Meditation Techniques

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"Quiet the mind and the soul will speak".

Vipassana Meditation

The distinction between Vipassana meditation and other styles of meditation is crucial and needs to be fully understood.  They are different mental skills, modes of functioning or qualities of consciousness.  In Pali, the original language of Theravada literature, they are called Vipassana and Samadhi.

Vipassana can be translated as “Insight,” a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens.  Samadhi can be translated as “concentration” or “tranquility.”  It is a state in which the mind is brought to rest, focused only on one item and not allowed to wander. When this is done, a deep calm pervades body and mind, a state of tranquility which must be experienced to be understood.

Most systems of meditation emphasize the Samadhi component. The meditator focuses his mind upon some items, such as prayer, a certain type of box, a chant, their breath, a candle flame, a religious image or whatever, and excludes all other thoughts and perceptions from his consciousness.

In Vipassana mediation, the meditator uses his concentration as a tool by which his awareness can chip away at the wall of illusion that cuts him off from the living light of reality. It is a gradual process of ever-increasing awareness into the inner workings of reality itself.

Visualization Meditation

The eyes are a powerful sensory organ, and they’re typically hyperalert, focusing on the outside world.  A visualization meditation can help you reverse this natural tendency.  Throughout our daily lives, our eyes get pulled toward the flashing lights, the neon signs, the shop windows the hustle and bustle of traffic and people scurrying to their next destination.  When you sit for meditation, a visualization gives your mind an image to focus on, and it pulls your eyes inward.

The mind naturally follows, and meditation becomes more effortless.

Most visualizations are based on images from nature: light, water, earth, sky, and mountains.  They’re soothing to the senses, they have a quality of purity, and they tend to bring us into the present moment.  As a result, the mind relaxes and the breath deepens.  Once you’re able to relax, you can begin to invoke the qualities of the images you’re visualizing—and this is where visualization can be transformative.  The idea is to picture something that’s soothing or balancing.  If you want your mind to be clearer, visualize a cloudless sky.  If you want to feel grounded, visualize a mountain.  Instill the quality of the mountain inside yourself.

Nature-based visualizations can help you harness your power of sight and use it in a way that is calming and beneficial.  Visualization can guide you out of a narrow thought pattern to something more expansive and free.

Zen Meditation

Zen meditation is a traditional Buddhist discipline which can be practiced by new and seasoned meditators alike.  One of the many benefits of Zen meditation is that it provides insight into how the mind works.  As with other forms of Buddhist meditation, Zen practice can benefit people in myriad ways, including providing tools to help cope with depression and anxiety issues.  The deepest purpose is spiritual, as the practice of Zen meditation uncovers the innate clarity and workability of the mind.  In Zen, experiencing this original nature of mind is experiencing awakening.

Zen meditation involves observing and letting go of the thoughts and feelings that arise in the mind-stream, as well as developing insight into the nature of body and mind.  Unlike many popular forms of meditation that focus on relaxation and stress relief, Zen meditation delves much deeper.  Zen tackles deep-rooted issues and general life questions that often seem to lack answers, and it does so based on practice and intuition rather than study and logic.

Rather than offering temporary solutions to life’s problems, Zen and other forms of Buddhist meditation look to address core issues.  The practice points to the true cause of the unhappiness and dissatisfaction we’ve all experienced and shifts our focus in a way that brings about true understanding.

The true key to happiness and well-being isn’t wealth or fame – it lies within us.

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