Session 4: Meditation Styles and Techniques

Session 4: Meditation Styles and Techniques

In this session we are going to talk about different meditation techniques for you to try.

I have found it useful to try different types of meditation from time to time. This can breathe a new experience into your practice.

Here are some different meditation styles

  • Mantra
  • Breathing
  • Guided
  • Open eyed
  • Moving Meditation
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation Meditation (PMR)

What is Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness, which can be a very powerful experience. The word Mantra is a Sanskrit – it consists of the root word: man- meaning “to think” and the suffix -tra, meaning “tools or instruments,” hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”. [1]

Even though its an “Instrument of thought,” it’s not like you are thinking. You are simply giving the mind something to do while you place our attention on the silence inside yourself.

Mantras are one of the more common styles of meditation. You can find the practice of mantra meditation in many of the eastern and western philosophical traditions and religions.

How do you practice Mantra Meditation

You can choose a mantra from your own language, it doesn’t have to be Sanskrit. It can be a word or a short sentence that carries a message you want to permeate into yourself.

So you choose a word/sentence that represents something you want to develop in yourself, feel more, or connect to. It could be words or phrases that include love, peace, courage, strength, etc.

Using these words create your own mantras. For example:

  • The Word love, peace, balance
  • I am Love
  • Peace surrounds me in everything I see
  • I am strong and powerful
  • My peace lives deeply inside of me
  • These are just a few, be creative and come up with your own

Or you can look up all kinds of mantra’s online such as:

Hindu Mantras

 “Aum” or “Om”

Translation: “In Hinduism is known to be the source of all mantras. Om is believed to be the primordial or the ‘first’ sound of the universe generated by the cosmic vibration that resulted in all creation”

“Om Namah Shivaya”

Translation: “I honor the God within”

Buddhist Mantras

“Om Mani Padme Hum”

Translation: The mantra Om Mani Päme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom. So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.

“om tare tuttare ture soha” Om – tar-ray – two tar ray – two ray – so ha

The Tara mantra “om tare tuttare ture soha” means “liberating from samsara.” The word “Samsara” means the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.

Try a few mantras before you decide on which one most speaks to you.

Once you have your mantra picked out, follow these five steps

Five Step Mantra Meditation

1.         Make yourself comfortable.

2.         Start breathing slowly, taking deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Place all your attention on your breath

3.         Next, Introduce your mantra. begin to say/repeat your mantra. You can say your mantra aloud or silently.

4.         Rest all your attention on the mantra as you are repeating it.

5.         If you notice your thinking, very gently return your focus to your mantra again.

This YouTube channel is packed with some great mantra meditations for you to listen to.

Meditative Mind YouTube channel came up with a series called 30 days of Chants. I found this a lot of fun to listen to and to meditate to for 30 days.

Breathing Meditation

This is a very simple style of meditation that you can practice is many different ways.

Three Step Breathing Meditation

1.         Make yourself comfortable.

2.         Start breathing slowly, taking deep breaths through the nose and out the mouth. Place all your attention on your breath

3.         If you begin to start talking to yourself or letting your attention go to your thoughts; gently return your focus back to your thoughts.

You can practice this meditation with your eyes open or closed.

You can use it in just about any situation like:

  • Waiting in a lineup or for an appointment.
  • While your working.
  • While doing house hold tasks or outdoor tasks

Guided Meditation

Guided meditations are great for beginners because all you have to do is follow along with the facilitator.

You can find lots of great guided meditations on YouTube.

Here are some simple and short guided meditation

Open Eyed Meditation

Often people don’t think of meditation and keeping your eyes open. However, you can go just as deep with your eyes open or closed.

One way to get accustomed to doing open eyed meditation is to at the end of every closed eyed meditation, when you open your eyes, stay in the meditative space for as long as you can with your eyes open.

Next you can start practicing doing your entire meditation with your eyes open. Mantra meditation can be good style to practice with your eyes open.

Moving Meditation

Moving Meditation can happen while you are immersed into any task or sport. This was something that began to happen for me while I was tattooing my clients. I would notice that by placing all my focus on the task at hand that eventually my mind would slow down and I would slip into a meditative state while I was working.

Athletes and Musicians refer to this as being in the “Zone” or in the “Gap.”

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Meditation (PMR)

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is: Is a very simple practice, PMR consists entirely of focusing on a muscle group, tensing that muscle group, and then relaxing them. This process is repeated throughout the entire body so that one has tensed and relaxed their entire body by the end of a session.

Progressive relaxation can help to promote generalized feelings of calmness and relaxation. It may also help with chronic pain. Because it slowly and steadily relaxes the body, some people use this form of meditation to help them sleep.

Here is a link to a video to try this style of meditation,

This by no means is a complete list of styles of meditation. Nor is it the end of what you can learn about each style of meditation. I suggest trying more than one style or to practice different styles.

In the first session we talked about meditation is more of a practice than its something to know about. Knowing about meditation pales in comparison to the experience of it. Take some time and practice these different techniques.

In the next and final episode I will be sharing with you some of my final thoughts and how to make your meditation practice a lifestyle.

[1] Macdonell, Arthur A., A Sanskrit Grammar for Students § 182.1.b, p. 162(Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 1927).

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