With the hectic pace of modern-day life and the insatiable demands of a “wired in” culture, many people are turning to the timeless discipline of meditation to derive relaxation and abate noxious stress from everyday life. With a work schedule that requires traveling throughout Southern California every week, I always make it an imperative point to set aside a portion of the day to exercise my body AND mind. Meditation is one of my favorite mental and spiritual modes of relaxation. The following are five meditation styles that i highly recommend for the curious beginner:
1.) Guided Meditation
- For most meditation beginners, the first exposure to meditation occurs in a “class-like” setting with an instructor who can guide you through the meditation image for the day. This method of meditation requires that the practitioner forms a mental picture or scenario that is relaxing to most people. Your guide or instructor will supply the visualization in descriptive detail and facilitate the use of each person’s senses with vivid caricatures of smell, sounds, and textures. The experienced guide will foster a serene, reassuring environment in your room or outdoor setting. Guided meditation is recommended for beginning students who wish to develop a foundation and understanding of this ancient discipline. Several techniques gleaned from these guided meditation sessions have enabled me to develop a sustainable, re-affirming individualized meditation program that i can deploy at home in times of stress.
2.) Yoga Meditation
- Yoga’s popularity throughout the world is certainly not just due to the physical benefits derived from this ancient Indian practice. Many “yogis” rave about how yoga serves a therapeutic purpose as well, bringing a calm and serenity to their lives through spiritual balance. While there are a myriad yoga styles and techniques, all challenge the student with a series of challenging postures and controlled breathing modalities that relax the mind while promoting flexibility, strength, and balance. The concentration required to hold a yoga pose necessitates a cleansing of distraction within the mind and a clarion call to focus more on the moment.
3.) Vipassana Meditation
- One of the more visible types of meditation in my home state of California is the ancient, South Asian practice of Vipassana. Early Buddhists over two thousand years ago were inspired by this type of meditation that reduces the visualization image to simply seeing things as they really are constituted. The theme of Vipassana is to discover and transform oneself through ritual self-observation and study. This goal is attained through rigorous focus on our physical sensations in the body. Through this self-discovery, one can cultivate a multi-layered connection between the mind and the body. Taken to the successful conclusion, a Vipassana practitioner can achieve a balanced mind that blooms with rays redolent of love and compassion. Vipassana is typically offered over the span of one week to 10 days, during which students are encouraged to adhere to a prescribed set of rules, including abstaining from alcohol, drugs, sex, and any “immoral” behaviors.
4.) Mindfulness Meditation
- This form of meditation is also the most practical for daily life since it can be performed within the comforts of your own home and idealized to your individual schedule. Mindfulness meditation is a self-informing technique of being fully cognizant with your thoughts. Knowing where you are on a spiritual, physical, and emotional plane and why you are doing what you are doing. Many psychologists advocate for mindfulness meditation for their clients due to the opportunity for epiphany and self-enlightenment. A successful mindfulness meditation session can enable a practitioner to recognize and restrain formerly negative, destructive reactions to recognizable activity around our daily life. I personally enjoy sitting in the quietest room of my house, closing my eyes, and concentrating on my breathing pace. Other people prefer to engage in mindfulness meditation at their workplace or even while traveling on the road. Nonjudgmental observation of your daily thoughts and emotions are instructive to meeting your mindfulness goals for this type of meditation.
5.) Transcendental Meditation
- Transcendental meditation is a highly-recognized technique of meditation, commonly depicted in various media outlets including movies and television. The student conjures a personally assigned mantra, which can be a sound, word, or even a small phrase or sentence. This mantra is repeated in a precise, orderly way. Teachers of transcendental meditation recommend that you practice this form of meditation at least twice per day for 15-20 segments each while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. If performed correctly, the student should be able to escape from the world around him/her and create an idyllic state of repose and relaxation. The sense of inner peace and calmness from this transcendent state is breathtaking!
Meditation is an innovative way to rediscover an inner sense of serenity and peace in a tumultuous, stress-induced world. Whether you prefer guided meditation, yoga meditation, Vipassana meditation, mindfulness meditation, or transcendental meditation, the ancient practice of meditation reduces stress and risk for disease while restoring self-confidence and vitality to your life. Find your inner peace with meditation!