With so many styles of meditation available with different benefits, how does one know which type to try? And… does Vedic Meditation offer different benefits than other kinds?
An understanding of the 3 forms of meditation can help to differentiate Vedic Meditation techniques from other types
What is Meditation
The dictionary definition of meditation is, “continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.” Though many kinds of meditation do involve continued reflection and contemplation, Vedic Meditation does not. It doesn’t fit the dictionary definition at all, since there is no intentional thinking involved.
In fact, here are 10 distinguishing factors about Vedic Meditation that are different from most other forms:
- You cannot learn Vedic Meditation online. It can only be learned in person with a qualified instructor.
- Thinking and thoughts are allowed during a Vedic Meditation, and the presence of thoughts does not determine the quality of the meditation.
- There’s no such thing as a guided Vedic Meditation. The Vedic Meditator doesn’t listen to a track or speaker.
- Vedic Meditation is based on the tradition of the 5,000 year old Vedic texts, so it’s been helping people for a very long time.
- There is a worldwide community of Vedic Meditators, as well as a worldwide community of Vedic Meditation instructors who have learned in-person with Thom
- Only the qualified instructors know the mantras. Qualified instructors are those who have been through 12 weeks of training with Thom. Each meditator only knows their own mantra.
- Vedic Meditation mantras cannot be found online. Once the meditator receives their mantra from their qualified instructor, they do not share it.
- Where most forms of meditation recommend 10 minute – 1 hour meditation sessions once a day, a Vedic Meditator practices for twenty minutes twice each day.
- The singular purpose of the Vedic Meditation technique is to release stress from the body.
- Vedic Meditation is designed for people with busy lives, and works for those with busy minds or ‘overthinkers’
To see the differences between these characteristics versus other kinds of meditation techniques, it’s helpful to understand what other kinds of meditation are widely practiced.
The three types of meditation are contemplative, concentration-based, and hypnotic. Each kind provides unique benefits and contrasts to Vedic Meditation.
What is contemplative meditation?
Contemplative meditation involves rumination or pondering for a period of time– from 5 minutes to endless years. A contemplative meditator might think about a passage from a holy text, or a problem in their life that they’d like to solve.
The differentiating factor of contemplative meditation is that the meditator purposefully thinks about a single topic for an extended period of time, to the exclusion of all other thoughts. It is an active thinking process, so while the mind may discover insights or new relationships between ideas, the mind will not reach a state of rest.
How is Vedic Meditation different from contemplation?
Vedic Meditation is not in the category of contemplative meditation, since there is no intentional thinking about any topic in particular. Thoughts may arise in Vedic Meditation, but as the mantra comes in and out of our awareness, the thoughts also quieten and change forms.
A meditator in contemplation may ponder the wonder of the galaxy with intense concentration, while a Vedic meditator may have any number of random thoughts arise: the color of Jupiter, tomorrow’s lunch meeting, or a favorite movie. For the Vedic Meditator, the mantra will arise naturally amidst the random thoughts to direct their attention effortlessly. A Vedic mantra meditation includes other thoughts, rather than excluding all but one thought, as in contemplative meditation.
The benefits of contemplation vs the benefits of the Vedic Meditation technique
The ability of the mantra to guide the mind to a thought-free state, even for brief moments, allows the body to rest deeply. Vedic Meditators may or may not remember what thoughts came up in meditation with their mantra, while a contemplative meditator will certainly remember their topic of extended concentration. The reward for Vedic meditation is deep rest in the mind and body, while the reward of contemplation is often a new intellectual insight.
What is concentration-based meditation?
The second form of meditation involves intense concentration. This is the style that requires a meditator to concentrate on not thinking or on their breath, guided visualizations, or body scans. Manifestation meditations also fall into this category (thought it is also very contemplative as well). Many people who experience overthinking or a busy mind find this form of meditation challenging and even frustrating – like trying not to think of pink elephants… and therefore thinking only of pink elephants.
This form of meditation may have the participant concentrate on their breathing, or their sensory inputs, or on a guided listening track. Over time, the mind may be able to concentrate more effectively to think about only one thing, like training a muscle. This form of meditation is basically focus training, which works well for some people and not so well for others.
How Concentration and Vedic Meditation are Different
Concentration is the opposite of Vedic Meditation, since Vedic Meditation is effortless and thoughts are allowed.
The Vedic Meditator does not force their mind to do anything. They have a personalized mantra that is a meaningless sound, which naturally arises in their awareness and subtly floats away when thoughts appear. The transition back and forth from the mantra to the thoughts requires no effort, and the thoughts are no measure of the ‘depth’ or effectiveness of the meditation.
The mantra spontaneously repeats and draws the mind inward, to more and more restful states. As thoughts arise, stress releases, and the body is still able to relax further in to rest. With concentration, however, the mind is unable to rest. Concentration and force keep the mind alert.
The benefits of each type
Though concentration may result in a better ability to focus out of intense mental training, Vedic meditation allows the mind to focus effortlessly as it feels the need to distract itself less and less.
Incessant thinking comes from an unhappy mind. A stressed mind will endlessly search for something to make it feel better. Concentration is like forcing the mind to stop searching for something satisfying, which is futile. Even when intense focus is established, the stress and unhappiness are still in the background.
The Vedic Meditator experiences effortless focus once their meditations have led them to experience effortless thought-free state of Being. The mantra– a sound vibration with no intended meaning that effortlessly pulses in the background of the mind– will charm the mind to become quieter as it becomes more and more subtle through the meditation. Eventually, the mantra vanishes, and the mind is left in a state of pure consciousness, or being. This is a wholly satisfying state for the mind to experience, so the mind does not generate more thoughts to remedy its dissatisfaction.
With repetition, thoughtlessness will be more and more effortless outside of meditation as well… which means the mind can focus easily and without effort. It also means the mind can feel content, quiet, and happy without effort.
What is hypnosis meditation?
Hypnosis is a method by which one focuses on an image, a desire, a sensation, or a sensory input. There may be emotion charging this point of focus. The idea is to convince oneself of an idea that so far isn’t true, or to access the subconscious mind. Hypnosis includes visualization techniques and sometimes sounds or words repeated to affect the brain’s memory and recognition systems.
How is it different from Vedic Meditation?
Hypnosis involves controlling a person’s perceptions, or controlling outcomes by bringing one idea to the mind repetitively. Since Vedic Meditation brings rest to the mind and body through complete effortlessness, it is very different from hypnosis. The meditator does not attempt to prioritize thoughts or direct their attention. Even as the mantra arises in their mind, there is no force behind it.
Hypnosis results in a trance-like state that can be called meditation, but the state can also happen while someone is doing basic tasks or speaking with their eyes open. This means it can be used therapeutically to affect the subconscious… but it also means it can be used to manipulate.
When one person can get another person into a hypnotic state – through a guided meditation or unsolicited conversation – the hypnotizer has persuasion power over the hypnotisee. Like any psychological bypassing tool, hypnosis can be used helpfully or it can destabilize the mind, create or worsen traumas, or bend someones will in a way they wouldn’t want if they knew what was happening.
Benefits of hypnosis vs Vedic Meditation
Hypnosis can bring desirable feelings up as the meditator thinks about desirable situations or images that they are wanting to manifest. It may alter the mood, but it does not offer the mind or body the rest needed to release stress. This means that once the good feelings dissipate, the body and mind are still as stressed as they were before. Even if a therapist is able to address trauma in the subconscious of a person in a hypnotized state, the psychological associations and triggers may change, but the stored stress in the body will stay the same.
Hypnosis may also provide a sense of control to the meditator, as they feel they are working toward manifesting something they want. But without releasing stress from the body, the mind cannot sustain peaceful and happy feelings.
Lastly, hyposis works on the level of suggestibility of the person being hypnotized. In fact, it will only work if one is open to the suggestions of others. In Vedic Meditation, a meditator becomes less suggestible to the ideas of others. Vedic Meditators become more resilient and resolute in their own ways of thinking and authenticity and become un-hypnotizable.
To learn more about Vedic Meditation and how to learn, click here.