Meditation has been gaining momentum over the past few years.
Especially in 2011 there were numerous reports released that showed studies proving the effectiveness of meditation.
No one specific meditation technique was named, the studies focused on different techniques.
Each technique has a specific reward that it can offer those that meditate.
If you are searching for happiness, health, peace, tranquility, wisdom or whatever it may be, then meditation just may hold your key.
In this article you will learn four different meditation techniques, along with information about each technique and about meditation in general.
Some of these techniques are thousands of years old and with their age comes their wisdom.
The information contained in this article is highly recommended to anyone who is searching for more to life than what is offered by the world and the mainstream perception as to how one should live.
Use the knowledge that you will find in them to change your life and those lives around you for the better.
Basic Meditation Knowledge & Benefits of Meditation
When one decides to embark on the path of enlightenment, meditation is the key.
Even if you are not on the path of enlightenment and are seeking inner peace, faith, compassion, healing, wisdom or any great virtue like these, meditation is still your key to success.
Meditation goes way back, farther than you may think.
In fact the great Buddha lived around 2500 years ago as of 2012 and meditation has been traced even further than his days.
You may think that meditation requires a huge change in your life or that you must sacrifice something that means a lot to you in order to have a life of meditation.
This is far from the truth and is just one weapon in Mara’s arsenal that could be used to steer you from ever meditating.
Who is Mara you ask? Mara is known as hell’s leader. He is the equivalent to the devil that is talked about in the Christian Bible.
In Buddhism Mara is seen not as a physical hell like what is portrayed in the Christian Bible, but more like living in hell on earth.
Meditation in general is a way of connecting with your inner being.
It is a way of detaching yourself from the everyday iniquities that exist in general life and finding a peace within yourself where you can reside as long as you like.
The more you visit this peace the more it will become real in your waking life, that is in ordinary everyday life.
Although there are a lot of meditation techniques, there are a few that matter most to those who are looking for some basic meditation techniques.
The techniques outlined here will set you on a very stable path in your new life of meditation.
There are many more techniques you could learn, but there really is no reason to learn so many unless you are planning on teaching meditation to others.
Once you find a type of meditation that is right for you, make sure you practice diligently.
Sparse practice won’t get you any benefits.
Those that have tried meditating and did not devote themselves to the practice everyday or at least every other day, didn’t find what they were looking for.
That is because in meditation you have to devote yourself fully and you have to make it part of your life.
Meditation is not a quick fix technique, it is not a way of getting away from problems in life.
It is not about becoming super human or floating off the ground, as some have tried to achieve no doubt.
Meditation is not about becoming better than others, in fact you will be more successful in meditation if you also practice a humble life.
No one can achieve anything if they feel they are better than others as opposed to equal.
Meditation will not make you rich, it can not change the outcome of your life’s issues, although it can make you see those issues differently.
Seeing life’s problems differently, in more of a positive light than in the usual negative light, is how we can make inner peace work for us.
We achieve inner peace through meditation, but we find the time it is useful most when life gives us problems.
It is true that those who meditate all the time are happier people.
In fact they are healthier, more peaceful, less stressed, nicer and overall they feel better inside about themselves and others too.
So did you find what you were hoping to achieve with meditation in the above explanations of what meditation is not and what it will not do for you?
If you did, maybe you are looking at meditation all wrong.
If you found what you want to achieve with meditation from what it can do for you then you are on the right path and meditation will definitely work for you.
Those seeking compassion, inner peace and tranquility will indeed find it in meditation.
If there is one thing that is very noticeable from a life of meditation it has to be that you will experience a very calm and quiet mind.
Now you may say, “What is so good about that, there are times when my mind is quiet and calm and I do not see anything so extraordinary about it.”
I would tell you that you have not truly experienced what I mean by having a calm and quiet mind from meditation.
Those that have never meditated before will find it almost impossible to understand just what it means to have a truly calm and quiet mind.
Yes there are some that can say they do not have a mind that never sleeps, but how true is that.
If they never stop thinking then their mind has never actually been still, not the stillness that comes from a daily meditation routine.
If there is one way to explain the difference in a meditative still mind and one that is not influenced by meditation it would be this.
Think of the body, when you lay down to sleep at night your body rests.
If your body never rested how would you feel?
We have all been on the brink of passing out from exhaustion and fatigue at some time in our lives.
We have all experienced true tiredness. So we can all say just what happens to us when our bodies never stop and rest.
Well, think of the mind like the body, it has to stop and rest too.
When our bodies do not get enough rest we can get ill. Same with the mind, it can get ill because it never rests.
If we do not allow our mind to rest and be quiet and still it’s like a body that never rests and becomes still.
Just as a car would run out of gas if it never stopped to refuel, our bodies AND our minds must stop completely and rest from time to time.
If meditation is like sleep is for the body then meditation is the time when we can rest our minds.
But more than that we can learn to be at rest in our minds all the time, this is called walking in meditation and it becomes possible with years of meditation practice.
Think about what it must feel like to be in meditation your whole life, every waking moment, no matter what you are doing. Sounds awesome doesn’t it.
Well, you can expect to achieve this level of peace with a daily meditation routine.
It will take time, but so does anything else you want to be successful in.
Again, if we do not meditate then our minds never stop. What it must be like to never sleep. Just thinking of that makes you feel tired.
So aside from what meditation can not do for you and what it could do for you if you devoted yourself fully to a life of it, what can you get from meditating right away.
In other words, what will be your reason for continuing once you start.
There has to be some reward that one can expect to get with just a short while of meditation, right? Right.
There are plenty.
Let these reasons be your push when you begin your routine, and find it seemingly getting stagnant.
Right away from a routine of meditation you can gain healing in your mind and body, if the need is there.
At some longer routines, say around two or three months of meditating, you can find peace during your meditation that you have never felt before.
You will notice things start to feel different for you. Such as when things don’t seem to be going right you won’t feel the negative emotions that you once did.
Anger issues can be overcome, those that suffer from OCD have found themselves completely cured in a few months of using certain meditation techniques.
Short term meditation can also help you overcome negative emotions.
You will find that you feel more peaceful in a few weeks and at a few months of meditating you can expect to find a lot of inner peace.
You will at this stage begin to want more. So your routine becomes easier to mingle into your everyday life.
You no longer struggle to make yourself meditate, as some find happening when they first begin.
If you want to get into meditation, you have to realize that meditation has to become part of your life.
You can not gain understanding if you do not make it part of your life.
Meditation can not be scarce and rewarding too.
Don’t get me wrong, any meditation is good and good for you and you can expect to get something out of it.
But if you really want to get into the meat of what meditation can do for you then you have to make it as usable as breathing is to you.
Make sure that you make the necessary changes in your life that would otherwise hinder your new meditation schedule.
As in any good change in life, there is a certain amount of sacrifice involved.
When you begin meditation do not try and be superhuman. You can not expect to meditate like the big boys when you are just a basic trainee.
Start off with about 10 minutes of quietly sitting still with your eyes closed.
Try and think of nothing, now watch how hard that is.
Sit in silence for 10 minutes and think of nothing. Do this for a few days so you can get used to sitting still this long.
Even at this basic stage you will feel more peaceful when you open your eyes. Do this daily.
Make a special time for your meditation. Your special meditation spot should be clutter free, comfortable, and quiet.
There is no need for special clothing, just make sure to be dressed comfortable.
You don’t want your legs falling asleep any faster than they already will sitting in meditation.
No need for any fancy poses either, tradition is nice but not necessary to meditate.
Simply sitting still with your legs folded or just sitting with your back straight in a sturdy chair with your feet on the ground is fine.
No need for any expensive meditation equipment, that is all fine and dandy and makes meditating more comfortable but again, not necessary to meditate.
So if you need no special clothes, equipment or postures meditation should be easier to mingle into your everyday life.
In fact you can meditate anyplace, in any position and wearing anything.
A word now on what to do when your thoughts run erratic as they will when you are first beginning to meditate.
When you are sitting and focusing on nothing but that dark empty space you will notice that your mind does not cooperate.
This is normal and we all went through it when we were training ourselves into meditation.
All you do is accept that you are thinking and allow the thought to pass on by.
Once it is gone simple bring your attention back to that dark empty space and continue.
You can allow the thought to come and go or if you find that the thoughts are coming very fast and just not stopping, you can start to cut them off.
As soon as you realize you are thinking about something else just stop the thought process and bring your attention back to the dark empty space.
You should try to get into a daily routine of 10 minutes like this.
After a few days you can raise your time from 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t do that though until you can sit in total silence and stillness for the whole 10 minutes.
This is how you train your mind to meditate.
Once you have mastered 10 minutes, move to 15, then 20 and 25.
Keep adding an additional 5 minutes or so until you are at about half an hour where you can meditate.
30 minutes is a great accomplishment in meditation, so when you reach this level you will have been meditating for quite a while, it does not happen fast.
You might think that you can stop your thoughts altogether, but this is not true.
Even those that have mastered meditation still have invading thoughts.
But the good news is, you will learn to tame them. Soon they will not be such a problem or distraction.
Thoughts will come and you will be able to grab them and do away with them fast enough that it will seem as if they never tried invading.
In the next part of the article you will learn how to do a few different types of meditation techniques suitable for beginners.
It is safe to say that after you establish yourself comfortably as a beginner in meditation, which will be around a month, you can adopt one or two of the techniques as your main meditation.
From that point on you can practice your chosen techniques and allow the benefits of meditating to become part of your life.
After getting the basics down and learning what meditation can and can not do for you it is time to learn a few techniques that are suitable for beginners as well as those that have been in meditation for any amount of time.
Although there are many forms of meditation one of the most popular techniques in use today, and probably by far the most useful technique for relieving stress and training the mind to be still is mindfulness meditation.
This technique is very Buddhist in its form, although it is suitable for any person who is looking for a peaceful, still mind.
Mindfulness meditation is the most popular form of meditation being used in today’s Zen monasteries and is by far the most useful technique for training yourself to be still and quiet which is the basis for all meditations.
If you are searching for inner peace this is the technique you should start with.
Literally, mindfulness means concentration on the present.
The present is not the moment you are in but the very milli-moment where you are.
That means every millisecond you are no longer in the present but instead in the future, and then again in that present.
Sometimes it can be hard to understand, but in layman’s terms, your every breath is the present moment.
So in mindfulness meditation all you are doing is concentrating on your breathing.
It seems very easy, but as talked about earlier, your thoughts will betray you.
In this meditation technique it is vital that you just do not ever give up.
It gets easier with time and practice, as stated before, even those that have been in meditation for most of their lives sometimes still struggle with keeping a still and quiet mind while meditating.
So how do we do mindfulness meditation?
Pretty simple, sitting in a comfortable position which is usually legs crossed, but not lotus style, although you can sit lotus style if you want.
Your back should be straight, your head level with your chin slightly tilted down.
Your eyes should be closed, but not too tight. Your tongue should rest naturally and slightly touching the roof of your mouth and your hands should either be sitting comfortable on your knees, palms down, or in the Zen position.
The Zen position for your hands is like this: For males, your left hand sits on your lap palm up while your right hand rests on your left palm up. Your thumbs will naturally touch then, this is proper technique.
For females your hands will just be opposite.
It might help you to place a soft cushion under your hips so that your hips are slightly off the ground.
This is also good for your back and will help keep it straighter with less effort.
Overall the most important part is just be comfortable.
Again, traditional poses and such are nice, but not necessary to meditate.
Close your eyes and clear your mind. Look for that dark empty void where no thoughts and no visions are coming, there is just total emptiness.
Now start to focus on your breath.
As you breathe in and out follow the breath and concentrate on it. Think of only your breath.
Try and notice what your breath is doing, what your body does when you inhale and exhale.
As you breathe in think, “I am breathing in”. As you breathe out think, “I am breathing out”.
Try and keep your focus at the end of your nose in your mind.
Whenever a thought arises, allow it to come and go making no judgment to it whatsoever.
If it lingers, try and force it clear and then bring your attention back to the tip of your nose and your breathing and continue on.
As you sit in meditation focusing on nothing but your breath you will begin to notice that you are getting very calm.
If you start to drift off, bring your attention back to your breathing again and continue on.
Make no judgment to anything your mind or body does. Your mind and body are acting normal.
As times goes on things that hinder your meditation like this will decrease and meditation rewards will increase.
Again, it takes time. After you have sat your planned time in meditation it is not a good idea to just jump up and go right into something else.
Your legs will probably feel a little unstable and your mind and body has been rested.
If you do not take some time to reenter into your everyday routine you will find that you can suffer headaches, dizziness even to the point of passing out.
Meditation is very strong and really relaxes a person, so when you open your eyes, sit and slowly bring yourself out.
Take your hands and rub your head, face and neck and get some feeling and blood flowing.
After a minute or so you can stand slowly and you should be alright to move about normally.
You should feel comfortable, calm, relaxed, as if you just emerged from sleep.
Sleep scientists have discovered that 20 minutes of deep meditation is equivalent to two hours of good sleep.
To be effective this technique should be practiced every day and as often as you can.
For a more natural use of this technique try and focus on your breath during your daily routine from time to time.
Just stop every so often to pay attention to inhaling and exhaling.
When you are being mindful of your breathing it is good practice to notice what your body is doing with each breath.
Do your shoulders rise and fall? What is your abdomen doing on each breath?
When you exhale try and notice any muscles that are tenser than others and relax that muscle.
This is where being mindful really starts to pay off because you will notice that you are tense in certain areas.
Once you notice it you can relax those areas, which brings calmness and relaxation to your whole body.
Mindfulness meditation is perfect for anyone starting out and it only gets better with time.
As you advance in your meditation you will find that your mindfulness meditation also advances and you gain more and more from it as time goes on.
Not only does it get easier to concentrate on your breathing, but in your everyday life it will start to play out.
You will notice that you are becoming more adapt to certain situations and they do not affect you as negatively as usual.
Using this meditation technique you will not only gain inner peace, a calm mind and a stress free life but you will start to slow down your life.
Most people do not understand that their life is very fast paced.
They live in the future never being in the present, which is all that really matters as the present is all that is real, the future has not even been written and the past is done.
Mindfulness meditation will change the way you see the world, it will change how you eat, talk, walk and how you do just about everything in life, the reason being that mindfulness meditation is a training camp for your brain.
Your mind learns to slow down and that in turn will slow the body, which of course makes your life slow down.
Things will start to seem more pronounced after just a year of mindfulness training. People have reported enlightening experiences from practicing this technique for so long.
Mindfulness meditation is endorsed by Zen Buddhism as it’s main practice.
When you see the Zen monks sitting in silence with their eyes closed facing a wall in the monasteries, they are in mindfulness meditation.
Buddha himself used this technique as his main one, he was in mindfulness meditation for days before he reached his fully enlightened status there under the Bodhi tree.
Mindfulness meditation is not just something you can do sitting, practicing mindfulness goes a long way into your spiritual journey.
After you learn to use this technique, you may want to expand on your knowledge and one way to do that is to explore mindfulness meditation further.
Those that become advanced in this and other meditation techniques learn to meditate while they are walking, lying down and doing whatever it is they do during the day.
This is one technique that does not have to be done sitting. In fact walking meditation is practiced a lot in Zen and the monastery monks will have times of walking meditation daily where they practice mindfulness.
If you are going to practice this meditation technique while walking you will want to of course keep your eyes open and focus on your steps as opposed to your breathing.
Breathing still plays a role though, so do not disregard the breath altogether. Just focus on each step and step slowly.
Walking mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere that you have ample space to walk.
With each step try and concentrate on how the foot touches the ground.
You can keep mindful of your steps using a chant that you say each time your foot hits the ground.
If you are Buddhist there is a name of a Buddha, called Amitaba that is great for this.
With each step you would say part of the name of the Buddha, keeping your concentration on your steps.
For example, as your left foot touches the ground you think “A” then right foot you think “mi” left foot, “ta” and right foot “ba”.
Practicing mindfulness meditation in this way you can either speak the syllables of the name aloud or just think them to yourself.
Mindfulness meditation can be done as you are falling asleep as well to help you get to sleep if you have problems falling to sleep.
As you are lying on your back you can concentrate on your breath.
A lot of people say their minds run a million miles an hour when they try and fall asleep.
This is a great time to try and tame your mind using this meditation technique. It is done in the same way except you will be lying flat with your hands to your sides.
Try and focus on how your body feels as you concentrate on your breathing.
Is it tense in certain places, does it feel very relaxed in certain areas? By studying your body in this way you can learn a lot about where you harbor tension and stress.
Mindfulness meditation helps you locate these areas and relax them.
For example, you will notice many times that you are keeping your jaws and mouth pretty uptight.
In this way mindfulness meditation teaches you how to relax these areas that are usually unknown about.
You can heal your self of chronic pain, tension and stress using this technique.
In the year 2011 there were a lot of studies on mindfulness meditation that proves its worth to everyone instead of just those that are Buddhist or following some other spirituality. 2011 brought these insights:
-Mindfulness meditation has been found to make your brain grow.-Meditation was used by a Buddhist monk to cure an incurable disease.-Mindfulness meditation is now being used as a remedy for autism which can replace the drugs.-Mindfulness meditation is now being used as an alternative to dangerous drugs as a remedy for ADHD and ADD.-Mindfulness meditation as well as a few other techniques is now being taught and used in large corporations to improve work performance and to decrease injuries on the job. Being more mindful while you are moving around the office, which can become crowded, decreases your chances of getting injured.-Meditation is being taught and used in some schools now to improve children’s performance.
Although there were more studies that were released in 2011 and more news in the tabloids on mindfulness meditation, we can see from these few pieces of news information that meditation has taken a strong root in US society now.
No longer are people thinking that you have to be Buddhist to meditate.
That myth has been uprooted and destroyed, now we can see that mindfulness meditation is something that everyone of us can benefit from and that it is something that we should be teaching our children too.
In today’s world children are meeting some pretty harsh situations, from violence and murders in their schools to obesity and unnatural childhood diseases.
Our kids have to deal with stress, something that just 20 years ago was not apart of a child’s world.
Our children and ourselves deserve more, we deserve to be healthier mentally and physically.
Mindfulness meditation can make this possible if we all resolve to spend more time in practicing.
Some may say they don’t have enough time, or that they do not know how to meditate.
These are no longer excuses that are acceptable due to the amount of information that is available on the subject.
Even just a few minutes a day sitting with your eyes closed thinking of nothing and just concentrating on your breath if it is just 2 inhales and 2 exhales, will benefit you greatly.
Mindfulness mediation does not have to be long, you can benefit from the concentration in just a few breaths even.
So make this moment a life changing moment for you, resolve to spend more time in meditation.
Make mindfulness part of your everyday life, whether it is sitting in concentration or lying in relaxation or walking wherever you might be.
A decision to begin meditating no matter what technique you use can only have positive effects on you.
But using this technique will definitely open the door to greater and more advanced ways.
What is Insight Meditation?
There are many ways in which insight meditation can be practiced.
I will talk about two ways here. It is chosen by some Zen masters to be their main technique while others choose mindfulness meditation.
Still insight meditation is the path that one must take if they are specifically seeking enlightenment.
Although mindfulness meditation will calm your mind and bring inner peace to the surface, insight meditation is where wisdom is found.
You may already have practiced this technique some time or times in your life and never even known.
Sometimes we can drift off in daydreams, some call it that, some call it having a seizure, while there are others that claim they are meditating at that moment.
Those people that say it is a form of meditation are partially but mostly right.
Insight meditation does just what its name says, it brings the practitioner more insight into something.
When you gain enough insight about something you can say that you are wiser than you were and that you have had some enlightenment.
Insight meditation is practiced by a large variety of people and for an even larger variety of reasons.
If you are a church going person your pastor probably uses this meditation technique to prepare for his morning and evening sermons.
When there is something that must be understood we are looking for insight into the thing.
If we concentrate hard enough and contemplate, the answer will come. This is known as drawing insight.
Practicing insight meditation is the single greatest way of trying to understand something on your own without the aid of others explaining what the meaning is.
Besides, learning on your own has high value.
Self-sufficiency is the way to go and insight meditation can help you achieve that status in your mind.
To practice this technique you will need a quite comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.
Sometimes insight meditation can last quite a while. It is up to you how long you sit.
Cross your legs if you can and get into a comfortable position. A cushion may be used to make sitting for longer periods more comfortable.
Your back should be straight, your eyes closed, but not forced tight.
Your hands can rest on your knees, palms down or you can hold them in the more traditional style as taught earlier.
Either way is fine and means nothing more than you are in meditation, so choose your comfort zone.
Remember to allow the tip of your tongue to sit naturally touching the roof of your mouth just behind your top teeth.
Try and relax, first start by sitting quietly and still focusing on your breathing as if you are going to enter into mindfulness meditation.
In fact that technique is a perfect way of starting all your meditations.
But relax the body, start at the top of your head and focus on the different areas of your body making your way down through all of your body.
When you find a place that is tense, just relax those muscles and continue on. Once you have become calm and relaxed you are ready to begin your insight meditation.
There should be something that you want to concentrate on. In Buddhism there are what is called sutras.
These are sacred texts much like the Bible would be to the Christian. These texts are 1000’s of years old.
One very well known and very well respected sutra is the Heart sutra.
This text was written around the time of the Buddha and unless you are a scholarly person it is hard to understand.
So the Heart sutra is one subject that a Buddhist student might want to understand more.
They would use insight meditation to gain the wisdom and enlightenment they need to understand the text.
Whatever it is you wish to gain wisdom in, it could simply be a Bible verse even, or some quote one of the world’s wise men spoke in the past.
Whatever it is, you close your eyes, and think of nothing but that subject.
Your mind will go over and over different answers. When you come to the right answer you will know.
Now don’t think that this is a technique that can be used to get some answer to something in a short time.
There are monks that have been in meditation using this technique for years and still do not have the answer. You may say, well what good is it then?
I would say, when you use insight to gain understanding, the wisdom gained no matter how little is worth it.
The mind grows in meditation, we learned that to be true earlier in the article, so you are getting something out of it even if it isn’t the answer you seek.
Thinking of what it is you are wanting to gain wisdom about, you simple allow your mind to come up with potential answers.
Insight meditation is a lot like very deep thinking. In fact I might actually say that is exactly what it is.
You can start this meditation at whatever amount of time you are able to sit.
Obviously the longer the more insight gained.
But any amount of contemplation will place you at ease and gain you some wisdom.
When you find that your mind wants to wonder from the subject, stop thinking about it and bring your attention back to the tip of your nose and go back to your meditation.
Do not allow yourself to make any judgments as to why you can not concentrate on just one thing or what it is you drift into thought about.
It is a normal thing for the mind to wonder. Just allow it to pass unhindered and go back to what you should be doing, meditating.
You will find that as you gain more and more understanding about what you are looking into with this technique that your mind has grown.
It is not uncommon for people to gain understanding into things that they had no intention of understanding more.
One example is life. You may feel that you understand life, your life.
But when you really start to question things using insight meditation you will gain understanding into things that you thought you knew everything about.
A greater understanding about everything will come from this meditation.
If you would like to use something in order to practice insight meditation that has some traditional value to it, here is a suggestion:
Question- What color is a red cup?
Simple answer- Red
Answer from someone that used insight meditation to gain a deeper answer- No color at all or I do not know (even though it is said to be red).
Now using insight meditation concentrate on why the simple answer is wrong and the second answer is right.
This is known as a koan in Buddhism.
A koan is a riddle of sorts that is meant to challenge your mind.
Using insight meditation the monks in training would try and come up with an answer that their Zen master would accept.
This koan can be used by anyone who is practicing insight meditation.
You can change it up, what color is a blue sky or the green grass?
Since there are obviously different answers to the question, some of which make more sense to someone who is enlightened than someone that lives in ignorance, insight meditation could go on for a lifetime all the while making you stronger mentally and wiser in time.
Back to the Heart sutra, there is a line that the sutra ends with. It is very well known in the Buddhist world and is the subject of so many insight meditations.
It is written in the Pali language and sounds like this: “Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha”.
What it means in English is: Gone, Gone, Gone beyond Gone utterly beyond.
Using insight meditation you could try and decipher what it means.
The result is enlightenment and the Buddhists believe that this line alone gives the Heart sutra its life and is worth meditating on for your entire life, even if you never gain the understanding to what it means, it wouldn’t be a wasted life.
Some things in life have more meanings than what is on the surface.
Use insight meditation to understand more into these things. In turn you will gain understanding into everything else.
Insight meditation is the technique to use to gain wisdom, therefore it is called the meditation of the masters.
Another type of insight meditation that one can practice is what is used every day in the Zen monasteries of Japan.
You can do it yourself at home. All you do is sit in either the lotus position or just sit cross legged.
Prepare yourself as you would for insight meditation with closed eyes.
In this meditation you will sit in silence and contemplate a subject that you choose.
One very popular subject for this in Buddhism is to contemplate emptiness. What does it mean?
You could contemplate equality in every sentient being or oneness.
Maybe you have something in life that you have to make a hard decision about and it will take some contemplation to make a proper decision.
When you sit in this form of insight meditation you are supposed to sit facing a wall and stare at a place on the wall during the meditation. But there are varieties to this which are allowed.
You could sit on the bank of a lake, pond, or the beach and stare off into the distance. You should not be focusing on anything except what you are thinking about.
Anything your eyes see should be ignored.
If you have access to such a place, you could sit in a Zen garden, Japanese meditation garden or someplace where the atmosphere is very serene.
Then you can sit and choose something such as a small tree to stare at in meditation, maybe a rock – there are endless possibilities to how you can practice insight meditation.
Some may be more traditional than others, but that does not matter.
If you have ever seen a picture of a Japanese monk sitting in what seems to be a Zen monastery staring off into the outdoors while sitting very still and silent, he was probably practicing insight meditation.
If you ever find yourself drifting off into thought which we sometimes call daydreaming this is not insight meditation like some might say.
Any uncontrolled thoughts of the mind is not meditation. The idea of meditation is to learn to control and tame the mind.
Some things one might want to start with and continue with insight meditation are Japanese koans.
There are koan books you can purchase that will be helpful. Sitting in contemplation about your life and where it is going is another good one to use.
Just be aware that it is not unusual for someone to sit and think about their life and where it is going and realize because of enlightenment through insight that it does not matter where life takes them.
There have been those that have sat in meditation hoping to find the answers to life’s questions and learned that none of that really matters.
Meditation and especially insight meditation has a way of changing how you see life, it changes what life means to you and your perception about what life should be like too.
In Zen Buddhism it is taught that in order to live a life of Zen all you have to do is live life. Nothing fancy, nothing at all. In fact Zen is nothingness.
Insight meditation will provide you with this wisdom over time. It is good to use to calm the mind as well.
Sitting and staring off into the distance but not really focusing on anything is highly calming to the mind.
Practicing insight meditation can yield a high level of wisdom as over time you learn to see deeper into all things in life.
There is a story of a man, someone who practiced Buddhism and thought that he had it all figured out.
He had gained tremendous insight over years of meditation practice, reading Buddhist sutra and chanting.
His walk was the walk of lord Buddha for sure.
He used insight meditation to gain deeper understanding to what he read in the sutras.
One day he was in meditation using the insight meditation technique and when he came out of his meditation he had changed.
His mind had changed, in fact everything around him had changed. Or at least that is what his eyes told him.
What had happened was, after practicing insight meditation and mindfulness meditation for so long, he was enlightened.
It was an enlightening experience that left him in tears because it was so fresh and new to his eyes and so strange.
Everything looked different now. It was as if what he saw before was not reality.
In fact his hearing had changed as well.
It was said that the trees blowing in the wind outdoors that day were giving up messages that people could never hear because ignorance crowded their minds.
Insight meditation provided an enlightening experience that was the grand daddy of all experiences.
Wooden furniture in his home was changing before his very eyes now, deteriorating, but at an increased speed.
He could see the impermanence that all things possess.
The walls to his home were finished with real wood accents, these wooden accents were deteriorating before his eyes.
Plants in the home were dying at an increased speed, he said he could see them dying as if they had been recorded for days and then played at a fast speed.
He could hear messages in the wind as it caused the trees to move.
He stated that the trees were trying to tell the world to wake up. There was chanting music playing in the home as well.
Now the music words were different, but the same.
He could hear a deeper, more spiritual meaning to the music.
Almost like the music was being played backwards and a message was encoded.
What took place in this real life story is what can happen when you reach different levels of enlightenment.
Using insight meditation can provide you with more wisdom than most people ever contain.
Use it wisely, be aware that you now have the knowledge that can change the world, one person at a time.
What is Compassion Meditation?
Compassion meditation is just what it sounds like. Meditating in order to gain more compassion.
Why is this helpful and what can this do for you?
Simple, those that have more compassion for others have been shown to be happier, healthier and liked way more than those that are less compassionate.
When you show compassion for others you not only are creating a better environment for every one to live in, but you are making the world a better place.
This in turn gives you great karma. Don’t believe in karma, then you can believe in whatever you call it, but we all know that what goes around does indeed come around.
Some say you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
Whatever you call it compassion is what we need more of in this world.
So why wouldn’t someone want to train themselves to become a more compassionate person?
This meditation technique might sound easy, but it is actually complex in nature, however easy to do once you get the hang of it.
But I will warn you, if you are not looking for positive changes in your life and in yourself do not practice compassion meditation.
It is well known that extensive practice of compassion meditation does indeed change a person.
It will change how you see the world, how you view yourself, it will change how you feel about others, about animals, trees and all living beings.
If you are a hunter then you may never want to hunt again.
If you are someone that preys on others, those days are numbered because compassion will arise in you when you practice this technique. It will make you a better person.
I doubt anyone could argue with me when I say the world could use more compassionate people.
When you want to practice this meditation technique you would prepare as you did for mindfulness meditation.
Close your eyes, sitting in a silent, comfortable position in an area where you will not be bothered.
Cross your legs, sit in the lotus position or sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground.
Now clear your mind, look for that dark empty void where no thoughts are running rampant.
Once you are there you can begin your meditation. It is always good to start this same way no matter what technique you will be practicing.
Place your hands in the folded Zen style as taught earlier or allow your hands to rest on your knees, palms down.
In compassion meditation the main thing to remember is that you have to have a subject that you will need to focus on.
The subject usually needs to be an actual face of a person.
Someone that you may need to really build some compassion for.
A good example is the face of someone that you may be enemies with.
The idea is that you can build compassion for any living being no matter who or what they are.
True compassion has no bounds, you learn to love all things and everyone.
Seeing the face of your enemy in your mind, concentrating on that face and practicing compassion meditation for that person will indeed change the way you feel about them, this is a natural progression towards true compassion.
Concentrate on the face and wish nice, peaceful, happy, successful, prosperous thoughts on them.
Compassion meditation is a type of silent chanting meditation where you will wish the same stanza over and over.
Now try and visualize that your wish or wishes are making a positive impact on their life.
You can do this by imagining their face going from a frown to a smile.
When you get very good at compassion meditation you will actually be able to visualize your chant, or wish embodying a form and flying through the air and entering the person through their crown chakra.
The crown chakra is at the top of your head. It is believed that all things enter and exit the body here.
Lets say that there has been a natural disaster in a far country.
You feel that you want to do something to help but you can not.
This is a great time to practice compassion meditation for the whole country and this is how you do it.
As stated above when you are good at the meditation technique you will be able to visualize the words taking a form and traveling.
This same method is used to send positive, well being thoughts over seas to other places where compassion is really needed.
Remember the Japan earthquake of 2011?
On March 11 two back to back earthquakes measuring 8.8 and 8.9 hit Japan.
At that time all Buddhists all over the world should have been in compassion meditation chanting for the lost souls and families that have been affected.
The quake was so big that it was felt in Beijing, China and sent a 30 foot Tsunami wave that hit the NE part of Japan wiping everything out that was in its way.
If you already know how to do chanting meditation then you can use compassion meditation combined with your chant to practice this technique even deeper.
There is a simple meditation chant, sort of like a prayer that you can begin to chant and continue as long as you can.
It’s like chanting Om Mani Padme Hum; you do it as much as possible.
It is called, the mantra of the Medicine Buddha and is sufficient for a devastation like what happened.
The mantra is “Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha Bekanze Radza Samudgate Soha”.
This chant is the Medicine Buddha chant and is for the lost and hurting that are victims of horrendous natural disasters.
You would chant this mantra as much as you can and throughout your day as you go about your protected life.
There are many that would be hurt, “May the Medicine Buddha protect all and nurture those lost and hurt back to health in a quick time”. That would be your wish.
You can alter the chant meditation however you wish, and it would need to be tailored to the specific need.
The example above was specific to the earthquake that shook Japan in 2011.
Visualizing the people that may have been affected in Japan is not hard.
We all know what it is like to be a part of a natural disaster.
From the images on TV you could create the images in your mind that you would need for your meditation.
Some may ask why would they want to practice compassion for people they do not even know and more so would those people ever practice compassion for me?
That is not the right mind frame for building compassion and with that attitude compassion meditation will not even work for you.
In Buddhism we are taught that compassion for all creatures is the base of practice.
If you become a compassionate person there is nothing that can stop you from reaching enlightenment.
There is nothing that can stop you from achieving total love and understanding of every person and every living being in existence.
Even in following of the 5 precepts we are told never to kill other living beings.
We are taught that every sentient being is worthy of life and it is their God given right to exist and to co-exist with all other beings equally.
That word equally is hard to understand for most of us because we are not brought up in a world that teaches equality.
We are told we are in an equal world, but we are also taught what a lie is and so we understand the full acting of the world.
Achieving enlightenment on any level is an awesome event in one’s life. Some may understand enlightenment as some big extraordinary event, but it isn’t.
Compassion meditation can help you reach the goal of enlightenment quicker.
But what is compassion really? Can you say you are a compassionate being because you are humane, a humanitarian, you love animals?
Maybe you have felt a change in yourself as you cultivate compassion with this technique, cultivate means to practice making it stronger, you may soon realize that now you “feel” for people more.
During all meditation you can and will experience different phenomenon’s visions, rapture, descending and ascending thoughts.
You will awaken to truths you never knew, this is called enlightenment.
Sometimes a vision will awaken you. Awaking to ultimate compassion is an experience that you will not soon forget.
Using this meditation technique does indeed do all this for you, but this is not why we practice compassion meditation.
We practice for others and truly want what we wish for others and because of this we gain real compassion for all living beings.
One of the main teachings of the Buddha was love and compassion.
Buddhists are taught that the basis for everything else is compassion, if you do not have true compassion you can never learn to feel the connection between you and all other life.
You should always respect all life and never take the life of even the smallest insect.
For love and compassion to arise in someone it has to be worked on.
This meditation technique is the best place to start as a beginner for teaching yourself compassion.
Over many years of using this meditation as a training aid you will see that you have become a very compassionate person for all life.
It doesn’t take long to notice the effects that come from meditation.
Study has shown that practicing compassion meditation even for a short period of time can help you become a more compassionate person.
Once you get the very basics of this technique down you can move on to the more traditional method.
Here it is:
- Sit in your usual comfortable position for meditation.
- Begin allowing your mind to clear, your breathing to slow and your body to relax and slow.
- Using something or someone as the focus point in your meditation (this is usually the target of your compassion), begin to see it as an image in your mind’s eye.
- Next see yourself sitting in meditation where you are and begin to picture your breath entering your body through your heart chakra, which is at your heart.
- Then on the out breath see yourself exhale through your crown chakra, which is at the top of your head. When you exhale you are exhaling love and compassion.
- Next picture the exhaled love and compassion making its way to your target (person etc.). Watch as your compassion falls on the target and surrounds it with love and positive energy.
- Do this technique of breathing in and out and focusing on the target for as long as you sit in this meditation, allow the same procedure with your breath/energy to continue.
This meditation technique will not only build your compassion for your chosen target, but it will also send healing and compassionate energy to your target.
So we are talking about a twofold process and if you want to get technical it becomes a threefold reward because you are also growing your wisdom about different meditation styles you can practice and teach.
Now there is another method of practicing compassion meditation that you can do as well.
This method does not require much in the way of preparation or work.
In fact you can do this as you are moving about your daily activities.
This is the method of practicing compassion that is usually taught to new monks in training and is used as a way to always be mindful of how you are thinking and treating others.
As you are walking around in public the idea is to change the way you see others.
You have got to place yourself on the same level as everyone you see.
Now, as an example of how to practice this method: As you are approaching a stranger, the technique is to think to yourself a phrase such as, “I love you” or “I care about you” or “ May you be happy” or anything you want to use as a positive wish for others.
Every person you pass you should think of the phrase as if you are actually saying it aloud.
You can practice this anytime you are around others. You can see how easy this method is because it can be done all the time.
This allows you to practice meditation without the borders. Now you are getting into the intermediate stages of practice, very good.
You can sit in a crowded public place and practice as well.
Just sit in an area where there will be many people walking past you.
As they walk by one by one send positive thoughts their way using the same method and watch as you naturally begin to feel happier and care more for others.
No matter what method of this technique you choose or if you really get into it and practice them all, the results will all be the same.
Not only are you increasing your love for your fellow man but you are doing something that the world needs more of.
You are sending positive vibes to people who need it, this in turn will definitely bring you good karma.
What is Mantra Meditation?
Another meditation technique that you can practice as a beginner or really at any stage is chant and mantra practice.
Now right off hand this may sound strange to the untrained ear.
However chant and mantra have proven themselves in the medical field and scientific studies recently and in recent past years.
The way it is done is you use phrases that are usually memorized and usually in their original language such as Pali or Sanskrit, Chinese or Japanese and a lot of times Thai.
There are English mantras as well, but for the time being we will talk about mantras that are in the language of the Buddha, that is Pali and Sanskrit.
I will give the meanings of the chant and mantras as well.
Chanting mantras use sound to calm the mind and place the person in meditation in a trance like state of tranquility.
The vibration of the sounds the mantra makes when chanted has a calming effect.
Paired with what the mantra means it is like using spells to get the point across.
Upon saying that you might have guessed that chanting mantras goes way back 1000’s of years where Brahman and other spiritualist would chant for hours on end looking for success in whatever the task was at hand.
You may chant with a set of prayer beads called Mala, or you may chant without anything.
You may chant aloud or in silence, that is also up to you.
You may chant in a meditation pose or walking around doing whatever you want.
There are some practitioners that chant themselves to sleep at night and say they sleep like a baby every night.
Chanting mantras has its place among medicine as well.
Some chants are meant to heal while others are meant to bring success and happiness.
There are chants for precarious times, chants for trying times and so on.
There are mantras that you can create yourself to bring you happiness and fortune if that is your wish.
For the purpose of understanding better, look at chanting mantra meditation as spell craft.
Done properly it can calm the mind as well as many more things.
Let’s go down just a small list of common issues that you can use chanting meditation to control and/or cure.
- Inability to concentrate and/or focus
- Bipolar disorder
- Smoking addiction
- Any addiction
- Memory loss
- Struggling with anger
- Relationship issues
- High blood pressure
- Weak immune system
- Chronic pain
Chant and mantra meditation is not just for those that are on a spiritual path, it is for anyone wanting to change some negative things in their life.
It’s for children,parents, teachers, doctors, patients, everyone.
You don’t need any fancy stuff to do chanting meditation either. All you need is about 10-20 minutes to yourself.
Just sit quiet and still and close your eyes and focus on just your breath.
This is the easiestmeditation to do and you do not need any religion, priest or teacher.
As your mind wanders, and it will, just gently pull your focus backto your breathing as many times as it wanders, this is normal.
After a month or more you will see some drastic improvements in yourlife.
Chanting meditation is something you can do sitting in traffic, at your desk, in front of the TV, walking between classes, taking a restroom break or anytime.
It is one meditation that you can do no matter what you are doing and anytime or all the time.
In monasteries all over chanting is done on a daily basis.
No matter what they are doing there is always a chant of some mantra going over and over in their head.
This will actually keep you in a state of meditation all the time, which is good because if you like bliss then you will experience it in your life daily.
After chanting in meditation for so long it is not uncommon to want to listen to chant and mantra all the time, it does have a very soothing sound.
There are chant and mantra CD’s available to the practitioner for free from a number of Buddhist and Hindu sites on the Internet.
Just search for “Free chanting CD’s” and you will find a nice selection.
They are freely distributed by monasteries and temples for others to have for practice.
It is always a good idea to look up a few easy to say chants that are not too long to begin with.
Learn what they mean in English and use them for what they are meant for.
There are healing chants that you can meditate on and the repetitive nature of the chant will help you heal, so use it accordingly.
Aside from that there are chants you can do for yourself and for others.
There are chants that you can do for natural disasters to help those affected heal as well.
Such as the medicine Buddha mantra that was chanted by all Buddhists for the earthquake of 2011.
If you are going to use mala beads you will first need to know how to use them.
Now the first thing that you may ask is what are mala beads?
Well in short and to put it quite simple, mala beads are Buddhist prayer beads.
Sometimes they are called Buddhist chanting beads.
Mala beads come in a variety of colors, they are made with a variety of materials and can either be a long strand like a necklace or a short strand like a bracelet.
No matter what you call them or what they look like, you can use them all the same.
Mala beads are a tool that is used in chanting meditation and to remind us that we should chant a few times a day at the least.
When we see the mala beads we are reminded of chanting and meditation and we can stop what we are doing and take a moment to do so.
The mala beads are basically to aid the practitioner in chanting by allowing the person an easier task of keeping up with the amount of chants they have done.
For each chant a bead is passed through the fingers with the thumb and counted.
On all sets of necklace mala you will find 108 beads with a mother bead, that is a larger bead that marks the beginning of the bead set.
On all sets of wrist mala you will find 22 beads with a mother bead.
To use the necklace mala one would sit in meditation or chant and pass a bead through their fingers to keep count until they reach the traditional 108 repetitions of the chant.
The mother bead of any mala is not counted.
To use the wrist mala one would sit in meditation or chant and pass a bead through their fingers to keep count until they reach the traditional 108 repetitions of the chant.
For wrist mala this means you would go past the mother bead without counting it 5 times.
108 divided by 22 is not exactly 108 repetitions but it is 4.9 as close as you can get.
One very good chant to use with the mala is “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
Chanting this mantra will help to dilute the negative karma you have gained over lifetimes.
Om mani padme hum is a mantra or chant and is done either in or out of meditation.
As with all mantras and chants you do not have to be in meditation to repeat them, repeating a mantra is a form of meditation anyhow.
Om mani padme hum is literally said this way “om ma ne pod may home” and is repeated as many times as you can in order to activate its effectiveness.
The belief is that chanting this mantra every day as many times as you can in one sitting or throughout the day has the power to dilute your negative karma.
In Mahayana Buddhist schools it is practiced as part of the person’s daily Buddhist cultivation or practice.
Monks will sit for hours repeating this mantra in the lotus position.
It can either be chanted in a mono tone slow or fast or sang in a song.
No matter how you repeat it this mantra works to help you rid yourself of built up negative karma.
No doubt, many people have asked, how do they get rid of negative karma and start cultivating more positive karma?
Well the short truth is you cannot get rid of negative karma; we will all answer for what we have done in the next life.
But repeating om mani padme hum will help drastically reduce karma accumulated from your bad actions.
It is advised that the meditation student adds this chant to his or her daily practice.
Om mani padme hum is called the mantra of Avalokitesvara, the chosen deity to represent the Shikata Zen Sangha and Zendo based in the Ozarks of Missouri, USA.
Avalokitesvara is the Bodhisattva of ultimate compassion, chanting her mantra invokes her spirit and so you will usually feel a warm sensation after sitting in chant for a while.
Some practitioners have reported seeing her in a vision or feeling as if someone wrapped their arms around them.
Emotions will always be awakened during the chanting of om mani padme hum, some shed tears ‒ this is attributed to a cleansing of the negative karma.
Om mani padme hum is in fact the most important mantra in Buddhism, the basic English translation of Om mani padme hum is “Om Jewel in the Lotus Hum” or “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus.”
The first known description of the mantra appears in the Karandavyuha Sutra, which is part of certain Mahayana canons such as the Tibetan Buddhism canon.
In this sutra, the Buddha says: “This is the most beneficial mantra. Even I made this aspiration to all the million Buddhas and subsequently received this teaching from Buddha Amitabha.”
One popular belief of the mantra by Buddhists is that each of the six syllables represents one of the six realms of existence.
Repeating these syllables is said to prevent rebirth in the corresponding realm, so every day, Om mani Padme Hum.
Another very popular mantra you can practice is called the Heart Sutra Mantra.
It is actually the ending to the most important spiritual text in all Buddhism, The Heart Sutra.
The mantra is Teyata gate, gate, paragate, para sam gate, bodhi soha.
The English translation is, Gone, Gone, Gone beyond Gone utterly beyond.
It simply means that all is empty of all things.
Emptiness is one very popular subject for contemplation in Buddhism, and for those wanting to follow a spiritual path it is a must for contemplation with insight meditation as taught in a previous chapter of this article.
Sitting in meditation or walking about doing your daily activities you can chant this mantra in your mind silently or aloud.
Chanting this mantra is said to invoke beneficial spirits to your life.
Buddhists believe that chanting the heart mantra will not only calm you during times of great stress and worry, but also end your troubled mind for good.
One important piece of information that may have been forgotten in the instructions above is when you are in meditation using this meditation technique you want to use a vision for focus in your mind of either a Buddha figure or a Bodhisattva figure.
The pureness of these entities will help you keep your mind on the right path and your thoughts at bay.
There is no set amount of chanting you have to do, just the action of chanting alone will calm you and heal you if you do it wholeheartedly.
So next time you wish to get into something a little different than just sitting there in silence contemplating the nature of life and death try a little chanting of a mantra that seems right for the moment according to what your special moment may be.
Below is a list of mantras that you can look up and research for what the English translation is.
I have done some of the research for you and told you what the mantras are used for.
Compassion- Om mani padme hum
Purification- Om benza satom
Perfection- Teyata gate gate paragate parasam gate bodhi soha
Wisdom- Om tare tutare
Healing- Teyata om bekanze bekanze maha bekanze bekanze gate soha
Recent years have seen a great movement in the meditation realm, more and more people are turning to the path of meditation because of the peace and serenity involved, but more so for the benefits.
Meditation is not a Buddhist thing in general, it is actually not directly associated with Buddhism or any other religion or way of life.
Meditation actually stands alone.
Buddhism as well as a whole lot of other paths practice meditation, but so do those that are not on any specific path.
They practice meditation because of the health benefits that have been found to be true.
Especially in 2011 we have seen a lot of studies on meditation in the news that proves it’s worth to everyone instead of just those that are Buddhist or following some other spiritual path.
It is clear that meditation has taken a strong root in US society now.
No longer are people thinking that you have to be Buddhist to meditate or a weirdo, or hippie.
That myth has been uprooted and destroyed, now we can see that meditation is something that everyone of us can benefit from and that it is something that we should also be teaching our children.
You may also want to read: Best Books on Meditation