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Meditation can mean many things, no doubt due largely to the vast array of different practices that fall under this label. Some of the most common forms relevant to HP include:
- Mindfulness meditations, in which mindful awareness is brought to one or more aspects of immediate experience. This would include varieties of breath meditation common to Buddhist, Yogic, Pagan, and other traditions, as well as Thomas Schenk’s bicycle meditation and Seton Sitting.
- Visualization meditations, in which one visualizes in the mind’s eye an image or series of images (involving any of the five senses, not just vision). These would include many of the guided visualizations common in Pagan circles, some forms of Buddhism, and other traditions. A particularly common Pagan visualization is “grounding” by visualizing a root extending from the the spine down into the earth.
- Ecstatic meditations, in which one is in some sense taken “out of oneself” (from ex- “out” and -histanai “to cause to stand” – Merriam-Webster). These would include the “journey” of Michael Harner’s Core Shamanism, astral traveling, and other forms where one is in some sense taken “out of oneself” (ecstasis = ). Channeling and possession might be related practices, though in these cases one is not taken out of oneself so much as something is taken in.
- Contemplative meditations, in which active reflection and cogitation play important roles. Books which collect short ponderings as “meditations” (such as Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations) may fall into this category.
The Tree of Contemplative Practices is a graphic organizing a variety of practices, most of which could be called meditations of different sorts.
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