Meditation Techniques, Types and Practice – A Comprehensive Guide
Best Meditation Techniques, Types & Practice
Guide to Meditation Practice & Types of Meditation
There are as many types of meditation techniques as there are wonderful flavors of ice cream. This allows each person to find a flavor that is delicious to them. This article is the combined result of the 3 part series “Comprehensive Guide to the World of Meditation Practice”. I created this one article out of those three to provide a single document which one can refer to for an introduction to all the important meditation techniques and types available. This article provides this overview of all the significant meditation techniques and hopefully this will help you find the style that is sweetest to you.
Some meditation styles suit those of an intellectual disposition, while others are more attractive to those who prefer the path of love and surrender. Still others, with an active approach to life, may like the meditation techniques involving movement, while those with a strong mind would enjoy the approach of thought, mantra, visualization or concentration. Overall, there are several broad categories under which we can capture most of these different meditation practices and this article will explore each of these types of meditation techniques.
1. Insight Meditation Techniques:
These are the meditations of choice for the Gyan Yogis or those drawn to the intellectual path. It incorporates the advanced meditation techniques from the Zen school of Buddhism, the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, certain schools of Western Religions among others.
- WHO AM I Meditation Technique: This technique comes from the school of Advaita Vedanta (Non-Dualism / End of Knowledge). The meditation was popularized by Shri Ramana Maharishi and is based on negation of the false self in order to realize one’s True Nature. Here is an example of my experience with WHO AM I Meditation Practice.
- Koan Meditation Technique: These meditations come from the Zen School of Buddhism and are designed to break down the ordinary pattern of conceptual, dualistic thinking. By breaking down the interference created by the thinking mechanism the practitioner is brought to confront the non-dual reality of “what is” directly and thus Awaken.
- Contemplation Meditation Technique: These meditations utilize introspection, self-study, reflection, study of spiritual texts and contemplation to cut through the layers of false conditioning and false understanding that deludes the mind. These meditations have their roots in many Western Religions and are also a part of Eastern philosophies.
- Silent Mind Meditation Technique: This meditation technique is my contribution to this category and it involves directly perceiving the fact of what is by acute observation of the thinking process. This is the flavor that I enjoy best and I have explained it in detail in the The Silent Mind Meditations, which are part of the Silent Mind Meditation Program. These meditations are an extension of the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti.
2. Sound (Mantra) & Thought Meditation Techniques:
The meditations that fall under this category use the science of sound and thought vibrations (Naad Yoga), along with rhythm and music (Laya Yoga) to purify the heart and mind. These meditations have a wide range of applications, from bestowing Enlightenment, to improving health, wealth, happiness, peace etc…
- Mantra Japa Meditation Technique: This meditation method uses the repetition of a mantra (a particular sound, word or phrase) verbally or mentally to create the necessary conditions for purification, refinement or expansion to take place. Mantras are essentially keys which allow one to tune into the individual energy field or tune into the Universal Energy field to produce certain desired results. Here is an example of using OM Mantra to activate the Third Eye Chakra.
- Rhythm Meditation Technique: This form of meditation uses the combination of rhythm, chanting, music and breath to calibrate and perfect the system. The excellent Three Step Rhythmic Breathing (3srb) meditation technique of Sage Pantanjali and many Kundalini Yoga meditations fall under this category, among others.
- Meditation via Song: Most of the meditations from the path of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga) and Love, designed to dissolve the ego belong in this category. This is a path most dear to those who are emotional in nature and feel a deep love for the divine. Christianity, Gospel, Sufi Meditations, Hare Krishna Meditations, Kirtans and Bhajans are some examples of techniques in this category.
- Meditation via Prayer: All religions have meditations involving prayer and worship. This may be the most practiced form of meditation.
- Thought Power Meditation Technique: The power of thought is becoming well recognized world over and many of the ancient Eastern techniques using this science are starting to gain popularity in the West now as well. Meditations that use the power of intention, law of attraction, desire manifestation, self-hypnosis, positive thinking, laughter as meditation, etc. belong in this category. These meditations can be useful to everyone.
- Feeling and Emotion Meditation Technique: In these meditations one uses the combined power of feelings and attitude to produce the desired affects. This type of meditation technique is usually combined with and is a part of other types of meditations, but can be done independently as well. Meditation such as Zen’s Loving Kindness, Osho’s crying meditation and many meditations which deal with maintaining an attitude of surrender, giving, gratitude, forgiveness etc, fall under this category.
3. Concentration and Visualization Meditation Techniques:
These are probably the most common and well know of all the meditations and often meditation is defined by these kind of meditations exclusively. They are closely related to the Insight Meditation Techniques with the difference being that Insight Meditation Techniques utilize the active application of intelligence and discernment, while the Concentration Meditation techniques use the power of focused attention to a greater degree. To some extent these meditations lay the groundwork for the Insight Meditations which need a high degree of concentration as a prerequisite to being effective.
- Breath Meditation Technique (Zazen): The heart of Zen Meditation is Zazen, the meditation of the Buddha. In this meditation awareness and concentration are brought to the breathing process to help build mastery over the mind and free the system from dualistic thinking. An in-depth look of this meditation can be found in the popular article Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen) – Free Book of Guided Meditations. Another breath based meditation is Vipassana. In Vipassana one extends one’s awareness from one’s breath, to the body and the sensations that rise and fall within it. The objective being to have insight into the workings of the mind through self-observation. This form of meditation is also called Insight Meditation as it helps one develop insight into the true nature of things.
- Concentration Meditation Technique: There are many meditations that utilize an external object as a focus point for the mind. Zazen/Vipassana belong in this sections as well, but due to their widespread use I mentioned them separately. The objects of focus can be anything from a point on the ceiling, to a flower, to external sounds in the environment. These meditations all develop focus, concentration, self knowledge, calmness and the witnessing consciousness. Their ultimate objective, though, is to have the meditator finally drop the object of concentration and encounter the non-dual nature of Reality directly. Some examples of these meditations can be found in the following articles: Sound Awareness Meditation Technique and candle flame gazing (Trataka) as described in Brain Development and Enlightenment – Awaken the Senses.
- Visualization Meditation Technique: This meditation technique is suitable for those who are creative and perceptive. In this technique the meditator uses visualization techniques to produce the desired results. These can range from simply moving awareness to various areas of the body, to visualizing internal flows of light, to imagining mental places etc. Many internal Chakra Meditations, Kriya Yoga Meditations, Kundalini Yoga Meditations, Yantra (geometric shapes) Meditations fall under this category. In additions meditations on the image of God, visualizing places of power or peace, etc, belong in this category as well.
- Mindfulness Meditation: This is a wonderful meditation technique and one that can be practiced throughout the day. Mindfulness meditation means to have moment to moment flowing awareness of your physical, emotional and mental activities. In other words, to be aware of what is transpiring in the here and now. This is ultimately the goal of all meditation — to awaken you to the present. Others definitions of this meditation are J. Krishnamurti’s Chioceless Awareness, Osho’s Double Pointed Awareness, Gurdjieff’s Self-Remembrance and S. N. Tavaria’s Awareness of the Divine Fragment. An article demonstrating this meditation technique in action is The True Meaning of Laziness.
4. Body Meditation Techniques:
These meditations and practices may suit those inclined to physical activity, but as you will see from the list below there are meditation techniques using the body which can easily by enjoyed by all. In addition, the meditations of this type almost all have the added benefit of keeping us fit and healthy.
- Yoga as Meditation: All forms of physical yoga are meant to be done with full awareness of the postures and movements. In addition breath is combined with the movements and poses to help open up the energy channels and free the system from the debris of the past. There is no prerequisite for the practice of Yoga, such as flexibility or diet, and all can benefit from the blessings this ancient and powerful technique bestows.
- Walking Meditation Technique: This form of meditation should not be underestimated. It is really a treasure. In Zen, walking meditation has been formalized and is called “Kinhin”. There are many styles of walking meditation, but for all these styles, awareness is a key component. In walking meditation you can either be fully tuned it to the physical process of walking, or you can be fully aware of the environment, either inner or outer, as you just walk. It either case, the objective is be in the present moment as best you can.
- Dance Meditation Technique: The only prerequisite to Meditation by dance is that you are alive. The range of this meditation done via this technique is quite remarkable. There is the Dervish dancing of the Sufi mystics, the Dance Meditation of Master Gurdjieff, Osho’s famous meditations using dance and movement, Lord Shiva’s Cosmic Dance — the Tandon and the list goes on and on. Dance Meditation is not only for celebrating life, but is a valid and powerful method to build awareness, induce catharsis and encounter Reality. An article that gives my experience with dance meditation technique is My Time at on Osho Retreat when my Body Disappeared.
- The Martial Arts as Meditation: “Grasshopper… life is a dream within a dream.” For those of us who grew up watching the TV show “Kung Fu” know well the intimate relationship between the martial arts and meditation. Zen Archery, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and other related techniques all belong here in this category. Common to all these techniques is understanding the intimate connection between the breath, the life-force it contains (Qi, Chi, Prana), the mind and the concept of Oneness.
- Sex as Meditation (Left hand of Tantra): No I did not forget this most profound, yet very misunderstood, type of meditation. Tantra and tantric sex have been gaining notoriety over the past few decades as spirituality, tantra yoga and enlightenment have moved into the mainstream, where now most aspirants are married and sexually active. This meditation technique requires first the disciplining of the mind and control over one’s passions. Then one can learn the techniques of vajroli and sahajoli along with the various bandhas (body locks) and yoga asanas which help to maintain the height of sexual charge and the use of that energy to activate the higher centers. This method of meditation is indeed wonderful and if two like minded people come together for its practice, for the right purpose, it can provide a powerful and potent vehicle for the attainment of enlightenment.
So there you have it. All the main flavors of ice cream available to satiate your meditative appetite. Most important thing for you to do is indulge. Your soul craves meditation like children crave ice cream, so go ahead and take a bite — I promise, you will absolutely get addicted and it will be the most beneficial addiction you can ever have.
Internet Resources for Meditation:
Yoga Meditation Tips: There are many positive benefits and advantages which come from Yoga Meditations; however it is important to understand the basics of the activity before becoming involved in it.
I’ve just discovered the beauty of meditation recently, and can say that I’ll never turn back! Due to the stressful nature of my career, I needed some way to quiet my mind and calm my nerves after a busy day and this has certainly helped (although I’m just a beginner as of right now).
I’m also tying yoga practice into my relaxation regimen and am finding it equally as beneficial. Keep the great information coming, I am really enjoying reading it!
I think loving kindness and compassion mediation deserves a place too – this goes beyond mere contemplation – its more of a healing process. Metta Meditation releases anger, jealousy, hate, greed and grants forgiveness to yourself and those who have hurt you. At least for me, this technique has had the most tangible benefits…apart from yoga which got rid of my belly :-)
great insights regarding the practice of meditation. I simply love reading your posts. It inspires people to practice meditation. Thanks!
Meditation is one of the most important ways for us to stay sane in today’s hectic world – thanks for your very informative post!
I agree with another commenter about entering a flow state during martial arts practice. Interesting concept to consider along with mindful meditation.. Look up Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi..
this is one of the best meditation guides I’ve seen – thanks very much for sharing!