6 Different types of Meditation
6 different types of Meditation. What’s the best type for you?
Meditation offers time for relaxation and awareness in the stressful world we call home, where our senses are often dulled through overstimulation. However, research suggests that meditation has the potential for more than just temporary stress relief. So what is it good for and what type suits your needs? Find out below!
Educators, spiritual leaders, and mental health experts have developed dozens of forms of meditation. The variety suggests there is a form of meditation to suit most people, regardless of personality or lifestyle.
For someone who meditates, the practice offers a chance to improve not only physical wellbeing but emotional health as well. However, there is no "right way" to meditate, this means you can explore all the different types until you find one that works best. However, I can narrow down some options for you to start with!
Types of meditation
The following seven examples are some of the best-known ways to meditate:
1. Loving-kindness meditation
With the many types of meditation to try, there should be one to suit most individuals.
Loving-kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. The goal of Loving-kindness meditation is to create an attitude of love and kindness towards everything, even a person's enemies and/or sources of stress. While breathing deeply, you open your mind to receiving loving-kindness. You then send messages of loving-kindness to the world, to specific people, or to your loved ones. In most forms of this meditation, the key is to repeat the message many times, until the user feels an attitude of loving-kindness.
Loving-kindness meditation is designed to promote feelings of compassion and love, both for others and oneself.
It can help those affected by:
This type of meditation may increase positive emotions and have been linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress or PTSD.
2. Body scan or progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation, sometimes called “body scan meditation”, is a meditation that encourages people to scan their bodies for areas of tension. The goal is to notice tension and allow it to release. During a progressive relaxation session, you start at one end of your body, usually the feet, and work through the whole. Some forms of progressive relaxation require people to tense and then relax muscles. Others encourage a person to visualize a wave, drifting over their body to release tension throughout the body. Progressive relaxation can help to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. It may also help with chronic pain because it slowly and steadily relaxes the body, some people (like me!) use this form of meditation to help them sleep.
3. Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that urges you to remain aware and present at the moment. Rather than dwelling on the past or dreading the future, mindfulness brings awareness of a person's existing surroundings. Crucial to this is a lack of judgment. So, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a long wait or any other stress in the day, a practitioner will simply note the wait without any judgment.
Mindfulness meditation is something people can do anywhere! While waiting in line at the grocery store, for example, a person might calmly notice their surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells they experience.A form of mindfulness is involved in most kinds of meditation. Breath awareness encourages users to be aware of their breathing, while progressive relaxation draws attention to areas of tension in the body.
Because mindfulness is a theme common to many forms of meditation, it has been extensively studied.
Research has found that mindfulness can:
reduce fixation on negative emotions
lessen impulsive, emotional reactions
improve relationship satisfaction
Some evidence suggests mindfulness may improve overall health. For example, a study of African-American men with chronic kidney disease found that mindfulness meditation could lower blood pressure.
4. Breath awareness meditation
Breath awareness is a type of meditation that encourages mindful breathing. Practitioners breathe slowly and deeply, counting their breaths or focusing on their breaths. The goal is to focus only on breathing and to ignore other thoughts that enter the mind. Or the “monkey mind”. As a form of mindfulness meditation, breath awareness offers many of the same benefits as mindfulness. Those include reduced anxiety, improved concentration, and greater emotional flexibility.
5. Zen meditation
Zen meditation, sometimes called Zazen is a type of meditation that can be part of Buddhist practice. Many Zen meditation users study under a teacher because this kind of meditation involves specific steps and even postures. The goal is to find a comfortable position, focus on breathing, and mindfully observe one's thoughts without judgment. Again, this form of meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation but requires more discipline and practice. People may prefer it if they are seeking both relaxation and a new spiritual path.
6. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation is a spiritual form of meditation where the users remain seated and breathe slowly. The goal is to transcend or rise above the person's current state of being. During a meditation session, users focus on a mantra or a repeated word (or series of words). A teacher traditionally determines the mantra based on a complex set of factors. An alternative allows people to choose their own mantra. This is a more contemporary version that is not technically Transcendental Meditation, though it may look substantially similar. For example, a practitioner might decide to repeat "I am not afraid of public speaking" while meditating.
People who practice Transcendental Meditation report both spiritual experiences and heightened mindfulness.
How long does it take to work?
The various meditative disciplines encourage a focus on heightened awareness, breathing, and acceptance.
Meditation is not a results-focused undertaking. In fact, fixating too much on the results can provoke anxiety that undermines the benefits of meditation!
However, most research shows that meditation can work very quickly. Studies of meditation typically follow users for weeks or months, not years. Many meditation users report an immediate improvement following a meditation session. During meditation, it is common to feel much less stressed, more accepting, and at greater peace. Over time and with practice, these sensations may continue outside of meditation sessions. Yay!
How often to meditate
Choosing to meditate at the same time each day will help make meditating become a daily habit.
There is no right answer to this question. When it comes down to it, any meditation is better than no meditation. So, if a person is only able to meditate once a week, this should not stop you from trying meditation! A person can consider starting with a few sessions per week, working up to one session per day. Meditating around the same time each day can make meditation a great habit that is easy to incorporate into your daily life. If meditation is helpful to you, it may be beneficial to increase the frequency to twice or more per day or to use it to reduce stress whenever needed.
Personally, I meditate every night before bed and use it as a tool when feeling overwhelmed during the day. I also focus a lot on my breath during my Pilates practice!
Tips for better meditation
those new to meditation may find it beneficial to enroll in a meditation class.
Meditation is a process-oriented undertaking that focuses on the moment, not on the results.
Enjoying the moment is the key to successful meditation.
An individual should not judge whether the meditation session is good or bad, right or wrong. Remain in the moment.
Meditation is a skill that takes time to master. Some people feel frustrated and even angry when they first attempt to meditate. It’s OKAY!
Remaining present in the current moment can be challenging, as well as focusing on a single mantra without getting distracted.
Whatever your immediate reaction, you should persist with your meditation practice. The key is to accept the thoughts that appear without judgment or anger.
Some novices may benefit from enrolling in a class or having the support of a teacher.
Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, the same as does any other skill. If you stick with it and are willing to experiment with the different methods, you are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits you!