Meditation is a unique universal phenomenon integrating all religions, traditions, languages and cultures. Every aspect of day-to-day human living involves one or the other form of meditation. In all religions, namely Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, and Jewish, meditation appears in different ways, depending on their experiences. This confirms the Vedic saying that truth is one, but the wise interpret it differently.
Five different types of meditation
- Cyclic Meditation: The concept has been taken from Mändükya Kärikä. Cyclic meditation involves a combination of gentle yogic stretching performed with awareness and languid movements followed by relaxation. This cycle repeats three times and ends in deep peace and silence. It consists of a combination of both ‘stimulating’ and ‘calming’ practices. The combination of stimulation and relaxation takes one to deeper layers of peace.
- Transcendental Meditation (TM): Transcendental meditation is a form of mantra meditation that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduces. TM involves the mental chanting of a particular mantra with awareness. Transcendental meditation is practised for 15–20 minutes in the morning and evening while sitting comfortably with closed eyes. During this technique, the individual’s awareness settles down, and he experiences a unique state of restful alertness.
- Vipaçyanä Meditation: Vipaçyanä, which means to see things as they are, is one of the ancient techniques of meditation. It was discovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Vipaçyanä is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. In Vipaçyanä meditation, the meditator, sitting in a comfortable position, initially observes his breathing and then follows sensations and feelings in various parts of the body with the attitude of a witness. This observation-based self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
- Sahaja Yoga Meditation: The Sahaja Yoga meditation technique was discovered and propagated by Mätäji Nirmalä Devi. The process of Sahaja Yoga is spontaneous and natural. It is a technique to awaken the kundalini shakti, which lies in the dormant state at the base of the spine (mülädhära chakra) of each human being. Sahaja Yoga is the state of self-realisation produced by the cleansing of cakräs and kundalini awakening and is accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence.
- Preksha Dhyana: Preksha means “to look”. Preksha Dhyana can be practised anytime, anywhere, but regular practice at a fixed daily time brings speedier results. It means gathering the mind’s attention inward and constantly looking within, allowing the practitioner to become free from the world of name and form and abide in Absolute Truth Consciousness. The steps that follow in this meditation are Shwasa Preksha (Breath awareness) and Animesh Preksha (gazing at an object). Sharira – Preksha (Body – –awareness), Vartmana Preksha (Awareness of present), Ekagrata. This can be practised while sitting, lying or standing. This Dhyana gradually releases tension and brings relaxation to the body, develops a deep-silent and slow breathing pattern, and sublimates the effort to speak undesirable things, transforming the mind and bringing quiet, calm and relaxation.
Types of meditation as per Gheranda Samhita
- Sthula Dhyana: Contemplating on the Murthi (image) of one’s Guru or God (Ishta Devata) is known as Sthula Dhyana. The object of Sthula Dhyana can be vividly visualised; this type of Dhyana is for beginners.
- Sukshma Dhyana: The object at this Dhyana is Kundalini, the Serpent Power after it crosses the region of the eyes. Then, it becomes imperceptible.
- Jyotirmaya Dhyana: Tejodhyana is said to be 100 times superior to Sthula Dhyana. In this Dhyana, while the yogi meditates, he sees the light and fixes his mind. The yogi sees an inner glow, not a light outside, which he can perceive. Strictly speaking, this light is neither an image nor a precept. A successful yogi in Bhramari Kumbhaka hears certain inner sounds that blend with the light he sees, and the yogi’s mind is fixed on the blend. Thus, the sound, the light and the knowing mind become one.