Mindfulness: Two Main Branches of Meditation

Mindfulness:  Two Main Branches of Meditation


#1       Concentration Practice (sometimes called Samadhi)

This is where most people begin their meditation practice. Here we practice focusing our attention on something neutral (i.e., our breath, sound/mantra, candle flame, etc.)

  • We assume the so-called “regal posture” meaning not slouching or lying down. Our goal is NOT to fall asleep but to learn how to concentrate/focus better.
  • We sit in a comfortable chair and usually either close or partially close our eyes. If we wish to sit on the floor or a cushion that is always an option. It is of course the more traditional sitting arrangement.
  • Then simply pay attention to our breathing. Don’t try to do anything different with our breathing at this point.
  • Whenever we notice our mind wandering (guaranteed to happen) simply bring the focus of our mind back to our breath.
  • This is a way to build concentration.

#2       Insight Practice (sometimes called Vipassana)

  • Maintain the above sitting posture.
  • Now instead of bring the mind back to focus, let it go to wherever it goes.
  • Instead of just paying attention to our breath or sound/mantra, candle flame, etc., we actually pay attention to the thoughts
  • In fact we may pay attention to our thoughts, feelings, memories, joys, or worries.
  • As such we will notice that everything is changing all the time, and that nothing lasts forever.
  • Here we want to pay more attention to process than to content.
  • It is by “staying with” these thoughts or feelings that we begin to achieve insight into them. This is a powerful and productive process in itself.

I encourage you to begin with the first concentration process and then make your way into the second insight process. Again, it is about practice. Taking 10-15 minutes each day is a great start. You can always increase your time and methods.

One of the most important things is to try your best not to be self-critical or judgmental. There will be plenty more to learn about Meditation as you progress. It may be helpful to find a mentor or even attend a Mindfulness class or retreat to get added instruction and support. Peace will be yours for the practicing!

Tim Berry

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