Different Meditation Types and Choosing the Right One for You
Meditation is a part of the ancient tradition - some of the oldest records of meditation date back to 1500 BCE India, where it was referred to as The Training of the Mind. However, thanks to the many meditation benefits that have a calming and regenerative impact on the whole organism, this age-old technique is practiced to this day worldwide.
Although many people still believe that meditation is closely related to religion, this is not the case. Instead, it's more related to mental growth, self-awareness, finding peace and inspiration as well as solutions to seemingly unsolvable circumstances - and you can practice it regardless of the faith and tradition you were born into.
If you're ready to get started with your meditation journey but are unsure how, keep reading to find out all about different meditation types and their benefits.
15 Different Types of Meditation
Although generally, there is no right or wrong way to practice meditation, it's still important to find the right technique that suits your sensibility, lifestyle, and needs. So, here's a list of the most popular meditation types - you can try several until you find the right one for you:
#1: Focused Attention Meditation
This type of meditation is also known as breath awareness meditation as it involves mindful breathing, where practitioners focus all their attention on their breaths and sometimes counting them. It's pretty straightforward - take deep breaths, breathe slowly, focus on the air filling your lungs, and then exhale and feel the airstream through your nostrils. If, at any point, your mind wanders away from your breath, which is bound to happen, especially if you're only starting out, acknowledge your thoughts and refocus on your breath.
This type of meditation brings many benefits, such as reduced anxiety, greater emotional awareness and flexibility, and improved concentration.
#2: Progressive Relaxation Meditation
This meditation type is also called body scan and is tailored to harmonize your mind and body by doing a mental body scan, from head to toes. Starting from the very top of your head and ending at the tip of your toes, or vice versa, starting from your feet and going all the way up, scan your body and notice any sensations and discomfort. If you notice any tensions, try to release them. Some people do this technique by actively tensing a group of muscles and then relaxing them.
This meditation type is designed to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. Some research shows that it can also help with chronic pain and insomnia.
#3: Noting Meditation
This meditation technique aims to notice and label experiences and thoughts as they arise while focusing on your breath, mantra, etc. The goal isn't to refocus your attention on your breath, for example, but to concentrate on whatever is distracting you, be it a thought, emotion, or a sensation. Some practitioners label those experiences with a single word, such as 'thrill,' 'warmth' or 'resistance.'
Noting allows a practitioner to increase overall awareness, stay present in the moment, and find out more about their thought patterns and conditioning in order to find a way to let go.
#4: Visualization Meditation
In this meditation technique, practitioners focus on mental imaging of a figure, scene, or object instead of a breath. It involves visualizing something or someone vividly, using all the senses, and conjuring as much detail as possible. And by doing so, they're able to observe how their mind works and pay attention to any physical sensations.
Another form of visualization meditation is envisioning yourself accomplishing specific goals, which increases motivation, boosts your mood, and helps you recognize your priorities.
#5: Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, involves cultivating positive feelings, such as love, kindness, compassion, and acceptance, towards everybody - starting from ourselves and then towards others, including those that cause us some type of stress or any other negative feelings. It usually involves sending loving messages, goodwill, and positive energy to specific people or the world. The goal is to repeat the message as many times as needed until you feel the attitude of compassion and kindness.
This meditation technique aims to open your mind to loving-kindness and let go of any unhappy feelings you may be holding onto, such as grudge and resentment.
#6: Skillful Compassion Meditation
In many ways, this type of meditation is similar to the previous one, the loving-kindness meditation. The only difference is that, during this meditation, we're focusing only on people we love and care about and paying attention to the feelings that arise. By cultivating compassion towards other people, we're allowing our own mind to nourish a feeling of happiness.
#7: Resting Awareness Meditation
Resting awareness meditation technique, or as some call it, resting in awareness, allows your mind to truly rest. Without pursuing any thoughts and feelings, or focusing on the breath or mantra, you're allowing yourself to simply be, feel the air and sounds surrounding you, and become one with them.
Naturally, there will be thoughts coming to mind. But instead of trying to repress them, let them come and go, and gently come back to the present moment and the soundscape. This type of meditation helps relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
#8: Reflection Meditation
Reflection meditation is also known as gratitude meditation as it involves practicing thinking of all the things in our lives we’re grateful for. These things can be large or small - for example, a recovery from an illness or a tasty cup of coffee - it doesn’t matter as long as you evoke the feelings of gratitude and appreciation.
Meditators usually ask themselves a question using a second person instead of the first, like, What are you grateful for today? This type of question will discourage them to answer rationally but rather focus on the feelings that arise when asking it.
The rewards of gratitude meditation are improved general well-being, better sleep, lower depression, and greater confidence and trust. Research suggests that the benefits of this meditation technique are felt almost instantly and that practicing it only once can already enhance your well-being.
#9: Zen Meditation
Zen meditation, also known as Zazen, is an ancient Buddhist tradition, and it involves sitting in a specific way and following the breath. Zen meditators usually practice it with a teacher or a guide as it requires particular postures and steps. This technique aims to focus on the breath coming in and out of your belly and letting the mind do whatever it wants without judgment or labeling.
Zazen provides insight into one's workings of the mind and may bring some benefits to those looking for stress relief and a new spiritual path.
#10: Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation is the most common form of transcendental meditation. It involves sitting comfortably, having your eyes closed, and repeating a mantra in your mind. The mantra can be one syllable, a word, or one phrase that a teacher assigns to their practitioners based on several factors, such as the practitioner's date of birth, for example.
This mantra creates specific sounds and vibrations that stimulate positive change in a meditator, like increased compassion or self-confidence. This technique can also bring you into a deeper state of meditation, where you may transcend or, in other words, rise above your current state of being.
#11: Yoga Meditation
This technique involves practicing Kundalini yoga, the combination of specific movements and deep breathing or repeating a mantra. While practicing this type of yoga, neuromuscular changes happen in your body, strengthening the nervous system and allowing you to better deal with stress and day-to-day problems.
Research also suggests that this technique may reduce pain and improve physical strength as well as overall mental health.
#12: Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation is one of the oldest meditation techniques practiced and taught more than 2500 years ago in India. Back then, this technique was believed to be a universal remedy for all illnesses and was referred to as the Art of Living. It’s a type of mindfulness meditation, and the word Vipassana comes from the ancient Buddhism language and means seeing things as they really are or an insight into the true nature of reality.
It involves simply observing your inner self, observing your thoughts and emotions without analyzing, evaluating, or dwelling on them. The idea is that only through this self-observation and understanding of those feelings, thoughts, and judgments, one can truly feel free and full of love and compassion.
#13: Chakra Meditation
The chakra system originates in ancient India and is described in the oldest scriptures of Sanskrit literature, in the so-called Vedas. According to the Veda scholars, each person possesses seven chakras, which in the Sanskrit language mean disks or wheels, referring to the whirling circular energy points that unite body, mind, and spirit. The seven chakras include: the Crown Chakra or Sahasrara, located in the head; the Third Eye Chakra or Ajna, located on the forehead between the eyes; the Throat Chakra or Vishuddha, located at the base of the throat; the Heart Chakra or Anahata, located in the chest; the Solar Plexus Chakra or Manipura, situated in the belly button area; the Sacral Chakra or Svadhisthana, located inside the pelvis; and the Root Chakra or Muladhara, located at the base of the spine.
Chakras that are imbalanced or blocked can lead to a variety of both mental and physical discomforts or illnesses. Chakra meditation is an umbrella term for a number of meditation techniques that aim to clear those blocked chakras and keep them balanced, open, and aligned. With these energies wide open, they are floating freely throughout the body, allowing you to create a strong connection between the body and the mind. This type of meditation promotes relaxation, calm, and spiritual awakening.
#14: Qigong Meditation
Originating from ancient China, qigong meditation, pronounced chee-gong, is a healing practice that combines gentle movements, controlled breathing, and meditation. According to traditional Chinese medicine, different ailments usually result from the blocked energy in the body, when qi, the energy or vital life force, can't flow freely through the twelve meridians, or segments, of the body.
During qigong meditation, a practitioner is cultivating the energy from nature and sending it into their body, helping it heal; or sending it outward, helping heal somebody else.
#15: Sound Bath Meditation
During this meditation technique, meditators are “bathing” in healing sound waves. These sound waves are produced by various instruments, such as singing bowls, gongs, chimes, percussion, tuning forks, or rattles. In some cases, the source of the sound is the human voice itself. The idea is that these sounds create healing vibrations, helping focus the mind, balance it, and bring it into a calmer state.
To Wrap Up
Meditation doesn't promise to solve all your problems, and there is, certainly, no guarantee for eternal happiness. With all its challenges and uncertainties, life will continue to happen around you. However, meditation can help you change the way you relate to those things and how you look at the circumstances around you and react to them. Through consistent practice and willingness to be open and explore, the change that meditation brings will happen, but gradually and subtly. It involves a growing sense of awareness and understanding, which can eventually change your view of yourself, others, and your entire life.