Guide to Meditation Techniques

Meditation Technique #1:  Zen Meditation Technique – Zazen

Goal:  Awareness, Detachment, Peace

Zazen (坐禅; Chinese: zuò chán pinyin or tso-chan Wade-Giles) is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, "opening the hand of thought".[1][clarify] This is done either through koans, Rinzai's primary method, or whole-hearted sitting (shikantaza), the Soto sect's method. (Rinzai and Soto are the main extant Zen schools in Japan; they both originated in China as the Linji and Caodong schools, respectively.) Once the mind is able to be unhindered by its many layers, one will then be able to realize one's true Buddha nature[citation needed]. In Zen Buddhism, zazen (literally "seated meditation") is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment (satori).

The posture of zazen is seated, with folded legs and hands, and an erect but settled spine. The legs are folded in one of the standard sitting styles (see below). The hands are folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. In many practices, one breathes from the hara (the center of gravity in the belly) and the eyelids are half-lowered, the eyes being neither fully open nor shut so that the practitioner is not distracted by outside objects but at the same time is kept awake.

History and tradition

Long periods of zazen, usually performed in groups at a zendo (meditation hall), may alternate with periods of kinhin (walking meditation). The beginning of a zazen period is traditionally announced by ringing a bell three times (shijosho), and the end of a round by ringing the bell once (hozensho). Before and after sitting, Zen practitioners perform a gassho bow to their seat, to fellow practitioners and to the teacher.

In Japan, seated zazen is traditionally performed on a mat called a zabuton while sitting on a cushion called a zafu. The common positions used to sit on the zafu are:

In addition, it is not uncommon for modern practitioners to sit zazen in a chair, often with a wedge behind the lower back to help maintain the natural curve of the spine.



Very generally speaking, zazen practice is taught in one of three ways.

  1. Concentration
  2. Koan Introspection
  3. Shikantaza (just sitting)

Shikantaza is usually associated with the Soto school, and koan practice with the Rinzai school. In reality many Zen communities use both methods depending on the teacher and students.


The initial stages of training in zazen will usually emphasize concentration. By focusing on the breath at the hara, often aided by counting, one builds up the power of concentration, or joriki. At some Zen centers, the practice of mentally repeating a mantra with the breath is used in place of counting breaths for beginners. In some communities, or sanghas, the practice is continued in this way until there is some initial experience of samadhi or "one-pointedness" of mind. At this point the practitioner moves to one of the other two methods of zazen.

Koan Introspection

Having developed the power of concentration, the practitioner can now focus his or her attention on a koan as an object of meditation. Since koans are not solvable by the intellectual reasoning, koan introspection is designed to shortcut the intellectual process leading to direct realization.

Shikantaza (just sitting)

Shikantaza is objectless meditation, in which the practitioner does not use any specific object of meditation, but uses the power developed in concentration to remain completely aware of all phenomena that arise and pass in the present moment.


Comparison with other practices in Buddhism

Concentration practice in Zen is likened to the practice of samatha (concentration) in other schools of Buddhism. One apparent difference is that the eyes remain open in zazen, whereas in the Theravada tradition they do not. Tibetan Buddhist practitioners keep their eyes open during samatha practice.

Concentration is foundational to most other forms of meditation in Buddhism. In actuality, all meditative practices, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, take concentration to execute, and therefore are concentration practices in and of themselves. Some teachers do not teach concentration as a separate practice, believing that it is developed through other practices.

Koan introspection and shikantaza are more likened to the vipashyana (insight) practice in Theravada, but are sometimes considered to be a condensation of vipashyana and samatha into a single practice. For this reason, shikantaza can also be referred to as samatha-vipashyana. Similarly, koan introspection, while leading to insight, requires an immense amount of concentration on the object of meditation (the koan).

Zen Meditation Technique is the undisputed heavyweight in the world of meditation.  It is very likely the most widely practiced meditation technique and is perhaps even the face of meditation.  The silent Buddha, sitting cross-legged, eyes slightly open, in this world but yet beyond, immersed in a Singularity (or Void) is Zazen.

Zazen is essentially silent, seated meditation and excellent for a wide range of benefits.  If you don’t know which meditation technique to try, this should be your default choice.  Zazen will help you develop your ability to remain in the moment, mindful of that which is taking place, and free you from the entanglements of ego-centric, dualistic thoughts.  It will most certainly help you develop a calm disposition and give you the strength to withstand stressful or upsetting events.  In time, this meditation technique will make you wise, give you access to spontaneous joy and help you develop into a compassionate, loving human being.

Background of Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

This was the meditation technique of Lord Buddha - I should have to say no more in order to motivate you to try this meditation. It is one of the most widely used meditations in the world and is the heart of Zen Buddhist teachings.  If one was to make a short list of the best meditation techniques, Zazen would most certainly make the top 10 list.

Tools required for Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

Benefits of Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

Primary Benefits: 

Secondary Benefits: 

Cautions for Practicing Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

There are very few cautions with regard to Zazen practice, but the one I would like to point out has to do with emotional storms. 

There can be periods of time, either during a single sitting or spanning across several weeks, when emotions you may have suppressed rise up to the surface and force you to deal with them.  During these turbulent times, don’t exacerbate the issue by chewing on the emotion laden thoughts that come up.  Traumatizing yourself in this way has no value.  Instead, sit with the emotions and related thoughts without resistance, then let them go and return your awareness to your breath. 

This emotional cleansing is due to the visibility of the subconscious mind once the conscious mind is quieted by the meditation.  In the short term, this can be a difficult time to go though, but in the long term its a necessary and healthy cleansing that will promote greater peace, depth, joy and clarity in your life. 

Guided Basic Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):


Guided Intermediate Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

Follow all the steps for the Basic Zen Meditation Technique, except for the last step a complete inhalation and exhalation cycle should be counted as 1.  So you will do 10 full cycles of inhalation and exhalation before returning to 1.  You can also increase the time to 30 - 40 minutes.

Guided Advanced Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen): 

Follow all the steps for the Basic Zen Meditation Technique, except for the last step instead of counting the breaths, just "be the breath".  Don’t try to jump to this step too soon, first build your concentration and focus.  You can also increase the time to 1 hour.

Hints and Tips for Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

Secret of Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

The secret of zazen does not lie in the awareness of the inhalation or the exhalation.  It lies in the gap in between these breaths.  It lies when the breath is spontaneously suspended.  It is in this gap where the mysteries of the Universe are hidden.  This gap and the gap between 2 thoughts are best friends, and in this silence between 2 thoughts the absolute is revealed.  Don’t try to force this pause, just continue with your zazen, it will come about naturally.



Meditation Technique #2:  Concentration Meditation Technique – Trataka

Goal:  Concentration, Mental Focus

One common myth about meditation is that it is the same as concentration.  Really it is not.  Concentration is a stepping stone for meditation, but mediation is far more than concentration.  In practicing meditation though, one of the clear benefits is a tremendous increase in your powers of concentration and mental focus.  Many people are rightly interested in developing this skill, and to do so there is no better meditation technique than Trataka or Candle Flame Gazing. 

In this meditation, you will focus your attention, in a darkened room, on a candle flame and then concentrate on the after image that it leaves behind when you close your eyes.  The technique is simple, yet very effective.  Along with developing your power of concentration, this meditation technique will also help calm your mind down and give you inner peace and stillness. 

Although Trataka is famous for being a meditation to build concentration, it has a solid list of other great benefits as well, which I will detail below.  This meditation technique comes from the school of Yoga, and has been widely embraced due to it’s simplicity and effectiveness.

Tools for Trataka - Concentration Meditation Technique: 

Benefits of Trataka - Concentration Meditation Technique: 

Primary Benefits: 

Secondary Benefits: 

Cautions for Trataka - Meditation for Concentration:

Instructions for Practicing Trataka - Meditation for Concentration: 

Meditation tips for Trataka - Meditation for Concentration: 

Brain Development & Enlightenment Series: Awaken the Senses
Art of Meditation: Brain Development & Enlightenment Part 1 of 3:

As has been pointed out in some of the other articles on the website the whole approach of self-improvement is void. The mind of man is caught in the endless cycle of desires and it can’t get out through any act of will. What does change in man has little to do with the psychological self; it has to do with the physical organism and the impersonal intelligence and awareness that lies within it as potential.

The human body is a miracle. It has been worked on by nature for millions of years and is perhaps her finest product. This product though complete, is held back from functioning at its highest potential by the incessant pursuit of self-security and personal fulfillment that plagues humanity. This continuous self-centered struggle limits and prevents the body’s various systems from reaching and working at their natural, peak capacity by creating energy loss via friction. This friction is the fight between “what is” and “what should be”. This friction is the basis of desire. So what can be done to return the organism to its natural state? The key is to bring about cellular changes to the master organ of the organism, the brain, so that it can start to function at its full potential, at its very, very best. So lets go into what is needed to make this happen.

There are three requirements and they are the following: Awaken the sensory systems, vitalize energy, and sharpen awareness and intelligence to promote insight. This combination brings the physical changes to the glands and cells of the various physiological systems promoting their return to their natural state, as well as completing the brain and making it excellent. In part I of this series we will deal with the first of these requirements, awakening the sensory systems. There are many techniques to refine the sensory systems. Here we will cover two of the most important senses with regard to meditation and the effort to complete the organism, hearing and seeing. Below we will illustrate some techniques that are very effective in improving them.

In ancient Sanskrit texts it is mentioned that for enlightenment, all that is required is learning to be a good listener. That’s it. Nothing more is needed whatsoever, if you are a good listener. Just hear the Truth. Many enlightened masters’ throughout history have understood the significance of this statement and have emphasized the value of listening in their teachings. The following meditation technique is designed precisely for the development of this sense and this attitude.

Sit or lie in whichever posture you find comfortable.  Close your eyes and be absolutely still.  Slowly expand your awareness to the most distant sounds you can hear and start to pay close attention to them. Just listen to the actual sounds that are taking place without getting thinking involved as best you can. If you find yourself lost in thoughts, gently return your attention to the sounds you were attending to. Spend some time, up to five minutes or so listening to the far away sounds and then slowly bring you attention to sounds closer and closer to you. Continue this till you are listening to the sound of your breath or other sound in very close proximity to you. Thats all there are to this simple, yet very effective meditation. This meditation not only sharpens your hearing it also helps calm the mind down and build concentration. A recommended time for this practice is about 20 minutes. If you listen very, very closely you may notice that all sounds are taking place inside you.

A second technique you can employ is the application of attention to the region of the ears. Once you get to where you start to feel a residual sensation in one or both ears from doing the earlier meditation you can try this technique. Bring your attention to the sensation that you feel in and around your ears. You will notice that you are able to modulate this sensation simply by bringing your close attention to it. This technique will further refine your hearing. The science behind this technique is the well-acknowledged yoga healing method of directing attention to various areas of the body.  The method has it’s roots in Kundalini yoga.  Which states that attention and Kundalini energy flow together.  So where attention is, is where Kundalini is flowing (and thus healing, balancing and rejuvenating) and where Kundalini is flowing is where your attention is drawn. A good time to practice this technique is while you are driving, of course as long as it doesn’t interfere with it. There is no time limit for this and as just indicated it can be done anytime you have enough attention to spare. If you don’t have any physical sensation in and around the ears from practicing the first technique you can also use this technique to evoke one.

A few general recommendations with regard to work done on your auditory systems. Once you start to refine it please be careful about going to very loud places. This is the one significant drawback to highly sensitized hearing. Many activities you will attend will expose you to sound that will be dangerous to your hearing. Specially be careful when visiting clubs, parties (such as weddings, etc), movies, concerts, stadiums, and any other very loud places. I strongly recommend keeping a pair of foam earplugs with you. These work very well and reduce sound by almost 30 decibels. A good indication that the place was too loud for you is if you notice you have any sustained ringing in your ears. To determine if its too loud for you at the time you are there you can do a voice self check. If you can’t hear yourself talk at normal volume its probably too loud.

The second most important sense with regard to meditation and cellular change is seeing. Learning to really look. The attitude of seeing the false in the false so the Truth can be. To develop your visual systems do the following meditation. In the environment we are always looking at things, objects, but the real secrets, the hidden treasures do not lie in the objects, it lies in the spaces between them. The following meditation is about looking at that space. This meditation is best done outside. Set your gaze steady and unmoving at nothing special and then let your awareness envelop the entire visual field. Let your attention be drawn to the space between all the objects and relax and enjoy the view. Attending to the space that gives depth is particularly helpful. If you are doing it correctly the three dimensionality of vision will be magnified and be very vivid. So in summary you are looking at everything in your view, with a fixed gaze and a focus on all the gaps between objects. This meditation works well when there are several trees in your visual field or a sky with big puffy clouds, the kind that remain as the weather clears after a storm. Both their sceneries enhance the space between objects. It is a very enjoyable meditation. Do this meditation for as long as you like. The meditation will help the system learn to hold still and really observe.

The other meditation designed to work on concentration, the visual system as well as the Pituitary gland[1] is traditionally known as Trataka. For this meditation, sit absolutely still in front of candle flame. Ensure that there is no breeze, the flame is steady and that the room is darkened to enhance the light. Gaze, without blinking, steadily at the flame, which should be positioned about three feet away from you at eye level. Once the eyes tire or tear up close them and position the after image of the flame between the eyebrows and try to hold it there as steadily as possible. The clarity of the after image will be maintained by your concentration. Once the after image fades out completely, open your eyes again and reset your gaze on the flame and repeat the cycle. Typically this meditation should be practiced for twenty minutes total, but can be done longer. This meditation, along with developing concentration and honing the visual system, is also effective in quieting the mind of thoughts. Initially your eyes might tear up quickly and also the length of time you can gaze at the flame might be quite short but it is important to not push too hard and close your eyes when uncomfortable. Both these difficulties will be overcome gently if you can practice regularly.

The above meditations will help you to learn to listen and learn to observe. They will also hone these two senses and increase their sensitivity. In the next part we will go into how to vitalize your energy (kundalini).

[1] The aspect of the meditation that works on the Pituitary gland (the master gland of the Endocrine System) is the stimulation produced by attention paid to the location of the after image between the eyebrows. This point (know as the Kshetram) is the physical counterpart of the energy vortex known as the Ajna Chakra, which is associated with the Pituitary gland. Stimulating this physical point via attention works to activate and balance the Ajna Chakra and thus the associated gland. More articles regarding this can be found in the Kundalini Yoga section.



Meditation Technique #3:  So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique

Goal:  Love, Forgiveness, Compassion

Mantra meditation technique is a big part of the philosophy of meditation that comes from the Eastern faiths.  It is a technique that has been used for centuries in India , and forms the foundation of many systems of meditation.  This meditation method has many variations, some of which can be used to deliver the benefits of Zazen and Trataka mentioned above.  The particular mantra meditation technique I want to provide here though, is excellent for any healing of the heart that needs to occur.

If you are suffering from hate, bitterness, loneliness, anger, depression and other negative emotions, then So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique is a great tonic to use.  In this meditation, you will use the So-Hum mantra silently to pacify the mind and connect with your divine nature.  It will help heal the wounds of the heart and make you feel an indivisible part of the whole.

Background of So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique:

The simple, yet profound, So Hum Meditation technique is probably one of the most popular Mantra Meditations.  It emerges from the Yoga school of Hindu Philosophy and belongs in the category of Japa Meditations (Meditations that require the chanting of Mantras). 

The So Hum (aka So Ham, Soham or Sohum) Mantra Meditation, done sincerely, is very effective in bringing about a complete transformation of individual consciousness.  So Hum literally means "I am That" (So = "That" or "Thou" or "Divinity"; Hum = "I am") and the mantra’s aim is to bring about this union (yoga) between your individual consciousness and Divine Consciousness.  Another way to interpret this purpose, is that the meditation brings about the realization that all that you see is yourself — The Observer is the Observed.

Tools Required for So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique:

Benefits of So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique:

Primary Benefits: 

Secondary Benefits: 

So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique Cautions:


Guided So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique: 

Follow the step by step guided meditation below to practice this technique.

So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique Tips:

Secret of So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique:

Where did this Mantra come from?  That is the secret of this Mantra.  It is actually the sound of the breath during inhalation and exhalation.  Inhalation sounds like "Soooooo", while exhalation sounds like "Hummmmm".  So this is the music of life and by practicing this meditation we can learn to dance in tune with it.


Meditation Technique #4:  AUM Mantra Meditation Technique

Goal:  Psychic Powers, Intuition

As I mentioned above, mantra meditation techniques have many different variations and applications, and AUM Mantra Meditation Technique is an example of just that.  AUM Mantra Meditation technique is part of the science of Kundalini Yoga and it’s specific purpose is to activate the Third Eye Chakra. 

In this meditation, you chant the sound AUM, while concentration on the Third Eye region.  The sound AUM is considered the seed sound for this center and chanting it serves to stimulate the energy flow though this region.  The Third Eye is the seat of intuition, and opening the Third Eye unleashes psychic and mental powers. 


Meditation Technique #5:  Silent Mind Mediation Technique

Goal:  Intelligence, Enlightenment, Awareness

This is the meditation technique I practice and although the thinking behind it is not new, for the most part it is a system of my own making.  If you are looking to sharpen awareness, hone intelligence and dramatically improve brain function, then this meditation technique is for you.  It is designed to help the mind realize that it is the root cause of suffering and thus, still itself.  It is the highest form of insight meditation and I have practiced this technique for over 20 years now.  Obviously, I find it the best suited for those interested in enlightenment, like me.


Hatha Yoga Poses for Hypertension and Stress Management

Statistics about yoga stress management prove beyond doubt that yoga can be used as an effective therapy to fight stress related problems like blood pressure. High Blood pressure is a risk for both heart disease and stroke. It directly increases the risk of heart disease. High BP is a risk for heart disease because the heart is working harder than normal thus putting the heart and arteries under a great strain. In healthy persons according to medical professionals BP increases from about 80/45 in infants, to about 120/80 at age of 30 to about 140/85 at age 40 and above. Blood pressure increases with age because the arteries loose elasticity.

If the blood pressure increase and remain above normal, one has to follow strict medical advice and take prescribed medicines by medical professional. However, taking medicines alone is not enough to manage one's High BP condition. Those who are affected by High BP should change their life style in their day to day activities. Those who are affected by high Bp may have to give-up smoking if they are a regular smoker, may have to reduce their alcohol intake, reduce salt in their food and avoid taking red meat etc as may be suggested by the physician.


Yoga and Meditation helps greatly in keeping one's Bp under control who are suffering from Blood pressure/hypertension. Doctor's suggest walking is the best exercise for BP patient. However, besides walking one can practice certain simple yoga exercises such as bend your body and touch your toe; strech your body in both ways, rotate your arms both clockwise and anti clockwise, Lie down and lift both your legs to certain high level position, touch your toes in a sitting position bending your body keeping your legs straight etc. These are minor and warm-up like yoga exercises, one can practice easily on daily basis. These exercises may be helpful to those who don't have enough time during morning or in the evening hours for other yoga exercises and walking.

After certain easy exercises and after bathing one can try to practice meditation for 10 to 15 minutes focusing their concentration on one point or object .During such Meditation one can chant OM or any other blissful words such as OM SHANTI ETC.

Daily practice of such exercises and Meditation will help in maintaining your blood pressure and hypertension to normal level.

Stress Management Yoga Postures

Hatha yoga is the best type of yoga posture for stress management and to get relief from hyper tension. This is also a easy yoga to eliminate tension and is the best of all yoga execises for high blood pressure. The best yoga hathasasans therapy for hypertension are:

Balasana Instructions for Stress Management:

Balasana is one of the best known Yoga relaxation and meditation which has helped many get maximum relief from hypertension leading to high blood pressure. Balasana is also one of the best yoga for hypertension.

child pose for hypertension balasana for blood pressure

Procedure to perform Balasana:

Stay in this pose for about five to six minutes while taking deep breaths.

Savasana Instructions:

The following steps instruct you on how to perform savasana. savasana for stress relief

Procedure to perform Savasana Yoga for Hypertension:

Makarasana Yoga Instructions for Hypertension:

yoga crocodile lose for stress relief Makar means crocodile and hence this yoga asana is also know as the crocodile pose. This is one of the best yoga poses for stress.

Continue deep breating and stay in this position for around five to ten minutes before getting up slowly. How this yoga reduces stress is by relaxing your entire body from head to toe.



Yoga Poses for Diabetes Patients

Diabetes is a disease that results when the body does not produce sufficient hormones to break down the sugar that is ingested. This is a deficiency of the pancreas which normally produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone helps regulating the sugar in the blood by converting it into energy. When the insulin is not sufficient and the sugar does not get converted, it get accumulated in the blood causing a number of symptoms such as fatigue, unusual thirst, excessive urination, loss of weight and if it is not treated can cause coma and death.

Yoga and diabetes

Yoga is an ancient method of exercising body and mind for maintaining all its functions at their optimum level. Almost all the diseases known to man can be addressed by yoga – and diabetes can be controlled by it as well. There are many postures and breathing exercises in yoga which would induce the pancreas to produce enough insulin to regulate the sugar in the body. These asanas (postures) not only repairs the pancreatic cell but also induce them to secrete insulin. Some of the asanas that have proved beneficial for controlling and reversing diabetes are briefly described below:

Caution: Please do not attempt any of the asanas on your own unless you have been guided by a yoga guru or certified teacher. Practicing any of these postures in a wrong way can be detrimental to your health.

1. Pachimotasana (Forward Seated Bend posture) – this is a posture which promotes the function of the pancreas, liver and the kidneys. You will have to start by sitting on a mat with your legs stretched in front of you. Take in a deep breath. Then, slowly bend forward exhaling placing your head on your knees and reaching for your toes. Touch your toes and keep this posture for 2-3 breaths then return to the sitting position. This asana should be repeated two or three times.

2. Mayuryasana (Peacock posture) – this postures helps in digestion and tones up the liver, kidneys and the pancreas. Though this posture looks a little difficult with a little practice it can be mastered by most people. You will need to start by lying face down on your mat. Put your palms at your sides facing forward and then lift your whole body off the ground keeping it completely parallel to the ground.

3. Shalabhasana (Locus posture) – this posture is especially effective for treating acidity and indigestion. In combination with the other two asanas it helps the digestive system and support the liver and the pancreas toning up. You will need to start face down on your mat. Ensure that your feet are together. You would need to lift your legs off he floor from this position while inhaling. Close your hands into fists at the side of the body and use them for leverage while you lift your legs. Keep your legs in the air for a few seconds and then put them down. Relax and repeat 2-3 times.

These three posture are extremely beneficial and can be further complemented by Bahya Pranayama or external Kumbakha (retention of breath). What you have to do is very simple. Sit in the normal cross-legged position for yoga. Close your right nostril and breathe in counting 3; then close your left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Now count 12 before you inhale again. This is very simple to do yet it is very powerful in regulating the energy flow in the body and expelling the toxins from the body




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