Glossary Of 60 Meditation Terms You Need To Know About

Glossary Of 60 Meditation Terms You Need To Know About

Meditation has a language and culture of its own. There are key concepts and terms you must know if you want to practice meditation seriously. These terms are ancient, and often have multiple roots.

Meditation 101

Meditation has seen a magnificent global revival in recent years. But this form of healthy living is ancient knowledge.

It has Tibetan, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain roots at the very least. There may be numerous more influences which have been lost in the annals of history.

For your benefit, we’ve put together a comprehensive glossary of 60 terms you need to know when it comes to meditation.

Contrary to popular opinion, meditation is not just a set of mental exercises.

It is spiritual, religious, and philosophical. It is a way of life.

The Glossary of meditation terms:

Given that terms might have different roots; we’ve mentioned the roots of the phrase in brackets wherever necessary.

Chakras: The energy centers of the body. Chakras are amongst the oldest concepts in the history of meditation. There are seven in total: root, sacrum (lower back), solar plexus (pit of the stomach), heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Each chakra has a unique color, element, syllable, and meaning.

Kundalini: The ‘coiled’ energy believed to reside at the base of your spine. The goal of meditation is to release or awaken this energy. (Hinduism)

Bandhan: Performed before and after each meditation session to balance your channels. Traditionally, bandhans are performed after you have elevated your Kundalini.

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Catches: The object of meditation, regarding energy, is to transfer your Kundalini energy through various chakras and hence elevate it to a higher form. The catch is said to occur when this process is blocked at one of the chakras.

Mala: It is a string of 108 beads. Buddhist monks use it in meditation and chanting rituals. It is similar to the rosary of the Catholic faith.

Mantra: A word, phrase, or syllable chanted and focused on during meditation. Not all meditation techniques require mantras.

Japa: The repetition or chanting of the mantra is called “Japa” in Hindi.

Mindfulness: A much more recent concept, it refers to being aware of your present surroundings.  You should let thoughts move in and out of your mind on their own while breathing gently. Each idea should be treated without judgment and

Nirvana: Not the band! The closest English approximation is enlightenment. You are said to achieve nirvana when your mind is completely at peace and immune to any worldly temptations.

Shamatha: Meditation practice that seeks to calm the mind by being mindful of your breathing. (Buddhism)

Tonglen: An unusual form of compassion meditation. One practitioner breathes in the suffering of another and breathes out positive energy to heal that pain. (Tibetan Buddhism)

Transcendental Meditation: Involves detaching you from life’s anxieties using chants. Interestingly enough, it was popularized by the Beatles’ guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 60s.

Zen: A traditional school of Mahayan Buddhism that focusses on the attainment of nirvana and zazen meditation.

Zafu: A round pillow used for meditation. (Zen)

Zazen: Similar to mindfulness, it requires detachment from your thoughts and feelings. It involves letting go of all judgment. (Zen)

Zendo: The place where monks gather to practice meditation together. (Zen)

Asana: Your body posture during meditation. There are many different asanas. Some examples are Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swastikasana, Bhadrasana, and Simhasana.

Bandha: Literally meaning lock, it refers to various muscle locks and contractions that are used in yoga. Certain contractions can help improve blood flow, and also aid in self-healing.

Dhyana: Sanskrit term for deep meditation.

Feedback Method: This is a method of meditation where light signals are used to confirm the practitioner’s attention and keep him/her focused.

Kinemantra Meditation: KM meditation is a technique combining meditation with psycho-kinesiology to make meditation easier and more accessible. At its heart, it remains a form of chanting meditation.

Om: The original chant, and claimed to be the most powerful mantra of them all.

Passage Meditation: Meditation involving repetition of motivational, spiritual passages about religion and theology.

Swara Yoga: Most meditation and yoga is pranayama, which is controlling and storing the body’s prana. It refers to the analysis of your breath and pranic rhythms using meditation.

Trataka: The meditative practice of “yogic gazing”. In simpler terms, it means focusing on an object for some time and then trying to visualize it with eyes closed. It helps with concentration, eyesight, and determination.

Dharana: The act of concentrating your mind at a single point and holding it there for as long as possible. It is a standard method of sharpening your focus.

Laya Yoga: Meditation practice aimed at elevating kundalini using meditation, chants, pranayama, and yoga asanas.
The closest translation would be “liberation”.

Lotus Position: The now famous cross-legged position that is seen in almost all Hindu meditative practices.

Mudra: The position you must put your hands in during meditation.

Mandala: A geometric drawing or diagram which is used in meditation to aid reflection on your life and the universe.

Bhramari: A pranayama technique. It involves restricted breathing after partially covered ears, eyes, and nose using your fingers. It is quite popular and is known for its healing effects.

Dharma: Living in an Anglo-centric world, it ‘s hard to understand this highly significant There is no direct translation into English.
It has multiple meanings in different religions – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. To give an example, in Buddhism, it refers to the cosmic law and order.

Samadhi: This means slightly different things in Hindu meditation and Buddhist meditation. In the former, it means being in a meditative union with the absolute energy. In the latter, it refers to a state of awareness that comes before complete self-realization.

Astral Body: This one is a bit complicated. According to the Vedas (see below), you are made of your physical self, causal self, and astral self. Your astral body looks like you but is made of different matter. It abandons the physical body during sleep, unconsciousness, and death.

Aura: An energy field is surrounding every person. It can be perceived through visual colors, sounds, or even feelings.

Avatar: The reincarnated, physical manifestation of a deity. (Hinduism)

Bodhisattva: Someone who has achieved nirvana and has no need of the physical form anymore – but they stay on Earth to help other people. (Buddhism)

Dualism: This refers to the explanation of meditation philosophy and theology regarding two opposing forces or principles: good and evil. Other examples of dualist systems are psychology and metaphysics.

Nirvikalp Samadhi: This is, in all its grandeur, a state of veritable super consciousness. It is the goal of all living creatures, and all human faculties cease at this point.

Prana: This is the Sanskrit word for vital energy or life force that moves all things.

Atma: The Sanskrit term for the soul.

Alaya: A higher state of consciousness that people should seek to attain. It is latently present and only needs to be discovered. (Mahayana Buddhism)

Avidya: Ignorance, which is said to be a prime vice or the source of all other vices. (Buddhism)

Tandra: The state of higher consciousness that lies between sleeping and waking that is achieved in focused

Tantra: Deriving from the original Indian spiritual science taught 7,000 years ago, it refers to fundamental teachings for nudging all humans towards perfection.

Daya: God’s mercy or grace.

Maitri or Metta: Lovingkindness.

Ashram: The place where swamis, or yogis, live together. They pray, meditate, eat, and provide shelter to the homeless.

Buddha: The term Buddha may refer to any individual who has attained enlightenment. The most famous of these was, of course, Siddhartha Gautama. He renounced his princely life searching for the meaning of life and started Buddhism.

Lama: Teacher or Master. Chief among the Lamas, of course, is the Dalai Lama. (Tibetan Buddhism)

Rinpoche: Literally meaning “the precious ” It is a respectful way of addressing highly knowledgeable and venerated teachers. (Tibetan Buddhism)

Sangha: A community of Buddhists or other monks living in the ashram (see above).

Sutra: Buddhist or Jain scriptures. Also used to refer to Hindu aphorisms.

Brahmacharya: It has two popular Firstly, it refers to someone who has immersed himself or herself in spiritual awareness. Secondly, it relates to a celibate.

Guru: A learned master in meditation and philosophy who can guide seekers of the truth down the right path.

Ida and Pingla Nadis: The Ida and Pingla Nadis are two of the most important channels in the human body. They represent extroverted and introverted behavior and determine empathetic responses to other people.

Sandhya: The times of dawn and dusk. These times are said to be ideal for meditation practice.

Third Eye: A tool for sensing realities beyond our own. (Hinduism)

Veda: The Vedas are the collection of arguably the greatest Hindu scriptures of all. These contain the core of Hindu philosophy.

Chela: The Guru’s Apprentice whom the Guru has established a relationship of guidance with.

Final Remarks

So, there you have it. A guide to what’s what in the meditation world.

Meditation is an undeniably enriching experience. Learning the relevant terms will not only help you understand it better but also appreciate the wealthy and ancient cultural heritage that it comes from.

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