During the last few weekends of 2017, I did an intensive meditation teacher training course which entailed over 50 hours of training.
For years I have had a meditation practice combined with my yoga practice which was very much related to breath – inhaling and exhaling, watching your breath and using it as an anchor.
During the course, I learned many new and exciting meditation techniques that I had heard about but never explored until now. It has opened so many new doorways for me. It is interesting to note that many of the techniques use the breath but often have different focus points.
So what is Meditation? This was a question that was asked during a class, some responses that we collectively came up with were:
Being – it’s a state of being
Connecting – to ourselves and others. Showing love and kindness to ourselves and others
Letting go – not to strive, observe a thought but not attach to it, acknowledge it
Focus – focus on the breath or an object
Accepting – what is happening right now at this moment? E.g. I feel tension in my left shoulder, I’m feeling happy, sad, anxious, etc.
Meditation is usually done in a seated or lying down position unless we are doing a movement-based practice.
The most important thing is to observe what is happening during your meditation, not judging it and accepting it for what it is. Do we always have a calm mind when meditating? Sometimes, but not always. Remember, this is not the most important thing.
During the learnings of different meditation techniques, I found that some would really resonate with me and I would come out of my meditation thinking ‘wow, that was really awesome feeling’, all warm and fuzzy… then we would discuss each other’s experiences and the interesting thing was how we all experienced different techniques differently. What I thought was amazing, would be a challenging experience for someone else or vice versa.
So, if you have tried meditation once or twice and decided it was not for you I would highly recommend to go out and try different methods and I am pretty sure you will find something just for you.
Here are a few different meditation styles you might like to explore.
Mindful meditation – The practice of mindfulness can be defined as paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment experience. The mindfulness-based practices derive from Buddhist meditation, where we combine concentration, calming the mind with being open to the direct experience. For example, doing a body scan, focusing on our breath (counting), bringing our awareness to thoughts, sensations in the body, sounds.
Sound Meditation – using singing bowls and other vibrational tunes to tap into a deeper frequency of your being.
MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Mindful movement – Repetitive movement that is done connective with the breath to keep you focused and in tune with the body.
Yoga – Doing movements that are connected with mind, body and breath. Yoga includes yoga postures (asanas) breathing techniques (pranayamas) and meditations.
Tai chi – Is a set of movements, which can become a powerful moving meditation. The Taoist practised tai chi for not only martial arts but also as a meditation art form.
Dance – Dance in a meditation, forget the dancer, the centre of the ego: become the dance. Dance so deeply that you forget completely “you” are dancing and feel that you become the dance, this would be your meditation.
Walking meditation – Is a meditation practised while walking mindfully being aware of each step not really going anywhere just going for a stroll. It’s the going that is important, not the arriving. Not being in a hurry just enjoying the process of slowing down.
Mantra Meditation – A mantra is a sacred sound or syllable usually in Sanskrit, we repeat this mantra word or phase in order to create a meditative state. One of the most well-known mantra’s is Om Mani Padme Hum.
Trataka Meditation – Is when you focus/stare at a single point like a small object, what is often used is a candle flame. This meditation is usually done early morning or late in the evening, it is a good pre-meditation as it can develop deep focus and concentration.
Vedic Meditation – Is the oldest kind of meditation techniques coming from India where a special Mantra is given to you by your teacher.
Compassion and Heart-based practice:
With these practices, compassion and heartfulness are central to the meditation.
Mindful Self-Compassion meditation – Is a course designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Compassion is at the heart of mindfulness, it provides kindness and understanding toward what’s difficult in our experience and what we find difficult in our experience with others.
R.A.I.N meditation – Is a four-step process usually used in difficult times. The four steps are:
R – Recognize what is happening
A – Accepting as it is
I –Investigate inner experience
These are many different types of meditations that out there for you to explore. Try and keep an open mind with these different techniques, some will resonate with you some may not. All you have to do is observe these emotions and feelings, being non-judgemental towards yourself. Have fun meditating in 2018.