Which Meditation Style Works for You?
Can’t seem to stick to your meditation goals? Maybe you should try a different meditation style. Here are 5 methods to consider…
So many of us have good intentions when it comes to meditating. You mean to do it, you tell yourself you’re going to do it, maybe you even make it a New Year’s Resolution, but when it comes down to it, starting a regular meditation practice is one of those things that always seems to slip through the cracks of our busy lives… Which is a shame, as there are so many amazing benefits to be had by taking up meditation!
Many times, we tell ourselves we’ll start meditating first thing in the morning, but we just can’t seem to get out of bed extra early to get it done. Or we plan to work it into our day at some point, but something else always comes up. But as this article from Yoga Journal points out, “the truth is that a meditation practice is designed to transcend those elusive perfect conditions; it just fits into your life, whether you do it at sunrise or smack in the middle of your busy schedule.”
As with yoga (or any habit for that matter), the key to getting started with (and sticking to) a regular meditation practice is finding what works for you. There are many different meditation techniques, and not all of them are right for everyone. Below are 5 different meditation styles for you to try out.
It is recommended to do each meditation style 5-20 minutes daily for at least a week (a month is better), before switching to a different style. Once you’ve found which type of meditation works best for you, make it a habit and before you know it, you’ll be reaping all those awesome benefits like better sleep, less stress, more patience, and possibly even lower blood pressure!
1.) Moving Meditation
Western mindfulness practices come from a foundational Buddhist practice called shamatha, which means “calm abiding.” It strengthens, stabilizes, and clears the mind, so that you stay present moment to moment. You do this by consciously placing your attention on an object or physical feeling. In a sitting meditation, that may be your breath; in a walking meditation, it is the sensation of your foot touching the ground with each step…
At home, for example, you can try a walking meditation around your dining room table or up and down a hallway – or even better, in the great outdoors.
Best For: Those who have trouble sitting still or who want a more physical aspect to their mediation.
2.) Guided Mindfulness Meditation
Nothing derails your ability to be present—during your yoga practice, at work, or while meditating—then what Buddhists call the “monkey mind,” an untamed, capricious mind that swings from thought to thought. That’s why guided mindfulness meditations are an effective entry point for beginners: They teach you to focus, center, and find peace in our always-on-the-go culture…
Guided meditation works by cultivating the “witness mind,” a judgment-free awareness of your inner dialogue…
During a guided meditation…No matter where you are—seated on your meditation cushion, on a crowded subway train, or drifting off to sleep—a teacher verbally directs your attention to physical sensations (such as temperature, sound, breath, and body) and what is happening in your mind. When distractions arise, take note—and refocus on the guided cues.
Best For: Those who suffer from “monkey mind” and find it hard to let go of that inner dialogue without an external guide to keep them focused.
3.) Mantra Meditation
Mantra, derived from two Sanskrit words—manas (mind) and tra (tool)—is a practice of chanting, whispering, or reciting (aloud or silently) a sound, word, or phrase…
Vocalizing a mantra and feeling the resulting subtle vibration quiets your thinking mind (the beta brain-wave state) so that you enter a more relaxed (alpha) state. When you can still sense vibration without uttering anything at all, you settle into a dreamlike state (theta)…
Neuroscientists and researchers have found mantra meditation practice may help calm the nervous system and induce deep relaxation. Studies also suggest that you gain the benefits regardless of the mantra itself. That means you have a lot of options. You might chant Aum, Sat Nam (which means “I am truth”), or long invocations to Ganeśha, the god of wisdom; you could repeat bija (seed) mantras, vibrations that activate the chakras; or you could recite the Lord’s Prayer, positive reinforcements like, “I am enough,” or any sound, word, or phrase—as long as you repeat something with focused attention.
Best For: Those who find having a specific, repetitive stimulus helps them stay focused.
4.) Loving Kindness Meditation
In this meditation, you silently repeat mantras to direct love and compassion toward difficult people in your life—including yourself…
To practice this…select three or four phrases (examples: “May I be safe”; “May I be happy”; “May I be healthy”; “May I live with ease”). Begin offering these wishes to yourself, and conclude by extending them to all beings everywhere. In between, send them to other recipients: a mentor or someone who inspires you; a friend or loved one; someone neutral, like a shopkeeper; and then a challenging individual, such as a co-worker who triggers you or a political leader whose views you don’t respect.
Best For: Those who suffer from negative thinking patterns and who would like to cultivate a happier, more positive mindset.
5.) Chakra Meditation
In Tantra practices, chakras are wheels of energy connected to different levels of consciousness. They are strung along the sushumna nadi—a central channel of prana, or life force, that runs from the base of your spine up through the crown of your head. In general, when the chakras are closed, your energies are blocked, leaving you dull and stagnant.
Drawing attention and directing your breath into the central channel turns your prana inward to open up blocked chakras and allow energy to flow harmoniously…
In a seated position, you’ll use a combination of vertical breath (inhaling and exhaling at certain chakra points in the central channel, like the root, heart, and third eye), mantra, mudra, and visualizations to tap into your subtle body.
Best For: Individuals who find visualization exercises helpful for staying focused, and who want to learn to notice energy patterns within the body.
Learn more about these meditation styles at YogaJournal.com…