Meditation is a technique used for thousands of years to develop awareness of the present moment.
It can involve practices to sharpen focus and attention, connect to the body and breath, develop acceptance of difficult emotions, and even alter consciousness. It’s been shown to offer a number of physical and psychological benefits like stress reduction and improved immunity.
While many spiritual traditions include meditation as a part of their teachings and practices, the technique itself doesn’t belong to any particular religion or faith. Though ancient in origin, it’s still practiced today in cultures all over the world to create a sense of peace, calm, and inner harmony.
Meditation may offer a solution to the growing need to reduce stress in the midst of busy schedules and demanding lives.
Although there isn’t a right or wrong way to meditate, it’s important to find a practice that meets your needs.
Fast facts on types of meditation:
- Within each type of meditation, there are several subtypes to discover and practice.
- Meditation teachers have different ideas about how frequently a person should meditate.
- It is fine to blend types or to test different approaches until the right one is found.
Seven different meditation techniques:-
1. Spiritual Meditation
Meditation is an essential part of Eastern spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism, but did you know that it is practiced in many Judeo-Christian traditions and other spiritual paths as well? Depending on the tradition, spiritual meditation may also include elements of silent, spoken, or chanted prayer. When practiced within a religious context, meditation supports a deeper connection with the Divine. In non-theistic traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism, meditation is more focused on self-awareness and self-actualization. In that sense, non-theistic spiritual meditation supports practitioners in becoming the best human beings that they can be. Whether secular or non-secular, the insights that are brought to light through spiritual meditation can help us develop qualities of benevolence and connection.
Good venues for your spiritual meditation practice might be at home, at your preferred place of worship, or in nature. It is well-suited for individuals seeking spiritual growth as well as those who appreciate setting time aside for self-reflection. True spiritual meditation always includes elements of lovingkindness and compassion, and if we are looking to be of service to others, the insights that we can gain from our practice are invaluable.
To put it simply, mindfulness meditation is the basic act of being aware — or mindful — of what you are doing in the present moment. For example, you could be practicing mindfulness while you are walking your dog, brushing your teeth, or washing your dishes.
That would mean you are 100% involved in the activity you are doing — and not thinking about any distractions, stressing about the past, or worrying about the future.
However, many people may struggle with this. That’s why beginners often start out with a more formalmeditation.
This practice involves setting time aside to sit and focus on your breathing, and it can be as little as five minutes each day. Just find a chair, couch, or spot on the floor where you can sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
Instead, learning how to meditate is about being able to redirect your thoughts when you get distracted, and come back to your breath rather than be carried away by distractions.
Once you’re able to do this while practicing mindfulness meditation, the skills can translate to daily life, and you’ll be able to stay more fully present for any activity, whether it’s dog walking, dish washing, or something else.
By improving your ability to focus in the moment, what you’re actually doing is training the brain to become less affected by stress. According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness meditation improves emotional regulation in the brain by decreasing amygdala reactivity. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls the “fight or flight” response. By regulating this stress response, you may be able to limit anxiety, reduce
3. Body scan or progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation, sometimes called body scan meditation, is meditation that encourages people to scan their bodies for areas of tension. The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to release.
During a progressive relaxation session, practitioners start at one end of their body, usually their 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.
Progressive relaxation can help to promote generalized feelings of calmness and relaxation. It may also help with chronic pain. Because it slowly and steadily relaxes the body, some people use this form of meditation to help them sleep.
4. Chanting Meditation
Many spiritual paths, from Western religions to Buddhist and Hindu traditions, recommend chanting and mantra meditation. While chanting, the mind should be focused on the sound of the words and melody. Western traditions also encourage contemplation of meaning. In mantra meditation and other Eastern traditions, a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to clear the mind and allow our spiritual strengths to reveal themselves. Mantras are sometimes accompanied by a melody, but not always. “Om” is one common sound used in mantra meditation.
Those who enjoy chanting meditation often discover that their practice cultivates a peaceful, yet alert, state of mind. As a spiritual practice it fosters deeper awareness and a stronger connection to positive human qualities such as compassion and confidence. As with any true spiritual practice, it is important to find a qualified teacher.
5. Movement Meditation
Many forms of meditation encourage you to remain in one position, but movement meditation focuses on the body in motion. Walking meditation is one form of mindful movement; this technique can also be associated with yoga or tai chi and other martial arts. Having a commitment to some form of physical discipline is very beneficial. Once you are able to be present in your body during movement meditation, you can expand your awareness to include just about anything that keeps you moving: gardening, walking the dog, washing up, playing golf, etc. In each case, the movement of your body is the object of meditation.
This technique can be combined with mindful sitting meditation. It can be a good choice for people who have trouble sitting still for long periods, as well as for those who naturally find it easier to concentrate while they’re moving.
6. Loving-kindness meditation
Loving-kindness meditation is also known as Metta meditation. Its goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything, even a person’s enemies and sources of stress.
While breathing deeply, practitioners open their minds to receiving loving kindness. They then send messages of loving kindness to the world, to specific people, or to their loved ones.
In most forms of this meditation, the key is to repeat the message many times, until the practitioner 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:
- interpersonal conflict
This type of meditation may increase positive emotions and has been linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress or PTSD.
7. Focused meditation
Focused meditation involves concentration using any of the five senses.
For example, you can focus on something internal, like your breath, or you can bring in external influences to help focus your attention.
- counting mala beads
- listening to a gong
- staring at a candle flame
- counting your breaths
- moon gazing
This practice may be simple in theory, but it can be difficult for beginners to hold their focus for longer than a few minutes at first.
If your mind does wander, simply come back to the practice and refocus.
As the name suggests, this practice is ideal for anyone who wants to sharpen their focus and attention.
Tips to get started with meditation for beginners
- Choose a convenient time
- Choose a quiet place
- Sit in a comfortable posture
- Keep a relatively empty stomach
- Start with a few warm-ups
- Take a few deep breaths
- Keep a gentle smile on your face
- Open your eyes slowly and gently
How to get started
Starting a meditation practice can seem daunting. In the beginning, it’s normal for your thoughts to race, and to feel like it isn’t working.
But the key to meditation is discipline, and being kind to yourself. Think of it the same way you would as working out at the gym or going for a run — the more you exercise the parts of your brain that help you focus and concentrate, the stronger it will become.
Some days will be easier than others. Remember that there is no perfect meditator, and there’s a reason it’s called a meditation practice.
To get started, there are a number of guided meditation apps that can help you learn how to meditate.
It may also be helpful to find an accountability partner. By sharing your progress with them through daily check-ins, you can feel like you have accomplished something for the day.
Finally, pairing meditation with a daily habit — like brushing your teeth or taking a shower — can help you keep up with your practice and incorporate it into your life.
Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If a person sticks with it and is willing to experiment with the different methods, they are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits them.