Articles October 2, 2021

Three Types of Meditation

“Meditation can be thought of as the art of awakening. Through the mastering of this art we can learn new ways to approach our difficulties and bring wisdom and joy alive in our life. Through developing meditation’s tools and practices, we can awaken the best of our spiritual and human capacities. The key to this art is the steadiness of our attention. When the fullness of our attention is cultivated together with a grateful and tender heart, our spiritual life will naturally grow.

For many people some healing of mind and body must take place as we start to sit quietly and meditate. To begin our healing, we must develop a basic level of calm and attention. We must find a way to develop our attention systematically and give ourselves to it quite fully. Otherwise, we will drift like a boat without a rudder. To learn to focus clearly, we must choose a prayer or a meditation practice and follow this path with commitment and steadiness...”

— Jack Kornfield, Bringing Home the Dharma

Insight Meditation emphasizes three basic types of meditation: mindfulness, lovingkindness, and concentration. Each of these types includes many different styles of practice. In these Dharma selections, we explore a range of meditation styles, and how they weave into and support each other.

We start with instructions from Margarita Loinaz in the elegant form of mindfulness known as “open awareness,” and then an overview of lovingkindness (mettā) practice from Donald Rothberg. Every form of meditation depends on steadiness of attention, so we include here a comprehensive introduction to concentration from Tina Rasmussen. And we end the set with a conversational talk from Forest Sangha monastic Ajahn Karunadhammo on how concentration can be understood as the quality of “unwavering composure” necessary for all meditation practices.