The simple yet powerful practice of meditation is thousands of years old, yet it is practiced to this day. And that makes sense since meditation is scientifically proven to improve its practitioner’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Furthermore, because it is so easy to do, it is accessible to anyone.
Today, there are various types of meditation being practiced as more people wake up to its benefits. One of these is analytical meditation, which is growing in popularity.
Unlike other types of meditation, analytical meditation centers more around logic than mindfulness or manifestation, which are the focus of stabilizing meditation.
So how can this type of meditation help you in bringing about positive change in your life? Give our tailored article a focus read to find out.
Put very simply, and analytical meditation involves investing time while focusing on a singular concept, idea, or topic using concentration, mindful focus, and steadiness.
This type of meditation is often linked to the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism, through the Lamrim Tradition of Buddhism.
As per the monk’s teachings, analytical meditation involves reflecting on the knowledge and information accumulated throughout one’s life from different sources and interpreting it through logical reasoning.
Why is this important?
Because it paves the way for a constructive mental state wherein addressing and reducing negative thoughts and emotions is easier. Through analytical meditation, personal transformation is possible by means of structured inquiry and examination.
This helps in understanding how you can maximize the potential of your own human intelligence. Say, for example, that you have anger issues that you’re interested in changing.
Through analytical meditation, you would make a concerted effort to reflect on the devastating effects of anger. We have all been privy to the destructive nature of anger, be it on a personal level or on a global scale.
Understand that analytical meditation does not beget daydreaming, nor does it signify a wandering mind. This type of meditation takes considerable time and effort to cultivate, as it is a highly focused and active mental practice.
When Buddhists make use of analytical meditation, it helps them deconstruct an idea to its constituent parts and gain insight into whether that concept should be rejected or accepted.
To grasp analytical meditation, it’s important to set it apart from stabilizing meditation. In the latter, the focus is on stabilizing and calming the mind through focusing on the breath, a mantra, or an object.
This allows one to cultivate mindfulness in the present moment, thus reducing distractions and raising awareness. To do this, however, one is usually required to empty their head of thoughts in order to get closer to one’s higher self and attain inner peace.
On the other hand, analytical meditation requires one to hold a thought, concept, or idea squarely in your mind and examine and evaluate it from all angles to gain insight.
Stabilizing meditation typically focuses on the breath, which reflects your inner state; accordingly, it can be practiced anytime. Analytical meditation, however, involves intentionally filling your mind with thoughts and emotions to cultivate positive qualities.
So, while the goal of stabilizing meditation is calming the mind, in analytical meditation, the goal is to change how you think.
Of course, this also calls for a certain level of mindfulness. But in analytical meditation, active streams of images, thoughts, and emotions lead us to gradually adopt more beneficial habits and ways of thinking.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand that analytical and mindful meditation are not disparate. Rather, they are two sides of the same coin and complement one another while helping you gain insight into your own life.
In fact, successfully meditating analytically is more likely if you’re already well-versed in the art of mindfulness.
How to Practice Analytical Meditation? Things to Do while Practicing Meditation
If you think you’re ready to start practicing analytic meditation, you will find it beneficial to keep the following suggestions in mind.
With your eyes closed, clear your mind of other distractions. What thoughts are agitating you and distracting you?
Slowly filter such thoughts out, and be patient with yourself while doing so. Try focusing on your breath. It helps to feel calm as you inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose.
As you’re breathing, notice your physical sensations. Take note of how each to inhale expands your body while every exhale contracts it.
Notice the relaxation of your muscles. Let everything around you slow down as you continue focusing on your breathing. This is how you can practice mindfulness.
If you’re new to this, try a guided meditation.
Next, gently direct your attention away from your breathing and onto the topic you want to meditate on.
If you find your concentration slipping and moving on to ancillary thoughts and digressions don’t be swayed. Remember, it’s a matter of practice and consistency.
One of the analytical meditation techniques utilizes visualization, which is the use of vivid imagery in understanding constructive emotions.
Many people also find that visualizing their full potential as human beings organically leads to a deeper analysis of the big questions of existence.
It might not be immediately clear how analytic meditation can play a part in your daily meditation practice.
The best way to bring about inner change is to reflect on something you have recently read, seen, or heard that you think would be useful for personal development.
This can be a challenging or difficult idea, or it can be an enlightening one, as well. It all depends on you.
During Buddhist analytical meditation, Tibetan monks reflect on numerous important concepts of existence. These include compassion, love, patience, wisdom, generosity, suffering, impermanence, and death.
Whew! Those are some heavy topics. How can ruminating on these be beneficial?
Well, as the Dalai Lama teaches, this form of Buddhist meditation is all about having the right attitude. Meditating on impermanence is helpful in lessening our attachment to the material, worldly things (such as money and youth) by helping us understand that we’ll eventually outgrow them or lose them.
When meditating on death, we grow a greater awareness of the fragility of life and how quickly and easily we could lose it. This, in turn, increases our gratitude for and towards life.
And when we meditate on the world’s suffering, we are more easily able to escape our self-centered view and open our hearts to others while cultivating compassion. It also helps to release anger harbored toward others.
When practicing analytic meditation, Buddhist monks typically reflect on the following. It can be beneficial for you to do the same, as these are universal ideas that characterize and define humans and humanity.
- How compassion can widen our hearts and help us cherish others
- The negative effects of being egocentric and judging others
- Cause and effect
- The uncertainty and inevitability of death
- Understanding everyone is trying their best.
Now let’s move on to a more specific example. Let’s say that you have a tendency to weep when you feel angry. This makes you feel weak or humiliated.
While those are valid emotions, they are more harmful than you might realize. When meditating on this analytically, you might ask yourself the following questions
- Why do I cry when I get angry?
- Am I sad? Or am I angry?
- Does crying really make me weak, or in reality, actually help to lessen my anger?
- Could it be that crying when angry is better than lashing out at others?
- How can I accept this tendency and stop judging myself for it?
Breaking down something like this through mindful analysis is one of the most valuable meditation techniques. It helps us to really accept what we can’t change (crying when we’re angry) and reject notions that add no value to our lives (crying when we’re angry makes us look weak).
Such conclusions are arrived at through evaluation, deduction, and systematic investigation, as opposed to accepting them at face value. Now, let’s take an ‘Analytical View‘ of these emotions, shall we?
To try a different approach to this style of meditation, it can be helpful to consider the three following questions. Doing so can allow you to evaluate your thoughts more effectively in your daily life.
Why Is This Particular Belief True?
Let’s say you’re feeling anxious in a social setting because you feel like people are judging you. Stop and examine this idea. Did anyone actually pass a judgmental comment, or is your mind just telling you this?
If someone did make such a comment, was what they expressed really about you or themselves?
What Are the Benefits of My Feeling or Thinking This Particular Thought?
Let’s say that, logically, and no one was actually judging you. Now ask yourself, is there any benefit to letting these anxious thoughts get the better of you?
Or are they just making it more difficult for you to assimilate?
What Are the Benefits of Not Thinking or Feeling a Certain Way?
What happens if you don’t give in to your negative thoughts? You’ll most likely end up missing out on having fun with friends and family, meeting new people, or having novel experiences.
Once you can analytically meditate successfully, you will discover changes in how you use your brain.
When you are able to use your knowledge, and your repository of information and facts, to come to solid conclusions, it’s sure a sign your practice of analytical meditation is working to develop your brain.
Successful practitioners of analytical meditation are logical and methodical thinkers who don’t quickly jump to conclusions and only make decisions after careful evaluation of the facts.
The owner of an analytical mind is one that
- Examines all the available evidence
- Loves learning new things
- Is able and willing to have intellectual debates confidently.
Analytic meditation can lead one to develop valuable skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication. However, you should be aware that it may also result in a perfectionist mindset or one that is prone to overanalyzing.
Mental fortitude and conscious effort can help to overcome such mental issues.
Analytical meditation can help distinguish thoughts from the thinker, allowing for greater control over negative characteristics and paving the way for a more intentional mindset.
What’s great about analytical meditation is that with a little bit of effort, even first-time meditators are able to do it with 100% focus. Because we are traveling through a changing story during this practice, our interest is sustained more easily than in other forms of meditation.
Remember that analytical meditation doesn’t mean questioning everything but listening and understanding before drawing our own conclusions.
And when we do, we must remember to apply logic and reason. By introducing a more realistic view, analytic meditation helps to gain clarity about our daily life as well as the bigger picture.