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There are two different types of Hindu meditation, each with its own focus. In one type of meditation, a practitioner might choose to focus his energy on an object he selected before beginning his meditation, such as a flower or a rock. The second type of meditation, called mindfulness meditation, involves the practitioner focusing on his perception or experience while meditating. Hindu meditation comes in dozens of forms, each with its own set of philosophies and techniques used to help the practitioner achieve a meditative state. The meditative state is supposed to be calm and allow the practitioner to concentrate clearly, seeing himself as he truly is and not as he is perceived in the world.
Hindu meditation is normally practiced along with yoga. The practitioner engages in one of several forms of yoga to help clear his mind and prepare for his meditation. Different types of yoga employed for pre-meditative purposes include Vedanta, Japa, Raja and Surat Shabd.
A practitioner of Hindu yoga ultimately seeks to achieve union with his atman and Brahman. The atman represents a person’s true self, not attached to the events in this world. Brahman is the supreme god in Hinduism, and assists a person in achieving a true meditative state.
Those who practice Hindu meditation also recite mantras. These mantras are designed to assist a practitioner with concentrating on meditation and not on any events outside of the body or in the practitioner’s thoughts in his mind. Practitioners often repeat the syllable “ohm” or “ahh” to help with concentration. The person might also visualize a Hindu deity of his choice, which also helps the practitioner focus on his meditative state and not on distractions.
Practitioners may also use other aids to help him achieve a meditative state. One such aid is to shut oneself off from the senses, lessening the likelihood of distractions. Controlling one’s breath also helps a practitioner in seeking a meditative state. A person might also focus his mind on a single point or thought, not deviating from it during the entire meditation session, to aid in his shutting out other thoughts and outside influences.
Meditation has been referenced in several Hindu theology texts. Examples can be found in the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Mahabharata. A practitioner of Hindu meditation does not need to believe in any or all Hindu theological teachings, but being aware of some Hindu teachings can help enrich the practitioner’s experience. Some Christians have infused Christian teachings with Hindu yoga positions in a quest to teach Christian theology.