Meditation - The Why & The What

Meditation has roots dating back over 5000 years. Archaeologists have discovered wall art, etchings of primitive man in postures of prayer, that can only be described as meditative. 

These first documented cases of meditation were in China and India, amongst the Taoists and Buddhists. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that meditation began to be popularized in Western culture, thousands of years later.

The benefits of meditation are constantly being researched; much is already known about it’s richness and vast healing properties on the human body including, but not limited to, increased feelings of happiness and overall well-being, heightened attention to mindfulness, reduced levels of anxiety and depression, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep patterns, and diminished levels of pain.

Perhaps everyone should attempt to incorporate meditation into their lives, whether it’s for five minutes or one hour. Any small amount can help; start small and cultivate from there. A tree does not grow overnight; first plant the seed and care with water and sunlight. 

But did you know there were different “types” of meditation? How do you know which one is the right one for you? Do you just sit down, close your eyes, and begin? 

Before you are counterproductive and work yourself into a frenzy overthinking, overanalyzing, your brain buzzing into a beehive so intense you begin to levitate off the floor (and not into a cool yoga pose you want to snap and post on Instagram), take a deep breath and read a bit below please. 

However, do remember first and foremost — there is no wrong way to meditate! As long as it feels good, trust, and let go. Give into your breath.

Nonetheless, if you would like a bit of support (or even if you are a seasoned meditator) register for one of Sonic Yoga’s Free 30 minute Meditation Classes offered on our weekly schedule (or keep an eye out for Meditation Workshops). One of our amazing Yoga teachers will help guide  you through your practice. 

Namaste Yogis and Meditators 

1. Mindfulness Meditation — When you are mindful you are observant, cognizant, and you have an understanding of what is going on around you. To meditate mindfully, do not get involved in the thoughts that float to the surface. Bring an awareness to them, acknowledge them, but then let them go. They are a leaf that blows in the breeze, a feather that floats, a cloud that drifts; yet just as it enters and you see it, the wind gently sweeps it away and it is gone. The moment passes. That thought? You hold it for a instant, then release it. The water continues on it’s journey and you are stationary on the beach as the tide slides by. Mindful Meditation teaches you to be present in your body, in yourself, without judgement, while observing and breathing. While simply. Just. Being. You Exist. Here and now.

2. Focused Meditation — A way to meditate with the assistance of a focus, such as a flame, Mala Beads, the smell of incense, a picture, or anything else appealing to the five senses. It is a way to connect the mind with a physical object. If your mind begins to wander, help pull it back with your object. Continue your meditation as you would regularly, in a comfortable seated position, steady breath; just introduce the usage of a focus to add clarity.

3. Movement Meditation —  This is a type of meditation where movement guides you. It can be anything from walking in nature, gentle forms of yoga, qigong, t’ai chi, or other movements that you can connect your breath and mind to. Be sure to be attentive to the body, truly think about the way it is moving, rather than moving on auto-pilot. Maneuver slowly and with deliberation. Pay close attention to your musculature, how your body is working, and how your breath is engaged within that flow. Take Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) for example — the way the body expands and shifts. Every fold, every action, every energizing motion is a magical gift and a stimulation somewhere within. Find it, feel it, actuate it, be it, and breathe all your essence into it. This can be a movement meditation in itself, right there in the middle of yoga class. Or perhaps standing in your living room, you lift your arms to the sky then bring them into Anjali Mudra with the deepest intention, slowly, with repetition. That can be your movement meditation. There are so many options. Close your eyes and find you. Your body will tell you, if you listen.

4. Mantra Meditation — Mantra literally means “tool of thought” and can be used to elevate the mind, encourage it to a higher meditative state through the use of vibrations and sound. When a mantra is chanted it resonates within the body, sound vibrating throughout our musical instrument, affecting our living tissues and molecular structure on an immense visceral level. When we find a mantra we connect with or that has been given to us, we become one with this sacred word or words, and we can move through this prayer to possibly find an even higher meditative practice.

5. Guided Meditation — Not too keen on practicing by yourself? Not a problem! Take a class, listen to a video or an audio stream, and let your practice be lovingly guided by a teacher or trained practitioner.

6. Reflective Meditation — A meditation with a purpose to discover. Truly helpful if there is something troubling you or something you seek an answer for. Specifically choose a question or topic and try to remain focused on that theme as you pursue explanations. 

7. Spiritual Meditation — Meditations speaking to a higher being, your God. Practices with more of a religious connotation than others. A meditation where you are specifically reaching out with intention to connect to whomever you are spiritually linked with. 

8. Healing Meditation — Meditation focusing on healing one or more parts of your body or others. You can place your hands on your injured parts or simply visualize the wounded areas as you ruminate.

9. Chakra Meditations — Meditations focusing on one (or more) of the 7 chakras of the body. Your body contains 7 energy “wheels” or “circles” in the body, energy fields, that when balanced provide the body with sublime feelings of alignment and contentment. Meditating to specific chakras is a great way to assist energetic healing, balancing, and alignment. *Keep an eye out for future articles on chakras!

10. Transcendental Meditation (TM) — Transcendental Meditation is a very specific technique that has been scientifically studied and developed by Maharishi Mahesh. It is a silent mantra meditation that asks the practitioner to sit with eyes closed for 15-20 minutes per day. If you are interested in TM there is a seven-step course over six days taught by a certified TM teacher you can enroll in. The TM website states their difference is “there is no concentrating or focusing, no control of the mind, no mindfulness, and no trying to empty the mind”. For those looking for a very specific system of meditation, this is for you.

Written By: Pamela Lyn