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Why try different meditation techniques?

Updated: Jun 12



 

When I was  a young adult, few people in the West even knew about meditation or why it is different from prayer.  Raised in the Bible Belt, my mother was “afraid” of meditation and yoga because she thought they might cause one to worship other gods or let evil spirits come in.

But through my adulthood, I have experienced several types of meditation myself, but mostly I have sat quietly and let thoughts go though me.  I have had profound experiences and lots of not so profound ones, but I can honestly say, all have been beneficial, even the frustrating moments.  These moments encouraged me to go deeper. I got gently introduced to meditation again by going to “Centering Prayer in my church.  So here are a few of the types I am familiar with.  Next time I’ll offer information on some of the other popular/famous ones.

 

 1.     Centering Prayer:  Centering prayer is a contemplative practice rooted in Christian spirituality, particularly within the Christian contemplative tradition. It's a form of silent prayer that aims to foster a deeper relationship with God or the Divine by quieting the mind and opening oneself to the presence and guidance of the divine.


2.     Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana, which means "insight" or "clear seeing," is one of the oldest forms of meditation originating from Buddhist traditions. It focuses on observing sensations in the body without reacting to them. Practitioners often sit quietly and observe their breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions with a non-judgmental attitude. The goal is to develop insight into the impermanent nature of existence and the interconnectedness of all phenomena.


3. Zen Meditation: Zen meditation, derived from the Chinese word "Ch'an," is a form of meditation that originated in East Asia, particularly in Zen Buddhism. It emphasizes mindfulness, concentration, and the direct experience of reality. Zen practitioners typically sit in a specific posture (such as the lotus position) and focus on their breath or engage in koan study (paradoxical statements or questions) under the guidance of a teacher (roshi). The aim is to attain enlightenment or "satori" through direct experiential realization.


4.     Yoga Nidra:  Despite its name, Yoga Nidra is not actually a form of physical yoga involving postures (asanas), but rather a guided form of meditation and relaxation.   During a Yoga Nidra session, practitioners typically lie down in a comfortable position, often supported by props such as blankets or bolsters, to help promote relaxation. The practice involves a systematic guided meditation that takes participants through different stages of relaxation, typically including body awareness, breath awareness, and visualization.

 

Each of these meditation techniques offers unique approaches to cultivating mindfulness, concentration, and insight. While they may have different cultural and religious contexts, they share the common goal of promoting mental clarity, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth. Practitioners often choose a technique based on personal preference, tradition, or the guidance of a qualified teacher.

Betty Sue O'Brien - Board Member

 

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