Five of the most common types of meditation are mindfulness, body scanning, walking, loving-kindness and transcendental meditation. Different types of meditation have different benefits, but some of them are reduced anxiety, improved self-control, better self-care and less pain. There are many different ways to meditate. Think of the following categories of meditation techniques as a starting point for understanding the practices and the differences between some of the main options, rather than as an exhaustive list.
With focused meditation, you focus on something with intention, without devoting your thoughts to it. You can focus on something visual, such as a statue; something auditory, such as a metronome or the recording of ocean waves; something constant, such as your own breathing; or a simple concept, such as unconditional compassion. Activity-oriented meditation combines meditation with activities you already enjoy or with new activities that help you focus on the present. With this type of meditation, you engage in a repetitive activity or one where you can get into the zone and experience the flow.
Again, this quiets the mind and allows your brain to change. For the meditator, the practice offers the possibility of improving physical well-being as well as emotional health. However, there is no 'right way to meditate', which means that people can explore different types until they find one that works for them. Kundalini yoga is a physically active form of meditation that combines movement with deep breathing and mantras.
People usually learn from a teacher or take a class. However, you can learn the postures and mantras at home. Like other forms of yoga, kundalini yoga can improve physical strength and reduce pain. It can also improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.
Spiritual meditation is used in almost all religions and spiritual traditions. Spiritual meditation can be practised at home or in a place of worship. This practice is beneficial for those seeking spiritual growth and a deeper connection to a higher power or spiritual force. Some people enjoy mantra meditation because it is easier to concentrate on a word than on the breath.
Others enjoy feeling the vibration of the sound in their body. Loving-kindness meditation is used to reinforce feelings of compassion, kindness and acceptance towards oneself and others. It is very difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and not think about anything or have an "empty mind". We have some tools, such as a meditation DVD for beginners or a brain sensor headband, that will help you in this process when you are starting to learn how to meditate in the best way.
In general, the easiest way to start meditating is to focus on the breath. An example of one of the most common approaches to meditation is concentration. There are other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on cultivating compassion.
It involves visualising negative events and reframing them in a positive way, transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong and walking meditation. Many people use visualisation meditation to improve their mood, reduce stress levels and promote inner peace. In fact, focusing too much on results can lead to anxiety that undermines the benefits of meditation.
In unguided meditation, also called silent meditation, you meditate alone, without anyone explaining the process to you. Mindfulness can be a form of meditation that, like activity-oriented meditation, does not really feel like meditation. Taking a mindful walk, doing a nice meditation in the shower or concentrating on a beautiful object can be a very healing and restorative practice. The various meditative disciplines encourage concentration on greater awareness, slower breathing and greater acceptance.
Some people find it quite difficult to switch off the mind, so guided meditations are also a wonderful option, allowing the mind to go on an incredible journey. However, the traditional practice of loving-kindness meditation has a very mindful aspect that is worth mentioning and is a great meditation practice in general (one of the most valuable, I think). Mindfulness practice can include mindful breathing, guided imagery or even something like a body scan meditation where you tune into your body. Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to how fitness is an approach to training the body.
A longer practice that explores meditation postures, breathing techniques and working with thoughts and emotions as they surface during mindfulness practice. A study published by Fennell, Benau and Atchley (201) revealed that a single meditation session can reduce physiological rates of anger in both novice and experienced meditators. In fact, renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says that her first experience with meditation showed her how quickly the mind gets caught up in other tasks.