11 Types Of Meditation: WHICH TYPE OF MEDITATION IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Body position, hand gestures, eyes open or shut aside, from the outside every meditator looks pretty much the same. Calm, peaceful, serene (or at least trying to be). But what’s happening on the inside varies dramatically. Not only is each individual’s meditation practice utterly unique – every single time they meditate – but they also could be following any one of a number of types of mediation.
Put simply, the different types of meditation are a range of techniques that provide guidance, a template of sorts, to help you achieve your mediation intention or goal.
In terms of intention, mediation types tend lean more heavily into either one of two camps: calming or insight meditation. Calming meditations, aim to quiet the mind, while insight meditations, start with setting an intention to help guide you to unearthing innate insights or developing qualities such as wisdom and kindness.
Just to confuse matters even further, the different specific types of meditation often combine elements of both calming and insight mediation.
Then, there’s a further categorisation: guided and unguided mediations. The former is when a teacher guides you through the basic steps of your chosen style of meditation, either in person or via a meditation app. With unguided meditation you go solo.
If it all sounds a but complicated, we promise you, it isn’t.
Nevertheless, if you need some motivation to get started might want to check out our guide to the benefits of meditation Link to Types of Meditation feature. There’s some pretty incredible research-backed reasons why you should seek out a mediation style that suits you and get started your own journey.
If you want to get your head around the different styles of meditation look no further. Read on for 11 of the most popular types of meditation.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
When most people (in the West at least) think of ‘meditation’ there’s a strong likelihood they have ‘mindfulness’ in, eh, mind. One of most popular meditation techniques, mindfulness (or present moment mediation) encourages you to become aware of your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or engage with them. You simply observe them, mindfully take note of any patterns, and allow them to pass on through, like clouds floating in the sky.
2. Focused Attention Meditation
Focused meditation can be one of the most accessible forms of mediation. This is because it involves using an external aid to anchor the mind and maintain awareness. For example, you can focus on your breath, count mala beads, listen to a repetitive sound, or even watch a candle flicker. When you notice your mind starting to wander (and it inevitably will) simply return to your chosen anchor of concentration. This is a great one for building focus and concentration in every day life too.
3. Body Scan Meditation
Body scan mediation, or progressive meditation, pretty much does what it says on the tin. You carry out a mental body scan, slowing moving from the top of the head to the end of your toes. As you move through the body you can consciously let go of any tension you might find. Another way to practice is by gently tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time as you scan from top to toe. It’s a great one to help unwind before bedtime, or ground yourself when you’re feel stressed, by syncing body and mind.
4. Mantra Meditation
If the meditation brings to mind for you someone seated cross legged chatting ‘Ommmmm’ then you already (kind of) have a grasp of what mantra meditation is. This type of yoga is similar to focused meditation except that instead of your breath or another external aid, you focus on a mantra. It can be a word, phrase, or sound, such as the popular ‘Om.’ The idea is that by repeating your mantra over and over it creates subtle vibrations, helping you enter a deeper state of awareness and meditation.
5. Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness, or metta, mediation typically involves bringing awareness to others and directing positive energy and thoughts toward them. You can choose family, friends, or acquaintances, and even people you don’t know (or those don’t particularly like!) The research on this one stacks up too. Its proven to help people feel more connected and empathic towards not only others but themselves too. As a result, practising this form of insight meditation can help you let go of unhappy feelings, resentment and anger.
6. Visualisation Meditation
You guessed it, visualisation meditation invites you to picture something (or someone) as your object of focus for the duration of your meditation. To do this, choose a positive scene or image to visualise, and use all five senses to add as much detail as possible. Observe the mind, and any physical sensations that might pop up. You can also imagine yourself succeeding at specific goals, which is intended to increase focus and motivation.
7. Spiritual Meditation
Spiritual meditation is similar to prayer. It’s a mindful practice whereby you seek a connection to something that is greater than the individual self (like God or the Universe), and trust that everything happens for a reason. Different religions practice spiritual meditation in different ways. Many people also practice it independently of any religious or spiritual beliefs. Essential oils, like frankincense, myrrh, or palo santo, are commonly used to heighten the spiritual experience.
8. Chakra Meditation
The intention behind chakra meditation is to align and rebalance the body’s seven chakras. ‘Chakras’ originate from the ancient Hindu and Tantric Buddist traditions. They are believed to be centres of energy located throughout the body, and they correspond to bundles of nerves and major organs – such as the heart and the base of the spine. It’s said that when our chakras are ‘blocked’ or ‘unbalanced’ it can cause negative physical or mental symptoms. Chakra meditation is believed to bring them back into balance.
9. Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana is a form of deep contemplation that aims to help you find insight into the true nature of reality – which vipassana teaches is suffering. It involves sitting in complete silence, witnessing the breath and any physical and mental sensations that arise. Across the world, Vipassana centres offer retreats where guests are asked not to communicate with others (not even eye contact) for days on end, and to spend hours each day sitting in meditation. Not for the faint hearted.
10. Transcendental Meditation
The ultimate goal of Transcendental Meditation is to transcend or rise above your current state of being, and, naturally, that takes a bit commitment to achieve. Students of this type of meditation are encouraged to sit for 20 minutes twice daily, repeating a mantra. In that way, transcendental meditation is similar to mantra meditation, however every practitioner uses a personal mantra that is given to them by a Transcendental Meditation teacher.
11. Movement or Yoga Meditation
Many styles of yoga (10 Types of yoga) use meditative techniques to relax the nervous system, or simply invite you to meditatively focus on the breath and present moment while you move.
Yoga isn’t the only type of ‘moving meditation,’ however. You can practice movement meditation while you’re mindfully walking, gardening, or doing any other form of gentle motion. All forms of movement meditation are rooted in presence. Simply focus on the movement of the body to encourage the mind to grow quiet.
Remember, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to meditate. Every practice is personal, and just putting some quiet time aside each day for you is half the battle. For support and guidance on your meditation journey, at Reformation we offer a weekly complimentary online Meditation Club every Wednesday morning (Class schedule) and our online ‘Get Mediating’ course (On-Demand+) as well as incorporating it into all of our in person and online classes. You can also keep an eye out on our Workshop Schedule and Class Schedule for new upcoming courses and events.