Meditation has dozens of benefits. This ancient Eastern practice is now widely recognized in the Western world as one of the best methods to fight anxiety, improve brain functions, increase attention spans, help fight diseases & increase immunity, enhance metabolism, reduce ageing and improve the overall feeling of happiness.
Hundreds of millions of people from all around the world are practicing meditation on a regular basis and are reaping all of its benefits. You’ve probably tried before to meditate, but you were unsuccessful. Maybe you are new to this area and you are willing to give it a try. You have landed on the right page. Here we will highlight all the different types of meditation you can practice in the 21st century.
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Meditation Techniques – General Types
Generally, scientists classify meditation types based on how they focus your attention – open monitoring and focused attention. While focused attention meditation techniques require you to focus your whole attention on a single object, open monitoring meditation techniques involve keeping your perceptions open and focusing on the experience rather than on an external object.
We will start with the focused attention types of meditation.
- Focused Attention Meditation Techniques
Chakra meditation is part of yoga meditations, a tradition that goes back to the 1700 B.C. and whose goal is to enable the practitioner to reach supreme self-knowledge and spiritual purification.
In the Chakra Meditation practice, you need to focus on one of the seven chackras of the body, also known as centers of energy. Typically, you need to chant specific mantras, such as “lam, vam, yam, ram, ham, om). This type of meditation, along with Kundalini Meditation, should only be attempted with a teacher by your side. You can also do it alone but only after trying it with an experience guru at least once.
Being a part of Buddhist Meditation, Zen Meditation has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades, becoming one of the most prominent types of meditation techniques in our age. Zen Meditation, or Zazen, has strong roots in the Chinese Zen Buddhism, tracing back to the ancient Indian monk Bodhidharma who lived in the 6th century BC. A similar movement called Soto Zen has been born in Japan and Korea.
This practice involves meditating seated on a cushion or floor, with legs crossed, focusing mainly on your breath. You can also practice it in the “Shikantaza” way, which translated means “just sitting”. In this form, you don’t need to use any specific object of meditation. Rather, you need to be aware of the surroundings and observe what passes through your mind.
Zen Meditation is a very sober type of meditation. You can actually find tens of thousands of communities spread all around the world who practice this type of meditation. You can also find plenty of information online on how to do it properly.
The most important aspect when practicing Zen Meditation is keeping your back straight, mouth closed and eyes lowered, with your gaze resting on the ground or on an object on the ground.
Also known as Loving Kindness Meditation, this type of focused attention meditation technique comes from the Buddhist tradition, mainly the Tibetan lineage. Some of the proven benefits of this technique include: development of positive emotions, improved compassion, increased self-esteem and self-acceptance, gaining a purpose in life and increased desire to help others and to understand them.
To practice this type of meditation, you need to sit down, with your eyes open or closed. However, what really important is the focus you have in this meditation, not the position. Always use this progression when meditating:
– Focus on yourself
– Continue focusing on a good friend
– Focus on a neutral person, such as a roommate or a classmate
– Focus on a difficult person in your life
– Concentrate on all four of the above, at an equal level
– Start to focus gradually on the entire universe
The more you practice this type of meditation, the more joy you get to feel and the happier you become. Metta Meditation is beneficial for self-centered people who realize their needs to love others more and begin giving out more to those around them.
This is a Hindu meditation whose origin dates way back in the Hindu traditions. A mantra is normally a word or syllable that doesn’t carry any particular meaning. However, it is repeated for the sole purpose of enjoying higher levels of focus.
As with any other types of meditation, practicing mantra is done with your spine straight, sitting in a comfortable position. You need to repeat the mantra in your head over and over again during the whole session. Even though this practice might seem boring at times and quite ineffective, as you repeat the mantra, it somehow creates a powerful mental vibration that allows your mind to dive into deeper levels of awareness. Soon enough, you find yourself into a field or pure consciousness.
The more you repeat this process, the easier it becomes for you to meditate. Mantra is an ancient tool that can very well change your whole life by enabling you to discover the source of everything in our universe.
Here are some of the most common mantras:
– om namah shivaya
As with Chakra meditation, it is recommended to try for the first few times with an experienced guru alongside. Meditating using the Mantra technique is for everybody who wants to integrate with the universe and find inner peace.
Open Monitoring Meditation Techniques
The Vipassana Meditation technique is another famous type of focused attention meditation. Being the younger sister of Zen Meditation, Vipassana Meditation is part of Buddhist practices. “Vipassana” is actually a Pali word meaning “clear seeing” or “insight”. This traditional Buddhist practice dates back to the 6th century BC.
Generally, practicing this meditation technique is quite difficult, especially for beginners. For starters, you need to practice mindfulness meditation for the first two weeks. Once you master your mind and body and you are able to achieve “access concentration”, and you can keep your thoughts under control, you can move forward to developing “clear insight”.
Ideally, you should sit cross-legged on a firm support. Whether it’s a chair or a mat on the floor, make sure it is firm and does not move around. Focus all your attention on your breath and try to notice the subtle sensation of the air passing through your abdomen.
As you continue focusing on your breath, you will soon notice how various sensations continue to appear. You might have some emotions, feel heat in the body, hear certain sounds, etc. Just notice these phenomena, but do not linger on them. Instead, return to the sensation of breathing. All of these sensations should simply be background noises, with the main focal point being your breath.
Start taking “mental notes” of what you feel and experience, and observe those objects without becoming attached to them. Once you keep identifying your feelings and interior sounds or emotions, but you manage not to be captured by them, you will eventually get to experience that feeling of inner freedom and peace we all want.
Together with Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana Meditation is a breathing meditation practice that requires constant focus on your breath. Vipassana is an amazing practice for people who want to understand how their mind works. Because there are no rituals or formalities attached to this practice, Vipassana Meditation has become increasingly famous today. You can find tens of free courses online and a lot of precious resources.
Being a modern approach of the ancient Buddhist meditation practices, Mindfulness meditation has strong influences from Vietnamese Zen or Vipassana Meditation. During this practice, you need to focus solely on the present moment by paying close attention to all thoughts, sensations or emotions that arise within.
Mindfulness meditation is simpler than Vipassana. All you need to focus on is your breathing. When you breathe in, think that you breathe in. The same goes true for when you breathe out. The effort is minimum. Whenever a thought comes by and tries to take your focus away, realize that and banish that thought.
You can practice mindfulness during everyday activities, such as walking, eating or talking. However, in the beginning it is recommended to practice mindfulness only seated, because you need to learn how to control your feelings and focus on your breath.
There are several mindfulness meditation techniques and exercises you can try. Some of the best are The Ten Seconds Countdown, Conscious Observation, One Minute of Mindfulness or Mindfulness Cues. You can find all of them here.
Mindfulness meditation is for the general public. Everyone can practice this type of meditation, regardless of previous experience or skill level. The “mindfulness movement” has continued to grow and is expected to reach 10 million participants in the USA alone. If your focus is deeper transformation, mindfulness meditation should be the initial step in the process. From here, you can move forward to Zazen, Vipassana or Metta meditation.
This is another well-famed meditation practice that has been widely promoted in the Westernized world by celebrities, such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Jennifer Aniston, Jess Bridges or Jim Carrey. At the moment there are over 5 million practitioners of transcendental meditation in the US alone. There are over 600 papers and scientific researchers that back up the benefits of this type of meditation.
Transcedental meditation is quite a simple practice. Due to its popularity, there are many instructors willing to teach you how to meditate, but there is a fee. Only licensed instructors know the ins and outs of this practice.
The Taoist Meditation, part of the Chinese Meditation branch, is a meditation for anxiety. There are several types of Taoist meditations you can try, such as breathing meditation, emptiness meditation or neiguan. All of them are specifically designed to give you more longevity and improve health. Additionally, their purpose is to unify your spirit and body in order to help you achieve a flawless balance in your body.
Practicing Taoist meditations involves forgetting about everything else and focusing on your vital force or “spirit”. This is a meditation for healing or an anxiety meditation whose final goal is to help you attain complete healing. If you love to be connected with yourself, with the nature and you want to experience perfect inner peace, Taoist meditations are great for you.
This is another well-famous healing meditation practice that involves letting go of yourself and surrendering all to God. While in Eastern traditions, meditation is practiced with the purpose of attaining enlightenment without necessarily connecting with a Higher Power, in the Christian world meditation is performed for moral purification and with the purpose of connecting with the Creator, the force behind the Universe.
Christian meditation is normally a morning meditation and includes contemplative prayer, contemplative reading and time spent with God or “sitting with God”. If you want to read more about this unique type of meditation and you want to dive deeper into Christian meditation techniques, read this post here.
Lastly, walking meditation is a powerful meditation technique that complements perfectly seated meditation. This is more than just a stroll in the park, and it’s done much slower than regular walks. Unlike seated meditation, where you usually keep your eyes closed, walking meditation involves keeping your eyes open to interact with the environment.
Regardless of the type of walking meditation you choose to practice, there are some criteria you need to keep in mind. These are:
To read more about these criteria and to discover the huge benefits of walking meditation, enter this site: http://liveanddare.com/walking-meditation.
With all of these meditation techniques available at your fingertips, you can definitely find one that is specially created for your own benefit. You can try more types of meditation for an enhanced impact.
What are your favorite meditations?