by Jeff Krisman
In today’s world, we are hearing more about the benefits of meditation, especially mindfulness meditation. It is important to understand that there really isn’t any form of meditation that is the best overall; what is most beneficial is to find the form of meditation that works for us as individuals. An initial internet search may feel overwhelming at first, as there are many different types of meditation practices.
In order to determine the best overall form or forms of meditation that work best for us, it may help to understand the two major types of meditation, both of which are based on the overall focus of the practice. One is to focus on an internal or external object of attention in order to calm the mind. The other involves monitoring the content of our experience and our reactions to what we are thinking about and what we are feeling in any given moment.
Calming the Mind
While one major type of meditation is not superior to the other, it can help us to understand that this first type has potential to help us calm our minds. While it will help reduce stress and make us focus more clearly on what we are doing in any given moment, it does have the potential to lead to us avoid coming to terms with what we are thinking and feeling, because we are seeking to achieve higher states of concentration and transcend our everyday reality. Some examples of this type of meditation include audio and/or visually guided meditation, loving kindness-compassion meditation, and qigong.
The second major type of meditation helps us to come to terms with and to embrace the actual experience of our true moment-to-moment reality in a nonjudgmental way by being still and simply paying attention to what is happening in our minds. We’re able to let our thoughts and the reactions to them arise and then pass away on their own without us trying to stop them from happening. Some examples of this type are mindfulness meditation and zazen meditation.
In the end, for each of us that want to make these meditative practices a part of our lives, it is best to remember that all of them come from what is essentially an ancient technology that has helped people cope more effectively with the experience of being human in constantly changing, uncertain and chaotic environments for thousands of years. These practices can be relevant and beneficial for us in today’s world, due to the potential they have to literally change our consciousness and to allow us to be more in the moment and more fully aware of the true nature of reality as we live our lives each day.
Jeff Krisman, an Oklahoma-based meditation expert, has more than 20 years of experience practicing and teaching Mindful Coping mindfulness meditation. His Mindful Coping podcasts are available on MindfulCoping.BuzzSprout.com.