4 Ancient Meditation Techniques
Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content.
There are various ancient meditation techniques giving massive benefits to those who practice. All of these techniques are suited to different personality types, which is once again a reflection of the many different cultures and backgrounds, and all are worth thorough research and consideration in finding the most suitable meditation technique for each individual. Some techniques are expansive permitting free flow of thoughts and their observation, whereas other types are concentrative with the purpose of bringing focus into one’s thoughts.
All those who do meditate to bring peace and serenity into their lives using their own preferred technique will rapidly benefit from a deep feeling of being at one with their inner selves, beginning the process of healing and improving their mental and physical health. Thus, regardless of the reason for practicing it, new and ancient meditation techniques alike will set in motion the most important journey and discovery of life.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.
It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi derived TM from the ancient Vedic tradition of India.
While meditating, the person practicing TM sits in a comfortable position with eyes closed and silently repeats a mantra. A mantra is a meaningless sound from the Vedic tradition that’s been assigned by a certified instructor.
According to supporters of TM, when meditating, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness. In this state, the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, order, and a complete absence of mental boundaries.
Some studies have found that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxity, high blood pressure, cholesterol , and the use of health care services. But more study is needed.
Taoism (Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy and religion, dating back to Lao Tzu (or Laozi). It emphasizes living in harmony with Nature, or Tao, and it’s main text is the Tao Te Ching, dating back to 6th century B.C.
Later on some lineages of Taoism were also influenced by Buddhist meditation practices brought from India, especially on the 8th century C.E..
The chief characteristic of this type of meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of inner energy.
The purpose is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, and harmonize with the Tao. Some styles of Taoist Meditation are specifically focused on improving health and giving longevity.
How to do it
There are several different types of Taoist meditation, and they are sometimes classified in three: “insight”, “concentrative”, and “visualization”. Here is a brief overview:
- Emptiness meditation — to sit quietly and empty oneself of all mental images (thoughts, feelings, and so on), to “forget about everything”, in order to experience inner quiet and emptiness.In this state, vital force and “spirit” is collected and replenished. This is similar to the Confucius discipline of “heart-mind fasting”, and it is regarded as “the natural way.
- One simply allows all thoughts and sensations arise and fall by themselves, without engaging with or “following” any of them. If this is found to be too hard and “uninteresting”, the student is instructed with other types of meditation, such as visualization and Qigong(also spelled chi kung, or chi gung) is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation”)
- Breathing meditation (Zhuanqi) — to focus on the breath, or “unite mind and qi”. The instruction is “focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft”. Sometimes this is done by simply quietly observing the breath (similar to Mindfulness Meditation in Buddhism); in other traditions it is by following certain patterns of exhalation and inhalation, so that one becomes directly aware of the “dynamisms of Heaven and Earth” through ascending and descending breath (a type ofQigong, similar to Pranayama in Yoga).
- Neiguan (“inner observation; inner vision”) — visualizing inside one’s body and mind, including the organs, “inner deities”, qi (vital force) movements, and thought processes. It’s a process of acquainting oneself with the wisdom of nature in your body. There are particular instructions for following this practice, and a good book or a teacher is required.
These meditations are done seated cross-legged on the floor, with spine erect. The eyes are kept half-closed and fixed on the point of the nose.
Master Liu Sichuan emphasises that, although not easy, ideally one should practice by “joining the breath and the mind together”; for those that find this too hard, he would recommend focusing on the lower abdomen (dantian).
Zen meditation is the technique which gradually takes us to the state of absolute stillness and emptiness. However it takes some time to master it. Nevertheless, it is one of the most easiest and effective meditation technique. Before starting Zen meditation it is essential to understand some important things about our mind.
Our mind (whose physiological counterpart is Brain ) is consist of two parts- left and right mind (brain). Both these two left and right parts give rise to different creative urges in us. The left Brain takes care of logic, theology, philosophy, math and science etc. All the thought process happens in this left Brain. Where as the right mind give rise to music, art, painting, love & other emotions.
The right mind immensely facilitates the process of meditation. Right mind do not think. It is deeply related to the source of infinite creativity. Here thoughts does not arise as a thinking process, rather anything happens as an instant flash of creativity. This part does not think. This part feels. In Zen meditation we’ll use our right brain to make our mind free of thoughts.