What Is Meditation?
There are various types of meditation - prayer is probably the best known, but there is also TM (Transcendental Meditation), mindfulness meditation, and from the Eastern tradition, Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, and Taoist meditation.
The meditation encompasses such diverse methods as:
Formal sitting in which the body is held immobile and the attention controlled. e.g., Zazen, Vipassana
Expressive practices , in which the body is let free and anything can happen. e.g., Siddha Yoga, the Latihan, the chaotic meditation of Rajneesh.
The practice of going about one's daily round of activities mindfully. e.g., Mahamudra, Shikan Taza, Gurdjieff's "self-remembering".
All these practices have one thing in common - they all focus on quietening the busy mind. The intention is not to remove stimulation but rather to direct your concentration to one healing element - one sound, one word, one image, or one's breath. When the mind is "filled" with the feeling of calm and peace, it cannot take off on its own and worry, stress out, or get depressed.
According to Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, meditation can be broadly defined as any activity that keeps the attention pleasantly anchored in the present moment. When the mind is calm and focused in the present, it is neither reacting to memories from the past nor being preoccupied with plans for the future, two major sources of chronic stress known to impact health. "Meditation," says Dr. Borysenko, "helps to keep us from identifying with the 'movies of the mind."
All the meditation techniques can be grouped into two basic approaches:
focuses the attention on the breath, an image, or a sound (mantra), in order to still the
mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is like a zoom lens in a
camera; we narrow our focus to a selected field.
The simplest form of concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus the attention
on the breath. Yoga and meditation practitioners believe that there is a direct
correlation between one's breath and one's state of the mind. For example, when a person
is anxious, frightened, agitated, or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow,
rapid, and uneven. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused, and composed, the
breath will tend to be slow, deep, and regular. Focusing the mind on the continuous rhythm
of inhalation and exhalation provides a natural object of meditation. As you focus your
awareness on the breath, your mind becomes absorbed in the rhythm of inhalation and
exhalation. As a result, your breathing will become slower and deeper, and the mind
becomes more tranquil and aware.
according to Dr. Borysenko, "involves opening the attention to become aware of the
continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells,
and so forth without becoming involved in thinking about them." The person sits
quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming
involved with thoughts, memories, worries, or images. This helps to gain a more calm,
clear, and non-reactive state of mind. Mindfulness meditation can be‡ likened to a
wide-angle lens. Instead of narrowing your sight to a selected field as in concentrative
meditation, here you will be aware of the entire field.
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