Types of Meditation

It is a common misconception that there is only one way to meditate.  There are multiple forms and traditions of this ancient practice.

The most well-known type of meditation is where you sit quietly and focus on your breathing.  Taking a deep long breath in, and then trying to match the length of time it takes to fully let the breath back out.  During this type of mediation try to clear your mind.  It is hard to keep your mind empty so it is important to just acknowledge the thoughts, but then encourage them to flow right back out again, not dwelling on them. When you recognize your mind has wandered, just try to focus again on your breathing. 

Related to this kind of meditation is the mindful approach.   This type begins by focusing on your breathing but then as thoughts flow through your mind, instead of trying to clear them away, you let them flow, trying to focus only on the feelings that each thought brings up instead of the details of the thoughts.  This kind of meditation is supposed to bring you a deeper understanding of yourself.

There are several meditations styles that focus on love or being open to love, not only for yourself, but also towards others, and the universe at large.  During these styles of mediation, you are supposed to try to focus on the idea of loving others, or opening your heart, or being grateful for all that you have and what you want to share with others.  These styles are designed to bring you to a compassionate place within yourself.

Some techniques of meditation include a form of guidance.  There are apps and classes that will talk you through a meditation session.  This is especially good for people who have struggled with trying to calm their mind and have been frustrated by their inability to meditate on their own.  These guided meditations range from simple breath work to elaborate imagery designed to reach a goal like quitting smoking or dealing with grief.

This brings us to the use of Mantras.  This technique uses a simple sound or word repeated in your mind, or out loud, while you breathe deeply.  Mantras can also be complex like a phrase or series of sounds that change over time. This approach can be guided, or it can be done on your own, to achieve personal growth or accomplish a change.    

Finally, body movement can be a form of meditation.  This style typically involves slow movement as in Yoga or Tai Chi.  These teach your body to flow through various positions where your focus is on your physical being, allowing your mind to be free to reach a deeper meditative state than you might be able to do with regular meditation. 

If you desire to learn to meditate, don’t give up if the first way you try doesn’t work for you, it is important to find what fits your personal needs.