Read on to find out more about the different types of meditation and how to start, mindfulness meditation. This ancient Buddhist tradition involves sitting upright and following the breath, especially the way it enters and leaves the belly, and letting the mind 'just be'. Its aim is to foster a sense of presence and alertness. This technique is similar to focused attention meditation, although instead of focusing on the breath to still the mind, one focuses on a mantra (which can be a syllable, a word or a phrase).
The idea is that the subtle vibrations associated with the repeated mantra can encourage positive change, such as an increase in self-confidence or compassion for others, and help you enter an even deeper state of meditation. This meditation technique aims to keep the energy centres of the body's central chakras open, aligned and flowing. Blocked or unbalanced chakras can lead to uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms, but chakra meditation can help bring them all back into balance. It is an ancient and powerful Chinese practice that involves harnessing the body's energy by allowing the energy pathways called "meridians" to be open and flowing.
It is believed that sending this energy inward during meditation helps the body to heal and function; sending the energy outward can help heal another person. When practising mindfulness meditation, thoughts and emotions are observed, but allowed to pass through without judgement. The idea is that this technique allows you to settle into a deep state of relaxation and rest, with the goal of achieving inner peace without concentration or effort. Vipassana meditation is an ancient form of Indian meditation that means seeing things as they really are.
It was taught in India more than 2,500 years ago. The mindfulness meditation movement in the United States has its roots in this tradition. Vipassana, in this tradition, is typically taught over a 10-day course, and students are expected to follow a series of rules throughout that time, including abstaining from all intoxicants, telling lies, stealing, sexual activity and killing any species. The superstar's new YouTube series chronicles her journey to lose six kilos and shed her "dad bod".
One woman says she received several misdiagnoses over 15 years before she was correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The number of young people with serious mental health problems was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Doctors say the pandemic has exacerbated the situation. This meditation technique, which has become very popular in the West, is based on the teachings of the Buddha.
Mindfulness meditation can be instrumental in helping us understand how our mind works. This self-knowledge serves as a basis for overcoming dissatisfaction, impatience, intolerance and many other habits that prevent us from living a fuller and happier life. To be a complete meditation technique, mindfulness combines concentration with awareness. All that is required is a disciplined meditation posture, a straight back and a willingness to be honest with oneself.
The best-known focus of mindfulness meditation is breathing; unbiased observation of physical sensations is another common technique. Whenever you find your thoughts wandering, simply observe them without judgement and bring your attention back to the breath. Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce depression, stress and anxiety. It also fosters resilience, a timely quality that helps you cope with difficult situations without losing your peace of mind.
A traditional type of focused meditation involves drinking a cup of tea. In this case, you train yourself to stop any other activity - not checking your mobile phone, not jumping up to let the cat out, not adding anything to your shopping list - and focus your attention exclusively on drinking your cup of tea. You can notice the warmth, the aroma, the weight of the cup in your hands. Whenever the mind wanders, go back to drinking the tea.
Guided meditation exercises that you can use anytime, anywhere. In guided meditation, a teacher guides you through the practice, either in person or through an app or course. This type of meditation is perfect for beginners, as the teacher's expert guidance can help you get the most out of a new experience. The main thing here is to find a teacher you like and connect with.
You can also tailor your search according to a desired outcome and try guided meditations focusing on sleep, stress relief or acceptance. Spiritual meditation is the conscious practice of believing in and connecting with something that is bigger, vaster and deeper than the individual self. In this meditation you trust that there is something bigger out there and that everything happens for a reason. According to our study, mindfulness already improved after only three months of training, whether it was based on mindfulness or compassion.
Participants who completed the Presence or Affect modules significantly improved their scores on a classical attention task. Surprisingly, no further gains were observed after six to nine months of training, perhaps because of the mindfulness task we used (a "cue-flanker test"). It seems, therefore, that mindfulness can be cultivated not only with mindfulness-focused mindfulness practices, but also with social-emotional practices such as loving-kindness meditation. Are basic mindfulness practices, such as paying attention to breathing or body scanning, enough to become a kinder, more compassionate person? Or do you need to focus explicitly on these qualities of the heart in your meditation practice? This question is the source of much debate in mindfulness research.
Surprisingly, people who practised three months of body awareness focused on the present moment through practices such as body scanning did not significantly improve their perception of heartbeat. Why? The simple answer is that three months of practice is too short. Only after six months of contemplative practice did participants' body awareness improve to a significant level, and after nine months it improved even more. I suspect that it would improve even more after another year of practice.
In most types of meditation there is a form of mindfulness. Breath awareness encourages practitioners to be aware of their breathing, while progressive relaxation draws attention to areas of tension in the body. The main feature of this type of meditation is the generation, transformation and circulation of inner energy. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of types of meditation, so here I will explore only the most popular ones.
Some types, such as Kundalini, focus on using meditation techniques to strengthen and relax the nervous system. However, there is no 'right way to meditate', which means that people can explore different types until they find the one that works for them. This is the first study to show training-related structural changes in the social brains of healthy adults and to reveal that no matter what is actually practised, the brain changes observed were specific to the different types of training and coincided with improvements in emotional and cognitive skills. Mindfulness, mantra meditation, Trataka, TM, Vipassana, Loving-Kindness, chakra meditation, Zazen, Kundalini meditation, Self-Inquiry, Taoist meditation and Yoga Nidra are some of the most popular types of meditation.
Vipassana, Samatha, Love and Kindness Meditation (metta), Zazen, Koan, Walking Meditation, and the many types of Tibetan Buddhist meditations. This type of meditation can increase positive emotions and has been linked to the reduction of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. This type of meditation is especially useful for beginners because the teacher is experienced and trusted, and their guidance can be key in helping those who are new to the practice to get the most out of the experience. This type of meditation may be preferable if you find it difficult to focus on the breath alone, as it can be easier to anchor your awareness in what your body feels.
If you are looking for an introduction to the different types of meditation, check out the 10-day beginner's course on the essentials of meditation, available for free on the Headspace app. The type of meditation that is most helpful for anxiety, for example, is not necessarily the best for depression or spiritual awakening.