Meditation in Buddhism plays a key role in awakening and freedom from suffering, featuring as one-third of the Noble Eightfold Path, alongside virtuous conduct and wisdom.
We may even associate Buddhism with meditation for its prevalence in its global image. But why are the two tightly linked? In this post, we will explore types of Buddhist meditation, how they benefit us and the importance of meditation in our practice. Also, to discover what’s different about Buddhist meditation and Mindfulness meditation, check out our companion article What is Mindfulness Meditation Practice?
- What are the types of meditation practices in Buddhism?
- What are the Benefits of Buddhist Meditation Practice?
- The Importance of Buddhist Meditation Practices
- How do Buddhist Meditation? A Guided Buddhist Meditation for Beginners
What are the types of meditation practices in Buddhism?
Buddhist meditation, often referred to as “Buddha Dhyana” or simply “Dhyana,” is a profound and ancient practice that lies at the heart of Buddhist teachings. This form of meditation is designed to cultivate mindfulness, inner peace, and wisdom. All the Buddhist traditions have at their core the practice of mindfulness and a philosophy based on the essence of the Buddha’s teachings: the four noble truths. At its core, Buddhist meditation encourages meditators to turn their attention inward, exploring the depths of their own consciousness. There are many forms of Buddhist meditation, common types of meditation in Buddhism include:
Mindfulness Meditation Technique
Perhaps the one we are most familiar with. This meditation technique involves contemplating any object as it is, free from concepts. Anything can be meditated on mindfully, such as the body (called body scan meditation), the mind and its activity, or the breath with breathing exercises.
Loving Kindness Meditation Practice
Known as metta, in this Buddhist meditation practice, the focus is compassion for others, such as wishing all beings to be free from suffering, including people we may not agree with and are not close to.
Samatha Meditation Technique
Samatha means “tranquillity” or “calmness”. This particular meditation practice emphasises the cultivation of and abiding in the stillness of our minds. With a calm mind, we have the ability to concentrate on a chosen object of meditation.
Vipassana Meditation Technique
Vipassana is a form of meditation that follows Samatha Meditation, as it is meditating on and seeing the true nature of what we are focusing on. For this reason, this meditative technique is also known as insight meditation and is more analytical.
What are the Benefits of Buddhist Meditation Practice?
The different types of Buddhist meditation yield various benefits for our practice:
Mindfulness Meditation Benefit
Mindfulness focuses on contemplating phenomena without attachment or identification and remaining aware (mindful) of it. Through mindfulness, individuals develop a deep connection with the present moment, fostering a sense of clarity and inner peace. In this way, it is the practise of relieving ourselves from the suffering caused by attachments to things like our bodies and minds.
Loving Kindness Meditation Benefit
Metta is imperative for cultivating bodhicitta, which is the heart and mind of awakening. By meditating on other beings with loving-kindness, we see all as equal and feelings of dislike or hate are overcome. Metta helps us let go of beliefs stopping us from being compassionate and recognising all beings’ Buddha nature.
Samatha Meditation Benefit
Samatha calms the mind and aids practices such as mindfulness and metta. We could even say it precedes other types of Buddhist meditation as not having a still mind is a barrier to any growth in our practice. With stillness comes clarity, just like calm waters allow us to see beneath the surface.
Vipassana Meditation Benefit
The clarity of samatha enables vipassana to be practised. Vipassana brings insight into the true nature of what we are meditating on. Through vipassana we deepen our understanding of the core teachings such as the nature of suffering, emptiness and no-self.
The Importance of Buddhist Meditation Practices
Seeing the designated purposes of the types of Buddhist meditation techniques and practices shows us that their importance goes beyond simply concentrating on an object or focusing and calming the mind. Though these are essential aspects of our practice, their value comes from the awareness they opens us up to.
This awareness is a result of how meditation targets and counteracts suffering. Mindfulness meditation, Love and Kindness Meditation, Samatha Meditation and Vipassana Meditation all serve as remedies for having an attachment, lacking compassion, having a restless mind and the inability to see the truth of the way things are. Their practices show how meditation is engrained with the Buddha’s wisdom, likened to a doctor who treats the ailment of our suffering.
How do Buddhist Meditation? A Guided Buddhist Meditation for Beginners
Buddhist meditation offers a path towards inner transformation and spiritual awakening. Buddhist meditation is a tapestry of diverse practices, but ultimately, the essence of Buddhist meditation remains the same – a journey towards mindfulness, wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment, regardless of the unique colors and flavors it takes within different Buddhist traditions.
Jamyang London Buddhist Centre, offers a variety of meditation courses and meditation sessions for those who would like to know more about such practices and meditation techniques. Our experienced meditators with guided meditation will let you experience meditation practice to manage negative emotions, reduce stress, and other meditative techniques to increase your well being, inner peace and conscious awareness.
If you’re interested in discovering what is Meditation in Buddhism, check out our upcoming Meditation courses and events.
Author: Lewis Gwilt