Below are a list of hand picked meditations. Of course there are hundreds more unique to certain spiritual beliefs, religious groups or self improvement models.
Zen Meditation (Zazen)
It is generally practiced seated upon the floor with both legs crossed. Traditionally it was done in the a lotus or half lotus position (As seen below) but that is not entirely necessary.
The most important aspect (as seen below) is keeping the back completely straight from the bottom to the neck. The mouth is to be kept close and eyes slightly lowered. The gaze of the eyes should be resting on the ground about two or three feet in front.
The internal aspect of the meditation can be practiced in the below two ways:
Firstly, Focus all attention on the rhythm of the breath going in and out through the nose. This may be assisted by counting each breath. On each inhale one would count, starting with 10, and then moving backward to 9, 8, 7, 6, etc. Once the number 1 has been reached, resume again from 10 moving backward to 9, 8, 7, 6, etc. If distracted, one would gently bring back the attention to 10 and resume from there.
Secondly, There is Shikantaza (“just sitting”) — in applying this technique, one would does not use any specific object of meditation; rather, one would remain as much as possible, observing the present moment, aware of what passes through their minds and what occurs around them, without labelling, judging or attaching.
Ideally, one is to sit cross-legged, with the spine erect or alternatively, a chair may be used, but either way, the back should not be supported.
The first aspect is to develop concentration, which is typically achieved through breathing awareness.
All attention is to be focused upon the movement of the breath and becoming aware of such functions as the subtle movement of the abdomen rising and falling, or the sensations of the air passing through the nostrils and gliding past the upper lips. Ultimately a deep awareness is required of what is occurring with each new breath.
Other perceptions and sensations would continue to appear. These may be sounds, feelings in the body, emotions or sensations etc. These are to be felt and recognised with in the field of awareness, whilst one continues to return to the sensation of breathing. The attention is to always be kept upon the breath, while any other thoughts or sensations are to be regarded as background noise.
The object that is the focus of the practice (for instance, the movement of the abdomen) is called the “primary object”.
A “secondary object” is anything which arises within the field of perception – either through the five senses (sound, smell, itchiness in the body, etc.) or through the mind (thought, memory, feeling, etc.).
If a secondary object takes one’s attention and pulls it away, or if it causes desire or aversion to appear, one should focus on the secondary object momentarily, labeling it with a mental note, like “thinking”, “memory”, “hearing”, “desiring”. This practice is called “noting”.
A mental note identifies an object in general but not in detail. When one is aware of a sound, it is to be acknowledged and labelled as“hearing” instead of “motorcycle,” “voices” or “barking dog.” If an unpleasant sensation arises, note “pain” or “feeling” instead of “knee pain” or “my back pain.” Then return the attention to the primary meditation object. If one becomes aware of a certain fragrance, one is to make a mental note of “smelling” without needing to identify the actual scent.
When one has thus gained “access concentration”, the attention is then turned to the object of practice, which is normally thought or bodily sensations. One observes the objects of awareness without attachment, letting thoughts and sensations arise and pass away of their own accord. Mental labeling (explained above) is often used as a way to prevent one from being carried away by thoughts or distractions.
As a result, one develops the clear seeing that the observed phenomena is pervaded by the three “marks of existence”. These are known as; impermanence (annica), in-satisfactoriness (dukkha) and emptiness of self (annata). As a result, equanimity, peace and inner freedom is developed in relation to these inputs.M
It is usually practiced sitting with spine erect and eyes closed as with most meditations . One then repeats the mantra silently in their mind, or out loud, over and over again throughout the whole sit.
Below are some of the most well-known mantras from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions:
- om namah shivaya
- on namah bhagavate vasudevaya
- om mani padme hum
Traditionally within the Asain culture, 108 or 1008 chants are performed to conclude one sit. Beads are often used for keeping count.
Third Eye Meditation
Focus on the spot between the eyebrows (“the third eye” or “ajna chakra”). Constantly direct attention to this point, as a means to silence the mind or activate the pineal gland. One may even physically look at the point with the eyes closed and rolled back to maximise the effects of this meditation.
Focus on one of the seven chakra’s of the body (“energy centres”), typically doing some visualizations or chanting a specific mantra for each chakra.
(lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om).
Once a chakra has been opened, the energies move freely to the next, ultimately with the intention of aligning all six chakra’s and creating a free flow of energy through ones physical and spiritual body.
Gazing Meditation (Trataka)
Gaze on an external object, typically a candle, image or a symbol (yantras). It is done with eyes open, and then with eyes closed, to train both the concentration and visualization powers of the mind. After closing the eyes, one should continue to keep the image of the object in their “mind’s eye”.
Focus on sound. This meditation begins with external sounds, such as music or vibration. One should focus all their attention on simply hearing. The practice should eventually evolve to hearing the internal sounds of the body and mind. One should strive to hear the ultimate Sound (para nada), which is a sound without vibration and that manifests to the audible frequency of “OM”.
This meditation is a predominantly a mixture of visualization and contemplation. Common techniques are; Contemplate that the same consciousness exists in all bodies, visualize being in a bottomless well or as standing in a very high place, meditate on the occasion of any great delight, dwell on the reality which exists between pain and pleasure, contemplate on the universe or one’s own body as being filled with bliss or merge the mind and the senses in the interior space in the spiritual heart.
One should sit or lie comfortably and consent to the presence of God flowing through them or alternately, one can hold the intention of fusing both their conscious and unconscious minds together. One should create or choose a “sacred word” to use when the mind becomes distracted or begins to wonder. Observe in the present moment, accepting and observing all sensations, thoughts, and emotions which may arise. One should not label, attach, wonder, think or force anything, but instead should just witness and simply allow the presence of the universe or God to work through them. If one finds that they are thinking, labeling or associating with anything at all, they should gently speak their “sacred word” (internally), and by doing that, it centres them and brings them back to the observational state of awareness and surrender. The “sacred word” can be used however many times is necessary in order to maintain the state of surrender and peace.
Guided meditation may come in the form of an audio file, video file or direct from a practitioner . As with most meditations one must sit or lie down in a comfortable position before beginning the meditation. One would then allow the guided instructions to lead the way for the attention to follow. To achieve the meditative state, there is most commonly more silence then voice. The purpose of each guided meditation would differ from one to the next.
Examples of this could be relaxation, healing and body scans, an enhancement of ones imagination or visualization powers of the brain. One could be directed towards an object, entity, scenery or journey through the power of their own visualization.