Meditation is a long-practiced art that helps to train the mind and can induce a deep state of calm and peace. In our busy world today, who doesn’t need to feel more of that?
There are actually a whole range of different meditation types out there, so if you want to start dabbling with a regular meditation practice, it is worth exploring the different modalities to find the one which most suits you.
Generally speaking, meditation is done either silently, guided through following another’s voice or through the use of chant. But let’s explore in a little more detail what this can actually looks like and how the main forms of meditation differ.
For all forms of meditation, there are some key elements you will want to have in place to really enhance your experience. These are finding a quiet place to sit with a comfortable posture, to focus on your breath, and to keep an open heart and attitude towards the experience. There will always be good days and bad days when it comes to meditation, and always try to think of it as a practice that you will get better at doing over time, the more you do it.
Probably the most well-known meditation type is Zen Meditation, which is where the practitioner sits in prescribed positions and sits in silence, only focused on the present moment which can be tuned into by following the breath. The idea is that through this form of meditation, you can open up to the insight of your being.
Guided meditation can focus on a different theme or area of life that you might want to heal or improve and has been made popular by Deepak Chopra. A form of guided meditation is Chakra Point Meditation which is focused on opening up the seven chakras by being guided to focus the attention on where the different chakra points are located in the body, and releasing any blocks felt in those places in order to open them. This can lead to greater emotional balance.
Mindfulness Meditation is another well-known form which is not directed towards getting us to be different from how we are, but instead to help us become aware of the truth in every moment. This is done through using the body, breath and thoughts to remain firmly in the present.
became popular in the 60s and 70s and is a specific form of mantra meditation that should be practiced for 20 minutes twice a day with the eyes closed and in a comfortable seated position. The special mantras need to be taught by a TCM instructor who allocates these for each individual student to follow in their practice.
Vipassana or Insight Meditation
If sitting in silence or using a mantra is a bit way out there for you, then you might find Music Meditation a good place to start out, whereby you focus on special music while meditating. On the other spectrum is Vipassana (Insight) Meditation which is one of the most ancient forms of meditation and involves silence so as to see things as they really are moment to moment. Established by Buddha, Vipassana is observation based and is considered a way of purifying or cleansing the mind and body.
A simple form of meditation that many beginners like to try is Breathing Meditation where full attention is given to the breath through counting or timing. This helps to provide a focus for the mind that are not thoughts and can induce a state of calm and well being.
Different to most forms of meditation which are done seated, Walking Meditation is done while walking slowly and focusing on each step. This form of meditation helps you to be present in the body and the moment, and when done outdoors can also bring you back in touch with nature. This style of meditation is encouraged by well-known Buddhist and mindfulness meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hahn.
Another active form of meditation is Meditative Writing where you simply begin free writing a stream of consciousness without editing. You can ask yourself a question and then see what comes to the conscious mind while writing. This could also be done by focussing on the act of writing itself in a more mindful way immediately following a meditation practice, and noticing the strokes and curves that you are drawn to make.
Scanning Meditation is done by scanning the body, either through following the guide of another person or doing it yourself, and becoming aware of how each part of the body feels. Doing this helps to promote mindfulness, relaxation and body awareness.
Usually done in groups, Chanting Meditation involves chanting a mantra that combines sound, breath and rhythm in order to boost clarity and peace of mind.
So as you can see, there are many different forms of meditation. Some people might argue that any action which involves being present and mindful could in fact be a form of meditation. Drawing, making art, running, swimming laps…anything that allows you to focus on one thing to better appreciate each moment as a divine gift and to be present in that moment.
Whatever form of meditation you choose to try, the benefits are the same. It can help to bring about a state of emotional well-being, to gain a clearer perspective on life, especially in stressful situations, to improve your self-awareness and reduce negative emotions in your life.
Studies have also been down that have shown both mental and physical health problems from depression and anxiety to asthma, heart disease and pain can all be minimized through a regular meditation practice.
The self-awareness and personal growth that comes from meditation is undeniable and practitioners develop greater intuition in order to read the signs the Universe tells us on a daily basis.
With so many different forms to try, there is definitely a form that will benefit everyone, so give it a try and notice if there is a difference in how you feel with regular practice.