With the development of the NeuroMeditation Institute (NMI), and the launching of the NMI certification program, it seemed important to clarify what NeuroMeditation is. It is not a single thing. It is a process, a system, and a set of therapeutic interventions. This series will explore the term and the ways we are using it help people become more of their ideal self.
NeuroMeditation is the application of brain based principles to meditation practices.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different forms of meditation out there, each with their own specific traditions and practices. There are meditation practices, such as Transcendental Meditation (TM), where you are learning to let go and empty the mind, allowing the mind to sink into a space of restful awareness. There are concentration practices that ask the practitioner to focus their attention on their breath or an image of the Buddha or a specific word or phrase; gently returning the mind to the target each time it wanders. There are still other practices such as Taiji Chuan that involve a pattern of choreographed movements and a focus on continually “sinking the energy” and “moving like water.” All of these can be considered forms of meditation, yet each is quite different. Because there are so many styles and traditions and there is so much information available about these practices, it is a bit overwhelming. This overload of information makes it very challenging for someone to know where to begin or which meditation practices might be best suited for their specific needs.
Based on the way attention is directed, based on our intention during the practice and based on the way it impacts the brain, all meditations generally fall into one (or more) of 4 categories: Focus, Mindfulness, Quiet Mind and Open Heart.
Focus Meditation: Voluntary control of attention and cognitive processes. This style might be best for you if you want to improve your focus and concentration and reduce your mind wandering.
Mindfulness Meditation: Dispassionate, non-evaluative awareness of ongoing experience. You might choose to practice this style if you want to get better at letting things go and reducing internal judgment.
Quiet Mind Meditation: Automatic transcending of the procedures of the meditation practice that leads to an open awareness. This practice is ideal if you are interested in minimizing internal self-talk and learning to achieve a state of restful awareness.
Open Heart Meditation: Activation of positive emotional states (e.g., love, compassion, peace) along with an unrestricted readiness to help all living beings. Meditations in this category are ideal for increasing empathy, generosity and perspective taking.
By understanding the differences between meditation styles, you can choose a style of meditation practice to match your goals.
Take the NeuroMeditation Styles Inventory to find out which style is the best fit for you!
Stay tuned for Part II, where we will explore NeuroMeditation as a set of brain-based tools for specific mental health concerns including ADHD, anxiety, depression and “disorders of the self.”