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what are the different levels of meditation?

what are the different levels of meditation?

The 10 stages of meditation and the 4 milestonesThe beginner meditator - stages 1 to 3.The expert meditator - stages 4 to 6.The adept meditator - stages 8 to 10.Some traditions speak of two types of meditation, insight meditation (vipassana) and calm meditation (samatha). In reality, both are indivisible facets of the same process. Calmness is the peaceful bliss born of meditation. Insight is the clear understanding born of meditation itself.

Calm leads to understanding and understanding leads to calm. Let's explore some important points of meditation that can help you chart your path. And remember that, rather than focusing on the stages of meditation, as Mahatma Gandhi said, the path is the goal. Developing present moment awareness is an effective way to work with this critical inner voice.

One of the essentials of meditation is to be aware of whatever arises in the mental stream and to learn to let it go, moment by moment, whether the mental activity is attractive or objectionable. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by what seems like a continuous stream of thoughts. In a technique that helps us to let go, we focus on noticing the space between two successive thoughts. Paying attention to this silent pause, however tiny, fosters awareness.

If we practice with diligence and purpose, over time our inner narrative will naturally relax and we can let go of negative inner chatter, one gap at a time. A key aspect of meditation is learning to fix one' s awareness on one thing. It can be the breath, a candle flame, a repeated word (chant or mantra), physical sensations or other focal points. The breath is the most common and most practised object of meditation.

By concentrating on one thing, it is easier to let go of distractions and embrace the present moment. It is comfortable for your mind to have an anchor like the breath to return to. Read more about breath mindfulness here. Positive experiences that can accompany this balance of letting go and paying attention include feelings of happiness, peace and calm.

By focusing on an object of meditation, the mind can filter out the distractions that give rise to anxiety and stress and rediscover its natural spaciousness. By meditating, we become familiar with our mental patterns and psychological structure. We begin to notice all the spaces, or gaps, between inhalation and exhalation, between one thought and the next, between one state of mind and another. Awareness of the gaps puts us in tune with impermanence and change, and we realise that we can let go of old views and outdated habits.

We can truly transform the way we think and act. We can allow ourselves to be authentic and honest in how we look at ourselves, our perception of the world and, most importantly, our impact on others. This awakening of awareness brings joy and a powerful motivation to keep practising. Read more about the benefits of mindfulness meditation here.

When you have been practising meditation for a while, you naturally discover a potential for awareness that you didn't know was there. Your mind now settles with little effort; distractions have lost much of their power over you. If you are watching your breath, your mind happily follows your wonderful breathing. If you are drinking tea, you are fully present while drinking tea.

If you are driving a car, you are fully present at the wheel. Since the practice of meditation develops the most fundamental core of our being, it is essential to rely on clear, progressive and genuine meditation methods from authentic guides. To convey to you the full potential of genuine meditation, we have created the Mindworks 9-level Journey to Wellness. The function of the mind called Buddhi (knowing, deciding, judging and discriminating) has its own levels of functioning, and the finer aspect of buddhi can also be considered a part of the individual Observer.

The stages can be seen as the various levels through which one moves on the inner journey, and the question of whether mindfulness is occurring as concentration, meditation or samadhi can be left for later, or allowed to come in time through direct experience. In the third jhana, the image of the mind has moved to the next level of stillness, to a very different kind of bliss. To progress, it is best to abandon this notion, at least at the intellectual level, as soon as possible. By mastering Stages One through Three, you have acquired the basic first-level skills on the path to steady attention.

The same type of gross versus subtle meditation also applies to the gross levels of mantra, attitudes and all forms of visualised imagery. Although each of these could be considered a different style or type of meditation, they are all performed at the same stage of meditation, which is the Gross or Savitarka stage (or level). This can be seen most clearly by looking at the article on the Koshas, where it can be seen graphically how everyday thoughts and emotions are on the mental level (manamaya kosha), while the Bliss described here is on a deeper level, beyond the typical mental functioning. There may be a great breadth, or diversity of Gross Objects that can be used as points of attention (there are many objects in the world and in the mind), but the deeper stages are more subtle than all these surface level diversities.

Each of these surface level practices are useful in their gross forms, and each can be followed to their subtler sources, but only if the meditator is aware that the meditation process moves in stages. When meditation moves so far inward that the object of meditation is the self, it is irrelevant what might have been the most superficial level of the object. One of the main reasons for this Bliss is the fact that all other levels and Objects have been temporarily laid to rest, or transcended during this period of meditation with Bliss. The secret to progress is to work with the specific obstacles and objectives appropriate to your current level of ability.

Many people use visualisation meditation to improve their mood, reduce stress levels and promote inner peace. These various types are all at the gross level of reality, and there is a great breadth in the number of such practices that are possible to pursue.