Its pretty common nowadays to use the word meditation for a lot of things. Sure, there are brilliant definitions out there and in the end - everything that brings you into a state of relaxation is just right. No matter if you call it meditation, yoga, mind travelling or simply sleeping. Sometimes however, the word is used too universal and certain techniques get lost or don't receive as much appreciation as they deserve! To find out what's suitable for you we first have to define what the word actually means. Afterwards we will dive deeper into the different types of meditation techniques!
"Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth."
That's what it says in the medical dictionary. So lets have a closer look at the main points of what the characteristics of meditation are:
You need to be able to focus your mind to practice meditation successfully. If you can't concentrate on your meditation you will fail most likely fail to achieve your goals.
Sound, Object, Visualization, Breath, Movement, Attention Itself
You have a lot of possibilities and variations when it comes to meditation. You can create your own meditation guide consisting of only your preferences! We will get to the different types of meditation below.
Increase awareness of the present moment
You were wondering how to answer the question "What is meditation" in one sentence? Well here you go! One of the main goals you can achieve by meditation is to increase the awareness of the present moment.
Reduce Stress, Promote Relaxation
If you can manage to be relaxed enough to perform meditation on a regular base then you can expect great long term benefits from it. You will reduce your general stress level and hopefully be more relaxed after all!
Personal and Spiritual Growth
While this is a rather abstract point and barely measurable its definitely worth mentioning. Being more relaxed and patient in life you will be more aware of your surroundings.
What are the different types of Meditation?
There are different ways on how to divide meditation techniques into areas. Since meditation has a religious background there is no right or wrong for a correct definition. During our research we found different approaches on how to categorize different meditation techniques: (All of our resources can be found in the bottom of this post)
Open Awareness Mindfulness Guided
open monitoring effortless awareness
Do you need to know how to put them into different categories?
Not necessarily! How much do you want to get involved with the topic? If you are looking to perform meditation on a regular base so it becomes a major part in your life - yes you should definitely look more into the history of meditation!
That being said, you won't find all the answers in this post. We highly recommend you to check out our list of resources in the bottom to get further information.
We will give you a first insight into different meditation techniques. You don't need to be an expert to begin with. Get familiar with the methods and functionality first - the rest will come automatically!
If you are looking for different types of meditation techniques to get a first impression and slowly get started - here is our list with further details:
Zen Meditation (Zazen)
Zen Meditation is also referred to as zazen. It comes from the original Chinese Zen Buddhism and is translated basically into "seated meditation". Zen Meditation is a practical experience that should help to get insight into the nature of existence.
There are different types of meditation techniques based around Zen - and in the end your own personal experience is the only thing that matters.
Benefits of Zen Meditation
- Better sleep and rest periods
- Strengthened immune system
- Reduced blood pressure
- Uplifting mood
- Increasing sensitivity and awareness
- Reduce anxiety & stress
In order to perform chakra meditation you have to be aware of what chakras actually are: Energy Points that are part of your subtle body. That means that they are non-physical. You can't actually see or touch them. There are supposed to be seven chakras in your body that are supposed to be the most important:
1st Chakra, Tailbone
2nd Chakra, Below your belly button
Solar Plexus Chakra
3rd Chakra, Below your heart down to belly button
4th Chakra, Centre of your chest
5th Chakra, Base of your throat
Third Eye Chakra
6th Chakra, Centre of forehead
7th Chakra, Top of your head
The ahakras have different characteristics and depending on your need you should choose a meditation technique accordingly! You need more information? Head over here to find more material or check out the video below as an example and inspiration!
As it describes in Wikipedia: "Mindfulness involves intentionally bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. It can be developed through the practice of meditation, which can be defined as the intentional self-regulation of attention from moment to moment."
The important part of this definition is the awareness of the present moment. With help of this meditation technique you are not trying to reach or experience a different state. Your focus lays on the actual moment.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
There are a variety of proven benefits as the result of constant mindfulness meditation. These benefits can be both mental and physical. Here are just some of the facts:
- Decrease of anxiety, stress, depression & exhaustion
- Increased Memory ability
- Element of treatment for depressions & burn out
- Improved reaction time
Read on for further information:
Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World
Helpguide.org: Benefits of Mindfulness
All different types of meditation techniques have variations. You could basically take different approaches and combine them to your own unique program. There are a couple of variations from the mindfulness meditation that are worth mentioning: Mindfulness-based stress reduction and Vipassana Meditation.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
The transcendental meditation technique is coming from the Indian culture and was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Practised 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with your eyes closed it is considered one of the best meditation techniques for beginners.
When performing transcendental meditation the normal thinking process is replaced by a state of pure consciousness. Being in this state you should ideally be able to achieve perfect stillness, stability and rest.
Hundreds of scientific research studies have shown that practising the Transcendental Meditation technique:
- reduces stress
- enhances brain functioning
- increases intelligence and creativity
- improves memory and learning ability
- improves academic performance
- improves health and well-being
- develops the personality
- improves interpersonal relationships
- enhances athletic performance and promotes inner peace.
Source: Maharishi University of Management
Primordial Sound Meditation
Another interesting meditation technique to start with is the primordial sound meditation. In order to practice it you need to understand what a mantra is. A mantra is a specific vibration that exists in the Universe carried over by old sages from thousands of years ago. Taking into account the time and place of your birth its possible to find your personal mantra: Its the sound or frequency that the universe created when you came "from the unmanifest to the manifest (according to this system of meditation)"
Now that you know your personal mantra you can use it in different types of meditation techniques. It is said that when repeating your mantra in meditation "your mind is no longer caught up in its noisy internal chatter and is instead exposed to its own deepest nature: pure awareness."
Loving-Kindness Meditation (Mettā)
Loving-kindness meditation, also known as metta bhavana, is a beautiful technique coming from the Buddhist tradition. You can perform loving-kindness meditation regardless of any religion. Its a method of developing compassion.
The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. If resistance is experienced then it indicates that feelings of unworthiness are present.
It further says that there are four types of persons to develop loving-kindness towards:
• a respected, beloved person - such as a spiritual teacher;
• a dearly beloved - which could be a close family member or friend;
• a neutral person - somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards;
• a hostile person - someone you are currently having difficulty with.
For more information we highly recommend to read the full article from Buddhanet.
How to meditate correctly?
There are all different types of meditation techniques out there. So if you are just getting started, all the options might be too overwhelming. Don't worry - if you are seriously interested in gaining long term benefits from meditation you will get there eventually.
While every technique is special there are some basic rules that you should keep in mind before starting to meditate:
- Experiment with different techniques
If you just get started there is no way to know which method is the best for you.
- Start easy
Meditating can be hard! Really hard! Maintaining in the same position in full silence is exhausting for an untrained body. Slowly get used to it.
- Find a peaceful place
In order to perform any meditation technique you need to find a quiet, peaceful environment for yourself. Go to a place where you can be by yourself and feel comfortable!
- Wear comfortable clothes
...because meditating in your work clothes is already a terrible way to start. You need to feel comfortable!
- Don't forget to stretch
Again - sitting in the same position is exhausting. Especially in the beginning of your meditation career. Plan 5-10 minutes every time at the end to do some stretching.
Remember: There is no right or wrong!
Everything that works for you is good! Have a look at your personal situation first. Decide which option is suitable for you and start researching for it.
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