December 16, 2013

A Handy Guide to 24 Common Meditation Terms.

Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal bliss and supreme joy in the end.”

~ Swami Sivananda

Meditation is a huge topic with thousands of different lineages, teachings and techniques. It can be a daunting subject to study, but the good news is that today, the powerful tools of meditation are more accessible than ever.

Here’s a short guide to a couple dozen common terms related to meditation. May it be of benefit.

1) Ashram: the home of a spiritual community of swamis and yogis where the focus is on spiritual living and meditation

2) Buddha: a buddha is an enlightened one; “the Buddha” refers to Siddhartha Gautama, a spiritual teacher who lived, became enlightened and taught in India a long time ago

3) Chakra: energy center; the basic system has seven chakras (root, sacrum, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown), each of which is associated with a color, element, syllable, significance, etc.

4) Dharma: truth; the teachings of the Buddha; the path of truth

5) Enlightenment: the attainment of full awakening; becoming a buddha; see also nirvana

6) Kundalini: the coiled energy at the base of the spine awakened through certain meditation practices; most often referred to in the tantra yoga tradition

7) Lama: title for a highly esteemed Tibetan teacher of the Dharma; similar to the Sanskrit term, guru; historically used for venerated spiritual masters (example: the Dalai Lama)

8) Maitri: loving kindness; also known as metta

9) Mala: A strand of 108 beads used in certain meditation techniques; similar to a Catholic rosary, only for Buddhists

10) Mantra: a repeated sound, syllable, word or phrase used in chanting and meditation (example: Om mani padme hum)

11) Metta: loving kindness; also known as maitri

12) Mindfulness: the practice of paying attention to the present moment; mindfulness is a way of bringing meditation into all daily activities

13) Mudra: a hand position used in meditation

14) Nirvana: the state of ultimate enlightenment; though it is beyond explanation or words, it is best described as peace and stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished

15) Rinpoche: “precious one,” an honorable name bestowed upon high-ranking and respected Tibetan Buddhist teachers

16) Sangha: a community of Buddhist spiritual practitioners

17) Shamatha: the Buddhist meditation practice of “calm abiding”; usually introduced in the form of mindful breathing

18) Sutra: a classic text; the two most common in Buddhism are the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra

19) Tonglen: “taking and sending”; a technique of Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation in which the practitioner breathes in the suffering of another and breathes out the positive antidote to that suffering

20) Transcendental Meditation (TM): a specific form of mantra meditation popularized in the 1960s by Beatles’ guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

21) Zafu: a circular pillow used for seated meditation

22) Zazen: the meditation technique practiced in Zen; “just sitting”; letting go of all judgmental thinking and allowing words, ideas, images and thoughts to pass by without getting involved in them

23) Zen: a school of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight through zazen meditation and interaction with an accomplished teacher.

24) Zendo: the meditation practice hall of Zen monks, nuns and other practitioners


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Image: elephant journal Archive

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