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What Are the Different Types of Chinese Meditation?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The practice of meditation is an ancient one, dating back approximately 2,000 years, if not longer. Many of the different forms of meditation originated in the Eastern hemisphere, primarily in India, Japan, and China, and several different forms of meditation evolved from each country. There are numerous different types of Chinese meditation, but the most well-known and widely practice include Tai Chi, qigong, and Buddhist meditation.

Tai chi is one of the most popular forms of Chinese meditation, not just because of the relaxing mental state that it promotes, but because it is also good for toning the body’s muscles. This form of meditation consists of a series of graceful poses that flow fluidly from one to the next. Tai Chi can be broken down into different types, each focusing on a different aspect, such as developing a strong sense of spirituality or increasing flexibility. While Tai Chi is generally safe, those who have joint problems should speak to a physician before beginning a regimen.

Qigong, also referred to as chi kung, is a form of Chinese mediation that also acts as a system of healing in traditional Chinese medicine. In Chinese, “qi” means "life energy;" qigong focuses on helping the practitioner learn to recognize and harness that energy. The human body is full of involuntary functions, from breathing to digestion. By becoming in tune with those functions, by recognizing the moment when the heart beats faster or respirations become more intense, the practitioner can learn how to counteract those moments by telling the body to relax. Modern biofeedback machines work on the same basic concept.

Buddhist Chinese meditation is a term that actually encompasses a number of different types of meditation, each focusing on a main goal of bringing the practitioner closer to enlightenment. Buddhism originated in India, but was brought to China approximately 500 years later by traders traveling throughout the region. Buddhist meditation can have one of two aims: fostering tranquility or promoting a deeper understanding of the world and the practitioner’s place in it. Although all forms of Chinese meditation are spiritual in nature, meditation is a significant part of the Buddhist system of spirituality.

Excelling in the different types of Chinese meditation involves plenty of practice and discipline. While the methods can be learned from a book, Internet research, a class, or a personal instructor, success depends solely on the practitioner’s level of dedication and patience. For some, meditation comes naturally, but for others it can take years to master.

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Discussion Comments

By stoneMason — On Sep 06, 2013

Chinese meditation is also helpful in sports. I've been practicing martial arts for a few years now. I've just started attending Qi Gong meditation classes to improve my strength, flexibility and stamina. Many martial arts teachers practice meditation. It's great for the body.

By turquoise — On Sep 05, 2013

@anamur-- Indian and Chinese meditation have a lot in common. They both aim to calm the mind and control thoughts and breathing, etc. In fact, both Chinese and Indian meditation are considered to be a part of the same tradition called Dharma, which basically refers to the order of the universe.

Some of the techniques in Hindu and Buddhist meditation are different though. I don't know that much about either, so I can't really tell you what exactly.

The other difference is probably the aim and goal of meditation. As far as I know, the goal of Chinese meditation is to reach the same mindset as Buddha-- to be a Buddha. In Hinduism, meditation is done to liberate the soul by completing the cycles of reincarnation. This is what I know anyway.

If we have any experts in Chinese and Indian meditation among us, please hop in because I'm not an expert.

By serenesurface — On Sep 05, 2013

Tai chi sounds similar to Indian yoga and meditation. What is the difference exactly between Buddhist and Hindu meditation?

By pastanaga — On Sep 04, 2013

I'm really fascinated by Buddhism and the ways in which meditation can improve your well being. I read an article a while ago on "The Happiest Man in the World" and it was about a Buddhist monk (who was a French scientist) who had been practicing their meditation techniques for a long time. He writes books on how to be happy, and they have a lot of techniques and guided meditation on emotions and how to stop letting them rule your life.

They call him the happiest man because, when they did a brain scan of him, his brain was showing the signs of being happy, but at a higher rate than they had ever seen before and it was constant, rather than changing when they got him to look at different pictures and things.

I would definitely recommend his books, because they go into the science of meditation as well as the spiritual side of things.

By Mor — On Sep 03, 2013

@Fa5t3r - Any meditation might be good, but some forms are probably better than others. Tai Chi, for example, has many benefits outside of the mind and builds different habits of mind than other kinds of meditation.

I think that people really need to do a bit of research and figure out what kind of meditation is right for them. If they are looking for inner peace, it might not be enough to just clear their minds every day without any other work on themselves.

By Fa5t3r — On Sep 03, 2013

I think it's unfortunate in a way that meditation has so many different belief structures surrounding it. There's been a lot of research recently into what it does to the brain and how positive it can be, particularly for people who are under stress, but I think people don't want to try it because they think of it as a religious thing.

Meditation techniques can be used by anyone though, and they can be as simple as closing your eyes and concentrating on what you can hear. One of the really good concepts I've heard of recently that breaks it down to a simply form is "mindfulness" and I'd urge anyone who is interested in the benefits of meditation without the trappings and philosophy.

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