Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content.
A Omkar meditation technique involves focusing on a single point with universal sound AUM. This could entail watching the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads on a rosary. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.
In this form of meditation, simply refocus awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
Mindfulness meditation technique encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.
Through mindfulness meditation, we can see how thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, we can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experience as "good" or "bad" ("pleasant" or "unpleasant"). With practice, an inner balance develops.
In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness - to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.
Other meditation techniques
There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditations techniques, such as tai chi, chi Kung and walking meditation.
Benefits of meditation
If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often one result of it. Back in the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term the relaxation response after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson's words, is "an opposite' involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. "Studies on the relaxation response have documented the following benefits to the nervous system:
1. Lower blood pressure
2. Improved blood circulation
3. Lower heart rate
4. Less perspiration
5. Slower respiratory rate
6. Less anxiety
7. Lower blood cortisol levels
8. More feelings of well-being
9. Less stress
10. Deeper relaxation
In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated, or "enlightened," practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calmness of mind and sense of inner balance.