How to Develop your Meditation Practice?
There are numerous articles regarding the health, healing and wellness benefits of meditation. For instance, Dr. Frank Lipman, M.D., who focuses on integrated and functional health medicine, offers a simple yet effective summary on the key health benefits of practicing meditation. While this is helpful, people who are interested in learning meditation might find it helpful to know main goals of a meditation practice and how to develop your own practice.
HOW TO PRACTICE
Developing a meditation practice requires commitment and time. It is not something you can develop over a few weeks or months. It is ideal to find a favorite teacher and center to attend practice. Practicing alone and in a group are both useful as they offer different benefits. Practicing on your own daily is fundamental to creating a grounded routine. Attending group practice allows you to experience the sense of support and community that can allow you to raise your vibration. This is a great way of transforming your daily life.
THREE MAIN LEVELS OF A MEDITATION PRACTICE
I learned meditation with masters in three different traditions: Taoism, Hindu/yoga practice and Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Based on these three traditions, I developed effective meditation teachings that allow my students to understand and experience the essence and joy of meditation. While there are different goals of meditation depending on tradition, I describe three main levels that show the depth of healing one can achieve in their meditation practice.
Level 1: Calming the Conscious Mind
The beauty of practicing meditation is that you gain the ability to calm your mind. Once you can quiet the thoughts in your mind, you develop a tool that can be applied to your awakened state. This allows you to live more mindfully, without needing or waiting to sit for meditation. It is at this stage where you create consciousness around your life and see your own actions, thoughts and feelings from a deeper perspective within.
Level 2: Exploring the Subconscious Mind
Once you have achieved stillness of the Mind, you can go deeper into the subconscious Mind, where you hold energy, past memories and deeply held emotions. This is the energetic realm where inner awareness is present and deep healing takes place. Gaining awareness and healing at the subconscious level helps develop a connection with your true self, often called “I AM”. This is crucial in your healing journey to live an empowered and joyful life.
Level 3: Superconscious level
This is the final yet beginning stage of entering into the deeper spiritual realm. In the Superconcious level, you experience sensations of bliss, divine love, compassion and peace that allow you to feel free from physical limitation or suffering. There is no more individualized identity of “Self ,” meaning no ego. Instead, you experience the wholeness, or “ONENESS”, and no longer feel separated from the source.
Reading a book before jumping into a practice may be helpful to understand what meditation is. The following are my suggestions on informative books.
Swami Ajaya, Yoga Psychology
Pandit U. Ariya, Superconscious Meditation
Assess your own need for meditation practice. If you are already ready to learn this ancient practice for more than managing symptoms and daily life, I recommend you consider studying with qualified meditation teachers. It is also appropriate for you to select a tradition/lineage of the practice, so that you are aware which path you are choosing. Know that meditation is not a religious practice; it is a spiritual practice for enriching your life, healing and spiritual journey.
STYLES/TEACHINGS OF MEDITATION
The below are some of the examples of traditional meditation practices:
Buddhist meditation is the key to surrendering to the human condition, meaning it is through meditation we can detach from our personal suffering, anxieties, fears and hatreds. There are two styles of teaching within this philosophy, Tibetan and Zen meditation.
Tibetan Buddhist practice, gives students a system of values, principles and teachings that allow you to achieve enlightenment. The essential takeaway is that in order to attain enlightenment one must develop compassion for all of humanity as well as all sentient creatures on this earth.
Zen Buddhism is a more contemplative approach to the practice and can be considered a study of Self. The inner meditation practice can uncover your inner divinity or Buddha to reveal universal truths and discover who you really are.
Hindu meditation, or dhyana, offers a meditation practice that trains the mind on a single point of focus to develop conscious awareness of your mind and body. Using breath, sound, object or visualization you are able to withdraw from the external environment and go inward.
Vippasana (insight) meditation is an Art of Living technique designed to rid the self of all mental impurities to obtain the highest level of happiness and liberation. Typically, Vippasana is a 10 day course where students are disciplined to focus all their attention on self-observation. They are not allowed to communicate with one another both verbally or non-verbally.
OSHO meditation focuses on developing consciousness around our repressed feelings and emotions. Students are encouraged to express and experiences deep seeded emotions in order to watch and learn their habitual patterns.
Kriya Yoga is the ancient Yoga system that connects energetic movements to the breath (prana, life force) and the body’s energetic system, the chakras. In this practice you are moving towards Self-Realization, where the union of mind, body and soul are found.
Taoist meditation focuses on energetic pathways and centers like Dan Tien (meaning field of energy) and is integrated as part of oriental medicine. Students are guided to recognize the polarity of existence to find their balance or center.
In addition to these ancient teachings are more modern practices that have become very popular.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is based on traditional Hindu writings and is an abbreviated meditation practice where you are given a 15 minute routine using sound or mantra.
Mindfulness Stress Reduction Meditation (MSRM) is designed for uniting body and mind to relieve physical suffering to experience more relaxation and emotional wellbeing.