Meditation has been practiced for as long as history has been documented. It is said to be a doorway to connect with your true self and the source of life. It is something that many pepole would like to incorporate into their lives, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. With so many different types of meditation, and pages of conflicting information and advice, how should you know which is the right one for you?
The truth is that none of these approaches described below could be considered the best. Meditation is very subjective, so it depends on what appeals to you. This may change over time, and you may find yourself drawn to another form of meditation in the future. Your preferred type of meditation must be simple for you to perform every day, it must feel comfortable to you, and it must of course bring positive results.
Although there are many different types of meditation, they tend to fall into two broad categories, focused attention and open monitoring. The goal of each is the same, to achieve a deeper cnsciousness, inner silence and effortless presence.
In this form of meditation the individual focuses on one particular thing in an effort to clear distracting thoughts and external interruptions. The focus can be on the breath, on a mantra, a visualisation or a candle. Over time the focus can be held more strongly, and fewer distractions are able to interrupt the flow of attention.
With open monitoring there is no specific focus, the mind is allowed to monitor all aspects of experience with no judgements or attachments. All sounds, thoughts and other distractions are observed without reaction. A study, led by Xu, was conducted to assess the activity of the brain during each of the two forms. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine was used by the team, who tested fourteen experienced meditators. The participants were required to be in three separate states, rest, nondirective meditation and a more concentrative meditation. The results showed that open monitoring meditation resulted in higher brain activity than during rest, in the area of the brain which processes self-related thoughts. During focused attention meditation, the activity in this part of the brain was virtually the as same as at rest.
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