Some things are not easily learned from a book or blog post, and meditation is one of them. These three meditation methods—vipassana, transcendental meditation, and kriya yoga—are taught through comprehensive courses and offer life-long guidance for a meditation practice that sticks.
Vipassana is a style of meditation passed down through a long lineage stemming from the Buddha himself. The late S.N. Goenka established vipassana centers all over the world to share its benefits, as he always stressed the way to liberation is universal.
The method itself involves attentive self-observation to develop a deep connection between the body and mind. The goal is to eradicate mental disturbances, so the meditator can find a true state of peace.
Vipassana is learned through a 10-day residential course. It’s offered entirely for free—including food and accommodation—with costs covered by the donations of previous students. You don’t need any previous meditation experience to participate. You may find this course easier if you don’t have any previous meditation experience.
During the course, students take a vow of silence and undergo 10 days of serious mind work. There’s a strict daily schedule with many hours of group meditation, but this method of learning eliminates outside distractions and allows for total focus. After completing the course, students are encouraged to meditate twice daily. Students can repeat the course yearly, or participate in both shorter and longer courses for returning students.
Transcendental meditation (TM) was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or the guru made famous in the late 60’s by the Beatles. TM was popular then and extremely popular now. The technique is based on the silent repetition of a mantra. It enables the mind to go inward easily, a process that TM refers to as automatic self-transcending. There is no concentration, control of thoughts, or contemplation involved, making this method simple and appealing.
TM is an individualized and customized meditation technique. It is taught one-on-one by a longtime meditator. Starting with an introductory talk and personal meeting with the teacher, the actual method is learned over the course of four days in four 90-minute sessions.
The course comes at a high price, but you essentially have personal guidance from a teacher for the rest of your life. Since one of the main obstacles to fruitful meditation is lack of a teacher, many students find the course is worth the cost.
The Self-Realization Fellowship was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, who you might recognize as the author of Autobiography of a Yogi. He’s part of a lineage based upon the original Yoga of Bhagavan Krishna and the original Christianity of Jesus, although the fellowship is not religion-based. There are over 500 centers, retreats, and ashrams across the world; and they are usually situated in beautiful spaces open to the public.
The centers offer free meditation classes and affordable Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons—a home-based meditation course compiled from Yogananda’s lectures and teachings. They are based upon a scientific system of meditation called kriya yoga, which is part of the greater raja yoga path. Students learn three main techniques: energization, concentration, and meditation. The lessons last about three and a half years, and students can receive free personal guidance from meditation counselors at any of the centers.
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Check out this playlist by DJ Taz Rashid to explore the calm and soothing rhythms of yin, meditation, and yoga nidra.