We explain what meditation is, the history of this practice and the types that exist. Also, what are its features and benefits.

Meditation
Meditation implies certain margins of renouncing daily passions.

What is meditation?

It is known as meditation a wide spectrum of mental practices which consist of inducing a state of consciousness often identified as “full attention”. This state is away from distracting thoughts and focused on a more contemplative perspective of one’s own existence.

The meditation It is part of the practices of many religions and spiritual or mystical ways. It is generally associated with the appeasement of thought, anguish and emotions, in order to achieve a clearer perspective on life, less attached and more serene.

To achieve your goals, implies certain margins of renouncing daily passions. In this sense, meditation is usually considered a healthy practice, but there are few scientific conclusions about it.

See also: Gautama Buddha

history of meditation

Meditation
Meditation is one of the spiritual tasks proposed by Buddhism.

Meditation was born part of the ancient culture of the Indian subcontinent.

It was a common practice of the Vedic religions around 1500 B.C. c.

However, it is believed that this is a much older mental exercise.

Specifically, around the 5th and 6th centuries BC. C., it could already be found as part of the body of spiritual tasks that Chinese Taoism proposed to its followers and Indian Buddhism.

In her they saw the path to the appeasement of desire and ascetic renunciation, paths towards true enlightenment.

The arrival of this practice in the West occurred as a result of commercial exchange through the Silk Road. Despite Jewish culture held similar practices, the Christian world condemned them as pagans and avoided their influence. This did not prevent religious meditation and divine ecstasy in stories of Catholic saints.

Much later, in the 20th century, the West found itself in its philosophical impasse. In this context there was a sensitization and increased interest in the mystical doctrines of the East. So many of its practices became popular, such as yoga and Zen Buddhism.

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types of meditation

Zen meditation
Zen meditation focuses your attention on the breath in the belly.

There are at least eight basic types of meditation:

  • Primordial Sound Meditation. Coming from the Hindu Vedic tradition. It is based on inducing a trance state through the repetition of sounds, generally in the form of a mantra: a phrase or word whose repetition allows relaxation and internalization of the meditative state.
  • Vipassana Meditation. Traditional Buddhist meditation, renamed in the West with the name of “mindfulness” or full attention. It consists of focusing attention on the individual’s breathing to rule out any other stimulus and allow thoughts to flow without clinging to any.
  • Zen Meditation (Zazen). Similar to Vipassana, but it focuses your attention on breathing in the belly, instead of the nose, it also consists of full attention to the moment to observe your own thoughts without getting lost in them, becoming aware of the way you think or act. perceive the real world.
  • Metta Meditation. Known as “Benevolent Love,” it draws its inspiration from a specific tradition in Tibetan Buddhism, which emphasizes feelings of compassion, empathy, acceptance, and positivity.
  • Kundalini meditation. It is based on the belief in the Kundalini energy, located at the base of the spine of the human body, which would have to be “awakened” to access enlightenment. This can be accomplished through mantras, breaths, mudras (hand gestures), and chants.
  • Chakra meditation. Chakra meditation, as its name indicates, seeks to activate the energy centers of the human body, known as “Chakras” in the oriental philosophical and medical tradition. Each energy point corresponds to a meditative practice and a series of stimuli (colors, smells, movements, etc.).
  • Tonglen Meditation. A more “dark” form of meditation, which proposes to the individual to connect with their own suffering in order to face and overcome it. However, the way to do it is through objectivity and neutrality, without connecting with the suffering, but observing and accepting it.

Religions that practice meditation

Meditation appears in various human religious and mystical traditions, although not always with the same name or with the same practices, or under the same philosophical principles. Thus, it is possible to find it in:

  • Buddhism, like Zazen.
  • Hinduism, like yoga Y vedanta.
  • Islam, specifically in certain practices of Sufism.
  • Christianity, in repetitive prayer, like that of the Holy Rosary.

Difference with yoga

yoga - meditation
Yoga combines physical training and the elimination of tension in the body.

It is common to see these two terms related, but they are not the samealthough they both come from the culture of India.

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Yoga is a practice that combines the physical training of the body in flexibility and the elimination of its tensions derived from everyday life, which allows and facilitates meditation. There are also various types of yoga, focused on different aspects of the communion between body and mind.

Meditation, on the other hand, is a purely mental exercise.. If it requires specific body positions and breaths, or the recitation of mantras, it is as a mechanism to allow the transition to the meditative state of consciousness.

What is meditation for?

The main purpose of meditation is gain awareness of how one’s own mind works and whose we are That is, interrupt the daily flow of thoughts, desires and drives. In this way, one can look at one’s life and one’s own mind as alien objects, as if we were not part of it.

just like that can be obtained something similar to the own truth. For this, emotions must be silenced, and full attention must be paid to what is happening around, what is thought, what is felt, without ever losing composure.

steps to meditate

meditation
To meditate, comfortable clothing should be worn in an environment conducive to concentration.

Meditation involves a series of specific steps, depending on the trend practiced, to reach the state of mindfulness. However, in very broad terms, any meditation exercise implies:

  • Relaxation. Wear comfortable clothes, in an environment conducive to concentration and privacy, so as to be able to make a temporary stop in daily life. You have to get rid of shoes, watches and other tight clothing or that transmit control.
  • Breathing. Meditation can be lying down, sitting or standing, but generally involves a recurring and serene breathing exercise, which transmits to the body and mind a state of pause, calm and serenity.
  • focused attention. Since the goal is not to fall asleep, attention must be focused on something: the breath itself, a mantra being recited, a mandala being drawn, or simply a chosen object from the real world.
  • Acceptance of thoughts Meditation does not seek control of thoughts, but the relinquishment of control: acceptance of what appears in the mind and liberation, letting the thought flow, trying to have a blank mind or trying to simply witness what is happening. what is thought
  • Symbolization. The truths obtained in this way, that is, everything that was seen or accepted, usually later motivate symbolic acts of renunciation, surrender, thanks or resignation, which can range from a bow (or salutation to the Sun, as in yoga) to a prayer or a minute of silence, etc.
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What are the benefits of meditation?

Meditation
Meditation allows self-knowledge.

It is known that meditation can have an impact on mental stress and its physical counterpart, such as anguish, stress, hypertension, etc. This does not mean that meditation can cure medical ailments, but it does mean that it can reduce their mental triggers in some cases.

In addition to providing better emotional health, allows self-knowledge. Although it is a temporary departure from daily tasks, it works as a preparation for everyday situations.

What are the risks of meditation?

In general, the experience of meditation is positive. However, specific and infrequent cases have been reported of people who experienced, after prolonged or repeated meditation sessions, symptoms of emotional or psychological ailments probably pre-existing.

meditation and trance

The meditative state is similar to the trance state, which can be induced by drugs or repetitive stimuli (such as tribal drumming). It is not a state of suggestion (like the hypnotic) in which the mind is asleep, but full attention, in which it is fully awake.

meditation exercises

writing - meditation
Asymptomatic writing consists of freeing the mind through writing.

Three meditation exercises for beginners are:

  • Focus on an object. We must sit in a comfortable and familiar place, and choose an object on which to focus our attention for 5 minutes. We will observe it trying to be interested in its forms, in its nature, in what the object presents and not so much in what makes us remember or fantasize.
  • moment of silence At some point in our daily life we ​​will sit in a comfortable place, where we can spend about 5 minutes, and we will be silent, listening to the sounds around us and detailing them: what they are, what they are like, how long they last.
  • Asymptomatic writing. Used by the surrealists, this exercise consists of freeing the mind through writing, allowing whatever appears on paper to emerge. Attention is not paid to what is written, but to the forms of the letter and the act of writing itself.

References:

  • “Meditation” on Wikipedia.
  • “The 8 types of meditation and their characteristics” in Psychology and Mind.
  • “Main Features of Meditation” in Study Buddhism.
  • “Benefits of Meditation” in The Art of Living.
  • “Meditation (mental exercise)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  • What is Meditation? in PsychologyToday.

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