Are there any styles of meditation? What are the differences?
R: Certainly, there are countless meditation techniques and, even today, new ones continue to emerge. Each is characterized by specific motivations and purposes but we can still identify two major types:
- The concentrating/stabilizing meditation;
- Analytic meditation
The concentrative meditation consists of "focusing" the mind on a object of concentration (breath, sensations, images, emotions, sounds).
When we practice this technique:
- We observe our object of meditation;
- When the mind gets distracted/escapes following the thoughts that arise I pay attention to this distraction and accept it, without drama;
- We take a moment to understand what our mind was doing during the distraction;
- We choose to bring the mind back, to the object of our concentrative practice.
An example of a concentrative practice is the well-known practice of Mindfulness.
Analytic meditation, on the other hand, focuses on analyzing and investigating teachings derived from the Buddhist tradition such as emptiness and impermanence, dependent arising, the four noble truths, and many other valuable teachings that we can cultivate as we meditate.
The main purpose of this type of meditation, according to the Buddhist tradition, is to eliminate all conditioning (samskara), which make us see reality in a distorted way, in order to be able to see it without filters, for what it really is.
When these illusions are eliminated, many other problems, whose roots lie in Avidya (non-vision, spiritual ignorance) also disappear to make way for psycho-physical well-being.
Analytical meditation is also the one that leads to wisdom, which in turn allows one to advance on the spiritual path.
Given the origin of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist roots of meditation I report here the three most popular Buddhist meditation techniques:
Samatha means "tranquility" and is a meditative practice that focuses on developing calmness, clarity, and equanimity. With proper guidance and commitment, cultivating these qualities can lead to deep inner peace.
Vipassana is one of the oldest Buddhist meditation practices - from which the newer Mindfulness is also derived - it can be roughly translated as "insight" understood as a deep awareness of what is happening, exactly as it happens.
Most meditative practices focus on Samatha, in that they ask the individual to focus on one thing (such as the breath) and exclude all other thoughts.
In Vipassana meditation, the individual is encouraged instead to use his or her concentration to gain a true understanding of the nature of his or her own reality.
Metta, or loving kindness. This form of meditation is about compassion, benevolence, and awakening positive feelings first towards ourselves and then towards the entire universe.
If you are wondering what type of meditation is best for you, my answer is this: it depends on your experience.
If you have never practiced any form of meditation and your mind is rather agitated, I think it is more appropriate to start with concentrative. I suggest this because, in order to advance in analytical practice, you need a calm and concentrated mind, otherwise the effort of analysis will be excessive and discouraging.
Only when you can keep your mind steady on an object, will you be able to continue analyzing a teaching/concept.
As long as the mind is agitated, continues to be distracted or reacts without awareness, I recommend going through the stabilizing meditative experience.
Graduated in Economics and Marketing, after a University Master in Neuroscience, Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices in life she teaches yoga and meditation and deals with training, development and enhancement of human resources and corporate organizations.
Thanks to a continuous training in Italy, Indonesia and India she is a certified teacher of Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and she is a certified Mindfulness Educator and Brain Longevity® Specialist.
To the knowledge of the different complexities that we live daily in the world of work that, today even more, requires at every level to draw on specific soft skills of growth and resilience, has combined the passion for practices, such as yoga and meditation, aimed at the development of a stable emotional balance and a greater mental and physical well-being, giving life to the project Yoga Trainer.