Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path towards liberation from impurities (kleshas) and clinging and craving (upādāna), also called awakening, which results in the attainment of Nirvana, and includes a variety of meditation techniques, especially asubha bhavana (reflections on repulsion); reflection on. Therefore, to attain enlightenment, Buddhists must know how to meditate correctly. When we embark on the practice of meditation, it can seem confusing to encounter the fact that there are many different techniques - last Wednesday (29 March), we explored this with the help of a short list entitled "The four types of meditation". I first learned this many years ago from Ruciraketu at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre.
Read on to find out more about the different types of meditation and how to get started. As mentioned, there are many different types of meditation practice. Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism have unique techniques, and this is one of them. Zazen belongs to the Zen tradition, and is a practice that depends on study (as all meditation should be).
In zazen meditation, you focus on the breath and let thoughts come and go. This ancient Buddhist tradition involves sitting upright and following the breath, especially the way it enters and leaves the belly, and letting the mind "just be". Its aim is to foster a sense of presence and alertness. This technique is similar to focused attention meditation, although instead of focusing on the breath to still the mind, one focuses on a mantra (which can be a syllable, a word or a phrase).
The idea is that the subtle vibrations associated with the repeated mantra can encourage positive change, such as an increase in self-confidence or compassion for others, and help you enter an even deeper state of meditation. This meditation technique aims to keep the energy centres of the body's central chakras open, aligned and flowing. Blocked or unbalanced chakras can lead to uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms, but chakra meditation can help bring them all back into balance. It is an ancient and powerful Chinese practice that involves harnessing the body's energy by allowing the energy pathways called "meridians" to be open and flowing.
It is believed that sending this energy inward during meditation helps the body to heal and function; sending the energy outward can help heal another person. Below, I have listed the most common meditation techniques that can be found in a variety of different Buddhist schools and traditions. Therefore, practising mindfulness meditation and focusing on visualisation are important elements of the path to attaining enlightenment as a Buddhist. The initial stages of mindfulness meditation are essentially non-denominational and can be practised by anyone, regardless of their religious tradition.
In addition to helping us find calmness and tranquillity of mind, these meditations also help to enhance feelings of well-being, happiness and empathy towards others. Shikantaza ("just sitting") - This is a meditation without objects in which the aim is simply to remain in a state of concentration on the act of sitting while being aware of what arises in the mind. Often, this form of meditation consists of slowly tensing and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. The intention of calming meditation is to cultivate a calmer, more peaceful state of mind and to improve concentration.
Although this meditation helps to develop compassion for others, its main purpose is to emphasise that external worldly goals (such as having money, fame and good possessions) do not bring eternal happiness. Although many spiritual traditions include meditation as part of their teachings and practices, the technique itself does not belong to any particular religion or faith. Also known as body scan meditation, progressive relaxation is a practice aimed at reducing tension in the body and promoting relaxation. Transcendental Meditation is a relatively new technique, introduced in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Before going into the types of Buddhist meditation, it is important to understand that there are many different types of Buddhism that come from different cultural roots, times and people. Focusing on the breath is a common practice used in secular settings and outside Buddhist meditation groups, and is useful in daily life and in any situation.