“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
~Thich Nhat Hahn, Being Peace
The widespread practice of meditation has gotten a lot of hype over the last few years because of its ability to increase mindfulness, calmness, physical relaxation, psychological balance, and enhancing overall health and well-being.
Meditation is a mind and body practice which focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, and body. Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and body and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors.
There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common:
1. Being in a quiet location with as few distractions as possible
2. Comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking)
3. A focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath)
4. An open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them)
7 Popular Types of Meditation
1. Mindfulness: also called ‘Vipassana’ comes from the Buddhist tradition and is all about being present, letting your mind run, and accepting whatever thoughts come up, while practicing detachment from each thought. Awareness of breath is also a key component to this practice.
2. Transcendental Meditation (TM): is practice that stems from Hinduism. In TM, you sit with your back straight and use a mantra (a sacred word that is repeated). Your focus is on rising above all that is impermanent. TM often leads to leaving the body which is the aim of the practice.
3. Kundalini: is the name for the rising stream of energy that exists in a human being. The aim of Kundalini meditation is to become aware of that rising stream. Kundalini makes active use of the breath, using breath to move energy upward.
4. Qi gong: is a form of Taoist meditation that uses the breath to circulate energy through the organs and energy centers of the body in a oval pattern called the ‘microcosmic orbit’. Attention is focused on the breath and the circulation of energy (called ‘qi’ or ‘chi’). Qi gong uses the breath to direct energy, and circulate energy in the body and spirit,
5. Guided Visualization: involves concentration upon an image or imaginary environment. It is usually done while listening to a recording. An example would be to imagine you are in a grassy field, with a clear sky overhead.
6. Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM): focuses on the breath and heartbeat, allowing the breath to become rhythmic and balanced. Attention is focused on the heart as the center of the energetic system. HRM strengthens the health of the heart on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
7. Chakra Meditation: Comes from the ancient Hindu system where there are seven Chakras (Energy Vortexes) located along the spinal cord. Each chakra influences a different endocrine gland and nerve plexus, and correlates to different energy bodies and higher realms. Chakra means wheel and their functions are to absorb and distribute Prana (Universal Life Force). When our chakras are in balance, the more healthy and vital we feel.
Mindfulness and Chakra meditation are the two forms of meditation I use because I believe they both encompass the balancing of the mind and body energy to bring an overall sense of calmness and alignment. I also use hemi-sync and heart chakra meditation music. Hemi-sync is the outcome of multi-layered audio signals, which make the left and right hemispheres of the brain work together in a state of coherence. Here are some great resources to help get you started.
Getting Started with Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation: 10 Minute Awareness Techniques For Quieting The Mind$7.99
Chakra Suite: Music for Meditation, Healing and Inner Peace$8.99
Buddha in Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Zen Guide to Sitting Quietly and Being Buddha$4.99
Finding the Still Point (Book and CD): A Beginner’s Guide to Zen Meditation$12.28
Mindfulness Meditation: Nine Guided Practices to Awaken Presence and Open Your Heart Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook$14.90
Free Guided Mediations
If you are new to meditation, start with the 5-minute Breathing Meditation
Youtube has many music options for each of the mediation types listed about. Just search for the type of meditation music you are looking for to find the ones that resonate most with you. My favorite is heart chakra meditation music.