Great meditation methods should serve the needs of the man or woman using them. Meditation is renowned as a method for spiritual awakening by millions of practitioners around the world. In the West, meditation is often suggested as a means to ease the stress of modern life and is not always part of religious or spiritual observances. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine confirms that meditation is used to address insomnia, chronic pain, stress, depression, and anxiety.
The mindfulness meditation method is practiced by Buddhists and is a keystone of the Buddhist religion. Mindfulness is the ability to give your full attention to what is happening right now in this moment without reliving the past or worrying about the future. Practicing mindfulness can relieve anxiety and stress, and help the practitioner “be present” in the now.
There are two main types of mindfulness meditation. One method is to sit in a quiet place with a relaxed posture and concentrate solely on the intake and exhale of the breath. Another method is referred to as a "walking meditation," and encourages the mediators to pay keen attention to each step as they walk, concentrating completely on the physical sensations they experience while moving.
In both cases the practitioner, is learning to avoid distractions and focus their mental powers on the moment, being “mindful.”
The exact practice of transcendental meditation was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi over 50 years ago. Maharishi himself describes the method as a mental technique. It's not a religion, a spiritual path, or even a philosophy, but a technique that opens the mind to unlimited awareness and the ability to understand all of existence.
Transcendental Meditation requires training from a certified TM instructor who also provides the student with a private mantra (a word or short phrase) that’s repeated while meditating. TM is practiced twice a day for 20 minutes from a comfortable, seated position and is said to make the practitioner feel rested and energized.
In some Eastern philosophies, chakras are thought to be energy points within the body that oversee both physical and non-physical attributes within an individual. There are seven main chakras, and each is the “house” for a specific set of attributes. For example, the chakra known as Mooldhara is found in the perineum in men and in women it’s located in the cervix. The Mooldhara or “root” oversees the body’s excretory system, but on a spiritual level it governs the attachment to material goods.
Meditation methods that focus on the chakras are typically intended to bring physical and spiritual balance to the practitioner. Each chakra point is visualizes as opening or closing, or in some way becoming healthier and more balanced, all depending on the individual’s needs. Crystals or scented oils are sometimes placed on the body to help the chakras align while meditating. To practice this method of meditation, you must learn about the seven chakras, their colors, shapes, locations, and attributes.
The Loving Kindness meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition and is based on the philosophy that all living beings deserve kindness. The practitioner prepares herself for the Loving Kindness by recalling all of the kindnesses she’s received throughout her life, starting with the kindness of her mother who suffered through pregnancy and labor to bring her life. Recalling all the kindnesses a person has experienced acts to put them in a state of well-being and love and opens her to the awareness of how important love and kindness are to each being that exists: no one or no thing could survive without it. In that state, the practitioner then makes a dedication to live a life of kindness towards all living things. The Loving Kindness meditation can be particularly fulfilling for men and women who have a difficult time forgiving others or letting go of anger.
There are no health risks or unwanted side effects associated with meditation. However, meditation is not a substitute for necessary medications or medical treatments and shouldn’t be treated as such. If you’re interested in beginning a mediation practice, add it to your regular routine of exercise, healthy eating, and other suggestions made by your health professionals. When used within these parameters, feel free to experiment with meditation methods that appeal to you. If you choose to seek out a mediation instructor, ask about his training and certifications for teaching meditation. Mediation is a personal experience, and when it comes to choosing the method that’s best for your lifestyle, you are the only expert that matters.