So I have been looking into meditation techniques and refreshing my studies on the subject and it has come to my attention that while a lot of people want to do meditation they seem to have a lack of knowledge on the broader subject, and as a result they use the same methods over and over again without being able to achieve the meditation that they require. This is I feel the result of two things that they are doing wrong. The first is that meditation is a skill and as such it is not only hard to do, it is something that takes practice to do. The second problem arises from the fact that there are different TYPES of meditation and as such since we are all changeable human beings, we cannot always do the same type of meditation as we are not always in the same ‘headspace’ to do it. This being the case it occurred to me that maybe what will be of the best help in this is to look into the different kinds to meditation that can be done so that at any given time a person can choose the one that best suits their ‘headspace’ and so far more easily achieve the calmness and grounding that they are wanting.
There is a ‘tree’ so to speak for the different kinds of meditation.
1) Active Meditation
2) Passive Meditation
A) Focussed Meditation
B) Unfocussed Meditation
These types of meditation can be done in several ways of course, and each is a topic in and of itself, which can then be filled with the methods most preferred. The more that a style suits us the easier it is to do and to achieve a meditative state, and in fact you may well find that you do some of them already without actually realising it.
The method we are usually told about and which we are most familiar with is a Passive Unfocussed meditation, not unlike the style used by the Zen Buddhists. This style requires us to sit unmoving and to empty the mind completely. It is also, interestingly enough, one of the hardest methods to use and as a result is the one most people have the least success with. The basic rule, as it were, is to be as still as possible, to breathe evenly and deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. All the things in your mind must be one by one focussed on and then discarded from the mind until there is nothing left in your thoughts and you achieve a state of stillness. As you can imagine this is a task that takes years of training to properly achieve and while it is incredibly effective it is also almost impossible for most people to empty their mind of every kind of thought. The moment we manage to get going we thing about the fact that we are starting to manage it and thus immediately we have stopped the process. The multitude of stressors, the influence of all the different inputs around us are a constant barrage that only a very skilled mind can cut all of this out. This form of meditation is thus the most problematical one and is really only for the expert. It is not for nothing that monks lock themselves away in a remote place while they attempt to master this form of meditation. For the modern urban person it is easier and more effective to learn some of the other methods first and thus to get the mind into the habit and practice of stilling and grounding itself.
Over the next few posts I will look at each type of meditation and make a few suggestions as to how each might be done in a way that suits the lifestyle we live.