Meditation: An Insight

by Soha Akbar

Meditation: An Insight

We live in a world focussed on chaos, while constantly aspiring to focus on calmness. Many of us are caught up the hectic tangle of worldly affairs, only to crave for some moments of stillness and inner peace. It’s like we are sailing on two boats, wanting to take us in two different directions. So how do we balance the fast and the slow? The noisy and the quiet? The moving and the still? The holding on and the letting go? One way to try and do that is through meditation.

What Does Meditation Mean?

Meditation. Such a simple word. Probably discussed millions of times. Almost a buzz word in social media circles. Yet many of us are unaware of what it actually means. Simply stated, it is a practice that helps clear your thoughts and focus your mind, leading to overall mental and physical well-being. It involves focusing your mind on an object, activity, word or thought to cultivate awareness and insight. Concentrating on a physical activity can include breathing techniques, physical movements or mantra chanting.

Is Meditation a Religious Practice?

Meditation can be either religious, non-religious or spiritual. The practices have been borrowed from various religions, cultures, traditions and schools of thought, spanning thousands of years. Hence, even though some meditative techniques have roots in religious practices, one doesn’t have to be religious to be able to meditate.

Types of Meditation

Though meditation has existed since time immemorial, it has gained traction in the recent years as a stress-managing tool. Today, this ancient practice has multiple forms. Beginners are often at a loss where to start when it comes to meditation. In this article we will take a look at some of the ways one can transition into the magical world of meditation.

Guided and Unguided Meditation

First and foremost, the basic aspect of any mediation can be whether it’s guided or unguided. Choosing between these two is often the first step when starting your meditation journey. In a guided meditation, the teacher guides you through the steps, either live in person or online, or via a recording in an app. This is very useful for beginners because they are not aware of the technique or the right way to get the most of the meditation practice. In unguided or silent meditation, there is no one explaining the process. So, the practitioner is free to meditate either on their thoughts alone, or by using techniques that they might have previously learned from a guided meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation

Being mindful means to be aware about your surroundings, your actions and your thoughts, without being reactive to either of those. Mindfulness meditation requires you to be fully present in the moment, without thinking about the past or the future. It is the practice of focussing your mind for a certain period of time, just noticing your thoughts but not engaging with them. Meaning? When a thought occurs, you do nothing in response but just recognize them and let them pass through. You don’t get swept up in the emotions that arise because of the thoughts. It is like an abstract concept of separating yourself from your thoughts. But easier said than done! Right?

Guided Visualization

This is a technique where the meditative steps are narrated by the teacher, and involves imagery or visualization. The practitioner forms mental pictures or imagines scenarios as instructed by the teacher. This helps them relax or be more aware, as per the objective of the meditation.

Transcendental Meditation

 This technique involves the use of a mantra that needs to be repeated for twenty minutes, twice a day. The mantra can be a phrase, a word or a sound. It is usually done seated in a meditative posture, with closed eyes.

Chakra Meditation

Chakras are centres of energy in the body, understood in the spiritual aspect. There are seven major chakras located along the spinal column. Each chakra is associated with different physiological and emotional functions. Furthermore, each chakra is thought to have a specific colour and beej mantra. Chakra meditation involves relaxation techniques that aim to balance the chakras and promote overall well-being. It involves actions like picturing each chakra and its colour while meditating on its beej mantra.

Metta Meditation

This is the practice of directing good wishes and thoughts towards others. Specific words and phrases are recited to evoke self-love and empathy and warm feelings for others. Hence, it is also known as loving-kindness meditation. This is a good practice to help resolve inner conflicts, as the practitioners are encouraged to send well wishes even towards the people they have a difficult relationship with.

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique, often considered the precursor to mindfulness meditation. It involves intense self-observation, and through that aims for self-transformation. The word ‘vipassana’ means ‘to see things as they really are.’ It focusses on the deep connection between the mind and the body. Participants have to follow a specific code of discipline which can initially be quite challenging. The first step is abstinence from lying, killing, stealing, sexual activities and intoxicants. This helps calm the agitations of mind and prepare it for self-observation.

The next step is learning to be aware of the changing flow of the breath. This further calms the mind, moving it towards a tranquil state and preparing it for the next step, which is observing the physical sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, yet not reacting to them.

The last step involves the practice of Metta meditation. All these practices make Vipassana a mental training that greatly benefits the mind and brings clarity and focus.

Today, there is no dearth of meditation techniques, scripts or meditation courses. So, which form is the best or the most effective type of meditation? That’s for the practitioner to decide, because the process is different for different people. We cannot pinpoint any one technique as the most effective or universally acknowledged as the best; we can choose the ones that work best for us. Sayujya Yoga offers a meditation course in Mumbai as a part of their Yoga Teacher Training Course. It is conducted both offline and online. So, in case you are wondering whom to approach to start your meditation journey, look no further! Sayujya Yoga is among the best Yoga schools in Mumbai, and anyone across the globe can gain immense knowledge, and more importantly the right knowledge, from the teachers at Sayujya.

About the Author

Sohaila Akbar

Sohaila is a Yoga teacher, keen on bringing about positive changes in the lives of others through the knowledge that she has received from her teachers. Prior to this she was a school teacher working towards imparting academic, social and ecological knowledge to young learners. Sohaila is an avid reader of books and have an undying love for fiction. She prefers paperbacks and hardcovers over e-books anyday. She loves travelling, and a good cup of coffee is always welcome!