In a study by MIT and Harvard, Anne Trafton, MIT News Office researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms. These activity patterns are thought to minimize distractions, to diminish the likelihood stimuli will grab your attention,” says Christopher Moore, an MIT neuroscientist and senior author of the paper. “Our data indicate that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you.” Similarly, a 1966 study showed that a group of Buddhist monks who meditated regularly had elevated alpha rhythms across their brains. In the new study, the researchers focused on the waves’ role in a specific part of the brain — cells of the sensory cortex that process tactile information from the hands and feet (for more information read http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/meditation-0505.html.
I have been practicing different types of meditation practices over the years. Initialy I was introduced to a guided meditation, and then I also explored zen (za zen) and the Art of Living - kriya. These days my meditation practice consists of guided meditation, Surdhasan kriya breathing techniques, and positive affirmations.
The important thing is to set aside time to meditate regularly and make it a habit, even if you just start with 5 or 10 min a day and then extend it to 30 min a day. Meditation before sleep can especially help people having trouble sleeping or suffering from insomnia. Play with different meditation techniques and find what works for you. In my sessions I teach my clients self-hypnosis and guided meditation with visualization which is easier to follow.
1. Mindfulness, also called ‘Vipassana’, comes from the Buddhist tradition. Mindfulness is taught along with an awareness on the breath, though the breathing is often considered to be just one sensation among many others, not a particular focus.
2. Zazen is the generic term for seated meditation in the Buddhist tradition, but in the modern Zen tradition, it is often referred to as ‘just sitting’. It is a minimal kind of meditation, done for long periods of time, with little instruction beyond the basics of posture (sit with your back straight).
3. Transcendental Meditation is a simplified practice that emerges from Vedanta, the meditative tradition within Hinduism. In TM, you sit with your back straight (ideally in the Lotus or half-Lotus posture), and use a mantra, a sacred word that is repeated.
4. Kundalini is another practice that comes from Vedanta. Kundalini is the name for the rising stream of energy that exists in a human being (there is also a downward stream, not emphasized in Kundalini). The aim of Kundalini meditation is to become aware of that rising stream, and to ride the stream to infinity.
5. Guided visualization is a popular form of meditation that involves concentration upon an image or imaginary environment. It is usually done while listening to a recording.
(For more on meditaiton practices also check http://www.iam-u.org/index.php/8-basic-kinds-of-meditation-and-why-you-should-meditate-on-your-heart.