Meditation Techniques

Today, meditation techniques are undergoing a revival as health experts discover and proclaim the benefits of meditation as a remedy to the epidemic stress of modern life. Meditation has now become recognized as a powerful tool for stress management that you can easily integrate into your daily life.

Woman Meditating on Beach
As you become more familiar with meditation, choose the techniques that best suit your temperament and natural inclinations.

This technique of breathing meditation is very simple: As you inhale, know that you're breathing in. As you exhale, know that you're breathing out. Another very simple yet potent practice you can do on a daily basis to revitalize your interconnectedness at a deep level is the practice of loving kindness meditation.

Remember that each technique is an antidote to a particular difficulty and a means of strengthening certain qualities of mind. Trust your heart and your intuitive sense of what you need. This simple meditation will help you get more in touch with the deeper meaning of listening.

Your meditation practice can and should begin with a morning meditation, and it should begin the first moment that you are aware that you are awake each day. Begin each session with a few minutes of relaxation techniques to quiet your mindbody and emotions -- an essential foundation for successful meditation. Sleep meditation is an important part of your meditation practice, and it is an excellent way to end your day and drift off into a deep, restful slumber.

A great place to start with meditation is to try a technique that centers around something you already do in your life. Walking meditation provides a welcome method for bringing the meditative mind into action. What do you really enjoy doing? Have you ever considered that this could be an excellent mindful meditation for you?

Some techniques are excellent for focusing on your physical body. You can use this body scan meditation to strengthen body mindfulness by sweeping your awareness through your body. This healing meditation is an excellent technique for dissolving both physical and emotional pain.

Other techniques focus on your emotional interactions with people you know and with the world at large. Here is a love meditation that you can do with a partner, and it is also an excellent meditation for extending healing love to a loved one who may be far away. This heart meditation is a great way to extend love to someone you care for very deeply. And this story illustrates the potential impact that peace meditation can have on the world.

One way to understand meditation techniques is that they help us integrate and develop the dynamic synergy of both our active or creative mind skills, and our quiet or receptive mind skills. Insights and inspirations emerge first as subtle, formless impressions, gossamer-like and transparent -- so elusive that they are easily ignored.

If our “quiet mind skills” are keen enough, however, even the subtlest emerging insights will be noticed and drawn into awareness. Once these impressions are brought onto the screen of conscious awareness, our “active mind skills” come into play, shaping and developing them into thoughts, images, and intentions that can be communicated to others and guide our action and work in the world.

The “active mind skills” are the tools of our intellect and reasoning. They include intention or will, thinking and reasoning, and our faculty of creative imagination. These skills each play a role in shaping or transforming information through the power of intention. They also give form and meaning to the flow of information and the chaos of our experience by creating order through the power of thought and imagination.

The “quiet mind skills” represent a domain of powerful mental functions that are complementary to and essential for the effective use of the “active mind skills.” Quiet mind skills are primarily attentive or receptive mental functions that gather information through the faculty of mindful attention, sensing, and feeling. These involve the qualities of receptivity, “being,” or presence, in contrast to the creativity, or “doing” nature of the active mind skills.

Consciously or unconsciously, all the great scientists and sages of the world have tapped the quiet mind skills as the access states necessary to discover the “universal organizing principles” that have inspired and guided the development of humanity throughout the ages.

By allowing us to focus our attention more deeply, they enable us to discover a more fundamental wisdom that reveals insight into the nature of our innermost being and the world in which we live. In this way, the quiet mind skills awaken our sensitivity to life-giving forces that are expressed as universal values, such as wisdom, compassion, heartfelt appreciation, and wonder.

Though few people have received any formal training in either the active or quiet mind skills, all of us, to some degree, rely on these faculties to make sense of our experience, and to organize our thinking and working. In fact, the quality of our work, communication, thinking, creativity, and health are intimately related to how fully we have developed the synergy of these two kinds of capabilities. The different styles of meditation techniques found in this section are designed to provide you with the kind of “mental fitness” training that will help you cultivate your capacity to integrate both of these essential domains.

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