Meditation is a very powerful technique that allows you to align your body and mind and give you numerous beneficial effects, both psychic and physical. In this article we will focus on a particular type of meditation, namely Buddhist meditation. We will see what it is, how to practice and what are the positive effects of this practice on our body and our life. And no, you don’t have to be Buddhist to practice their meditation. There is no one way to meditate. There are different techniques and different schools for proper meditation. In this article we will talk about how to meditate, and benefits of meditation.

You can meditate by staying focused on something or by trying to clear your mind, reaching a state of thoughtless awareness. You can even meditate while walking. In fact, meditating is much more than sitting down and closing your eyes. In fact, with meditation we have a deep and direct contact with ourselves  in which we reach a state of extreme peace.

Meditation must be a lifestyle and done day and night, while we work and in our human relationships. The meditation we need must lead to the true extinction of suffering.

Why Meditate?

We have written it over and over again, but we will never tire of repeating it: just like doing yoga, doing meditation helps to reduce anxiety and stress. And this regardless of the “type” of meditation followed. And the techniques for meditating are really numerous.

Before we start talking in depth about Buddhist meditation, let’s recap the effects of meditation on the brain, widely recognized by science. In short: cortisol, the hormone that in moments of greatest tension causes an increase in blood sugar and fats in the blood, is drastically reduced if we calm the mind, bringing it back to the rhythm of breathing.

The body of research that has shown that 20 minutes of meditation a day for two weeks would be enough to already enjoy the first benefits is dense.

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The beneficial effects

Let’s just recall some beneficial effects, both physically and mentally:

  • greater ability to focus on what you are doing at the present moment, being able to perform daily activities with greater efficiency in less time;
  • reduction of anxiety;
  • development of intuition and short- and long-term memory.

What is Buddhist Meditation

And here we are at the main topic of our article: Buddhist meditation. What is it about? As can be seen from the name itself, it is a type of meditation used in the practice of Buddhism that includes any method that has enlightenment as its ultimate goal.

The term “enlightenment” in Sanskrit, corresponds to the term “bodhi”, which indicates the spiritual “awakening” in the Buddhist religion. The closest word to express the concept of meditation in the Buddhist tradition is bhavana or mental development.

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Practices of Buddhist Meditation

The main methods of Buddhist meditation are divided into Samatha (tranquility meditation) and Vipassana (meditation on intuition or insight).

Samatha meditations usually precede Vipassana meditations; they can also be alternated. By contemplating the object of meditation, the practitioner attains sati (awareness) and samādhi (union of the meditator with the object), the basis for enlightenment.

Samatha Meditations

They include anapanasati (breath consciousness) and the four brahma-viharas, the mental states that go beyond the confines of the ordinary mind:

  • kindness (mettā)
  • compassion (karuṇā)
  • joy for someone else’s well-being (muditā)
  • equity (upekkhā)

Through the Samatha meditations, the practitioner reaches the four dhyāna (Sanskrit term which literally means “vision”), ie the four progressive stages of advancement in the practice of meditation; to explain them we quote the words taken from Saṃyutta Nikāya, Jhāna-saṃyuttaṃ, gaṅgāpeyyāla:

  • the first dhyāna is “the ecstatic joy born of detachment combined with the application on the objects of meditation”;
  • the second dhyāna is “the inner calm and unity of the mind devoid of any application on the objects of meditation”;
  • the third dhyāna is the state in which the practitioner “dwells dispassionately and equanimous, aware and attentive, experiencing joy in the body”;
  • the fourth dhyāna is that in which the meditator “puts down joy and pain, the previous states of gladness and sadness having disappeared, reaches equanimity free from pain and perfect purity”.

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Vipassana Meditations

They include:

  • the contemplation of impermanence
  • the practice of the six elements
  • the contemplation of conditionality

Zen meditation

There are other methods of Buddhist meditation, among the best known are Zen or zazen meditation.

As you can imagine, as with Buddhist meditation in general, the theme is very broad, impossible to reduce in a few words.

“It is a millenary oriental practice that has as its main objective the total relaxation of the body and mind for the rediscovery of the true nature of man. The origins of this discipline date back to the experiences of Buddha Shakyamuni who reached enlightenment around the sixth century BC. C.. The term itself derives from zazen, which indicates the posture of the Buddha.

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Zen meditation: how to practice it

This discipline implies abandoning thoughts and sitting in peace with oneself, trying to eliminate fears, prejudices and falsehoods in order to get in touch with our true Being. Zen meditation can be practiced by everyone, it does not require a great deal of physical or economic commitment and helps to combat stress and anxiety.

The purpose of Zen meditation is introspective, the goal is to get to know each other again, to rediscover oneself without the social patterns that force us to behave in contrast with our true “I” and which is often a source of stress, insecurity and unhappiness”.

The benefits of Buddhist meditation

Like all types of meditation, even Buddhist meditation, if practiced consistently and regularly, counteracts anxiety, stress and allows greater control of emotions. It also allows the development of:

  • concentration
  • loving kindness
  • compassion
  • shared joy
  • inner peace
  • clarity about one’s being
  • calm the mind
  • focus on the present moment
  • reduce stress levels
  • live a state of profound psychophysical well-being
  • stabilize the mood
  • increase your concentration and your memory
  • develop your awareness
  • achieve your life goals
  • reduce the risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases
  • break down anxiety and depression
  • strengthen mental health
  • offer relief from chronic pain
  • improve sleep quality

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How Buddhist Meditation Is Practiced?

The practice changes according to whether it is Samatha or Vipassana. The two meditative practices have in common the exercise of the awareness of the breath: sitting, with the back straight, concentrate on the breath, feel it flow from the nostrils towards the chest and abdomen. It is important that you find a comfortable position: do not take it for granted, at first you will struggle, but you will see that with practice and time, you will be able to find your “place”.

More specifically, when practicing Samatha, one sits in the half lotus position. You can also use a mudra. Focus your attention on the breath. Stay in the present and don’t worry if your mind wanders. You always return to the breath, without judging yourself.

Once concentration is developed with Samatha meditation, Vipassana meditation can be practiced. You can sit in the half lotus position, but if you prefer you can move and walk, the important thing is to do it with awareness. Such as? You can count the steps or focus on the breath, the heartbeat, the movement of the feet resting on the ground.

The focus object of the practice (for example the step count) is called the “primary object”; everything that appears in your field of perception (a smell, a sound, but also a thought or a memory) is also -called “secondary object”. Whenever you realize that your attention has gone to a secondary object, you just label it (smell, sound, thought, etc) and then bring your attention back to the primary object.

As you develop the ability to focus on the primary object, you will develop an objective view of what you observe.

Metta Meditation (Loving Kindness Meditation)

Mettā meditation, or often loving-kindness meditation, is the practice concerned with the cultivation of Mettā, i.e. benevolence, kindness, and amity. The practice generally consists of silent repetitions of phrases such as “may you be happy” or “may you be free from suffering”, for example directed at a person who, depending on tradition, may or may not be internally visualized.

The goal of metta meditation is to cultivate cultivate kindness for all beings, including yourself. You silently recite phrases toward yourself and others. These phrases are meant to express kind intentions.

Some examples of metta meditation phrases include:

May I be free from anger.
May I be free from ill will.
May I be free from jealousy.
May I be free from mental suffering.
May I be free from physical suffering.
May I live in peace.
May I live happily.
May I be free from anger.
May I be free from ill will.
May I be free from jealousy.
May I be free from mental suffering.
May I be free from physical suffering.
May I live in peace.
May I live happily.
May all beings in this place:
... be free from anger.
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
... be free from physical suffering.
May all beings live in peace.
May all being live happily.
May all beings in this city:
... be free from anger.
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
... be free from physical suffering.
May all beings in this city live in peace.
May all beings in this city live happily.
May all beings in this province:
... be free from anger
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
... be free from physical suffering.
May all beings in this province live in peace.
May all beings in this province live happily.
May all beings in this country:
... be free from anger.
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
.. be free from physical suffering.
May all beings in this country live in peace.
May all beings in this country live happily.
May all beings in this world:
... be free from anger.
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
... be free from physical suffering.
May all beings in this world live in peace.
May all beings in this world live happily... live happily... live happily
May all beings:
... be free from anger.
... be free from ill will.
... be free from jealousy.
... be free from mental suffering.
... be free from physical suffering.
May all beings live in peace.
May all beings live happily... live happily... live happily.
Loving Kindness Meditation I Daily Practice Mahamevnawa

Overcoming the rock of the beginning

In general, approaching meditation is not as simple as it may seem. We have already explained in detail how to start meditating. Here we only remind you that, after the normal initial difficulties, over time, meditating will become a familiar practice.

And as we always say for yoga, even with meditation it is important not to force yourself. Slowly meditating will come more and more natural to you. Meditation is welcoming what is in the present moment. If there is tension or boredom someday, you will recognize it and let it go. But you will also be able to recognize joy, serenity and peace. Such as? Simply by increasing awareness of the workings of your mind.

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