Meditation involves many different self-regulating practices focused on training attention and awareness. The goal of meditation is usually to bring mental processes under the improved voluntary control, reach calmness and contribute to overall wellbeing. Practice often focuses on achieving the feeling of restful and silent awareness and both mental and physical relaxation. Meditation is probably one of the oldest spiritual approaches to life, since even at prehistoric times ancient civilizations used rhythmic chants and offerings to pacify their gods. There are many types of meditation, still practiced today, and all of them include comfortable and silent attention by focusing awareness on an object or a process. Here are some principal types of meditation.
Transcendental meditation technique is a contemporary form of mantra meditation first introduced in India in the 1950’s. This meditative system is rooted in Indian philosophy and especially on the teachings of Krishna, the Buddha and Shankara. This is one of the most popular types of meditation. Even the members of the famous band The Beatles have been trained in transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation uses the meditation process combined with the sound of mantra to bring the mind to a state that is more peaceful. Meditation is typically practiced every day, in the morning and evening hours, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Zen meditation is the very core of the Zen Buddhist practice. The practitioner typically seats in the posture of zazen: the legs and hands are folded; the spine is elongated but settled. The hands are folded into a symbolic gesture and placed over the belly. The practitioner breathes from the hara, which is a center of gravity situated in the belly, keeping the eyelids half-lowered. The practitioner focuses on emptiness of the breath and remains awakened while avoiding to become distracted by the outside objects. The goal of the meditation is to calm the body and the mind and concentrate on the nature of existence, gaining enlightenment.
In Taoism, meditation is not combined with any specific body postures. Taoist meditation involves close observation of the world and phenomena surrounding us. It is more like a wisdom achieved through life in the ongoing attempt to understand the movements of the Universe, or the Tao. Westernized practice of Taoist meditation involves some light movement, similar to Tai Chi Meditation. Typically, the weight of the body rests on one leg while the other is moving. The arms are also moving in the opposite directions, while the breath remains calm, and reflection and contemplation provide liberation from daily concerns and stress. Taoist mediation is one of the best methods for releasing stress from daily life.