Picture this: you’re feeling stressed in your daily life. There’s a lot of work piling up on your plate, and you want to get things done as quickly as possible, but somehow the mind isn’t concentrating, or the mental fatigue is in the way of being productive. Sounds familiar?
Contrary to the misconception of meditation being simply ‘sitting and thinking about nothing, meditation practice is meant to be a method of being aware of your present moment and offers a reprieve from your daily rush. When you take some time for yourself, you can get back to everything else feeling refreshed and improve your physical health and mental well-being. Best of all? There is no right way to meditate – only what works best for you and your needs. Without further ado, here are seven different types of meditation we recommend. Make some time for a meditation session, try them today, and see which techniques and practices suit your lifestyle the most!
What are the benefits of meditation?
There are many benefits of meditation practice, both physical and mental, and it’s essential to recognize that once you begin to work towards a consistent practice, it will positively impact multiple areas of your life. Whether you’ve been experiencing issues with sleep, anxiety disorder, chronic fatigue, or chronic pain, meditation can improve your well-being.
Mindfulness meditation gets its origins from ancient traditions and teachings in Buddhism. It focuses on the present rather than memories of the past or future uncertainties; by combining concentration with patience and awareness, you would simply observe your surroundings and let your thoughts pass by without following them. It could be helpful to zone in on your breathing as you take in the space and time around you.
Practicing mindfulness meditation can be quickly done anywhere, with or without company—you can just sit comfortably and do it. And you will find that many different types of meditation have a root element of mindful meditation.
Also known as progressive relaxation, this meditation technique encourages you to take note of the tensions in your body so that you can release them. There are three main ways you could participate: some practitioners start with one end of the body and think through all their body parts until they are completely relaxed. Others slowly tighten and release a muscle group at a time. The third is to imagine a wave gently drifting through yourself to help relieve tension in separate areas. This type of meditation is most often used before sleeping to unwind at bedtime.
Focusing on your bodily sensations might feel challenging initially, but the more you practice, the more attentive and aware you become of your body and what it’s trying to tell you.
This meditation technique aims to strengthen positive emotions, such as compassion and acceptance, both within oneself and others—hence, loving-kindness meditation. While taking deep breaths, one would open their mind to receive loving kindness from others and, in turn, send out similar messages to loved ones, friends, specific beings, or the world in general. You can also repeat this process as many times as you need to. As a form of meditation that encourages positive energy, loving-kindness meditation would be suitable for potential participants who seek to let go of anger, resentment, frustration, or negativity.
Transcendental meditation involves being seated and breathing slowly, and as the name ‘transcendental meditation’ implies, it has the goal of being able to transcend above your current state of being. Practitioners will focus on a repeated mantra—a single word or series of words—as they participate in a session. It is recommended to have a certified meditation teacher be involved in choosing your mantra and helping you work through your meditation so that your session can be fully personalized and provide the best results for yourself. It would suit those who want to explore a deeper connection to mindfulness than the beforementioned mindfulness meditation.
A meditation technique that encourages mindful breathing; while it contains elements of mindfulness meditation, there is a slight difference in the finer details between the two practices. Where mindfulness meditation would have involved letting your thoughts come in and out of your mind freely, breath-awareness focuses entirely on breathing and ignores all other ideas that enter your consciousness. Counting breaths or between breaths applies to this focus but is not required. Since it is an offshoot of mindfulness meditation, breath-awareness meditation's benefits are much the same for any potential practitioners.
This type of meditation is prominent in many teachings, such as Hindu traditions and Buddhist practices. Practitioners repeat a sound out loud to clear the mind; it can be a sound, a word, or a phrase. One of the most common is “om.” This repetitive sound becomes your mantra, and it can be spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting the mantra for a while, you’ll find yourself more in tune with your environment, and become more alert to your surroundings, thus allowing you to achieve a deeper understanding of the present moment. Mantra meditation can be enjoyed by those who find it easier to focus on a word or sound instead of their breath or enjoy the vibration it creates in their body. It is also suited for those who don’t like silence and enjoy repetition.
Where most meditation techniques will ask you to be still and sit quietly, movement meditation focuses on your body in motion. Activities in this meditation practice may include walking, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, and many more. Being more committed to physical sensations can be very beneficial; like mantra meditation, this practice also utilizes repetition to deepen awareness of your body and present moment. When you are ready to take it further, your consciousness can include any kind of motion: gardening, showering, etc. This is best suited for practitioners who concentrate better while moving or have trouble staying still.
In addition to all types listed above, there are a couple of other meditation styles to consider as a way of reaching inner harmony or even achieving spiritual growth:
Guided imagery meditation
Meditation, as a whole, can be very beneficial for your body and mind, and not just to relieve stress. Studies have also linked meditation to better sleep, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure or chronic pain, and more physical and mental health improvements in everyday life.
Although we have only listed seven types of meditation here, there are many techniques and practices that either have similar elements or entirely different meditation types. There is no correct answer to ‘what is the best type of meditation’ because so many meditation types work towards bettering yourself in various capacities and cannot be thoroughly compared. The best way to start is to find a comfortable position and begin.