8 Different Types of Meditation To Try

3 min
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For many people, meditation is a balm for the mind, body, and soul. For many others it is a minefield. In our relentlessly busy modern world, we are bombarded with information, images, emails, a 24-hour news cycle, and a non-stop stream of social media updates一it’s no surprise that our brains can feel utterly fried on a regular basis. But in the current-day culture that often  perpetuates “doing” over “being”, which celebrates achievement above all else, the idea of spending quiet time with nothing but our thoughts can be, quite frankly, terrifying. We get it. 

Meditation is proven to help quiet the mind and bring calm to an overwhelmed system一but it’s important to remember that it is a “practice”, not a “perfect”. There are plenty of different ways to do it, because no one method will work for everyone. What matters is the commitment to give your mind some space on a somewhat regular basis, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Here are some of the main meditation techniques used around the world.

Breath Meditation

Focusing on the breath is a very impactful method for relieving stress. This practice is incredibly simple and can be done absolutely anywhere, even amidst chaos. You simply channel all your attention towards breathing in and out, feeling the air pass through your nostrils or lips, and bringing some rhythm to it. Counting is a popular technique – box breathing, for example, is where you inhale for four counts, pause for four counts, exhale for four counts, and pause again for four counts. Repeat this for a set amount of time or until you are feeling noticeably calmer. 

Focused Meditation

This is where you concentrate on a single point of focus. The eyes can be open and staring at a candle or something similarly absorbing, or closed with the attention directed somewhere in the body, such as between the eyebrows. You can use anything you find helpful to focus on, including sounds, smells, and other sensations. Loving-kindness meditation, for instance, is where you focus on warm, compassionate feelings towards yourself and others.

Mantra Meditation

Mental repetition of a mantra is another popular method, and is the foundation of Transcendental Meditation. TM and some other Eastern spiritual practices use ancient languages such as Sanskrit, so for many people, that semantic meaning is less apparent and the mantra thus becomes more mesmeric. Meanwhile, phrases and affirmations such as "I am safe" or simply "I am" can bring a sense of grounding to the notion that at the fundamental level, all is as it needs to be. 

Guided Meditation

This can be great for beginners, but seasoned practitioners also find guided meditations to be a powerful way to achieve deeply relaxed states. Guided meditations can include visualizations, body scans, storytelling, and encouragement on topics such as quitting smoking. As the name suggests, you simply sit or lie down and listen to a meditation teacher. As well as in-person classes, the Internet is packed with free resources on YouTube, various apps, and other platforms, all of varying lengths, so you can choose the right meditation to suit you. Yoga Nidra, meaning ‘yogic sleep’, is a delectable practice that can induce incredibly deep relaxation.

Movement Meditation

Not all meditation needs to involve sitting still. And for people with high levels of energy or agitation, sitting still just isn’t often accessible. Activities like walking, running, yoga, or Tai Chi can be deeply meditative, clearing the mind of its clutter while shifting energy and calming the nervous system. 

Sound Meditation

Sound bathing can also be deeply healing, with instruments such as gongs, chimes, and singing bowls helping to shift your vibration. It’s a passive method that takes away any kind of pressure to meditate “properly”一you simply let the sounds wash over you. Binaural beats are another therapeutic use of sound to do with frequency and brainwaves. The meditative effects are deeply relaxing.

Progressive Relaxation

A more systematic approach to meditation involves tensing and relaxing different muscles around the body in turn. The more active nature of this technique might better suit those who find it difficult to simply "be".

Mindfulness Meditation

This type of meditation is about simply observing your thoughts without judgment, and without getting drawn into them. A similar technique is used in the Buddhist practice of Vipassana meditation, which means "insight". It’s ok if the mind wanders into thought一the practice is in noticing it and coming back to the present with detachment, as many times as needed.

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All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Meditation: Process And Effects; What Is Meditation? Proposing An Empirically Derived Classification System; Effects Of Combining Meditation Techniques On Short-Term Memory, Attention, And Affect In Healthy College Students; What Type Of Meditation Is Best For You?; Mindfulness Meditation: A Research-Proven Way To Reduce Stress; Study Finds Sound-Based Meditation Quiets The Mind Faster; Future Directions In Meditation Research: Recommendations For Expanding The Field Of Contemplative Science; Open Hearts Build Lives.

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