Last year I tried 57 different meditations – here is what I learned

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of different types of meditation – just like there are many different types of sports. Last year (2015) I decided to systematically try multiple techniques, and in this post I’m sharing what I learned from these private experiments.

I haven’t seen anyone write about experiments like this – at least not to this extent – so I’m pretty excited to share it.

The goals in running these experiments were three:

  • To develop a wider understanding and experience of meditation practice as a whole
  • To be better able to answer my readers questions when they ask about other types of meditation practices
  • To potentially find better ways to meditate, or find good support practices, or perhaps discover a new favorite technique

This is NOT a post for beginners. If you are a beginner looking to read about the main types of meditation in order to decide which one to start, read this and this instead. Or check out my Beginners Meditation Course.

Many of the techniques I explored may be perceived as “esoteric” and “obscure” by the majority of people interested in this topic. So I was unsure whether I should publish this or not, thinking that only 20-30 people might be interested in this level of detail. But, considering that long-term meditators and spiritually-inclined readers would possibly enjoy it, I decided to write it.

At the bottom of this page you will find a button to download the free PDF version of this article.

Let’s get started!

My Meditation Experiments

I wanted to experiment with new practices without losing focus on my own practice. So what I did was to keep my main meditation the same (a long session each morning), and try different techniques at night, in shorter sessions (20min).

My aim was to try every technique for 3-7 days. But when I sensed a technique really wasn’t for me, I only did it for a day or two. In total I tried 57 practices, 18 of which I really enjoyed.

Apart from one experiment, all these techniques were types of focused attention meditation (concentration). You can read more about the three major categories of meditation here. Focused attention is the most common type, and also the one I recommend for almost everybody.

As to the techniques I used, most came from the Hindu tradition – more specifically, from two Yogic texts:

The choice was simply a personal predilection. I also tried some Buddhist meditations from the Theravada tradition.

What I learned

Here are some of the lessons I learned in this process. Some of these are rather technical aspects of concentration meditation.

These insights are presented here in a condensed form. Yet some of them are so important that I may write a whole post on it in the future.

1. There are many doors to stillness

Each of these practices is a door to stillness. You can experience peace, bliss, freedom, centeredness, and greater control of your mind, through many of the different techniques.

Different practices were created to suit the needs of different people, based on their temperament, beliefs, and level of maturity in the path. So there is nothing wrong in experimenting with several options until you find the one that works best for you. Once you find one, however, stick to it and deepen in it.

In focused attention meditation, the goal is always the same: to keep the mind continuously focused on the same object. This object can be:

  • A sensation, such as
    • the movement of your breath (vipassana, samatha)
    • the movement in your body (movement meditation, walking meditation);
    • the feeling of pain
  • A spot in your body, such as the
    • the heart center in the middle of the chest,
    • the point in between the eyebrows (“third eye”)
    • the fontanelle in the crown of the head
    • the solar plexus
    • the tip of your nose
  • A feeling, for example
    • loving-kindness
    • compassion
    • equanimity
    • bliss
    • God’s love
  • A word or mantra
  • A contemplation of an abstract concept, spiritual principle, or phenomena, such as
    • the emptiness of the body and the five senses
    • a bottomless well
    • the whole universe dissolving into pure consciousness
    • the oneness of your body and the universe
    • every sensation being a vibration of pure consciousness
    • subject and object being one and the same
    • the relationship between your body and space
    • the lightness of a feather
    • the mind’s luminosity/purity
  • A virtue or characteristic, such as
    • strength
    • contentment
    • non-attachment
    • stillness/tranquility
  • A visualized object, such as
    • the form of your body
    • pure light
    • a spiritual image
    • (basically anything!)
  • A mental perception, such as
    • moments of time and its sequence
    • noting whatever arises in consciousness in the present moment (mindfulness, Mahasi noting)
    • the influx of perceptions from one of the five senses
    • the sense of “I” or “I am” (self-enquiry)

Any object can work for you. You may need to try a few and see on what your mind most naturally settles on.

In a sense, the object of concentration is irrelevant – it is the process of mastering the movement of your attention that counts. On the other hand, the mind does absorb the qualities of that which it contemplates constantly – so choose an object that is positive (sattvic), pleasing and calming.

Your mind absorbs the qualities of that which it contemplates constantly.

Once concentration on an object is mastered, objectless concentration can be successfully attempted. In the objectless concentration there is absence of distraction, absence of thoughts, with no focus on anything in particular. Just open awareness – like two empty mirrors perfectly facing each other.

2. You get intimate knowledge of your meditation object

In order to know anything, we need to give our attention to it. If while reading these words you are not paying attention to your breath, then your breath doesn’t exist as an object in your consciousness – you don’t know of it. The moment you pay attention to it, it suddenly exists again.

When you train the mind to pay attention continuously to the same object (such as your breath), that object becomes more alive and vibrant. It’s as if attention charges it with life and energy.  You get to know it more intimately – from the inside.

The longer you spend time with an object, the easier you can evoke its presence in your mind. For instance, if your object of concentration is the lightness of a feather, with time you acquire the ability to bring that object into your consciousness very quickly and strongly, so that your whole being is filled with it. You become the lightness of a feather.

That is one of the reasons why I enjoyed meditating on the concept of emptiness, or void. It is highly soothing and liberating. In one of the meditations I had to focus on the body being made of emptiness, and the “void in one’s body extending in all directions simultaneously”. When it deepens, this gives a delicious feeling of limitlessness and fearlessness.

3. It is easier to keep your focus with more dynamic and “tangible” objects

If your object of meditation is your breathing, then there is a natural rhythm for your attention. Every breath is a reminder that you should be paying attention to your breathing. The same thing happens in mantra meditation, especially if the mantra is repeated in a constant rhythm.

Other objects of meditation – like focusing your attention on the third eye, on a visualisation, or on a concept – are harder for the beginner to work with, because they are more constant. There is little to no change in it. So your attention easily becomes bored with that object, or blind to its presence. Before you know it, it has wandered elsewhere.

That is why I feel that, for most people, breathing awareness and mantra meditation are the best ways to start developing serious concentration.

For similar reasons, the more tangible and concrete an object is, the easier it is to focus on it. Once you develop the skill to keep the focus on grosser objects (such as your body, your breath, or a sound), you can then move on to subtler objects of focus. The subtlest ones would be emptiness, consciousness itself, and nothingness.

To illustrate this point, when practicing mantra meditation (or japa) there is a natural progression where at the first stage of practice, the meditator is actually whispering the mantra. Once that becomes easy, he then moves on to mentally repeating the mantra. After a long practice in this stage, the mantra starts to repeat itself, and the meditator is just “listening” for it – but there are no breaks of attention, and the rhythm is steady.

And in the final stage, the mantra disappears, and is not replaced by thinking – there is only silence. At this point, the mantra has fulfilled its purpose.

4. You can create any feeling you like

Everything we do in our life is for the sake of experiencing something – a certain feeling or state – usually “happiness”. Even the acquisition of material things, fame, beauty and the achievement of goals… we only seek these because we desire to experience the feeling we will have once we get these things. We seek external things to produce internal states.

Some of the techniques I experimented with involved generating a certain feeling inside myself – such as loving-kindness, bliss, satisfaction, stillness – and focusing on it continuously.  And what became crystal clear for me, in doing this process, is this: you don’t need any external condition in order to produce an internal state.

This may be hard to understand, especially if you haven’t tried meditations like this. But it’s something you can discover and experience for yourself.

In order words, you are able to experience deep joy right now without needing to change anything in your life. All you have to do is kindle the flame of that emotion – through memory or imagination – and then meditate on it. Focus on it, give it all your attention. That joy will then grow and fill your mind. And it will be purer and more solid than the joy that is triggered by external life conditions.

The same is true if you want to feel peace, fearlessness, confidence, love, etc. Or if you want to develop any quality, like willpower, patience, grit, self-acceptance, etc.

Your mind is capable of giving you anything you want, without needing an external stimuli for it. All you need to do is to learn how to use it.

So while you cannot just focus on having wealth and expect to win the lottery, you can focus on the feeling of abundance and experience it in a very real and solid way.

It is not the easiest way. But it’s the most direct, most powerful, and most dependable.

 

5. Physical props will only take you so far

I tried binaural beats, and didn’t like it much. Yet I understand it can be a useful way of relaxing.
 
Using physical props for meditation – like a sound (binaural beats for example) or an object (like a candle) – can be useful in the first months. But once your concentration deepens you will need to let go of that. The focus then becomes more internal.

6. It’s possible to get sick of happiness

One of the tantric meditations I did was to focus the mind on “moments of great delight”.

On the first day of this practice, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of delight, happiness or joy. I also understood better what delight or joy really is. It’s basically a fulfilment of a desire or aspiration. There is the feeling of an expansion in the heart, and a unification of consciousness in the brain, with “fireworks” of emotion.

On the following day I tried doing the “great delight” meditation again, but just couldn’t. I felt no inclination to feel delight or happiness anymore. It felt like taking another bite of an extremely sweet cake, right after having eaten enough of it.

So instead I did another tantric meditation that suggested to focus on the feeling of satisfaction. With this I understood that satisfaction and delight are two different things.

Delight is more like an explosion, like fireworks in the brain and butterflies in the heart; and it’s usually related to the fulfilment of a desire. Satisfaction, on the other hand, is like a calm feeling of contentment about oneself or one’s life; it is calm, expansive, and balanced.

Meditating on your emotions, thoughts and feelings is a great way to understand them better.

7. Pain is not that painful

One of the tantric meditations was to concentrate on pain. For that I needed a constant feeling of pain, so I could “study” it. So I placed a couple of metal paper clips (like so) pressing the tip of my skin. Sometimes the pain was dull; at other times it was sharp.

This meditation made me realize that pain is just another bodily sensation. The most painful thing is not the sensation itself – but the impulse to stop it. The moment I accepted pain as just another sensation, and let go of the aversion towards it, I was no longer suffering the pain.

If you can let go of the aversion, pain is not so painful anymore.

8. Contemplating the infinite and formless will set you free

Some meditations invite you to contemplate something infinite, like the universe, or something formless, such as consciousness or emptiness. Here are some examples from the ones I did:

  • Contemplate that “I’m not my body – I exist everywhere”
  • Concentrate on one’s own self as a vast unlimited expanse
  • Concentrate on the idea that the universe is void
  • Meditate on the empty space within a cup
  • Focus on the space between two thoughts
  • Contemplate that the same consciousness exists inside all bodies
  • Concentrate on consciousness as omnipresent and free of all limitations
  • Contemplate on the whole universe having the reality of a dream

All these practices helped me quickly bring my mind to a state of expansive stillness. The limited ego and all its petty problems are blissfully left behind for that time being.

9. Meditating on TIME was a surprise

The Yoga Sutras speak of meditating on the moment and it sequence (Chap. III, verse 53). This sounds highly abstract. Seriously, how to focus on the moment itself?

To my surprise, this meditation went very deep for me, and it was highly insightful. My mind got focused and quiet with ease.

I practiced this in two slightly different ways.

The first was as in exploring the nature of this moment. With this exploration there was a dropping into the ground of being – the timeless and move-less nature behind all that moves.

Every time my mind settled on something as its object of meditation (“this is the instant!”) it was immediately seen that the instant was not the smallest unit of time – that it could still be delved deeper. Since this instant is infinitely small, it cannot be found; in this process of searching for it, the mind gets infinitely subtle, selfless, and laser-focused. It’s as though the task is so overwhelming that the whole of your attention is used – and there is nothing for it to grasp on to.

The second was by focusing on the sequence of moments of time. This resulted in an insight that all phenomena is constantly moving, fleeting, unstable. The deep impermanence and dynamism of all things was experimented at a whole new level.

10. “OM” is not just another sound

I had tried mantra meditation before, with different mantras. But when I tried with OM, something was very different for me. I understood why this sound was so much praised by the ancient Yogis. It is suggested in the Yoga Sutras (I, 28).

I practiced repeating ooooooooommmmmmmmmmmm inside my mind, focusing all my attention on this sound, and with a feeling of openness and reverence. As the mind got quieter, the “om” got longer. Conversely, the longer I drew out each om, the quieter the mind became.

There was also a feeling of intensity in the center of the brain, as if it was charging up and calming down at the same time. It’s hard to explain – you have got to try a few times for yourself, and then see how you feel.

Techniques I loved

The main technique of my own personal practice involves focusing on the heart center in the body, and just keeping the mind there. Here is a list of some other meditation objects that I personally enjoyed focusing on, and that I’m considering doing as an alternative practice, or as a support to my current practice.

I had good results focusing on:

  • loving-kindness [Buddhist]
  • the OM mantra [Yogic]
  • the 6th chakra (the space between the eyebrows, or “third eye”) [Yogic]
  • the 7th chakra (the fontanelle) [Yogic]
  • an infinite expanse of light in the heart center [Yogic]
  • the visual form of my body [Yogic]
  • the lightness of cotton [Yogic]
  • the relationship between my body and the space around it [Yogic]
  • the moments of time and its sequence [Yogic]
  • the void of the five senses, in the heart [Tantric]
  • the void of your body, extending in all directions simultaneously [Tantric]
  • listening to the internal sound of the body [Tantric]
  • the idea of the whole universe dissolving into pure consciousness [Tantric]
  • the feeling of me existing everywhere, without limits [Tantric]
  • the perception of the whole universe being like a dream [Tantric]

Final thoughts

That’s it! I am not sure how many people will be interested in this depth of detail, but I had to get these learnings out of my head. If you got something from this post, I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Here is the PDF I promised you:

[If you are already part of my mailing list, don’t worry, no duplicate messages will ever be sent.]

May this post inspire your own experiments with meditation!

If you like some help with choosing your meditation techniques and experimenting, you might enjoy my intermediate meditation course, which was developped with this goal in mind.

  • Nerilee

    Giovanni, I am very new to your blog but I have to say that this article is exactly what I have been looking for. I have practiced a number of meditations and each has its own unique impact on my life. As a result I use different meditations at different times to cater for my intuited needs. For example, I use a form of Buddhist visualisation meditation to open my mind and take me to an imaginary place. Once in the place (chosen spontaneously in the meditative state, not pre-meditatively prior to my meditation) I use mindfulness techniques to watch with curiosity and without judgement what is around me. After the meditation I write down what I have seen, without analysing it and I leave it at least a few days before I re-read what I have recorded (sometimes months). Inevitably the symbolic objects/people and my feelings about the things revealed in my meditation illuminate where my subconscious is focused and true attention is placed. At other times I use open eye meditation to quieten my mind, create space and as a result expand my perception (which begins on a physical level in the meditation but expands to encompass a much broader psychological/cognitive/creative level after the meditation). I have only recently found myself contemplating how each meditation technique that I currently have in my repertoire (each being something that I have naturally gravitated towards over the years) provides me with its own unique gifts. A little while ago I found myself craving a form of meditative practice I used a lot in the first 3 years of my dedicated practice but haven’t used as much in the last year (now my 7th year of dedicated practice) and I wondered what it was in my original practice that I wasn’t getting in my current practice (which consists of a focus based meditation in the morning and a mantra based practice in the evening). Your article provided me with exactly the insight I needed to understand why whilst also providing me with many more practices to experiment with (when the time feels right) and to contemplate. The funny thing is, the beginning of your article says not to read the article if I am a beginner. I honestly feel like a beginner meditator so there was temptation to read your other articles and not this one. I’m so glad that I read on any way. Thank you so much for deciding to share this article

    • Hi Nerilee,
      I’m so glad to hear this article was helpful and insightful.
      It’s good that you still feel like a beginner, but with 7 years of practice, I’d say this article is for you! 😉
      Thanks for sharing your experience with different types of meditation also.

  • Christopher

    Thank you for this more then helpful article!

  • konnigun

    That’s very helpful and encouraging, thank you so much!

  • Franco

    where can I read about painful meditation? I want to learn how to do it 🙂

    • Look into the Vijnanabhairava Tantra. That’s where I took it from.

    • Franco

      Thanks!

  • Suranganie Dayaratne

    Fantastic. You tried many methods and found out which are good for you. Well, I focus on breath, and I have reached 3 levels. 1. Just watching the breath,2. feeling the long and short 3. Areas which touches, nose, throat, lungs and at the end, belly, as that feeling is due to the expansion of muscles. According to the Hindu and Buddhist methods, next step will be, the very, very smooth level, where the feeling will be very subtle. Once I practiced the 3rd eye technique, and even now, as and when I feel, because that used to give me lot of information.
    I will follow yours, as they are very useful too. Thanks for sharing your own experience.

  • bart hansma

    Love this article :-), very nice work Gio!

  • Ingrid Langosco di Langosco

    Thank you, Giovanni, this article was very interesting and helpful! Please dive deeper! 🙂

    • That’s great to hear, Ingrid. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

  • Angela Hryniuk

    Only skimmed the article first round. But look VERY FORWARD to re-reading parts. Loved to see your list of Top Meditations. I personally really like the meditations on time, the nature of moment to moment passing and arising and awareness as you described above. Every tried any Inner Child meditations? Quite different to any eastern traditional practises, but equally as profound as any I’ve done. I’ve been a practitioner for 26 years — teaching meditation (including the inner child) for over 15, and would love to share with you if interested.

    • Hi Angela,

      I haven’t heard of that one. Sounds like an therapeutic exercise for self-healing. Is it?

  • Jennifer Innes

    This is excellent. Thanks for sharing, Giovanni. I too experiment with meditation technics, but not to this extent… you have inspired me to try some of these. I’m also glad you shared your OM mantra experience, b/c i have tried many different mantras, and feel that “Om” is the only one that i connect to. Somehow though, i was reluctant to use it or teach it, but now realize this reluctance was probably due to “popularity bias” and perception that it belongs more in yoga studios for chanting. As i have said before, you have a wisdom beyond your years, thank you for sharing it!

  • Paul Wecker

    Hi Giovanni,
    I really enjoyed this in depth article! For me personally this was the best one you ever wrote, really interesting and super motivating! The idea of meditating on the chakra points or even on time never crossed my mind. Thanks!

    • That’s so great to hear, Paul. This article is very close to my heart, because it took me one year to write it (and live it).

  • gijs

    wow, u can feel the content

    through the screen,

    amazing ..

  • Ole

    I love personal experiments like these! Also love the depth of the article! 😀

  • Pieter van der Zouwen

    Thank you Giovanni, very clear writing. Adds to my own 7 years of insight meditation. I recognize different options in developing the mind: the general, opening, blissful, “heart-connected”, empty,silent states that don’t last long but give a deep motivation and insight. And more focal states connected to more individual factors such as working with pain or compassion. I hope and expect a connection with neuroscience to deepen our understanding and effects of meditation. What are your ideas of this remarks? Love, liberation, peace. Pieter.

  • Guillaume Feldman

    I’m wondering if you have tried meditating in a floatation tank and if so how it compares? People seem to think of meditation in a floatation tank as meditation on steroids, that an individual practice is somehow augmented, catalysed. Any experience of this please?

    • I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m looking forward to.
      No idea how it would feel. I guess the lack of sensory stimuli is great. On the other hand, for meditation the seated position is indeed more favourable.

  • Thanks for sharing. I’ll have a look.

  • Eva Sifis

    Binaural Beats are brilliant for peeps with an experience of Acquired Brain Injury, Autism, or any Neurological disorder – in simple terms it massages the neuro + chemical release. In this, I find it brilliant for quietening the mind of distractions so that I can actually focus on tasks.
    For meditation I could see it distracting rather than giving peace. I am developing a series of trainings for those with an experience of Acquired Brain Injury (as I have) and Binaural Beats will be shared alongside an introduction to meditation. In my first demonstration sessions the feedback I have received about simple breathing/guided meditations given to the participants has been out of this world.
    When you add to this the recent scientific study that found growth of neural material through the practise of meditation, the perception of meditation is experiencing exciting focus.
    Thank you for this informative post Giovanni. I admire your curiosity and tenacity.
    Meditation has been a life saver, brain repairer and consciousness affirming practise for me (as it is for anyone!)

  • sharkonwhisky

    Hi Giovanni, I would be very curious to know whether you have ever had any sessions in a floatation tank, and if so, how this compared to your experience of these different forms of meditation??

  • Madeleine

    Thank you so much for your research and article. It has taken me some time to read and ingest, and re-read. I will also experiment a bit with different techniques and see what resonates, but as you say it is all a door to stillness. I am curious about #6 and getting sick of happiness. I have felt this, almost like it was disinteresting or boring, but haven’t heard anyone else say it…. Your dedication to personal growth is inspiring.

  • Shirley Hicks

    Thanks for your reflections Giovanni. I’m intrigued by your comment earlier on ” But when I sensed a technique really wasn’t for me, I only did it for a day or two”- as to what it was about the practice that you didn’t feel was right for you vs the ones that did feel right for you and what was involved in that decision making process? Thanks

    • That’s a very good question!
      I would feel a technique wasn’t for me if I couldn’t make my mind reach a point of stability with the meditation object, or when the object was unclear or unattractive. That just proved, to me, that that object would be harder (more time taking) to work with and have good results.

  • Shirley Hicks

    Thanks for expanding on that- I sit with the sense that meditation is about being able to stay in some present moment awareness regardless of the difficulty that might arise for the mind or ego as a result of the practice. Your article has highlighted for me my propensity to feel that there is more “juice” in sitting with the uncomfortable vs searching for the comfortable, stable space in which to rest. I notice that many of the practices that you found useful engaged the body vs those practices which seem to just work exclusively with the mind. I’ve also found it a more spacious way to work if the body is involved in the process as well. Thanks for a great thought provoking article. Best wishes Shirley

    • It’s great that you are finding what works for you (working with the body). That is indeed the purpose of experimentation.

      I would like to expand a bit more on my previous answer, as you raise some important points.

      If one is practicing concentration meditation, the advise by many teachers is to use an object that is attractive to the mind. Mind naturally goes towards what it loves and keeps it interested.

      The goal is to keep the attention “married” to the object for as long as possible, with as little breaks as possible. And it is easier to achieve this goal if the mind is naturally interested in the object.

      For example, for me sound or light are much more interesting than bodily sensations. So I’m more likely to arrive at deeper states of meditation by placing my attention on visualizing light (for example) rather than feeling the breath. Now, if instead I insist on using the breath, I can for sure use this as an opportunity to train my sense of acceptance of the frustration, etc. But for developing concentration, it wouldn’t be the most optimal for me.

      And this is different for everyone.

      Just my two cents.

  • Pain is not that painful. That one struck a chord. Thanks for sharing this article I’ve gained some wisdom I didn’t have before, and believe that meditation is an essential part of growth in all aspects for everyone. Here’s a great guided meditation for people suffering with anxiety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfVPQWprfjY

  • Gretis Li

    Hey Giovanni, I’d say I’m an intermediate meditator, and my favorite meditation position is sitting cross legged on the floor. However, my right foot often falls asleep during long sessions (it’s under my left leg) which disrupts my concentration somewhat. Am I doing something wrong?

    • I also sit cross-legged no the floor.

      Why don’t you try placing the right foot in front of the left leg, rather than under it? You might need to use cushions to keep the balance.

  • This is exactly the kind of resource I’ve been looking for as I’ve delved deeper into meditation and seem to continuously combine various techniques in my own way. Your experiment is a great reminder that each one has great value and should be explored on it’s own before moving on to try something else. Thank you!

  • Quintin Beukes

    Giovanni, this is excellent knowledge, well documented! *Gratitude* I’m curious whether you ever tried meditative techniques where you take a symbol, or ancient script and draw/scribble on paper as if chopping it out on wood, doodling and playing in a meek childlike fashion, which builds up to a contemplative state seeded by the script/symbol. One example would be chopping the Ohm symbol and contemplating it’s components as your mind absorbs the Light that shines gloriously from the symbol. I find it quite an enjoyable experience, especially the meek attitude with which you enter the meditation.

  • Neelam Meena

    Can we meditate with our eyes open?

  • vectorspace

    Thank you for your very helpful site. I read somewhere that you needed to be cautious with the third eye meditation suggesting that it might unleash energies that the novice couldn’t handle. Are you familiar with this idea and do you think caution is needed? Thanks!

    • I have heard such things. In general, however, I don’t think this caution is needed.

      What can be dangerous is if you couple chakra meditation together with specific pranayama practices and other exercises, with the intention or raising the kundalini. If you are doing this, you should ideally have a competent teacher to guide you.

      But simply using a chakra (like the third eye) as a meditation object is unlikely to cause any problems.

    • Daniel

      Meditating on the 3rd eye can certainly cause problems……

      I personally know people who have had severe problems meditating on the 3rd eye & on the crown……….

      Time is also crucial…….5 minutes 2x a day may be okay……….1 hour at a time for 4 months may get you into severe trouble……

      Mantra meditation has also gotten people into trouble when they did hours at a time…….

      Are you familiar with how the german government illegalized TM when the people started becoming psychotic back in the early 90s?………..No, you are not familiar with that…….

      You don’t need the intention of raising the kundalini……….The kundalini will raise anyway…….

      You don’t think?……… You got to do better than “you don’t think”……….This is dangerous stuff, Giovanni……………What are you doing?

      You don’t even follow thru with your very simple experiments………..

      You don’t have the experience or the knowledge……….all your comments are very vague…….

      You are not qualified to be writing articles like this…….

    • From your comments I imagine you are into kundalini yoga. There is a lot of fear mongering there. You know, raising the kundalini will typically take much more than meditating on the chakras 1h a day.

      Meditating on the third eye is a widely taught technique, even for “regular folks”, by many masters in India. For example: Shivabalayogi and his disciple, Shivarudrabalayogi. They advise this technique for every single person that comes to them, and tells them to meditate at least 1h a day.

      You of course have a different opinion, but I just say this to say I’m not making things up. I’m in very good company 😉

      I am familiar with the german studies on TM. Actually very familiar with it. And I can say the main problems were not with the mantra itself, but with the way the technique was being taught, and also many other elements that are added by the TM organization.

      If you want to have the opinion that meditation is dangerous, fine, have it for yourself. So far I have not a single person that complained to me of negative side-effects following these meditation techniques that I share about.

      This article reflects my experience with these traditional meditation techniques. You have very strong opinions, and you feel you know better. Perhaps you should write articles on your own as well? Let’s see how many people they would really help.

  • Thank you for sharing this – meditation a personal journey and we all connect to it with different means. http://mymeditationproject.com

  • Merk

    Thank you for writing this. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only meditation scientist out there trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been practicing different meditation techniques since I was 20 (I’m 32 now) in order to figure out which techniques not only cultivated access concentration and the jhanas the quickest, but had the least repercussions in my social life. I’ve discovered that anapanasati, though easy to practice and to attain the jhanas with, make me social awkward and unable to engage with others in a natural way. A number of other techniques did the same thing. I’ve finally settled on a simplified system of dynastic kriya yoga as what I believe is, at least for me, the most efficient with the most benefits and fewest negative side effects. The dynastic version of Lahiri Mahasaya being significantly different than the heavily modified techniques taught by SRF/Paramahansa Yogananda and the Sri Yukteswar lineage. The main “meat” of the system relies on a slient (non-pranayama) meditation on the 7 chakras along the spine, moving from one to the next to keep the mind busy until the thoughts settle and you can spend more time with open awareness perceiving sensations at the fixed points (so you tend to combine both fixed awareness and open awareness). As the thoughts settle, and silence dominates, I experience a ping or vortex of energetic joy at each point that serves to lure the mind inwards into even more concentrated states. The only reason I mention this is because several of your favorite supplemental techniques above utilize chakras to refine the mind on a point, and thought that extrapolating it into a full technique using all of them in this way might be of interest and assistance to you.

    • Hi Merk,

      Thank you for writing this. Indeed, now in 2016 I’m running a second set of experiments, and focusing on the chakras (especially muladhara, anahata and ajna) is working really well for me.

      In this meditation, do you simply focus the mind on the chakras, or do you also use visualization and mantra? I’m very interested in this technique, and also on the authentic Kriya Yoga from Lahiri Mahashaya.

      I’d love to have a private chat and exchange some “practitioner notes”. If you feel the same, please email me at giovanni@liveanddare.com and let’s talk.

    • Petr

      It’s so pity you exchanged some “practitioner notes” in a private chat ) It’s very interesting topic.

    • Clarence Wilkins

      Yes we are all seekers indeed ☺

    • Clarence Wilkins

      Dear Merk. Can you direct me where to study/learn Lahiri’s meditation? Or initiate me yourself? Sincerely Clarence

    • Merk

      “Kriya Secrets Revealed” on Amazon discusses the techniques in detail. No initiation necessary. If you’ve got the will and some spare moments each day, anyone can apply the effort needed using time-tested meditation techniques and make forward progress. Figure out what meditation techniques you enjoy the most, as those will work the best for you, personally.

  • Dag Ole Kristoffersen

    Great article. I have not been able to sustain a meditation practice for an extended period of time, but it is something I’m hoping to make a part of my life and this was a great inspiration to pick myself up and try again!

  • Gzim Veseli

    Mucho interesting. I will try this. I love it.

  • indian

    As J Krishnamurthi says, “It is a pathless land”

  • R. K. Dixit

    Excellent post. Though I am a beginner, I learnt a lot. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • yopizza

    I am a journey man in meditation. I have used different visualisation methods that I enjoyed but I wonder how to combine those visualisations into a single daily session. What is your advice?

  • Ankit

    Thank you for the wonderful article and sharing your experience with everyone. I have a question and this is more in terms of spiritual journey. How have different techniques allowed you to move forward in your journey ? Have they actually allowed you to move forward or they were experiments to find out which one worked best and then probably you will continue your journey. Do you have a post which describe the spiritual journey from the beginning to the end ? What is the next step when you achieve the fixed concentration and how you can harness your mind to progress spiritually thereafter ?
    All my questions are related to spiritual health and journey and I don’t want to ask about the physical body as I am aware there are various meditation techniques for the same.

    • Hi Ankit,

      The main benefit for me was finding the technique that best works for me. Having said that, these experiments also broadened my view and understanding of meditation a lot as well.

      Once perfect concentration of mind is achieved, regardless of the technique, then you are able to go into Samadhi, where a huge purification and “enlightening” happens.

      If you send me an email I can share with you a bit more.

    • Ankit

      Thanks and I am glad you found the best technique for yourself. I will drop you a mail and will be glad to know more after you achieve a strong concentration of mind.

  • Daniel

    I learned nothing from your experiments…….

    What did you teach or share?…….Nothing!………

    Most of your comments are vague, generalized & not complete……

    You said you tried some meditation techniques for only a day or 2………Which ones?…….You say they ‘weren’t for you”………..Which ones?………..why weren’t they for you?……..Are they for me?….Why did you give them up?

    You focused on the 3rd eye for a week?……..You focused on the solar plexus for a week?…….What’s the difference?……..What happened?…..Which one is better?………..Why?………How?………When?………Where?……….You don’t say anything………..

    So what did you find out?…….What are the results of your experiments?…………Im still waiting!

    Your entire commentary is spaced out………..You got to do better than this, Giovanni………..

    • Excuse me, sir, do I owe you anything?
      If you haven’t learned anything from the 10 points above, good luck finding someone else that ran similar experiments and answers all your questions. Or put in the hard work and run your own experiments.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Giovanni. I love the idea that you can create happiness internally with enough practice. It would be interesting to compare these types of meditations with a more Western mindfulness-based approach.

  • Hey, nice post. Could relate to most of the things.
    I would like to know your thoughts on Vipassana meditation if you have tried it.

    • I have tried it, but it’s not the type of meditation that I like the most.

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57 Meditation Experiments
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