some contemplative Christians read scripture to get in the mood. Buddhists may use lovingkindness prayers or visualizations.
There is a whole science to sequencing warm ups, and there are ways to design these strategies yourself using methods you are most compatible with. They vary in complexity. Some yoga classes may start off with stretching and more dynamic and physical exercises and then go into breathing exercises before a few minutes of deep relaxation at the end of class. Qigong sequences can also be complex, and there’s often a rhyme and reason to it. If you’re just reciting a prayer of gratitude, then it’s a lot simpler.
Integrating Meditation Into Your Life
An integration strategy is your plan for integrating meditation into daily life. There’s a reason Muslims pray five times per day as a group. Buddhist may try to pay attention to thoughts happening within and become that impartial observer throughout the day. An office worker may pray for peace during the 20 second elevator rides or during traffic stops. Some folks take stretch breaks and do office yoga to anchor themselves back in their bodies.
Calming, grounding and centering activities in small intervals add up to huge results. This is true even if you feel no immediate effects. The process occurs below the level of consciousness and creates a snowball effect. Eventually, you have a “quantum leap” of peace and increased energy. This makes it much easier to do your formal meditation practice. They go hand in hand as they both feed on each other. Find a few calming exercises to try for 30 seconds to 5 minutes out of each hour and/or during brief times of inactivity. It really works.
The “what is meditation” question is a very complex one because meditation is such a profound and multifaceted inner process. Hopefully this made it simpler to understand so that you can experiment much more consciously.
Tom Von Deck is a corporate meditation trainer, speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. He specializes in making meditation a much easier process for busy people from all backgrounds. Visit Tom’s website at www.deepermeditation.net or take a look at Oceanic Mind on Kindle.