What types of meditation Make a Difference?
There are different types of meditation methods and it might feel confusing to choose which one is suitable for you when you are just starting out…
Meditative techniques and mindfulness practices have huge benefits for your mental health which translates into your physical well-being.
It is a way to train your brain through mental practices that results in positively transforming your; thought formation/patterns, emotional regulation, finding a sense of being and sitting still in the present moment (rather than the distractions of doing), decreasing stress levels, and teaches your brain to process feelings in an active state rather than a reactive state.
For a more in-depth article on what meditation is click here
44 Different Types of Meditation methods to start your journey:
There are many different kinds of meditation (far beyond these mentioned below) and it is important to note that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way to meditate. There are however different meditative techniques that can be practiced in daily life to reap the benefits of meditation or mindfulness practice.
Some of the main forms of meditation techniques and methods of meditation:
1. Basic-Mindfulness Meditation:
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that originated within the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. It is sometimes called “bare attention”, “open-monitoring” or “non-reactive awareness”. This method encourages one to pay close attention to experiences occurring in the body, feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and sounds of each moment. Mindfulness meditation also helps increase emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Often also known as silent meditation or ‘intention meditation’. The focus here is on the mind itself. This is usually conducted in a seated or lying down position (preferably on the floor) with the eyes closed.
Closing our eyes allows us to focus and tap into more of an introspective state. It allows us to notice our thoughts without attaching meaning to them and teaches us that we are not our thoughts, feelings, or emotions; we simply just experience them and let them pass through us.
A great way to combat overthinking is through the concept of ‘non-attachment’ and releasing control over our thoughts are often referred to when doing this type of meditation as we practice disengaging with our thoughts by vicariously peeking into the mind rather than getting involved with any specific thought and trying to change its outcome.
2. Guided Meditation:
What is guided mediation?
Verbal instruction and guidance are given by a teacher. The instructor can guide you through many different techniques and also often includes visualization practices. Guided meditations are ideal for beginners and when you are new to meditating or if you are looking to get back into meditation. Guided meditations are popular to do to prepare the body for sleep.
Usually guided meditations are done with a specific theme, concept, or intention in mind for eg.
- Gratitude meditations
- Self-love or compassion mediations
- Grounding meditations
- Surrender mediations
- Clarity meditations; to mention a few
Many different meditation apps provide great pre-recorded guided mediations such as:
3. Unguided meditation
Unguided meditations include any form of meditation where a third person is not providing verbal cues. This is usually guided by your mind and psyche. It can be done in total silence by simply becoming aware of your mind and thoughts through self-inquiry or it can be done by listening to music while introspecting. Journaling (on your own), creating art, walking meditations, nature meditations, and self-practicing yoga are all forms of unguided meditations.
4. Seated meditation
5. Focus meditation
In the practice of mindfulness, focus meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on one object or topic. The term “focus” refers to the concentration and attention that is directed towards this single subject. Focus meditation can be done in many ways, including using mantras, focusing on a candle flame, or focusing on the breath.
6. Intention meditation
Intention meditation is a form of meditative practice that uses the power of intention to affect one’s mind and body. It has been described as “a method for cultivating an awareness of your intentions, so you can then use them in making choices about how you live”. In other words, it is a form of self-reflection.
7. Manifestation meditation
A manifestation meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the process by which thoughts and feelings manifest into physical reality. It involves focusing on the energy field surrounding one’s body, or more specifically, the mind-body connection. The term “manifestation” comes from the idea that thoughts and feelings create their realities, and thus, they can become actualized through the act of thinking.
8. ‘Simply being’ meditation
Simply just being while doing nothing is the best and simplest form of meditation. Simple but not easy. In our lives we barely take time to just be – we are rarely in the state of being but always in the state of doing. Most people see doing nothing as unproductive or even equate it to laziness. Doing nothing might be exactly what our minds need – we need to learn to break this social norm down to slow down and rest our bodies and minds.
This type of meditation involves just that – doing nothing to become aware of your surroundings and your mental or emotional landscapes through self-reflection.
9. Nature meditation
This involves immersing yourself in nature and becoming aware of the blissful, peaceful, and beautiful surrounding nature provides for us. This could be going for a hike/walk, swimming in the ocean/surfing, fishing, camping, or even going to a game reserve. If it involves nature and animals it can be a form of meditation because it naturally brings us into a present state.
10. Progressive relaxation technique
A progressive relaxation is a form of deep relaxation achieved by tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups in a controlled manner. Other relaxation techniques may include autogenic training, biofeedback, guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, mantra, music therapy, neurolinguistic programming, psychotherapy, qigong, yoga, tai chi, transcendental meditation, visualization, and Western medicine.
11. Trauma-informed meditation
Trauma-Informed Meditation is a method used for healing from past trauma. The idea behind Trauma-Informed Mediation is that the way we process traumatic experiences affects our mental health. This method helps us re-process these memories and learn how to cope with them better.
Trauma-informed mindfulness is a mindfulness practice that’s adapted to the unique needs of trauma survivors.
Traditional mindfulness practices assume that everyone has the capacity to engage in any mindfulness activity and also benefit from it. But a trauma-informed approach acknowledges that some aspects of mindfulness can be activating for trauma survivors.
“The goal of trauma-informed mindfulness is to help people befriend physical sensations, improve self-regulation, ease their experiences of trauma, and cultivate mindfulness,”
12. Sensory Meditation:
Focuses the mind on the senses; smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing by making you aware of your environment. This can also be achieved by ‘body-scans’ meditation practices as it makes you aware of your body within your surroundings and brings awareness to your thoughts and feelings (that might be showing up as physical sensations).
13. Visualization Meditation:
Either guided by oneself or by an instructor you move through a visualization practice where you imagine a certain experience or scenario. This is usually coupled to nature (walking in a forest, lying on warm sand on the beach, swimming in the ocean, etc.) and sounds to add to the ambiance. Visualization once again allows us to focus all our attention on a singular scenario to calm and focus the mind.
14. Body scan meditation
This exercise is often used as part of a Yoga Nidra in Yoga. Most commonly done lying down (can also be done in a seated or standing position) and closing the eyes you start to bring attention to the different parts of the body mentally, without physically moving the different parts. Moving from the tips of the toes and scanning up the body towards the top of the head, trying to be as detailed as possible as to which physical sensations might be coming up, and checking in on how the physical body is feeling.
15. Pranayama or breathing exercises
In yogic philosophy pranayama refers to breathwork – Prana meaning the breath or the ‘vital life force’. Many different breathing techniques exist which are used alongside meditation. Through this type of meditation session, the awareness is once again diverted to the breath – noticing how it flows in and out of the body to detach from the ‘mental chaos’ that might be happening in the mind.
Top tip: Try deep breathing through the nose – close the eyes and seal off the lips. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold once again for 4 counts. Repeat for 5 – 10 rounds. While you breathe imagine and concentrate on how the breath is moving in and out of the lungs.
16. Movement Meditation:
Directing all your attention and focusing on a singular action you are doing to cultivate stillness in the mind. (eg. knitting, painting, walking meditation in nature, practicing yoga or qi gong). By diverting the energy into a physical action the mind almost becomes entranced by this action and therefore becomes present in the moment. Often this kind of action is a repetitive action. The repetition creates a rhythm that can be rather trance-like or allow you to enter a hypnotic-like state.
Top tip: Walking meditation getting out in nature immediately brings you into the present moment – a simple technique for a meditative practice would be to take a walk in nature and intentionally notice your surroundings. See how much detail of your environment you can become aware of.
Qigong is a traditional Chinese exercise system that combines meditation with physical movements. It was developed in the Tang dynasty and has been practiced since then, but its modern form dates to the 1980s. Qigong exercises are performed standing up, sitting, or lying down, and may be accompanied by breathing exercises, vocalization, and mental concentration.
18. Tai Chi Chuan
Tai chi chuan is a martial art from China that focuses on slow, graceful, internal movement. It emphasizes circular motions and soft, flowing movements. There are two main styles of tai chi: Chen style and Yang style. Both styles focus on developing strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and precision.
Yoga is an ancient Indian spiritual discipline consisting of various postures (asanas), meditative practices, and breathing techniques (pranayama) used to attain union with God or Brahman. In addition to these, there are other aspects of yoga including philosophy, ethics, and psychology. Modern yoga is often associated with Hinduism, although some practitioners have adopted elements of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. It was first developed in India over 5,000 years ago. Today, yoga continues to spread across the world. There are different types of yoga including Hatha, Kundalini, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Yin, and others.
20. Walking meditation
Walking meditation is a type of mindful meditation which involves paying attention to the present moment while walking. This type of meditation is particularly useful for people who suffer from anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression.
Walking meditation is a form of meditative walking, which has been practiced for centuries in many cultures. It was developed by the Buddhist monks and nuns of Tibet as an aid to their spiritual practice. The practice involves focusing on one’s breathing while walking slowly in a straight line.
Any form of slow and intentional walking can be meditative this is often why people say if you feel you need mental clarity or a mind reset to go for a walk outside. It does wonders for our mental health.
21. Dancing – self-expression meditation
Dancing acts as an emotional outlet as it is a form of self-expression. It allows us to express what is on our minds in a physical way and through that process, we practice being present with our thoughts. It is a great way to practice awareness of the mind-body connection.
22. Spiritual Meditation
Meditation is often directly related or connotated to spiritual practices. The meditation practice is rooted in Buddhism traditions as a means to reach ‘spiritual enlightenment or awakening’. Later these ideas also translated into the Western world and still exist in today’s modern world. These types of mindfulness practices are the basis of spiritual belief structures among many people. Meditation as a concept is however not exclusive to spirituality or type of religion.
23. Chanting and Mantra Meditation:
Usually done in a group but can also be done alone where a specific and singular mantra would be verbally and repeatedly chanted (traditionally most mantras are in Sanskrit). This usually goes hand in hand with specific meditation postures or mudras.
24. Buddhist Meditation
Buddhist meditation is a method of self-development where one learns to control the mind and cultivate wisdom. The practice consists of three main components: mindfulness meditation, which encourages awareness of thoughts and emotions; concentration meditation, which focuses on developing focus and attention; and insight meditation, which aims to uncover insights into reality.
There are many other forms of meditation that fall under the Buddhist meditation philosophies.
25. Transcendental Meditation:
A practice of meditation where you sit in silence and use a singular idea, thought, theme, or mantra that you repeat in your mind. Focusing all your attention on your breath is both a form of transcendental and silent meditation. This is a technique widely used in the traditions of Buddhist practices.
26. Self-enquiry meditation
Self-inquiry (Sanskrit: ātma-vicāra, Pali: paṭipadā) is a form of Buddhist meditation in which the meditator investigates his or her mind and body. A common technique used in self-inquiry meditation is the reflection upon the question “Who am I?”
27. Loving-kindness meditation:
Also referred to as kindness meditation, compassion meditation or Metta meditation
In this practice you bring your awareness to the people in your life (both near and far, known and unknown, liked or disliked) and direct positive energy and thoughts toward them. It’s a wonderful technique for decreasing anger and increasing understanding, positivity, and compassion.
Its goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything, even a person’s enemies and sources of stress. While breathing deeply, practitioners open their minds to receiving loving kindness. They then send messages of loving kindness to the world, to specific people, or to their loved ones.
28. Zen Meditation
Zen meditation is one of several Buddhist traditions within Mahayana Buddhism. It involves concentrating on a single object such as a candle flame, mantra, sound, or breath. The goal is to achieve enlightenment, which is described as an awakening to one’s true nature.
29. Vipassana Meditation
One of India’s most ancient forms of meditation, Vipassana, means to see things for what they are. It involves observing your thoughts and feelings as they are without getting involved, trying to control, or dwelling over them. Simply just gaining insight into your thoughts and seeing them for what they truly are rather than judging them. You, therefore, don’t consciously control your experience.
This practice teaches you to respond to certain situations based on reality instead of preconceived ideas or your projections of them. Our mind has a way of contorting our thoughts through overthinking and thus transforming them into worries or unrealistic realities – vipassana allows us to gain clarity by seeing through these intrusive thoughts.
Vipassana Meditation vs Samatha meditation
Buddhism addresses two major types of meditation they are called Vipassana and Samatha.
Vipassana can be translated as “Insight,” a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens. Samatha can be translated as “concentration” or “tranquility.” It is a state in which the mind is brought to rest, focused only on one item and not allowed to wander. When this is done, a deep calm pervades body and mind, a state of tranquility which must be experienced to be understood.
Vipassana exists as is the oldest Buddhist meditation practice. The meditator directs their attention to an intense examination of certain aspects of their existence. The meditator is trained to notice and question more of his own life and life experiences.
This meditation technique, also called “Insight Meditation,” involves sitting in silence, focusing on the breath and noting any and all physical or mental sensations that arise. The idea is to find “insight” into the true nature of reality (which vipassana teaches is suffering), by examining all aspects of your existence. Multiday vipassana retreats are a popular way to dive deeper into this practice.
Vipassana silent retreats adopt these techniques, through a 10-day excursion where the persons taking part cannot speak or make contact with anybody else to turn inward and question their suffering.
Samatha techniques are more commonly used in most forms of meditation.
Vipassana, therefore, allows the mind to run free without judgment, thoughts come up and then pass through, while Samatha aims to focus and quiet the mind while bringing the mind to stillness.
30. Hindu or Vedic Meditation
Is a form of meditation that originated in India. It has been practiced for thousands of years and was developed by the ancient Indian sages who were called rishis (saints).
Vedic Meditation is based on ancient Indian philosophy and traditions. The practice is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘veda’ which means knowledge, and ‘metta’, which means compassion. It entails listening to one’s inner voice of wisdom, followed by deep relaxation and the development of calmness to achieve a state beyond consciousness. This is achieved through controlled breathing and repetition of mantras.
31. Yoga and Yogic Meditation
Yogic meditation is about relaxing the body and mind. The idea behind yoga is getting rid of stress from daily life and calming down your mind. Yoga helps people find a balance between relaxation and concentration. It has been used to help people deal with depression and anxiety, and it also works well for improving sleep quality.
32. Chakra and Kundalini Meditation
‘Chakras’ are known as energy centers the word itself means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. Although it is a fairly modern concept about meditation it also shares similar themes and concepts to Kundalini Yoga. There are 7 chakras, they exist along the midline of the body (root, sacral, navel, heart, throat, third eye, crown) and each of them has a respective color associated with them.
During a chakra meditation, the emphasis is put on bringing your awareness and attention to each of these energy centers to align them and allow the energy to flow freely throughout the body. Each chakra is also symbolic and representative of certain aspects of life.
Kundalini meditation works with similar concepts.
33. Christian meditation
Christian Meditation is a form of spiritual practice where one focuses on thoughts of God by repeating a specific phrase or prayer. As a result, many Christians believe that this technique helps them concentrate on God’s message, which leads to higher levels of faith and spirituality.
34. Sufi Meditation
Sufi Meditation is a form of meditation that was developed by the Sufis, a group of Islamic mystics. Sufi meditation is a simple and easy technique to meditate. It can be done in any place, at any time of the day or night. The method is based on the teachings of Rumi (1207-1273).
The practice focuses on the spiritual union between God and human beings via prayer, contemplation, and self-discipline. People who do Sufi meditation develop inner peace and tranquility.
The most popular type is mindfulness, which involves learning to pay attention to the present moment and notice your thoughts without reacting to them. It’s a great way to learn how to control your emotions and improve relationships with others.
35. Taoist meditation
Taoism meditation is based on the concept of balance between the yin and yang, which is often represented by water and fire. During the process of meditation, practitioners become aware of the body’s energy flow, balance, and harmony. This practice has been used for thousands of years to help people achieve personal balance and health.
36. Sound Meditation
Sound mediation uses sound produced by various types of musical instruments or sound waves to relax the body and mind. It promotes self-inquiry and overall wellbeing.
Different instruments such as singing bowls, harps, chimes, and more are used to create different sounds. These instruments all create a certain frequency that alters the phases of brainwaves (certain frequencies pertain to certain brainwaves, theta, alpha, beta, delta) and calms the busyness of the brain down.
A very common way of using sound for mediation is through a sound healing bath. This is typically done by using Tibetan singing bowls that produce certain frequencies and allow you to deepen into a meditative state. Sound healing baths are usually done in a room, they last around 60 minutes and are guided by an instructor that lightly taps the bowls. This type of mediation is also a form of therapy.
37. Journaling meditation
Journaling meditation is a form of therapy that allows you to write down your thoughts and feelings about something – it is also a form of self-expression and a way to process these thoughts and feelings by getting them out of our heads. This is especially useful when we feel we cannot speak about something that is on our minds.
The goal of journaling meditation is to become aware of what’s going on inside and to allow yourself to express how you feel. Journaling helps us understand ourselves better, which leads to greater happiness.
38. Art meditation – Painting, drawing, sculpting, or creating art
Any form of art brings us into a meditative state as it makes us fully present and “in the zone”.
Art meditation is a form of spiritual practice that helps one connect to his inner self through artistic expressions such as painting, sculpture, dance, music, poetry, and other visual arts. The goal of art meditation is to help us become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and feelings to gain insight into ourselves and our world.
Gardening is a great mindfulness practice as we focus our attention on a specific act of doing. It is also a form of nature meditation.
Gardening meditation is a new form of mindfulness-based stress reduction that works with nature and plants while focusing on growing healthy food for both humans and animals. This unique method helps people reduce stress, become happier, and feel less anxious.
Fishing is calming for the mind while enjoying nature from freshwater lakes, rivers, oceans, etc. As you fish, you must focus on catching only one thing at a time, and then release it once you’ve caught it. The fishing meditation technique takes advantage of this process by focusing on catching a single thought, relaxing into the experience, and releasing it when you’re done.
41. Cleaning or chore meditation
Cleaning can be very meditative simply because there is a lot of intent that goes into the act of cleaning. A lot of people clean when they feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed simply because it allows their minds to let go while they are focusing their attention on a physical movement.
Having a clean and organized environment has also been shown to improve our mental health – the clean and controlled environment makes our minds feel clear and organized. Our surrounding hugely influences our minds!
This is also a form of movement meditation.
Cooking works similarly to cleaning – it is a very attentive and focused activity.
People who cook and love to cook believe that cooking is a form of therapy. By preparing wholesome meals, they feel better about themselves and give back to others.
43. Mindful eating
This simply means cultivating awareness around eating. It starts from preparing your food, noticing every bite and the flavors, and cleaning the kitchen afterward. Whenever we eat we should try and take time to sit down in a tranquil place, away from distraction and screens and just enjoy having a nourishing meal.
Mindful eating is when we eat mindfully – slow down, chew food well, and stop eating when satisfied. Mindful eating means that we are aware of our body signals, such as hunger, satiety, fullness, bloating, and cravings for carbohydrates, sugar, and fat. Mindful eating also includes how much we think about food while enjoying it. This helps us feel better physically and mentally.
Research shows that mindfulness training can be helpful to treat eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and obesity.
44. Shower meditation
Shower thoughts… it is a thing and this is purely because a hot shower brings our nervous system into a relaxed state which eases our minds and lets it runs free rather than ruminating.
Shower meditation is a great way to relax, unwind, and de-stress after a long day at work. To do this, just take a nice hot shower, turn off all distractions, close your eyes, and visualize yourself relaxing in a beautiful place. The beauty of shower meditation is that you don’t need any fancy equipment other than a shower.
How to Make Mindfulness a Habit
Dancing on your own to your favorite song, taking a walk through nature, or sitting in stillness can all be a form of making mindfulness and meditation a daily habit. It is therefore very unique to the individual to what brings them to this state of mindfulness and serenity. As said before there is no right or wrong way to do this. Meditating for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes all have benefits and in the long-term when done consistently has a huge impact on the compassion and kindness you show to others and yourself.
What Techniques are Ideal for Beginners?
Many people find meditation ‘inaccessible’, difficult, and most intimidating because there is this belief that you have to be a certain type of person or be at a certain level to be able to meditate. This just simply isn’t true and these simple techniques are accessible to all if the intention and willingness are there! Again choose something that you enjoy, you don’t find overwhelming and a practice that you can stay consistent in – this is your journey and experimenting with different techniques helps you find that which works for you best.
How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
The best results will come from doing any meditation style regularly. For 10 days, try a technique and see how you respond to it as a daily practice. Don’t be concerned if the mind is busy because you can’t meditate wrong. This is usual. Rather than forcing the mind to be still, meditation is about redirecting the focus and attention to give yourself a break.
Meditation 101: What Type of Meditation Is Best for You?
There is not a ‘right’ type of medicine but rather all depends on your personal preference. Reaching a meditative state has all to do with presence. Whatever brings you into a present state is the ‘right’ meditation for you.
Which Type of Meditation Is Best for Anxiety?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to meditation. It’s important to find the one that works best for your unique needs and personality. For example, the type of meditation that is most helpful against anxiety is not necessarily the best one against depression. Similarly what helps you overcome anxiety might not be the same meditation practice that helps somebody else.
How Much Should I Meditate?
Aim to find a few minutes in your day to drop into the present moment – whatever that may be. It is less about the amount of time and more about consistency to build a daily practice. Go at your own pace and simplify it. You don’t need to do anything complicated this will just leave you feeling overwhelmed. Setting an intention, while in a quiet place, before you start helps to sit in that present moment for longer. Start with 5 minutes and increase it from there. You don’t have to sit in a specific way either – lie down if you want!
What is the most effective type of meditation?
No one technique is more effective than the other. It is all about being intentional with the present moment. Realize your feelings and thoughts that might arise. Your mind will wander, so the purpose is not to force your mind to be empty or still. Rather when you feel your mind drifting slowly bring your attention and focus back to your breath. The aim is also not to analyze judge or formulate explanations for your thoughts but rather just to notice they are there and stay curious – allow the thoughts to pass through your mind rather than attaching to them.