Types of Meditation
18. What is Somatic Meditation? Somatic Meditation (The form that I teach) is a form of meditation that uses the Soma, the body, as the fundamental terrain for meditation. Most forms of meditation are from the top down using the analytical mind or thinking brain as the primary place to practice. They are also practiced from the outside in, promoting a belief that we have to uncover layers of not-self in order to reach the inner true essence of wakefulness.
Somatic Meditation takes the opposite approach, working from the bottom up and inside out. Through somatic practices exploring intuition, feelings, and overall felt sense of the body, including physical and energetic, we enter directly into the already present inherent wakefulness within the body. The body becomes the ground, the portal and the path to our meditation practice, and thus, to our awakening. When we awaken to the body, we naturally awaken to all of life around us, and Earth itself is remembered as our home, our mother, and our companion of this journey of life. With Somatic Meditation as our primary meditation practice, life becomes richer, more authentic, and a more joyful experience, much like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the scene changed from black and white to vibrant color.
To learn more about Somatic Meditation, see this blog post.
19. What is Transcendental Meditation? Transcendental Meditation is a technique to detach from anxiety and promote self-realization using meditation, silent mantras (chants) and other yogic practices created by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during the 1950s. This form of meditation was popularized by the Beatles from their time in India with Maharishi.
20. What is Vipassana Meditation? (What is Insight Meditation?) Vipassana is the Pali word (Pali is the language spoken by the Buddha) for “To see things as they really are”. Also called “Insight Meditation”, Vipassana is the practice of observing the breath, physical sensations of the body and the interrelated movement of the thoughts and emotions that arise to gain insight into reality.
21. What is Yoga Meditation? Imagine the science of Yoga as a 5,000+ year old tree deep roots and many branches. Each branch represents a major set of practices and philosophies all with the same purpose of Yoga, or Union. Meditation is a branch of the Yoga tree called Raja Yoga, the yoga of both meditation (dayana, meaning “awareness of existence”) and of concentration (dharana meaning “holding of the mind”).
Meditation as a practice additionally shows up as leaves that bring nourishment to the other branches, just as those other branches work together with the branch of Meditation to bring wholeness to the Yoga Tree. To learn more about Yoga Meditation see 54 Useful FAQ’s about Yoga.
22. What is Guided Meditation? I know this term can get a serious meditation practitioner’s goat. A true guided meditation is guiding someone in their meditation practice. However, the term has now been popularized to mean a guided hypnotherapy session, also called guided self-hypnosis, guided visualization, guided imagery and facilitated journeying. For our free guided meditation videos & visualizations go here.
23. What is Mindfulness Meditation? (What is a Mindfulness Practice?) Mindfulness Meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from Buddhist Vipassana Meditation. The goal is to develop the ability to observe with compassion, patience and acceptance, and without judgement, the inner and outer world.
24. What is Walking Meditation? Walking in a form of Mindfulness Meditation using slow, deliberate movements as the focus of awareness.
25. What is Zazen Meditation? Zazen is the formalized practice of sitting meditation in Zen Buddhism which involves sitting with eyes open, in correct posture, and focusing on the breath. As Zen master, Taisen Deshimaru said: “By simply sitting, without looking for any goal or any personal benefit, if your posture, your breathing and your state of mind are in harmony, you will understand the true Zen; you will understand the Buddha’s nature”.
26. What is Taoist (Daoist) Meditation? Daoist meditation refers to the traditional meditative practices associated with the Chinese philosophy and religion of Daoism, including concentration, mindfulness, contemplation, and visualization. Traditional Chinese medicine and Chinese martial arts have adapted certain Daoist meditative techniques.
27. What is Compassion Meditation? Compassion Meditation is what is most often called the Buddhist “Loving Kindness Meditation”. The purpose of the meditation is to grow the ability to have compassion for all living beings, including yourself, loved ones, esteemed ones, as well as those that have caused you suffering of pain of any kind, and animals.
28. What is Ho’oponopono? Ho’oponopono from the Hawaiian words ho’o meaning “make it happen” and pono meaning “right”, is a form of ancient Hawaiian heart healing practice of reconciliation and forgiveness formalized by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. This is a paradoxical and powerful practice that grows compassion and love towards another by fostering personal responsibility and the releasing of blame.
29. What is Tonglin (Tonglen) Meditation? Tonglin, Tibetan for “giving and taking” or “sending and receiving”, refers to a compassion meditation practice found in Tibetan Buddhism. This is another paradoxical and powerful practice that reduces personal suffering by breathing in your suffering, and the suffering of others close by and in the rest of the world who are experiencing the same.
30. What is Moving Meditation? Moving meditation is where the focus is on the movement and breath, such as in Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi, Walking Meditation, Walking a Labyrinth, Qigong, or Sacred Dance. Less formalized movements, where the mind is allowed to rest from thinking while the focus is on the movement, are considered by some to be a form of meditation as well.
31. What is Chakra Meditation? Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel”. Chakras are the spinning pools of collected energy in the body, similar to the collected running rivers of energy, call the nadis or meridians. There are thousands of chakras in the body. A Chakra Meditation is a focused meditation practice for the purpose of healing, cleansing, opening and strengthening one or more of the 7 major chakras. The practice includes a visualization of the chakra, and is sometimes accompanied by sacred sounds (mantras), gestures (mudras), postures (asanas) and affirmations.
32. What is Mantra Meditation? Mantra is a Sanskrit word, Ma = “Mind” and Tra = “Transport”. A beautiful way to think of a Mantra is that it is a seed of sound, planted by repetition, with an intention that blooms into a specific result. A Mantra can be an ancient sound with a particular meaning and desired result, such as Om, representing the sound of the universe, and the desired result being unification with the Divine.
A Mantra can be a meaningless word with the purpose of simply transporting one into a state of meditation.
A Mantra can also be a word or phrase with a specific meaning and desired result, such as chanting “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti…” in Sanskrit or it’s English translation “Peace, Peace, Peace”…to cultivate a state of equanimity, compassion, stillness or forgiveness.
Some use affirmations in their meditation practice as a form of Mantra, such as “I am Love” or “I am Powerful”.
33. What is a Mala Meditation? A Mala, Sanskrit for “garland”, is a string of 108 beads used in meditation, most often along with mantras. Malas first arose in ancient Hindu and Buddhist rituals over 3,000 years ago, and have been popularized more recently here in the west by the current yoga culture. Related prayer beads are the 99 beaded Sibha (meaning “to exalt”) used by Muslims and the Catholic Rosary that arose in the Middle ages (about 1,500 years ago). For our handmade malas, go here.
34. What is Mandala Meditation? A Mandala, Sanskrit for “circle”, is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Jung later popularized the use of mandalas in dream interpretation and as healing spontaneous drawings representing the wholeness of a person. As Jung said, “A mandala is a psychological expression of the totality of the Self”. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to trance induction and meditation.
35. What is Candle Meditation? A method of meditation that involves staring at a candle flame to develop focus. Focus declutters and steadies the mind, which is the necessary precursor to Awareness. In Yoga, this focusing practice on a candle or other small object is called Trataka (Sanskrit, meaning “to look” or “to gaze”).
What is beautiful about this meditation is that it is also a simple practice to open intuition and stimulate creativity. Candle Meditation transforms the mind from a closed box of limited space to an open, expansive, spacious sky that is paradoxically empty yet filled at the same time with infinite possibilities. Records indicate Egyptian Priestesses used Candle Meditation in preparation to receive Divine communications. I picture humans throughout history gazing at the fire, candlelight or the moon, and in a flash, receiving inspiration for some creative endeavor or scientific discovery.
36. What is the Best Meditation? This is like asking “What is the best Yoga?” or “What is the best Spiritual Practice?” or “What is the best path in the woods?” The answer is “The one that gets you to where you want to go”.