extracted from a lecture by
Karabi Sen, Ph.D. University of Calcutta
1. Mantras- the repeating of a simple verse to focus concentration. This verse can be virtually anything, such as, 'God is love.' As this is repeated the wandering thoughts of the distracted mind begin to be replaced by a definite meaningful content that can bring the mind to a state of poise and subsequent peace.
2. Images- the crucifixion of Christ, a picture of Krishna, or representation of the Islamic dome of the rock. Any significant image that is consistent with your religious affinities can invoke a state of inner peace where communion with Ultimate Reality becomes possible. However, it must be kept in mind that no picture or representation can possibly exhaust the the immensity of the Divine. Idolatry in the form of worshipping images is to be avoided.
3. Focusing on the idea of God- as you enter into meditation in this form, you can simply open yourself up to the idea of God residing within. This can often lead to an actual contact and union with this 'dynamic self-opening.' What does 'God' mean to you. Think about your ideas, opinions, and religious background.
4. Communion with Nature- one of the simplest and often overlooked forms of meditation is contact with Nature. Find a place that is pleasing to your soul. It could be anywhere- your backyard where there is a tree you are particularly fond of, or next to the ocean. Allow Nature to speak to you and ease yourself into the flow of the natural forces around you. Breathe in the environment you love. This meditation can help to realign your Self with the cosmic Self bringing a sense of peace and relaxation.
5. Chakra attention- in many religions of the East and increasingly in the West there is the idea that there are centers of energy within the body that are extremely powerful when invoked. Try focusing on your heart and allowing the energies there to express themselves freely. How does your heart feel? Are there any unresolved conflicts residing there? Invoke the powers of compassion locked within your heart and soul. Or you can focus on your head or brain to increase intellectual powers. What is the mind telling you. This meditation is a form of attending to the different parts of the body and bestowing love. We all want to be loved and this is equally important for the parts of our body. By focusing our attention upon any part (even the little toe) we direct thought and concentrated energy to that part of ourselves. This can often bring a sense of warmness to the area and as the entire body is integrated into this form of meditation, persons can feel whole again as they love themselves.
6. Japa (simple repetition of a word or name) - Choose a word or name that is especially inspiring to you. For example, use 'Mohammad', 'Jesus', 'Krishna', 'Isaiah', or the mystic syllable 'OM.' It is important that you use a word or name that is meaningful to you- it does not matter whether this word means anything to anyone else. Simply repeat this word or name again and again in order to focus your mind on the inspiring symbol. Once your mind is in a state of concentrated awareness (maybe after five minutes of this exercise), stop and relax into the calm of Being.
7. Logical Concentration- Go to a place where you can just relax. Allow whatever sights, sounds, or ideas float into your consciousness and do not try to suppress them in any way. Just enjoy the present moment of awareness and see what flows through your mind. After a few minutes or even an hour depending upon your daily activities, select a certain idea or sense impression and dwell upon it for awhile. Go deep into the thought. Concentrate and focus all of your energies upon this one mental object. Soon, you may feel yourself actually merge into the thing you were concentrating upon. There are no longer any thoughts of what you look like today or how much money there is saved for retirement. Just you and the thought. By gazing into the various particulars of existence with penetrating depth, the distinctions between subject and subject, self and other, begin to fade. This brings one to a state of relaxed union and wholeness.
8. Meditate upon abstract ideas- try to focus concentration on that which is formless (ie. space or time). Think about these ideas for awhile and see if anything interesting comes to the surface of your mind. Did any new insights come to light? As you come back to the world of particulars and concrete objects, think about how these abstract ideas relate in the so-called 'real' world.