MEDITATION comes from the Sanskrit (Ancient Indian) word “dhyana,” which translates to concentration or focus. During meditation, we concentrate or focus our attention on a particular object of attention to gain control over our thoughts. The object of attention we focus on can be our breathing, sounds, specific mantras or phrases, or imagery. Different meditation practices use different "objects" to create the meditative experience.
Meditation is a practice and a discipline that cannot merely be theorized, but must be experienced (ideally every day) for optimal psychological and physical benefits. Ideally, in a meditation practice, the practitioner is given adequate time and a comfortable space to practice repetitively bringing attention to the object of attention.
This practice creates many profound benefits for psychological and even physical well-being. The proven benefits include:
Through this effective mind-body practice, one can experience greater states of calmness, concentration and relaxation while reaching heightened and more clarified states of consciousness.
As mentioned above, there are many different types of meditation practices adapted from all over the world, and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to meditate. Common meditation practices include Mindfulness Meditation, Movement Meditation and Chanting and/or Mantra Meditation.
Mindfulness meditation incorporates techniques inspired by the Buddha, although it was most recently brought to the west by Jon Kabatt-Zin. During a Mindfulness meditation practice, the practitioner cultivates self-awareness of their body and thoughts. Research shows that Mindfulness meditation improves brain activity, and how our minds work and filter information. Obtaining skills from a mindfulness practice, such as self-awareness, can serves as a foundation for overcoming dissatisfaction, stress, impatience, the experience of emotional and physical pain, and other habits that keep us from living happier lives.
A Movement Meditation practice focuses on the body in motion during any present moment. Walking meditation, yoga and tai-chi are examples of engaging in a movement meditation practice. Engaging in a movement meditation practice gives us the ability to be fully present in our bodies, and allows us to appreciate and focus on our movements.
Chanting meditation helps to clear our minds and enables us to be fully present, and focused on the different sounds and melodies of words. Similar to chanting meditation, Mantra meditation also clears the mind and allows us to be fully present, relaxed and focused. In a Mantra Meditation practice - a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to focus and clear the mind. “Om” is a common sound used in a mantra meditation practice.
The major key steps and mutual elements that are found in different meditation practices include: