Meditation 101: An Introductory Guide to the Different Types of Meditation

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meditation 101

According to the Pew Research Center, about 40% of American adults meditate at least once a week. This is a practice that stretches across religious faiths and is even practiced by people that are unaffiliated with any religion.

In recent times, there has been an increasing number of studies done about the many benefits of meditation. These include stress reduction, decreased anxiety, increased emotional health, and more. Some studies have even found that meditation 101 can help to provide relief from pain.

Are you interested in meditation but aren’t really sure what it entails? There are a number of different types of meditation to choose from, so it might be a good idea to peruse your options before you get started.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of meditation to help you choose the practice that works best for your needs.

Mindfulness Meditation

This is one of the most popular meditation techniques in the Western world.

Inspired by Buddhist teachings, this type of meditation involves paying attention to your thoughts as they occur to you. In this process, you will practice avoiding judgment on your thoughts or getting involved in them. Instead, you simply take note of any patterns that arise and observe these thoughts as they come and go.

This is a good type of meditation for beginners or for people that don’t have a teacher to guide them. During this practice, you will engage with a combination of awareness and concentration. Some people find it’s helpful to focus on their breath or on an object while observing any thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations.

Meditation is often used as a part of a holistic approach to mental health.

Spiritual Meditation

Used in Eastern religions as well as the Christian faith, spiritual meditation is related to prayer. This is because during spiritual meditation, you seek a deeper connection with God or a higher power and reflect on the silence around you.

It is common for people to use essential oils to heighten this type of experience. Popular choices include sage, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, cedar, and palo santo.

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You can practice this type of meditation in a place of worship or at home.

Movement Meditation

If you are wondering how to start meditating, you might consider movement meditation. This is a good practice for people who prefer to let their minds wander and who find peace in action.

Movement meditation can be practiced during any time of gentle movement, including qigong, gardening, walking through the woods, or yoga.

Focused Meditation

This type of meditation involves using any of your senses. This might mean staring at a candle flame, listening to a gong, or counting mala beads.

While this might seem like a very simple practice, it can actually be quite difficult for beginners. It is easy to lose focus after a few minutes when you are just starting out.

If you try focused meditation and find your mind wandering, that’s ok. You will want to refocus, though, and come back to the practice. If you are looking to have additional focus in your life, consider trying this type of meditation.

Transcendental Meditation

Another popular form of meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM) became popular in the west between the late 1950s and the 1970s. It is a meditation that involves using a silently-used mantra for between 15 and 20 minutes every day, twice a day, while sitting with your eyes closed.

If you prefer structure when it comes to meditation, you might find TM is a good choice for you.

Mantra Meditation

Prominent in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, mantra meditation uses repetitive sounds in order to achieve a cleared mind. These sounds might be literal sounds (such as “Om”), phrases, or words.

The mantra can either be spoken quietly or loudly. Repeating your mantra can help you tune in with your environment and increase your alertness. This helps you experience deeper potentials of awareness.

Body Scan Relaxation

This type of meditation is also known as progressive relaxation. Its goal is to help promote relaxation and reduce body tension.

During this practice, the individual scans their body’s to find areas where they are holding tension. Typically, practitioners start at one end of their body, such as their feet, and work their way through the whole body. When they notice tension, the goal is to allow this tension to release.

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This is a popular meditation form in order to encourage sleep at the end of the day. If you have trouble sleeping, you might find this practice helps you relax, be calm, and drift off to a restful slumber.

Visualization Meditation

Focusing on enhancing feelings of peace, calmness, and relaxation, this meditation form utilizes visualizing positive images or scenes. Practitioners focus on trying to image the scene using all five senses to create a vivid experience.

Another way to use this type of meditation is to imagine yourself succeeding at specific goals. In fact, this is a common technique that is used by high-level and elite athletes as a part of competition and training.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is a way to help deepen feelings of kindness, compassion, and acceptance towards others as well as yourself. This practice frequently involves opening one’s mind to love being sent to them by others. It also includes sending loving wishes to the people one knows as well as all living beings.

For people that struggle with resentment or anger, this can be an effective form of meditation.

Which of These Different Types of Meditation Are You Going to Try?

While meditation has been practiced for millennia as a spiritual practice, it has been increasingly popular in the west in recent decades as a way to reduce stress and relax. Whether you are interested in achieving greater emotional health or becoming more connected to a higher power, meditation offers a long list of benefits.

Many people might not realize how many different types of meditation there are. This means that even if you really didn’t vibe with one form, there might be another type of practice that better suits you.

Did you find this article on the different types of meditation interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more helpful content about all things health and fitness.