Intro and advice
I compiled a list of meditative practices from across time and cultures and will be posting these as individual articles.
Best practice is? Any practice is better than no practice. I recommend starting with any meditation practice that helps you build some concentration and the habit of coming back to the practice of meditation. It will be is easier if you practice in short increments of time.
Why meditate? Where you take meditation is completely up to you. The goal or destination if I dare say is wherever you want to go.
Paradoxically, the destination or outcomes do not matter, despite you practicing with an intention of some kind of an experience. This is an art of setting an intention, and of practicing an intention, followed by observations made without judgment or resistance, yet while continuing forward with the same intention.
Benefits? Practicing meditation has many mental health and physical health benefits, from self control to the potential to help you know yourself better, and to experience God. I will not go into the health benefits of meditation on this website.
The articles here are not an academic paper, this site exists as an informal reference that informs you about, and presents to you various types of meditation relating to the improvement of your state of consciousness.
Doing it right? You could confine your meditation practice to the seated position, or take it into active form, walking, eating, or even into your everyday living. You could use postures, hand postures, or yoga .. and you could skip these.
Meditation is a practice. It is never about perfection.
Set your mind on the idea of good, better, and best.. and good enough is often good. Please consider dropping the idea of perfection. 🙂
Don’t tell this to a Buddhist Monk or to a strict Buddhist observant: Yes, it is ok to blend types of mediations, to test different approaches, from the India or the west, until the method hat works best for you is found. Yes postures and mantras and tools do help. They were created for you, so use them as an aid, never let these tools become obstacles.
You will notice a vast among of overlap in the: techniques, practices, postures, and experiences.
As is the case with anything that humans touch, be it mediation or any philosophical schools of thought, there will be several subtypes to discover and practice. There are many variations. You may find yourself creating your own variations to your practice that work for you. That is ok!
Ready for a secret? It is also ok to learn and use hypnosis skills and self-hypnosis to super-charge your meditation experiences. You can quote me for saying this.
Paradoxes? When exploring “consciousness” you will run into paradoxical ideas, I am sure you have noticed that already in what was written above.
Examine this, you enter meditation because you want something from it, yet (in most, and mindfulness-based) mediation you practice non-judgment and detachment from outcomes. You also practice observing, yet you practice detaching (noting and letting go). Sometimes, you can focus on something like a candle or a sound, yet you are doing so to experience distance from thoughts.
As you read throughout this website, I ask you to entertain the idea of becoming more comfortable with paradoxes.
Let’s get started with:
When the average person thinks of “meditation”, they think 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. Each has its own meditation schools, and branches.
It is said that Buddha did lay out meditation practices in his teachings, collected today in the Buddhist suttas.
Having said that, the practice of mindfulness or meditation predates Buddhism!
Over time, different techniques have arisen from teachers over the centuries
I am not presenting this as a study nor a complete presentation of Buddhist practices. This website is by no means about Buddhism.
This website is about consciousness.
In mainstream culture, Mindfulness meditation has become synonymous with Buddhist meditation.
Mindfulness in itself is a key aspect of most meditation experiences. One may argue that mindfulness is meditation. Most would agree that most forms of meditation involve mindfulness.
The English term “mindfulness” may be misleading. Your mind is often not “full” of thoughts. Some attempt to empty their minds, often in vain. When practicing mindfulness you are not filling your mind.
Other words to consider here are “awareness” and “attention”.
As you can imagine, breathing, walking, chanting meditations all involved awareness or attention, or mindfulness, of an area of the body, a sound, or a fixed spot.
In mindfulness meditation, the practitioner rests, in patient awareness, tuning into their experience with recognition and present-time attention.
In other words, the practitioner practices remaining aware and present in the moment, constantly, or repeatedly.
Often, it is easier to explain what something “is not”, in order to recognize what “it is”. This is an ancient thought process called Via Negativa, or by subtraction. Thinking in this manner, we see that practicing mindfulness is “not” dwelling on the past or exploring and worrying about the future.
Another component of “remaining aware” and present moment attention is the practice of what we call non-judgment. Non-judgment here is a component of present moment awareness. Present moment awareness is not thinking, judging, or labeling what one is observing in the present moment, rather it is simply noting without narrative or opinions.
Mindfulness often encourages awareness and observation of a person’s inner experiences, and outer surroundings.
In Buddhist mindfulness meditation, the purpose of mindfulness meditation is to gain insight into the nature of reality. Namely, he practitioner notices the Three Marks of Existence: dukkha, non-self, and impermanence.
Generally, one improves their ability to cultivate mindfulness of the present moment with this meditation practice.
Mindfulness meditation is something people can do almost anywhere. While waiting in line at the grocery store, for example, a person might calmly notice their surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells they experience.
Research found that mindfulness can help reduce fixation on negative emotions, improve focus, improve memory, lessen impulsive or emotional reactions, and improve relationship satisfaction as well as the potential to improve physical health.
Using your consciousness to practice mindfulness is a personal practice free from any religions and groups.
Concentration meditation is a practice rooted deeply in the Buddhist teachings, as it is said the Buddha himself sat in concentration quite often (according to suttas).
As you can derive from the name, concentration meditation is a type of meditation in which the practitioner cultivates the ability to concentrate and focus.
Concentration, as with mindfulness, is not inherently Buddhist, and is a key component of many, if not all, the meditation methods that existed over the decades.
Concentration can be practiced by focusing on a sound, an object.
There are many different ways to practice concentration meditation. The most common is practiced by focusing on the breath in one spot in the body.
When the mind wanders, you bring it back to that one spot in the body.
As is the case with mindfulness meditation, this practice strengthens the ability to focus. There is a tremendous amount of overlap between these. This overlap is a common theme on this page.
Using your consciousness to practice concentration is simple a consciousness practice, free from religion or tradition. It is how you use your own consciousness.
Vedantic and non-dual meditation
Vedanta is a philosophical school that predates Buddhism and does not require belief or any ‘revelations’ or prophecy. Over time three different schools of Vedanta evolved. A separate page will discuss Vedanta and the use of meditation in more depth.
The type of meditations in Vedanta varied depending on which of the three schools within Vedanta you examine.
The Vedanta schools are based on 3 texts: the Bhagavad Gita, the Brahma sutra, the (mukhya) Upanishads. The three schools are: Advaita Vedanta (monistic or nondualistic), Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism), the third being Dvaita (dualism). The first two are non-dualistic and are known to be a philosophy of Self-realization and Awakening, they relied on a philosophical approach of removing all that is not true, by negation, known as Via Negativa in the west. The oldest of these is Advaita Vedanta, which is monistic. In these philosophies, for the sake of simplicity, the One Source of all is called: Brahman.
There is a lot of overlap between Advaita Vedanta and Neoplatonic philosophy. Neoplatonic philosophy is also monism and strives to understand everything on the basis of a single cause that cannot be described, which could be referred to as “the First”, “the One”, or “the Good”.
Today, people also refer to this Brahman as Consciousness. This raises an issue of how may a consciousness of a human be different from the One Consciousness, a topic ripe for philosophical exploration
Subjective and objective meditations!
Now, this is a suitable time to explore 2 different classifications of meditation practices. This classification comes from the Vedanta and Indian schools of meditation yet it is very practical and well worth considering today when meditating or practicing any consciousness advancement techniques.
In Objective meditation, the meditator uses their will or effort to focus their consciousness on an object. Common objects to focus on are: a deity, light, sky, love, compassion, strength, or one’s own self objectified. Objective meditation is called Upasana.
In Subjective meditation, the meditator does not will to focus their consciousness. Rather, they practice to seek their “I”, or consciousness back to its source or root. Here, the ego takes a seat and allows one to reach the source of ego, aka the Atman. Subjective meditation is called nididhyasana or atma-vicara.