Varying Styles & Practices of Meditation

Practices of Meditation

Practices of Meditation

Meditation itself and meditators themselves typically have a similar end goal. The quiet of the mind, with a focus often on the physical breath, which leads to clarity and some semblance of bliss seems to be enough to bring people back time and time again to their meditation practices.

Within the wide umbrella term of ‘meditation,’ an abundance of different styles and methods exist. These differences can be attributed to the region of origin, the religion of a given region, and the adherence to tradition (or lack thereof).

While plenty of people tend to place meditation under Buddhism alone, it’s more complicated. Buddhism remains to be more popular than most other paths, and more widely known in the realms of popular culture, but the other traditions and paths are worth exploring:

Practices of Meditation:

Buddhism, China/India – The Buddha – It is impossible to entirely skip over Buddhism, even though its philosophies and practices are more known than some other religious and spiritual traditions. The Buddha shared meditation as a means of detaching from suffering. In Buddhism, liberation from suffering remains the main goal, and meditation is not the only practice utilized in achieving such. Meditation in the Buddhist tradition follows the breath and cycles of the mind and emotional realms for the most part. The breath remains the primary focus throughout a meditation session and pulls the mind back to the present when it wanders with a gentle mental shift.

Taoism, China – Lao Tzu – Based on the idea that “Tao” is the origin of the entire universe. Taoist interpretations see the Tao be the guide of all things and beings through life cycles. Sometimes spelled as “Daoism,” the philosophy follows the writings of Lao-Tzu.

Varying Styles & Practices of Meditation 1

Taoist meditations emphasize the path to higher consciousness and wellbeing through a focus on energetic practices over mind practices. Most Eastern meditation techniques hone in on the state of mind, but Taoist meditation focuses on the state and inner experience, even movement, of energy.

Confucianism, China – Confucius – Jing Zou, translated as “quiet sitting,” is one form of Confucian meditation. The main goal? Aid a practitioner in building a fulfilling life. Confucian meditation came into being after Daoism and Buddhism had arrived in China.

While both Daoism and Buddhism have more of a focus on quieting the mind to dig a bit deeper, Confucian methods encourage meditators to focus their mind entirely on their current experience and mental state. There is less shedding of thoughts in Confucian meditation than some other common philosophies.

Kabbalah, Jewish Tradition – From the Torah – Kabbalah exists within the mystical realm of Judaism. Visions, numerology, powers, and other, more esoteric practices exist at the forefront of Kabbalah. A few meditation techniques fall under Kabbalah, but the most popular weaves in a sequence of Hebrew Letters and a focus on divine names.

Such a focus on Divine Names while meditating somewhat mirrors Sufi concepts. The specific goal of this technique? A wide range of interpretations bubble to the surface. Essentially, a lot of different experiences arise from the focus on Hebrew scripture and Godly names. Some practitioners might experience the more typical stillness of mind, while others might connect more visually and spiritually with an experience of God.

Sufism, Islamic Tradition – Muslim Practice – Again, in a similar manner to Kabbalah, Sufism is the more mystical realm within Islamic Tradition. The gist of their practices? Remember God, or Allah, fill self with God and connect deeply with Him.

While some meditation techniques emphasize a focus on the breath or a still mind, Sufism asks meditators to be wholly conscious of the Divine throughout their entire meditation. Their focus remains steady on the Divine until the illusion of separation of God and self dissipates. So, the ‘goal’ of Sufism meditation? To achieve ekatmata, oneness, through the clarity of meditation.

Vedic Meditation – The beauty in all strands of meditation shines through in its simplicity. A meditator needs only themselves to practice, and perhaps some noise-reduction headphones. Vedic Meditation emphasizes the simplicity of all meditation styles and makes such accessibility key. To practice Vedic Meditation, a meditator can sit however they would like so long as their back is supported, and their eyes closed.

Through a Vedic Meditation training, students receive a mantra specific to them. While meditating, the mantra repeats through their consciousness as they slowly drop into quieter levels of being.