Types of Meditation and Their Effects

There are two ways of defining meditation. The first definition is, "Becoming aware of more of reality than that of which one is normally aware." For example, there is a meditation that creates the Delta brain waves of deep sleep, even more strongly than they occur naturally, and yet with awareness of the surroundings. In this state you are aware of a condition that happens nightly, unconsciously. There is another meditation that gives awareness of your body's magnetic field, a scientific reality for which we have no direct physical sensation. By meditation you can have control over your metabolic rate, which is otherwise not even conscious. And in a meditative state you can "see" connections between the events in your life that reveal a surprising interrelation.

A second definition of meditation is, "a rehearsal of an attitude toward life that we would like to have all the time." Meditation is practiced in a group or alone, for a limited period daily or weekly, so that it can then occur spontaneously throughout the day. While the practice of meditation is itself very pleasant, even ecstatic at times, the real benefit of meditation is the enhanced quality of life it brings about. When you learn a meditation method, consider what your life would be like if you were to be in that state all the time. For example, some methods create an attitude of looking at your life from an objective viewpoint; carrying that into your life would make you an observer, not a full participant in life, but it could create a balance for a person who is too impulsive or unaware of his actions.

There are meditations of compassion that develop the ability to feel what others feel by awareness of the humanity that unites all individuals. Carried into life, that would make you a more considerate person. Meditating on a crystal will carry over to more clarity in your normal thinking.

Meditations of the second type are also meditations by the first definition because what enables the improved attitude is an extraordinary awareness. For example, Heart Rhythm Meditation gives a constant awareness of your heartbeat and of stored feelings in your heart that long to be discovered and resolved. You rehearse living from your heart while feeling your heartbeat.

Meditations of the first type are not necessarily meditations by the second definition. The Delta wave meditation, for example, is not a rehearsal for life because you couldn't function in life in that state. But fantasy exercises satisfy neither definition of meditation. Imagining a scene, however pleasant, that is not real neither increases awareness of reality nor rehearses an improved attitude toward life. Rather, fantasy encourages an unrealistic, impractical way of thinking that can delude you.

Some exercises, like self-hypnosis and rhythmic chanting, induce a trance. (Meditators who chant vary their rhythm to avoid this.) Trance is not meditation because it decreases awareness of reality, sometimes substituting a different "reality", and is not a state of consciousness that can be lived.

In Heart Rhythm Meditation you find an experience of being intensely awake, alert to the sensations within your body and the state of your mind and emotions, aware of the thread of purpose that runs through the beads of your life's events, and able to direct the energy within yourself to respond to situations according to your aspirations.