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It is commonly believed that regardless of the meditation method that people practise, the benefits are similar.
Although the benefits of regular meditation practices look similar, there are subtle but important distinctions. The focus and emphasis of each meditation method is different from the others, which leads to different end goals that shape the direction and scope of the life of meditators.
Common benefits that result from a regular meditation practice are:
- Increased self-awareness
- Reduced stress
- A greater sense of calm
- Enhanced self-compassion, and
- A more positive outlook.
Persevering in your preferred method to meditate is vital to the success of meditation. Do not be discouraged if you do not see benefits after meditating for some time. Most of the time, changes happen at a subconscious level.
The change that is caused by meditation is delicate. Your entire consciousness experiences change. You will not see the change within yourself because it is deep within you, but it may be noted by others.
Contemplation is grace; it’s gift. We don’t do contemplation. God gives contemplation.
— Laurence Freeman
Christian Meditation – Prayer of the Heart
According to Laurence Freeman —Leader of the World Community for Christian Meditation— contemplative meditation “directly changes the meditators and through them the world they move in.”
We may think that nothing happens during meditation, but a fundamental transformation happens from within. Meditation by itself does not solve problems, but it changes the place from which we handle life’s problems. It changes our minds, cleaning the senses of perception, and putting an end to the blame game and to unhealthy obsessions. Meditation releases the creative imagination that is essential for a new order to occur. It brings the best in us and creates benefits for others.
Christian meditation makes us more loving and teaches us how “love flows from the pure sources of our being.”
Testimony: A long-time Christian meditator said that whenever she is in silence, saying and listening faithfully to the mantra and not judging, she finds herself in touch with the deeper source of peace, love, and presence within her. With time and regular practice, she became gentle with herself and more present to others.
Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention consciously, in the present moment, without judgment.
Mindfulness meditation is open to all regardless of age, gender, state of health or education, or belief system.
The health benefits of mindfulness meditation include dealing appropriately with stress and coping better with pain and illness.
The corporate world acknowledges the power of mindfulness in improving employees' productivity. Major corporations such as Google and Target give mindfulness training sessions to their staff.
The Dalai Lama says that wisdom is an understanding of how the mind works. It is impossible to know the mind without observing it. By becoming familiar with our minds, we can remove the obstacles to happiness and live a joyful life.
This form of meditation has become so popular that some psychologists have “expressed growing concern” (Hess). The “mindfulness industry” is at times being led by people who do not have proper training and who are misleading people with mental health issues away from getting proper treatment. It is not the act of being mindful that is of concern to them but the misleading of people who really need help dealing with serious mental issues.
Mandalas are things of beauty. Their beauty is an expression of their underlying meaning and harmony.
— David Fontana & Lisa Tenzin-Dolma
Meditating on a mandala can give the practitioners, especially those in the Hindu or Tibetan Buddhist traditions, profound insights into the cosmos. These insights do not solve cosmic mysteries, but they help practitioners grasp something of their awesome extent.
The delight we feel when we look at a thing of beauty is endless. A thing of beauty leaves a lasting impression on our mind. Its charm does not fade away with time or slip away into oblivion. It increases each time we think about it, and we can relive the joyful experience.
A heart and a rose are well-known symbols for Love. The shape of the heart is like a mandala. Roses have delightful arrangements of petals that form beautiful mandalas.
Meditating on the Self
Meditation is the direct and immediate observation of the surfacing of the “I” with no mediator to distract you.
Meditating on the self lead practitioners to discover the ego. You are meditating on the self when you can observe where your ego sense arises. It is then that you can see division that disrupts harmony, permeates everything, and destroys love.
If you have a character trait that you think is difficult to change, meditate regularly on the self and your self-awareness will develop. You become aware of this trait during the day and can watch what is happening in your mind. If you have intense contradictory emotions, your increased self-awareness will make you realize that there is no difference between these conflicting emotions. This will help you either change this characteristic trait or at least soften it.
Meditation in Action Through Hatha Yoga
When you practice Hatha Yoga with mindfulness placing your attention on your movements and your breath, you turn your yoga practice into a meditation in action.
The goal of the yogic movements is to bring health and harmony to your life by working mindfully on your physical body.
The word ‘mantra’ is a Sanskrit term that means a word or group of words that carries phonetic vibrations and energy. A mantra is a seed word that does not have grammatical meaning but has become a phonetic vibration. It is a tool to invoke the forces that brought it to existence.
Mentally repeating the mantra allows the vibration of the seed to penetrate deeper into the heart until the practitioners reach silence.
The practice of mantra brings tremendous healing energy which helps to achieve balance in the body, mind, and consciousness.
Meditation brings harmony and natural order to human life. It awakens the intelligence and rejuvenates the mind to make your life happy, peaceful, and creative.
Meditation According to One’s Body Constitution
The Ayurvedic approach adjusts meditation practices according to the original constitution of the physical body of a person and any periodic healthy imbalance.
Contingent on your state of health and any imbalances you experience, you will be advised to practice one of the following meditation techniques: meditate on your breath, your thoughts, a mantra, the spine breath, or do the Metta meditation.
What Is the Focus of These Meditation Methods?
Christian meditation seeks the complete transformation of the person through a contemplative silent approach.
Mantra meditation seeks an awakening of the creative intelligence to bring awareness, harmony, and natural order to our lives.
Mindfulness meditation teaches us to be present and mindful. It is a means to help people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways. It helps people to change their usual responses by taking a breather and choosing how to act.
The Ayurvedic approach adjusts meditation practices according to the original constitution of the physical body of a person and any episodic imbalances. The end goal is healing the body, mind, and consciousness.
- Meditate In Line With Your Body Constitution
Meditation is a technique to calm the mind, but it is not a one-size fits all. According to Ayurveda, the best meditation approach is the one that is line with your body constitution.
Fontana, D. and Tenzin-Dolma, L. MANDALA SOURCE BOOK (2019). p. 35.
Vishnu-Devananda, S. MEDITATION AND MANTRAS (1978 reprinted in 2000).
Meditation Newsletter of the World Community for Christian Meditation. (Vol 43 No 3; October 2019).
Hess, P. “Psychologists Express Growing Concern With Mindfulness Meditation”. Article published in 2017 in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Pocket website.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.