Buddhist meditation is associated with mindfulness and awareness. Although there are many forms of Buddhist meditation, they all have one common aspect that is mindfulness. Meditators can use this technique to cultivate core values of insight, awareness, and tranquility. Buddhist philosophy believes that mindfulness is the key to understand our minds and emotions better and consequently work our way toward our own well-being and happiness as well as that of others.
What is Buddhist Meditation?
Meditation occupies a central position in Buddhism. It’s a way of life! The stages of Buddhist meditation (dhyana) are closely related to the Hindu tradition of meditation, reflecting a common tradition in ancient India. Buddhist meditation has now developed characteristic variations within different traditions. For instance in China and Japan the practice of meditation has developed into a school of its own - Chan and Zen respectively. Other popular forms of Buddhist meditation include Vipassana, Nichiren, Loving-Kindness Meditation, Pure Land and surely many more.
Below are a few inspiring Buddhist meditation techniques
- Shamatha (mindfulness) is a popular Buddhist meditation practice that focuses on developing calmness and clarity. With proper guidance and practice, building these qualities can lead us to gain inner peace. The initial stages of mindfulness meditation can be practiced by anyone. When combined with another Buddhist meditation Vipassana (awareness), Shamatha can give profound insights and spiritual awakening.
- Loving Kindness Meditation (also known as Metta). This technique begins with Samatha to settle the mind and make it more receptive. Metta meditation form is about feeling the love. One might repeat mantras that inspire this practice, such as ‘may I and all living beings be safe, happy and peaceful’.
- Another traditional Buddhist meditation practice is Vipassana (insight). A very popular form of meditation in Western countries. Generally, it’s emphasized to start this meditation with mindfulness or Shamatha to develop concentration. The practice gradually moves on to developing ‘clear insight’.
The Science of Buddhist Meditation
Buddhism has established itself as the science of mind. It’s based on the observation of the mind. Buddha has taught us that we can understand through our own experience that happiness comes from inner peace. And to explore it Buddhist meditation is just the right thing. Through the practice of the mind - through practicing meditation one can let go of negative, unhappy thoughts and bring inner peace, which ultimately leads to an improved virtuous mind and a vigorous body.
How to practice Buddhist Meditation
- First of all sit in a comfortable meditation position. Keep your back straight. It should not be too rigid or too relaxed, keep it a happy medium.
- Next, focus on your breath. Observe your breath using abdominal breathing, or have long and deep breath-in and breath-outs. Pay attention to your breathing process, one breath at a time. Be gentle and keep your awareness focused.
- Acknowledge the thoughts that creep into your mind without engaging them. Just simply observe and let them go. Come back to the breathing process.
- Once the concentration is developed, one can continue with other forms of Buddhist meditations.
If you are just starting Buddhist meditation but aren’t quite sure how to do it then a guided meditation technique is what you need.
Benefits of Buddhist Meditation
There are countless good benefits of practicing Buddhist Meditation. However, below are some of the crucial positive effects of doing Buddhist Meditation.
- Buddhist meditation brings consciousness into the present moment, keeping judgments of the past and anxieties of the future at bay. You learn to live in the present.
- It helps develop our spirituality and the connection with the divine. As, the spiritual side is often ignored or overlooked in today’s world.
- This meditation helps foster the levels of compassion and empathy for others. The achievement of self-awareness through meditation increases the awareness of kindness and tolerance towards fellow beings. Being compassionate benefits you with more improved heath, relationship and well being.
- It increases feelings of positive emotions and feelings of social connection.
- It is a time-honored way to release tension and stress from life. It reduces the negative consequences of stress and brings peace to your mind.
- Regular practice may build the immune system stronger by inducing relaxation, increasing healthy blood flow and helps against cellular damage.
- It is responsible for training your brain to better at decision making, processing information, improving attention and memory retention. Beyond that it also increases mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence.
- It benefits us in managing your response to pain.
Buddha had taught meditation as an essential tool to achieve freedom from suffering. And in today’s world, in particular, the sufferings can be anything that life throws at us - physical, mental or emotional. Introducing yourself to Buddhist meditation, you’ll cultivate all the positive traits needed to improve your attention, compassion, resilience, and relationships.