Why is it that when we close our eyes and try our best to stop thinking, our mind runs faster than Usain Bolt? To sit in one place for hours, trying to ‘empty our mind’ can seem difficult. Imagine trying to tell a kid to not do something. The chances of that kid doing that exact thing are sky-high. So let’s learn a little about meditation and understand which of the many types of meditation work best for us.
First, let’s understand what meditation is.
Meditation is an art, a discipline of the body, mind, and soul. It helps us destress, generate awareness, and get a healthy sense of perspective. The goal isn’t to turn off all your thoughts or feelings. Rather, meditation encourages us to accept all of them without judgement and observe them as they form and dissipate.
Meditation is a skill and like any other skill, it takes practice to perfect it. When you take up Zumba, the first few classes are a struggle for many. We spend a couple of classes trying to understand the flow, get the rhythm and match the pace. The same goes for meditation. Consistent practice makes meditation comfortable.
Meditation, for many, can be a challenge. The reason is that most of us are a little confused about how to do meditation. With a number of television programmes, YouTube videos and even celebrity blogs available about yoga, the task of finding what works best can be difficult.
But we are here to solve that dilemma. There are many types of meditation, each with unique benefits and techniques. Read, learn and choose wisely. Here is your guide to meditation along with details about the types of meditation.
5 Different Types Of Meditation Techniques & Benefits
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness, in essence, is the ability to be present. To observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind is mindfulness meditation. Imagine you are sitting at a train station. While you wait for your train to arrive, you watch and observe the hustle-bustle of the passengers that arrive, board, and depart. You do not engage in conversation or even react to these people. Instead, you observe patterns, behaviour, and flow of the people around you.
This is mindfulness meditation. It allows you to track your thoughts and feelings, to see the patterns and human nature to judge all this.
Here’s How You Do It:
- Sit cross-legged
- Straighten your upper body without stiffening it
- Keeping your upper arms by your side, let your hands fall on top of your legs
- Drop your chin and slowly close your eyes
- Relax and feel your breath
- Let your mind fill with thoughts, accept them and observe them
- Do not force out any thoughts, it is okay if your mind wanders constantly
Consistently practicing this will slowly and steadily improve your well-being and physical as well as mental health. Mindfulness meditation brings positive changes in attitude, behaviour, and perspective.
What Are The Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation?
- Stress relief
- Heart disease management
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced chronic pain
- Improved sleep
- Alleviated gastrointestinal issues
It is also beneficial for depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, conflicts, anxiety disorders, and OCD.
2. Zen Meditation
This is a Buddhist technique that has its roots in Japan. A popular form of meditation, you can catch your favourite celebs raving about zen meditation and its effectiveness. Zaren, the core term for zen meditation, is done while seated. In zaren, the mind, breath, and body are one collective reality and not separate.
How To Do It:
- Sit on the floor, cross-legged
- Align your posture in the lotus form
- Focus on your breathing, the air you are inhaling and exhaling
- The aim is ‘Shikantaza’ which is to sit and be present
This is a type of effortless meditation and urges us to be aware of our surroundings. It helps us to not dwell on anything in particular but be present in the moment.
Benefits Of Zen Meditation:
- Tackle anxiety and depression
- Improve immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Slow down the ageing process
- Answer long-pestering questions
- Reconnect your life with the present
- Bring out inner empathy and awareness
- Detach yourself from expectations
- Treat yourself kindly
3. Sleep Meditation
Do you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep? Lack of sleep, altered sleep schedules, and incomplete sleep is, unfortunately, today’s reality. Many of us are juggling a variety of different things like careers, household responsibilities, family issues, and the list goes on. Our hectic lifestyle has been affecting our sleep cycle and meditation is a powerful solution.
Sleep meditation techniques help us achieve quality sleep. It trains us to be less in our heads and calm our thoughts effectively. Sleep meditation is a guided experience that offers a natural sleep aid. It allows us to let go of everything that’s happened throughout the day so that we can rest the mind while relaxing the body.
How To Do:
- Sleep on your back
- Place your hands on your abdomen
- Take deep breaths and feel your hands move accordingly
Hypnotherapists have concluded that focusing on body movements distracts us from fixating on our thoughts.
How Does Sleep Meditation Help?
- Decrease our error rates
- Lower stress levels
- Improves memory and clarity of thoughts
- Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
- Eliminate insomnia
4. Heartfulness Meditation
While you are aware of mindfulness meditation, do you know what is heartfulness meditation? It is a gentle practice to refresh yourself at the end of a hectic busy day, to let go of stress and feel light. The Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives states that heartfulness meditation addresses many of our issues.
This is one of the types of meditation that is ideally done at the end of the day.
Here’s How You Do It:
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes and relax
- Let go of your complex thoughts and emotions
- Visualize the cleansing of your mind
- Let your thoughts and feeling slowly fade away
Benefits Of Heartfulness Meditation:
- Significant decrease in burnout
- Increased levels of calmness, harmony, and confidence
- Improved sleep quality
- Decrease in anger, anxiety, and cynicism
- Enhances emotional control
- Makes you more compassionate, sympathetic and virtuous
5. Mantra Meditation
We have all heard chants or mantras recited during pujas and shlokas being passed down the generations. They help create a serene and calm environment. In the same way, mantra meditation involves repeating a chant, word, syllable or phrase during meditation.
Today, people of all faiths are practicing mantra meditation and it has been proved to deliver an almost hypnotic experience.
Procedure For Mantra Meditation
- Find a mantra that suits you
- Sit correctly and comfortable and close your eyes
- Focus on your breathing
- Start chanting the mantra
- Pick a pace that will calm you
What Are The Benefits Of Mantra Meditation?
- Helps you understand the way your mind works
- Alleviates your negative thoughts
- Calms your nervous system
- Helps you achieve inner peace
- Alleviate self-esteem
- Eliminate addiction
Do you know what is the best time for meditation? Morning meditation adds more hours to your day. It is the best time to focus on your life, self and create the much-needed balance to get you through your day.
Morning meditation cleanses your mind, making sure you have a great start to your day. Here is how you do it:
- Get comfortable whether you are sitting on the floor or a chair
- Sit upright, close your eyes and breathe
- Feel the morning sun rays filling up the room
- Inhale and exhale slowly
The challenge will be to routinely wake up and make time for meditation. Once you cross that hurdle, you will start seeing the following results:
- Allow you to harness the peace outside
- Improved sexual health
- Decrease your caffeine dependence
- Increased enthusiasm
- Fewer headaches
- Help combat stress better
- Sharpen your intuitive skills
- Boost self-esteem
Remember that it takes 21 days to make something a habit and 90 days to make it your lifestyle. While there are plenty of types of meditation, it is vital to understand what suits you the best. For example, zen meditation requires concentration and should be practiced by those who need a disciplined approach. While sleep meditation requires you to let go of the happenings of your day. For beginners, mindfulness meditation is the perfect way to start. While mantra meditation is the best for those who have trouble concentrating. Heartfulness meditation is for those who seek a connection with their heart, mind, and soul.
So ask yourself, is this meditation for me? Once you have your answer, you can welcome a peaceful and healthy living with confidence!