8 Different Types of Meditation To Try
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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".
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.
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.
Share this story
- 1 Mar 2022
What is Mindfulness?15 min
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive to or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. This state of mind can be challenging to reach, particularly in the fast-paced modern world we live in. With the rise in anxiety and stress levels of the 21st century, the need for mindfulness practices has increased.Read full article
- 10 Mar 2022
Transcendental Meditation: How It Works6 min
Of the many ways there are to meditate, Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM) is reputed to be one of the most popular: According to the official website (where the method is featured with its own registered trademark), “over ten million people of all ages, cultures, and religions have learnt TM.”Read full article
- 1 Mar 2022
What is Sound Healing?10 min
Have you ever wanted to put on the most emotive songs that you can cry to when you’re feeling sad? Felt the rush of energy from a thumping workout track that raises your heart rate and motivation in one fell swoop? Or perhaps you’ve felt the instant calm from walking into a spa, the scented air complemented by a soothing, meditative audio track playing gently in the background. If so, then you’ve tapped into the healing power of music.Read full article
- 8 Sep 2022
10 Important Relationships That Could Change Your Life5 min
Many of us can identify at least one person who made an extraordinary impact on our lives. We are all, in many ways, ultimately shaped by all of our relationships – from the family we grow up with and the friends we make along the way, to the many people that come in and out of our orbit as we evolve. Some relationships are short-lived and some are with us for the long-haul, but even the briefest ones can have a profound effect on who we are and where we end up – whether that person knows it or not. Some inspire and encourage us, while others teach us how we don’t want to be – and that can be a blessing too. Here are some of the relationships that can’t be underestimated when it comes to informing who we are.Read full article