Relaxation, peace of mind, spiritual enlightenment; Meditation can help you achieve any of these. But there are so many different types of meditation, so how to you know which is best for you?
Meditation is often hard to define due to there being so many different types and ways which it can be practiced. Meditation has been around for thousands of years. It stems from many different cultures, religions and traditions all of which have an individual understanding of what meditation is. Although it often is associated with religion, in reality it is something that can be done by anyone, religious or not.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mental exercise where an individual uses a technique to train the mind to focus attention, awareness and emotion. It is done with the aim to achieve a mentally and emotionally calm and relaxed state. Meditation has become increasingly popular in recent years due to people being significantly more aware of its benefits. Some of the benefits of meditation include a reduction of stress, anxiety and depression, and an increase of self-awareness, peace and mental well-being.
There are many different types of meditation, it is hard to say exactly how many, but this article will look closely at six different types. These are; focus meditation, mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, spiritual meditation, transcendental meditation and movement meditation. Although these will not cover every single method of meditation it will give you a greater understanding into which type is most suited to you.
Focus meditation involves focusing on a single point or object intently as a way of staying in the present moment, turning off and suppressing your internal thoughts. If you are a beginner or looking to improve your focus skills this is the practice of you. Focus meditation aims for you to really experience whatever it is that you are focusing on without distraction. This could be anything from your breath, a flickering candle or a repetitive noise or phrase in order to reach a higher state of being. In this form of meditation, if your mind wanders simply refocus your awareness back to the chosen object of your attention. Rather than pursuing these random thoughts, let them go. This process will improve your ability to concentrate. The most common forms of focus meditation include Chakra Meditation, Zen Meditation and Kundalini Meditation. Like any type of meditation, practice is key to gaining complete focus.
Mindfulness meditation on the other hand encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they appear in your mind. Originating from Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation works with the fluidity of the mind and is one of the most well practiced types of meditation. The intention is not to get involved with these thoughts but to simply be aware of them as they arise, as well as the sights, sounds and smells that surround you. It allows you to focus on the present emotions, thoughts and sensations that you are experience at that moment. Mindfulness meditation reminds you to let go of the things you cannot change. This aims to help you become more self-aware, less stressed and control unwanted and unhelpful thoughts. Although it stems from Buddhism you do not have to be spiritual to try mindfulness.
A mantra is a word or a phrase that is repeated during meditation. Mantras can be spoken out loud, whispered, chanted or repeated in the mind. This ancient practice is recognised to have Buddhist and Hindu roots as “sacred word” recitation stems from a vast variety of spiritual traditions. However, nowadays mantra meditation is gaining popularity as part of non-spiritual meditation practice and can be completed by anyone. Mantras are one of the most common objects used for meditation and said to be one of the most powerful. During mantra meditation, the mantra works as an object of focus, allowing you to become relaxed and attentive. For some people, a mantra serves as mental protection against unwanted thoughts and emotions. For others mantra meditation serves a deeper spiritual purpose. For example, in Buddhism, mantra recitation helps keep the mind focused and receptive to the blessings of the present moment.
Similarly to mantra meditation, spiritual meditation is an experience that gives you the opportunity to connect with your deeper self. The practice is intended to temporarily strip you of the perceptions you had about yourself as you descend into a deep and peaceful mind-set. Spiritual meditation allows you to let go of what has happened and what will happen, leaving you completely in the present moment. It is most important with spiritual meditation to not over think the practice but simply flow with your thoughts and experience the process. Although you must acknowledge your thoughts while practising spiritual meditation it is key to not react to them, simply let them drift away and return your focus to meditation. Often during this type of meditation, it is encouraged to utter a prayer or mantra to help bring your attention back to the present preventing your thoughts to take over. Finally, it is important to be attentive to your body, awareness and presence in the space. Reflect on your thoughts and how your mind and body feel and accept your reaction.
Transcendental Meditation is the most popular but also the most criticized form of meditation with over five million practitioners around the world. Founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian Guru, transcendental meditation is a form of silent manta meditation. The practice involves the use of mantra however differs from mantra meditation due to the personalised structure of the mantra. This personalised mantra is often given to you by an instructor or teacher which can relate to your year of birth, gender or the year in which your teacher was trained. Transcendental meditation allows the mind to flow freely guiding its own way towards happiness, and will settle spontaneously into silence. Many are shocked at the simplicity and effectiveness of transcendental meditation as a deeper form of meditation. This practice continues to grow in global popularity due to its overwhelming benefits.
Movement meditation uses rhythmic physical movements to focus and centre the mind. The practice is a combination of meditation and low impact exercise. This exercise can be anything from walking, dancing to yoga and even cleaning. The intention of movement meditation is to move without purpose, focusing your mind on each breath and movement. This will create a shift in consciousness, brining you a greater awareness to both your mind and body. Movement meditation is ideal for people who often feel energetic or live a busy life style. Some people struggle to find the time or even just struggle sitting still to meditate due to restlessness, making movement meditation a proactive alternative.
As a newbie, I was really shocked at how many different types of meditation there were available. Search Mitchell Stuart on you tube and see me fail miserably at some of these techniques.