Meditation may be a 2500-year-old tradition, it’s still practiced in cultures all over the world. Although the practice has ties to many different religious teachings, meditation is less about faith and more about raising consciousness, finding awareness, and achieving inner peace.
Among the many benefits of meditation are stress reduction, a heightened self awareness, and being able to tune out distractions.
Not all meditation styles are right for you. How do you know which practice is right for you? What feels comfortable and what you feel encouraged to practice is the right style for you.
The six styles of meditation below are just a sample of the many styles out there. Give it a try to see which one is right for you.
Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular meditation technique in the West.
In mindfulness meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns. After even a brief time of practicing mindfulness meditation, practitioners begin to recognize thought patterns they have previously been unaware of. As this practice develops, a calmer mind will occur for regular participants.
This type of meditation is good for people who don’t have a teacher to guide them, as it can be easily practiced alone.
Focused meditation is great because you can focus on a sound, object, mantra, or thought. The key here is to just focus on one of these things and stay committed to that one thought or object.
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. Try counting mala beads, listening to a gong, or staring at a candle flame.
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. The purpose of this type of meditation is to continually bring the busy mind back to the focal point. This discipline of the mind is developed over time by longer periods of focus and concentration.
As the name suggests, this practice is ideal for anyone who requires additional focus in their life.
Examples of concentration meditation are: some types of Zazen, Vipassana, Loving Kindness Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, Sound Meditation, Pranayama and some forms of Qigong.
Movement meditation may seem intimidating, but if you're by yourself and you really get into it, it can be extremely uplifting and relaxing at the same time. Sitting with your eyes closed, simply focus on your breath and try out different gentle, repetitive flowing movements.
Although most people think of yoga when they hear movement meditation, this practice may include walking through the woods, gardening, and other gentle forms of motion. It’s an active form of meditation where the movement guides you.
The physical practices of yoga, tai chi, Qigong and walking meditation are examples of moving meditation. Movement may be limited, as in Qigong, which focuses more on breath work than physical movement.
Movement meditation is good for people who find peace in action and prefer to let their minds wander. Movement in slow, mindful ways is a great way to meditate if the practitioner has difficulty with remaining in a seated position or lying down for more than a few minutes.
Transcendental Meditation was pioneered by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. During Transcendental Meditation, you close your eyes and silently repeat a mantra given to you during the course. The mantra, which is never said aloud, is a gentle vehicle to calm the mind, striving for a state of consciousness where thoughts occur in a stream, one after another.
This style comes with a strong spiritual community. You check in monthly with your teacher to make sure you’re practicing correctly. Students never stop learning. If simply meditating on your own doesn’t inspire you, joining the Transcendental Meditation community might be just what you need.
This practice is for those who like structure and are serious about maintaining a meditation practice.
Spiritual meditation is used in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Daoism, and in Christian faith. It’s similar to prayer in that you reflect on the silence around you and seek a deeper connection with your God or Universe.
Just like the other styles, you must become calm and quiet and then begin to focus on a question or problem you might have. This style of meditation can feel not only relaxing, but rewarding as well.
Spiritual meditation can be practiced at home or in a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those who thrive in silence and seek spiritual growth.
Mantra meditation is prominent in many teachings, including Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Mantras are words that are chanted during meditation. Mantras uses sound vibrations, like the popular “Om,” to create spiritual energy to heal, promote creativity, and commune with the divine. Rather than simply repeating “Om,” a mantra can be any combination of sounds, words, or phrases that awakens your spirit. The important thing is that the mantra feels deeply personal and moves you on an emotional and spiritual level.
It doesn’t matter if your mantra is spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting the mantra for some time, you will be more alert and in tune with your environment. This allows you to experience deeper levels of awareness.
Some people enjoy mantra meditation because they find it easier to focus on a word than on their breath. This is also a good practice for people who don’t like silence and enjoy repetition.
Ruby & Flint mala beads are hand knotted with semi-precious stones. Made with 108 beads and one guru bead, they come with counters at every 27 beads, in the traditional Tibetan style.
You may use your mala to help focus your meditation. For some, wearing a mala also serves as a daily reminder of their intention. Over time, your mala will be charged with the intention you have set for yourself.