Meditation is both a mind and body practice that focuses on the interaction between the brain, mind, body, and behavior. While there are numerous types of meditation, the common thread amongst them all tends to be an enhanced focus that trains attention and awareness.
Most types of meditation also have the following aspects in common:
- A quiet or low-noise spot with limited distractions;
- A comfortable posture (i.e. sitting, lying down, etc.);
- A way to focus your attention (i.e. sensations of breathing, a set of words, etc.);
- And an open mind that allows distractions to come and go without judgment (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2016).
The practice of mediation has been shown to increase calm, enhance relaxation, improve psychological balance, and enhance overall health and well-being.
10 Types of Meditation for Physical and Emotional Growth
Type 1: Reflection
Reflection involves asking yourself questions as a means of developing greater awareness of your feelings. The questions asked should be asked in the second person – using the word you – as a means of discouraging your mind from trying to develop a rational answer to the question.
The goal is to become more aware of how the question makes you feel as opposed to the thoughts that arise when the question is focused upon.
Example: Why do you buy salty snacks when you are trying to reduce your salt intake? Why do you doubt your skill and knowledge – you have years of experience in this position, and have trained others to do the job?
Type 2: Transcendental Meditation
This practice of meditation is taught by instructors who are trained and licensed by the Maharishi Foundation. Transcendental meditation involves sitting with your eyes closed for 20 minutes, twice daily, and participating in the use of a silent, repeated mantra (a meaningless word or sound).
The twice-daily sessions are generally practiced as morning meditation and a mid-afternoon or early evening session.
Type 3: Visualization
Visualization involves picturing a person, place or a thing in your mind. The focus on the particular object, place, or person replaces the traditional focus in meditation on breathing or on the elements of breath.
It is via the process of visualization that an individual is able to observe their mind and focus on physical sensations simultaneously.
Type 4: Body Scanning
The practice of body scanning is performed by doing a mental scan from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Attention is brought to any areas of tension, discomfort, or any aches/pains that may be present.
This technique is intended to help sync the mind and the body, and to bring intentional notice to physical sensations.
Type 5: Mantra Meditation
Somewhat similar to focused attention meditation, mantra meditation involved focusing on a mantra (a word, phrase, or syllable) as opposed to focusing on the breath as a means to quiet the mind.
The objective being that repeating a mantra can influence positive change via the subtle vibrations connected to repeating the mantra.
This is different from Transcendental Meditation in that you can use a word or phrase that has meaning to you, and is encouraged to be a positive or affirmative statement or a statement of something you would like to experience or bring about.
Type 6: Resting Awareness
This is the practice of letting your mind rest instead of a focus on breath or visualization. When practicing resting awareness, thoughts can enter your mind but are also able to drift freely away without causing a distraction. Quieting the mind can take practice, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes time to develop the ability to let your mind totally rest.
Type 7: Yoga Meditation
Yoga meditation tends to blend Kundalini yoga with Savasana. Kundalini yoga is aimed at strengthening the nervous system as a means of better coping with daily stress and problems.
Savasana, known as the corpse or relaxation pose, is used to help the body achieve relaxation and tension release. Via the implementation of various poses and intense focus on those poses, one is able to connect the mind and body for the better.
Type 8: Noticing
The technique of noticing involves paying close attention to what is causing a distraction to the mind. It’s about “noticing” particular thoughts or emotions that we are so caught up in that we’ve lost awareness of the object we are supposed to be focusing on.
Noticing the distraction helps us to restore awareness, create space from the distraction, release the distraction, and gain insight into our thought patterns, tendencies, and conditioning.
Type 9: Zen Meditation
Zen meditation is an ancient Buddhist tradition that involves sitting upright and tracking your breath. Special attention is given to how your breath moves in and out of your belly, as well as allowing the mind to simply be. The aim of Zen meditation is to develop a sense of presence and alertness.
Type 10: Loving-kindness
Loving-kindness is about directing positive energy and goodwill to ourselves and then to others to start and encourage a positive ripple effect. This helps us to release unhappy feelings we might be holding onto and instead promotes the experience of “warm and fuzzy” feelings toward ourselves and others.
Practicing meditation in any of its various forms can be beneficial to your mind and body. Meditating well is about finding the practice that works best for you and helps you accomplish your particular goals.
If you’re curious about one or more of the types mentioned here, check the references below, and give one or more methods a try. You can probably find online meditation groups to tap into, and there are many different programs available for smartphones and computers to help you start and continue a meditation practice.
The benefits of meditation are many, including:
- The ability to gain a new perspective on a challenging or stressful situation
- Building a set of skills to help you manage your stress levels
- Increasing your level of self-awareness
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing your levels of patience and tolerance
- Focusing on the present.
Headspace. (2020). What are all the types of meditation & which one is best? https://www.headspace.com/meditation/techniques
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, April). Meditation: In-depth. NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth