How to Meditate — Three Different Buddhist Meditation Techniques
Discover how to meditate using the path that best suits your personality. You can successfully practice meditation many different ways. Choose the method below that best suits you, or combine the practices.
Buddhist Meditation Technique One: Empty Mind
Vipassana, or Anapanasati, is the classical Theraveda Buddhist meditation technique. Buddha reached Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in North India using this empty mind meditation practice.
The method is very simple. There are only three basic components. The actual practice is very difficult.
- Sit in a meditation posture. Full lotus is best if you can do it without discomfort. Other postures that work well are the half lotus and Burmese postures. If you’re uncomfortable on the floor, sitting comfortably erect on a chair with both feet flat on the ground will work better for you.
- Use diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing. Observe the feel of your breath coming in through your nose and going out through your mouth. Breathe deeply, gently and regularly. This will soon become an effortless habit.
- Observe your thoughts without following them. Simply watch each thought arise in your mind and then disappear.
After some time, your thoughts will slow. You’ll notice a small gap between thoughts. Rest your mind in these gaps of ‘no thought’ as long as possible, making them longer and longer, until no more thoughts arise. Your mind becomes empty and calm.
Buddhists liken the untrained mind to a drunken monkey leaping about. There’s absolutely no way to predict or control a drunken monkey’s next wild antic. The same is true of your mind. Wild, crazy thoughts leap about in an ever shifting landscape of stories that continually stir up your emotions.
Many years of dedicated, daily Vipassana practice can be necessary to tame your ‘monkey mind’. But the wise understand that the path is the goal.