Like ice cream, meditation comes in different flavors – you may be drawn to one, and completely turned off by another. However, on the surface, meditation appears to just be about sitting still. How many different ways can you do that?
Meditation is mostly about attention and intention. The sitting part is really only a way to let the body rest. It is the way you focus your attention and channel your intention that makes all the difference in the approach. You can also do moving meditation, but even that practice is about the deeper processes going on as “you.”
While life looks like a bunch of objects, in reality it is really a collection of dynamic processes. Our lives are ever evolving uniquely for each of us and are more a collecton of relationships than things.
Many books are wtitten about meditation. However, I see three main types of meditation stand out, and these types have a different intention: relaxation, healing, and transformation.
Which is the right way? Of course, there is no one right way to live. We are all unique and so are our choices in life. We may not always know how and why we choose, but we all know when something feels right and which intention to set for connecting with life.
Meditation for Relaxation
The world is filled with constant stressors – responsibilities, demands, inflexible schedules, and a lack of space and time to rest. Illness, trauma, and loss add intensity to this mix. It is the rapid pace, rigid commitments, feeling of lack, fear, and our attitudes toward ourselves that lie at the root of stress. Most people don’t like themselves, and living as someone you don’t like is extremely stessful.
We need time to be quiet and alone, and make that a priority – as essential as sleeping and eating. Our culture is starting to forget what true rest feels like – when we stop doing and start being. But we can set the intention to make time to be without any stimulus.
Meditation for relaxation is about redirecting our attention to the quiet and nurturing parts of life – gentle sounds of nature, the feeling of sunshine, the rustling of a gentle breeze, the sounds of the birds – a break from noise and activity pollution.
There are many CDs on the market that play sounds of nature and guide you through the relaxation and increased awareness of your body. If you have Amazon Prime, you can even get these recordings as part of your membership under the Fitness category.
Setting time aside for yourself is a lifestyle change. It requires you to put your foot down or draw a line in the sand. Sometimes this change requires a negative shift in your life when you finally accept that overdrive does not work for you. Caring for yourself by resting then becomes a priority and is a key step toward loving the being that you are.
Many practitioners struggle with their thoughts coming up during meditation as a distraction. Sometimes thoughts can be simply observed and allowed to pass by, but during other times they seem too distracting and even disturbing.
When thoughts don’t just go away, they carry an important message. These thoughts are part of the learning that is taking place while you are resting. Now that you are quiet, these thoughts are telling you about something that is weighing you down, and maybe – rather than being ignored – they need to be attended to. You may want to write them down to consider later, and maybe that will help your body to feel heard. It’s a start.
Another way to study the message of your thoughts is to find them in your body. Although that may sound strange, your intuition can guide you to where a thought seems to be located in the body – a kind of pressure, tension, or tightness. The body needs to release something and is crying out for your help. What can you do?
You can keep focusing on the body (instead of the thought) and breathe deeply, while holding the intention to let that denseness go. Breathe out the stuck energy – forcefully, even. You may want to move your body to loosen the energy as you keep your attention on the disturbance. In some cases, you may want to talk to someone about what is bothering you with the intention to let it go. Trapped trauma is only going to intensify during meditation unless you have a way of releasing it as it comes up.
Maybe you are angry and sad? Then feel that during meditation – let it work it’s way through your body. Screaming and punching pillows can also help you let go of anger and reset your view of certain situations. Crying without guilt or shame is also a release. Being with pain, rather than running away, is often helpful. Dive right into the discomfort and feel it fully. That takes a lot of courage….
Basically, you need to try different things, explore, and do whatever works for you. This is your work and your time – no one else can do it for you, but some people may help to support you through it.
Accept the help. Feel the gratitude. Be OK with the fact that someone cares for you and wants to be there for you. Be OK with the fact that you are OK just the way you are. Attend to the signals. Intend to let go of whatever you no longer need. You will then have more energy available for your life’s expression!
Meditation for Healing
Some practice meditation to help themselves and others heal. This kind of practice harnesses energy and delivers it to a recepient or even the planet, if it is karmically allowed.
One must be very vigilant about who and how to help. We never want to interfere with another soul’s path. That kind of discernment is challenging and many overstep karmic boundaries unintentionally.
Another pitfall of healing work is having the practical knowledge of how to harness and channel energy properly so as not to deplete your life force. This can only be learned from a teacher who knows what they are doing.
Meditation for healing is an entire topic in itself and I may write a separate post about it in the future.
Meditation for Transformation
Meditation can also become a practice that leads to permanent change in your relationship to the life process. Typically, those who feel disillusioned in life are on the cusp of realizing that they are ready for a teacher. Eventually the yearning for unconditional happiness becomes so intense that a teacher shows up – seemingly out of the blue.
This kind of meditation is very different in intention, which is to expose and unveil the illusions of the Ego – a perception mechanism configured to maintain separation and block union.
Again, a teacher who knows how to work with the Ego directly is needed to help the practitioner stay on track. Many teachers claim a way to break free from illusion, and yet only a few actually do. But some souls know with their entire being that nothing else will be enough and persevere through the spiritual fire.
So, here they are – the three types of meditation I’ve observed – in very broad strokes.
If you are interested in a specific topic, have a question, or just need support, feel free to leave me a Comment.