Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries, and it is still growing in popularity in the West. This is because meditation helps to cultivate a more focused mind, reduces stress levels, and enhances overall well-being in many different ways.
There are many different types of meditation, and each type comes with its own benefits and practicalities. In this article, we will explore seven of the most popular forms of meditation, as well as the most important benefits that can be gained from meditating.
Some Of The Most Important Benefits Of Meditation Include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Meditation can help to reduce stress and anxiety by teaching you how to focus your attention and by letting go of negative thought patterns.
- Improved sleep: Meditation can help to improve sleep by reducing stress and anxiety, and by promoting greater relaxation.
- Increased focus and concentration: Meditation can help to increase focus and concentration by teaching you how to control your attention and avoid distractions.
- Improved mood: Meditation can help to improve your mood by reducing stress and anxiety, and by increasing feelings of happiness and well-being.
- Enhanced self-awareness: Meditation can help to enhance self-awareness by teaching you how to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
- Increased compassion: Meditation can help to increase compassion by teaching you how to connect with your own suffering and the suffering of others.
- Improved physical health: Meditation can help to improve your physical health by reducing stress levels, anxiety, and pain.
What Are The 7 Most Popular Forms Of Meditation?
1. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is a type of meditation where a person listens to a teacher or a recording that guides them through a process. The guide may include instructions on how to focus your attention, as well as calming music or nature sounds.
Guided meditation is a great option for beginners, as it can help you to learn the basics of meditation quickly and to develop a regular practice.
You just sit or lie down, relax, and follow the instructions. You may be led through a body-awareness routine, or up a mountain path to a secluded beach… the possibilities are endless. However, the end goal is normally to develop your sense of personal power and well-being.
2. Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation
Metta meditation is a type of meditation where you sit quietly and focus your attention on the people in your life, on nature, or on a ‘situation’ that you are wanting to improve.
This type of meditation is a great teacher especially if you are focusing on people that you are having problems with or even dislike. By projecting positive energy on them, you can change the way you feel about them and therefore change the vibration to improve any relationship or situation.
Loving Kindness Meditation will help alleviate your anger and fear, bringing about a greater sense of peace and calm within your being. It’s normally practiced by bringing awareness to your heart center… then breathing in unconditional love for yourself and for those you choose to think about.
3. Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the present moment. In Vipassana meditation, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This type of meditation helps you develop insight into your own mind and let go of negative emotions.
This is my favorite form of group meditation and I have been to several 3-day retreats as well as 10-day retreats. And while you are sitting within a group of people the experience is very personal as you are reminded to always bring your attention back to your breath and any sensations within your body.
A teacher is always present during the sessions and after to answer any questions the practitioners may have.
4. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment. Through Mindfulness meditation, you will develop a greater sense of self-awareness as well as experience a reduction in your stress levels.
During meditation, thoughts will arise, and this is ok. Our minds are ‘thought-producing machines’ and therefore they are just fulfilling their purpose when they are thinking.
With mindfulness meditation, the goal is to allow the thoughts to pass gently through our minds without any attachment to them or judgment of them. It’s easy if you imagine your thoughts to be like leaves floating past with the current of a gentle stream.
5. Zen Meditation
Zen meditation is a type of meditation that originated in China. There are two main schools of Zen Meditation. The Rinzai School teaches you to focus your attention on a koan, which is a paradoxical question or statement. The purpose is to empty your mind because there is no solution to the koan.
The second main school is Soto, and they prefer to ‘sit and observe,’ allowing their thoughts, feelings, and sensations to arise and dissolve spontaneously, without attachment.
Zen meditation helps develop concentration and to move towards a state of enlightenment.
6. Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation is a type of meditation that involves repeating a mantra to yourself. The mantra becomes an ‘anchor’ and can be a word, phrase, or a sound. Mantra meditation can help you to quiet your busy mind by giving it something to focus on which will help you achieve an inner state of harmony.
Specific mantras are chosen because reciting them will produce a positive resonance in your body and mind. This resonance will then positively raise your vibration.
Common mantras include the sound ‘om,’ which is considered to be the sound of creation in the ancient Sanskrit language. Other mantras can be any positive affirmation or habit that you are trying to reinforce within yourself, including ‘I am enough,’ ‘I am worthy,’ or ‘I love being a wealthy person.’
The mantra can be spoken out loud or within your mind. As you become more relaxed, the reciting of your mantra will fall in line with your breathing pattern. Just gently keep returning your mind back to it every time you notice that your mind has strayed to thoughts of other things.
7. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation is a type of meditation that involves repeating a mantra silently to yourself. The mantra is given to you by a trained instructor. Transcendental Meditation can also help you achieve a state of deep relaxation and to reduce stress.
TM is normally practiced for 20 minutes at a time, twice a day. The premise is that, with continued practice, you will be able to ‘transcend’ or rise above your current state of being and become something ‘better.’
Each of these forms of meditation has its own benefits, and the best type of meditation for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are new to meditation, it is a good idea to try a few different types to see which one works best for you before settling on one particular style.
Some Additional Tips For Getting Started With Meditation:
- Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Start with short meditation sessions of 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the length of your sessions as you become more comfortable.
Be patient and consistent with your practice. Meditation takes time and effort, but it is a very worthwhile investment in your health and future well-being.