There are a variety of different types of meditation along with a wide-assortment of techniques within each approach. Those who mediate may do so for diverse objectives including lower blood pressure and stress reduction, relaxation and peace of mind, internal energy and strength or even love and patience. The term mediation can describe a variety of different practices so here’s a basic guide to what possibilities may help you in your life.
As part of the road toward enlightenment and nirvana, Buddhists practice a form of meditation called Vipassanā, which is about finding insight into the true nature of reality. The ancient approach has gained modern traction and has been adopted throughout the world as mindfulness. This type of mediation requires the intentional focus on one’s thoughts and emotions in the present moment and has therapeutical application for reducing stress, improving the quality of life, treating depression, dealing with chronic pain and reaching acceptance.
Participants generally maintain shallow breathing and simply observe life during the practice rather than try to change anything or judge anything. You let your mind freely wander, taking a distanced and unaffected stance. This passive and detached style of thinking “it is what it is” provides a low-energy state to help your body reach a place of contentment. Because mindfulness is about having free-flowing, uncontrolled thoughts, there aren’t any outside resources needed to perform this type of mediation. You simply need to find a quiet space where you can think and you’re ready to go.
Another form of mediation is a guided approach, calling on participants to concentrate on an imaginary environment as outlined by the guide.
You may perform this kind of meditation by simply listening to a recorded voice directing you through the visualization process or by actually attending a class or other gathering where a speaker will detail a storyline live. The depiction instructions can start out with a call to “picture yourself in an open field with the sun beaming down on you.” The visualization guidelines may be detailed or vague and listeners simply follow along with the storyline in their heads.
Depending on the purpose of the meditation session, you may be instructed to imagine your positive or neutral reaction to certain situations or you may just be guided through a pleasant nature scene. Consequently, the process may be designed to help someone work through emotional problems and psychological disorders or just to provide a temporary relief from the cares of the world.
Breathing & heart rhythm meditation
There are various types of meditation that require a focus on breath and/or your heartbeat. Religious and secular practices alike can use an emphasis on deep and controlled breathing to help participants learn how to direct energy throughout the body. This approach empowers the individual, reminding her that she is in control of her body and her life, and can help teach principles of love and compassion from the increased awareness of one’s heart.
Other objectives of this type of meditation include the ability to learn how to concentrate and expel all distracting thoughts out of the mind, which ideally paves the way for higher thought and deeper realizations. The end goal is to achieve health on all levels including physical, emotional and mental.
In meditation practices like yoga, participants perform controlled breathing exercises as well as a given set of postures to calm the mind while increasing the strength and flexibility of the body. Providing skill in balance and concentration, yoga can help you overcome distractions and train your body and mind to do what you want.
This form of mediation requires you to be physically aware in contrast to approaches like mindfulness. Although yoga incorporates a variety of different poses, other posture-based forms have participants stick to holding one position such as sitting somewhere with your back straight or having your legs crossed and your arms in an extended yet resting position on your legs.
Mantra-based forms of meditation require participants to repeat a given word, phrase or passage and are intended to provide relaxation, self-development and possibly spiritual enlightenment. There are specific forms of mantra recitations like Transcendental Meditation, which even has certified teachers to provide standardized courses, and there are also generalized schools of thought that direct participants to come up with their own formula for mediating with a mantra. You can simply perform the recitation or you can approach the process in conjunction with keeping track of your breathing.
Unlike many types of meditation that are designed to help you focus on your own body and your own thoughts, some religious styles are aimed at creating a relationship with Deity. These prayer-like practices, commonly referred to as Christian meditation, are intended to help you focus on God and to further your relationship with Him. Although these sessions can produce physical results like lower blood pressure and a reduced amount of anxiety, the end goal in many of these cases is achieving spiritual aims like forgiveness, holiness and a closeness to God.
Without adopting any formal approach to meditation, many individuals take a do-it-yourself style for relaxing by lifting various elements from a variety of different schools of thought.
Combining mindfulness with a walk in nature is a modern and common way to meditate. Another practice is to merge mantra-based and prayer-like forms of meditation by reading and rereading sacred texts in an effort to internalize Gospel principles and better commune with Heaven.
Experimenting with different techniques and mixing and matching the most effective options for you can help you build a customized way to accomplish your end goals, whether they include aims of calming anxiety, increasing spirituality or building physical and emotional strength.
You may even find that different types of meditation suit you better during different points of life. Talk with your counselor, spiritual leader or medical professional about what resources could help you in your particular situation since mediation can be a part of any approach to improve your life.
What types of meditation do you find most effective for you? Share!