Since the dawn of mankind, meditation has created altered states of consciousness and taught self-mastery. Of course modern-day stresses are drastically different than those that primitive hunter-gatherers endured; but the prehistoric man?s fascination with the flames of a campfire ? resulting in non-structured meditation ? has remained central to what it is to be human.
Over time, a variety of meditative traditions evolved. With so many styles to choose from, there is most assuredly a style that suits any individual. Quite simply, there is no right or wrong type of meditation ? if it feels good, do it. If it just doesn?t resonate with you, move on.
One of the most well-known types of meditation is Mindfulness Meditation, or Vipassana. This is part of the Buddhist tradition and involves becoming aware of everything happening around you in the moment, as well as self-awareness of the things you say, do, think and feel. This type of meditation can be practiced anytime and is particularly wonderful while you?re engaged in your daily tasks. Its goal is to awaken you to the miracle of the present moment.
Compassion Meditation involves self-observation in regards to how you view other people and what your emotions are toward them. The goal is to develop loving, altruistic thoughts, emotions and behaviors towards everyone.
Koan (Zen): designed to challenge the dualistic way in which we perceive the world. Once the non-dual reality is understood, the meditator awakens. The koans are riddles that challenge our perception of ?what is? and are often used as the basis for contemplation.
Mantra: the repetition of a mantra (a phrase, single word, or sound) tunes you in to the universal energy. It often involves the feeling of resonance produced by making the sound (such as ?Om?).
Yoga: The physical movement of yoga is meant to be performed with full awareness, breath control, and very specific poses designed to open up energy channels in the body and release emotional and mental blockages. Even non-flexible beginners benefit from this powerful, ancient practice of moving meditation.
Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Zen Archery, and other martial arts: much more than self-defense, these ancient arts combine impeccable self-mastery with an intimate understanding of Oneness, the life force and the breath.
Rhythm: As old as mankind, rhythmic, repetitive drumming and chanting has been used for many thousands of years to elicit an altered state of consciousness.
Prayer: Central to all religions, prayer may be the original structured meditation.
Song: Beloved as a spiritual, prayerful meditation, devotional songs help dissolve the ego and connect with the Divine. Most major religions include song meditation as part of their practice. Examples include gospel music and Gregorian chants.
Breathing: Zazen brings awareness to the breath. It is at the heart of the Zen tradition.
Thought Power: long accepted in the East, the power of thought has spread to the West. The Law of Attraction, power of intention and positive thinking involve the power of thought energy.
Walking: Called ?Kinhin? in the Zen tradition. You enhance your present-awareness by focusing on the physical act of walking, or on the environment around you.
Contemplation: Spiritual philosophies incorporate the study of spiritual texts (or, if in a society without a written language, oral traditions) and introspection to reveal the conditioning and beliefs that cause us to have a false perception of reality.
Silent Meditation: Achieving pure, thought-less silence in the mind is a real treasure. It is blissful, energizing, and results in an amazing clarity of thinking.
Dance, as well as Sex (Tantra and Tantric Sex), are two more types of movement meditation.
Concentration: using an external object such as a candle to focus the mind.
Visualization: kundalini yoga and chakra meditation utilize visualizations of light, energy, etc. to achieve the desired results.
And yes, indeed, there is actually a meditation practice that involves contemplation of one?s navel? (actually it involves total control of the breath).
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