Category Archives: Spiritual

6 Forms of Meditation Worth Considering for Beginners

Meditation is widely regarded as a route to peace of mind and improved health. Doctors across the globe now regularly recommend meditation to their patients. But how do you do it? And does it matter what kind of meditation you do?

Here are half a dozen notable and easy to start meditations that might appeal to those keen to get started.

1. Mindfulness, also called ‘Vipassana’, comes from the Buddhist tradition. Mindfulness is arguably the most popular form of meditation in the western world, and is based around ‘being present’, allowing thoughts to run, and accepting whatever processes arrive without becoming attached to those thoughts.

Mindfulness is taught along with awareness of breathing, though this is just one sensation among many, not a particular focus. There is no attempt to consciously adapt breathing patterns, which would potentially make it observational rather than active. Changing your breathing changes the energy; just watching what your breathing is doing (particularly if shallow) means you are stuck in a low-energy state.

2. Zazen is the generic term for seated meditation in the Buddhist tradition, in the modern Zen tradition it is often referred to as ‘just sitting’. It is a minimal meditation, done for long periods of time, with little instruction beyond the basics of posture. There is no particular attention to the breath, nor an attempt to change the breath.

Zazen is the ‘anti-method’ approach to meditation, but it is often done in conjunction with focus on a specific aspect of Buddhist scripture, or a paradoxical sentence, story or question. This method of meditation is difficult to learn and make progress with, with a lack of guidance surrounding the practice. Developed for a monastic setting, it can be difficult to adapt to an active life in the modern world.

3. Transcendental Meditation is a simplified practice that emerges from Vedanta, the meditative tradition within Hinduism. In TM, you sit with your back straight (ideally in the Lotus or half-Lotus posture), and use a mantra, a sacred word that is repeated for 20 minutes and bookended by periods of silence.

A peaceful and simple practice, TM can take a little time to master, with the periods of silence initially difficult for some, although the long-term rewards are clear for most to see. For more information on TM contact Will Treend, an Isle of Wight based teacher who can fill in all of the gaps.

4. Kundalini is another practice that comes from Vedanta. Kundalini is the tag for a rising stream of energy that exists in a human being. The aim of Kundalini meditation is to become aware of that rising stream, and to ride the stream to infinity. The practitioner concentrates on their breath flowing through each of the energy centres of the body, always moving upward, toward the energy centre just above the top of the head.

Kundalini makes active use of the breath, using breath to move energy upward. Sceptics assert that Kundalini is not heart-based in either its method or philosophy, and it can have unpleasant side-effects, which occur regularly enough to have been given a name: Kundalini syndrome.

5. Qi Gong is a form of Taoist meditation that uses the breath to circulate energy through organs and energy centres of the body in a oval pattern called the ‘microcosmic orbit’.

Attention is focused on the breath and the circulation of energy (called ‘qi’ or ‘chi’). Attention is also focused on the three major orbits used in Taoist meditation: a point 2-3 inches below the navel, the centre of the chest, and the centre of the forehead.

Qi gong uses the breath to direct and circulate energy in the body and spirit, but it is not heart-based. There is little sense of how the heart changes and develops, and no connection between the circulation of energy and emotional states, and no core set of teachings on how to work with emotion.

Ratu Bagus with 'shakers'
Ratu Bagus with ‘shakers’

6. Bio-Energy Meditation, also known as ‘shaking’, is a practice based around energy transmission, and originated in Bali courtesy of the teachings and guidance of energy master Ratu Bagus.

This energy transmission calls upon each individual to awaken the natural capacity the body has for healing – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. There is emphasis on practice rather than theory or technique, with those present at Ratu’s Ashram shaking for a total of six hours per day (three sessions of two hours), whilst chanting the historical Gayatri Mantra in unison.

It may look a little strange from the outside, but students have reported reduction in cancerous tumours, improved overall mental and physical health and increased bliss through this physically demanding form of meditation.

There are many other forms of meditation, including guided visualisation and Tantra, so you may wish to study a little more before deciding on a suitable, fitting starting point for your meditation journey.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.