Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It helps people become more aware, less stressed, and inwardly peaceful. Many religions use meditation, but anyone can do it even if they are not religious. There are many ways to meditate. This article explores nine popular types. Learning about them can help you find the right meditation for you.
If meditation is new to you, or you want to go deeper, it’s good to try different meditation techniques. Not all forms of meditation work for everybody. By learning your options, you can find what feels right and gives you the benefits you want.
Some meditation techniques use focus and concentration. Others involve moving or picturing things. Some need a teacher and some you can do alone. There are even kinds to specifically help you relax, feel compassion, grow spiritually, or increase motivation.
Don’t worry if you don’t like a technique at first. Be open to trying different styles multiple times to see what fits you best. With regular practice, you’ll start to notice positive changes in your life.
Connecting inwardly through meditation takes commitment, but it’s worth it. You’ll find inner stillness and clarity, even in chaotic daily life. If you’re ready to explore your mind and spirit, read on to learn about nine meditations that can start you on this profound journey.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind and body to induce relaxation, clarity, insight, and inner calm. It acts as mental training to heighten awareness, gain control over thoughts, and cultivate positive qualities like compassion.
Meditation involves breathing exercises and directing attention to anchor your mind in the present moment. This makes it accessible even for beginners.
At its core, meditation involves directing attention to anchor your mind in the present moment. This anchor could be the breath, a repeated word or phrase (mantra), an object, visualization, movement, or ritualized activity.
When the mind inevitably wanders, you gently bring it back to the present. This teaches the ability to focus and quiet mental chatter. With regular practice, meditation enhances concentration, emotional positivity, and inner peace.
Meditation is often associated with Eastern spiritual traditions and religions like Buddhism or Hinduism. However, the techniques themselves can be practiced secularly by anyone. The benefits are well-supported by science.
Different Types of Meditation Practice
With so many meditation techniques to choose from, it can be helpful to compare them side-by-side. This table provides an at-a-glance overview of 9 different meditation types, their key benefits, and their difficulty levels for beginners. Use it to get a sense of the variety of meditation practices and find options that may be a good fit for your needs.
|Type||Overview||Key Benefits||Difficulty for Beginners|
|Mindfulness||Observing thoughts and sensations non-judgmentally||Reduces stress, improves focus||Easy|
|Spiritual||Connecting to something greater than oneself||Provides spiritual meaning, inner peace||Medium|
|Focused||Concentrating using senses on something specific||Strengthens attention span||Medium|
|Movement||Gentle physical activity done mindfully||Reduces anxiety, energizing||Easy|
|Mantra||Repeating a word or phrase silently||Calms and centers the mind||Easy|
|Transcendental (TM)||Silent mantra meditation learned from a certified TM teacher||Deep rest, clarity||Hard|
|Progressive Relaxation||Tensing and relaxing muscle groups||Releases body tension, promotes mind-body awareness||Medium|
|Loving-Kindness||Directing caring intentions toward oneself and others||Boosts compassion, empathy||Medium|
|Visualization||Imagining vivid scenes using the senses||Reduces stress, boosts mood||Easy|
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation originally comes from Buddhist teachings. It involves observing your thoughts and body awareness without judging them. When starting mindfulness meditation, find a quiet space to sit relaxed. You can sit on a cushion on the floor or a chair. Keep your back straight, but not too tense.
To begin, bring your attention to your breathing. Notice each inhale and exhale without trying to change your breath. When thoughts come up, don’t ignore or suppress them. Instead, note them briefly before gently shifting your attention back to your breath. The key is not to get carried away analyzing your thoughts. Simply notice them, then refocus.
With regular practice, mindfulness meditation helps sharpen your focus and concentration. It also promotes physical relaxation and mental calm. Those new to meditation often start with this style because it’s simple to learn on your own. Set aside 10-15 minutes daily to notice results.
If you want to learn more mindfulness practices, check out this guide to Mindfulness Exercises for Adults – Easy to Follow. It provides step-by-step instructions for building mindfulness through meditation techniques like walking meditation, mindful driving, mindful eating, and more.
2. Spiritual Meditation
Spiritual meditation has roots in many religious and spiritual traditions. It aims to help deepen your understanding of spiritual meaning and connect with a higher power or God. Often, the practices invoke sacred scriptures or holy names. Sitting silently is also used to become more open to receiving divine wisdom and guidance.
Some examples of spiritual meditation include Christian contemplative prayer, Jewish kabbalistic techniques, and the Sufi practice of dhikr which involves repeating holy names. To begin spiritual meditation, find a tranquil setting. Open your heart and mind to the presence of the divine. Call on your faith to guide your practice.
Regularly devoting time to spiritual meditation provides inner spiritual nourishment. It offers feelings of closeness, love, and gratitude for the divine. This nurtures faith and helps people live their beliefs more fully. Set aside time each day to connect through your chosen spiritual practice.
3. Focused Meditation
In focused meditation, you concentrate using one of your five senses. Common objects of focus include:
A simple visual object like a candle flame or a flower
Listening to ambient sounds like birds chirping or a fountain trickling
Repeating a mantra or sacred phrase
Paying close attention to the sensations of breathing
Choose an object of focus that is comforting or meaningful to you. Sit in a relaxed position and bring your full attention to your chosen focal point. If your mind wanders, gently note that and redirect your attention back. Start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase your practice time.
Regularly practicing focused meditation helps strengthen your powers of concentration. It counters the tendency for the mind to jump randomly from thought to thought. With training, you can more easily focus fully on any task or activity. Focused meditation brings discipline to the mind.
4. Movement Meditation
In movement meditation, gentle physical activity guides you into a meditative state. Examples of practices include yoga, tai chi, qigong, walking meditation, or gardening. The movements are done slowly, consciously, and with full awareness.
For walking meditation, find a quiet natural setting. Slow your pace and pay close attention to each step. Feel the sensations in your feet and legs as you walk. Notice sounds, smells, and sights around you, but don’t get lost thinking about them. Stay centered on the act of walking.
For yoga or tai chi, focus on synchronizing breath with movement. Flow through the positions smoothly. Feel your body align and stretch. Release any mental chatter and stay present.
Over time, movement meditation helps develop balance, coordination, and body awareness. It creates a sense of calm vitality. The mental focus required also translates into greater concentration in other areas of life.
5. Mantra Meditation
In mantra meditation, you repeat a sacred word or phrase silently. This is called a mantra. Popular mantras are “Om,” “Love”, or “Peace”. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Start repeating your mantra silently to yourself. Say it slowly and steadily.
If thoughts come up, gently return to your mantra. Don’t analyze your thoughts or judge yourself. Keep returning to the mantra whenever the mind wanders. Set a time goal starting with 5 minutes and work up to longer sessions.
Regular mantra meditation clears and focuses the mind. The repetition blocks out mental chatter. Practicing with the same mantra creates a contemplative state. You feel calm, centered, and mentally refreshed after chanting a mantra.
6. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is a standardized meditative technique from India. It rose to prominence when introduced to the West in the mid-1900s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
TM involves silent, mantra-based meditation, traditionally practiced for 20 minutes twice daily. Mantras are customized sounds given to each TM student by a certified TM instructor. One receives guidance in learning TM from a trained TM teacher throughout several instructional sessions.
The TM organization trademarks the teaching certification process. Fees are charged to take part in the structured TM training. Proper learning of TM is meant to be transmitted from person to person.
TM sessions aim for the mind to settle into inner wakefulness and tranquility. The mantras are repeated easily without concerted effort. Regular TM practice may yield reduced stress, increased mental clarity, and overall wellness based on research.
7. Progressive Relaxation
Progressive relaxation is a structured form of body scan meditation. It involves systematically tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout the body. This releases physical tension and brings awareness to different body parts.
Start by lying down or sitting comfortably. Breathe deeply. On an exhale, squeeze your right hand into a fist, feeling the tension. Hold for a few seconds. On your next exhale, release the fist and relax your hand. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation.
Repeat this sequence with other muscle groups like feet, legs, abdomen, back, shoulders, and facial muscles. Move through your whole body, tensing and relaxing each part. Remember to keep breathing deeply the whole time.
Regular progressive relaxation meditation relieves stress stored in the body. It promotes physical and mental calm. With practice, you become more aware of body sensations. You can use this awareness to detect and reduce tension throughout your day.
8. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation focuses on cultivating love and compassion. Start by wishing well-being and happiness for yourself. Recite soothing phrases like “May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.” Feel the warm intention behind your words.
Next, visualize loved ones. Direct the same caring phrases toward them. Move on to imagining neutral people, then difficult people. Finally, wish all beings well with phrases like “May all beings be safe. May all beings be free from suffering.”
Regular practice dissolves negative emotions like anger, grief or fear. It boosts feelings of friendliness, connection, and empathy. We all need an infusion of unconditional love. Loving-kindness meditation opens your heart to give and receive more love.
9. Visualization Meditation
In visualization meditation, you imagine detailed scenes, images, or symbols to evoke certain feelings, states of mind, or goals. Guided meditations often make use of visualization techniques. The key is to make the visualizations as vivid as possible using all your senses.
For example, picture yourself relaxing on a tropical beach. Feel the warm sand, listen to the waves, smell the ocean air, taste the salt water. Or visualize yourself as a towering tree with deep roots to feel grounded. Visualize desired outcomes like getting a new job to increase motivation.
Your chosen imagery should spark positive sensations like calm, joy, confidence, and gratitude. Let your imagination fill in the details. Daily visualization meditation imprints nourishing inner states that manifest outwardly.
There are many forms of meditation to explore, from mindfulness to movement to mantras. By trying different techniques, you can discover the best way to meditate that suits your needs and preferences.
Developing a consistent practice takes commitment, but meditation offers profound benefits for relaxing the body, focusing the mind, and deepening inner peace. The journey inward starts with sitting down to meditate.
Find the style that resonates with you and make meditation a part of your daily self-care routine.