Getting to Know 15 Types of Meditation

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation as a technique to lead meditation practitioners into a deeper state of relaxation with a guided voice (or teacher) which will narrate the step-by-step process of the practice.  Such meditation is highly effective for beginners who may not be familiar with what they should do during the practise. 

When using guided meditation, narrative words will guide and transform the state of mind in a positive way.  It is a clever way to create a positive impact on the subconscious mind through affirmative words, imagery and healing sounds.

Breath Meditation

Breath meditation is one of the most widely used meditation techniques.  The practice encourages mindful and relaxing breathing techniques to bring practitioners into a state of calm amid endless mental chatters.  Prolonged practise can heighten self-awareness, mental resilience, positivity and a long list of emotional and health benefits.    

Controlled breathing (which is used in breath meditation) has been the subject of many scientific studies.  In one study, such breathing can even change the response of the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls the heart rate, digestion and the body’s stress response.

Visualization Meditation

In visualization meditation, the practitioners will envision a scenario or an outcome based on their intention.  Such meditation focuses on mental imagery to conjure specific visuals that can transform the practitioners’ emotion, confidence and state of mind.  

Such visualization technique has been used by athletes to visualize their winning process even before their competitions.  As a result, these athletes derived greater confidence and reduced performance anxiety that aided them to perform even better in their tournaments.  However, not everyone is visually inclined or imaginative, hence the effectiveness of such a method is highly dependent on the practitioner’s ability to visualise.  

Mindfulness Meditation

Most types of meditation have an element of mindfulness to them.  The goal of such meditation is to help practitioners develop awareness in the present moment and not dwell in the past nor the future.  It also trains the mind to observe without judgement or influence by the myriad of subconscious thoughts that are buried deep within.  So, rather than dwelling on false judgements that are based on old, outdated experiences, the practitioners focus on the present and mindfully meditates on maintaining a state of peace.

Body Scan Meditation

Body scan meditation is a form of mindfulness meditation that focuses on developing an awareness of the body and muscles.  Such scanning exercise helps practitioners to pay attention to each part of their body using a step-by-step method.  Through the process, not only can the practitioner reconnect with their physical self, but also train the mind to stay focused. 

During the body scan meditation, practitioners attempt to bring relief and relaxation to their body from one end to the other, for example from head to toe, or toe to the crown of the head.  Such meditation also encourages practitioners to scan their bodies for areas of tension and release any stress that they unknowingly build up.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation

This form of meditation is also known as Metta meditation.  The purpose of this practice is to promote compassion and love for the practitioner, others and even to those who have caused unpleasant emotions.  The practice directs well wishes and kindness toward others by reciting specific words and phrases to evoke warm-hearted feelings.  An example of such phrases is “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease”.  After directing this loving-kindness toward oneself, the practitioner will redirect this kindness to others by repeating the mantra, this time replacing “I” with “you”.  The key is to repeat the loving message many times until the practitioner feels an attitude of loving-kindness without being distracted by random thoughts.

Mantra Meditation

This meditation technique focuses on a mantra such as a syllable, word, phrase or sound.  By repeating the mantra, practitioners allow the subtle vibrations of the mantra to create inner harmony and achieve the desired outcome.   For example, a mantra can be “I create my destiny”.  By repeating this statement as a personal mantra, the practitioner will begin to re-programme his or her subconscious mind and transform positively to derive the desired outcome.  This is very similar to reciting positive affirmations (see the previous blog about positive affirmation). 

In a more religious context, devotees use mantras such as “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (Buddhist) or “Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha” (Hindu) to deepen their spiritual beliefs and draw them closer to divinity.  Additionally, some practitioners use single-syllabus mantras such as “Om” to help them enter a deeper state of meditation.

Vipassana Meditation 

The Vipassana meditation is the oldest of Buddhist meditation practice that was said to be passed down from Buddha himself.  Vipassana is a direct and gradual cultivation of mindfulness or awareness.  It encourages the practitioners to gain insights through an intense examination of themselves, removing any illusion that surrounds them and eventually sees life through an untainted lens.

Today, Vipassana meditation is taught in Vipassana Centres that are situated around the world.  For those who are new to Vipassana, a 10-day introductory course which offers step-by-step technique is available for free. 

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation (TM) is a type of mantra meditation that was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  In such meditation, the mantra will be selected by a trained and licensed Maharashi Foundation teacher and imparted to the student.  Students may be given a different mantra that they are supposed to use in their private practice.  Unlike other forms of meditations that rely on concentration or self-observation, the TM technique claims to be effortless. 

There are many TM schools around the world and they operate with very systematic guidelines such as one-one-one teacher to student guidance and course fees.    

 

Chakra Meditation

The purpose of Chakra meditation is to bring healing and relaxation to the 7 energy centers of the body, also known as the Chakra system.  For more information about the Chakra system, do refer to my previous blog.

Chakra meditation is focused on bringing balance and well-being to the body, mind and soul through various techniques such as visualisation, breathing and energy healing.  Some practitioners also use different types of crystals that correspond to different Chakras to aid in the meditation process. For example, amethyst for the Crown Chakra, green tourmaline for the Heart Chakra and rose quartz for the Heart Chakra.

The fundamental belief is that healthy Chakra centers are essential for better health, emotional and energy flow.  Once the Chakras are blocked, the particular energy center will weaken and eventually manifest as physical ailment and mental or emotional problems.

Yoga Meditation

The practice of yoga dates back to ancient India and it requires practitioners to perform a series of movements and postures, coupled with controlled breathing technique.  Yoga promotes flexibility, the calmness of the mind and mental focus through holding physical postures.  Unknown to some, yoga alone is a meditation practice. Through yoga, practitioners find stillness and focus in the present moment without being distracted by random thoughts or rumination about the past or the future. 

One way to make the most of a yoga practice is to set aside some time before or after a yoga session.  Use those times to sit quietly to meditate without interruption.  Prepare the mind by focusing on the present, every time a random thought arises, redirect the mind back to the present.

Zen Meditation

Zen meditation, also known as Zazen, is a form of Buddhist practice. Many Zen practitioners study under a teacher because this kind of meditation involves specific steps and postures. 

The method of Zazen varies across different schools, but in general, it is a means of gaining spiritual insights, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.  The practice is very much much like mindfulness meditation and it involves sitting upright with a relaxed mind and following the breath that moves in and out of the belly. 

Dynamic Meditation 

Dynamic meditation is an intense practice that requires physical movement.  It claims to help practitioners break away from old patterns that keep one imprisoned in the past to experience transformation.  This form of meditation appeared in the 1970s when an Indian mystic, Osho, developed it for early morning practice.  The practice can last up to 60 minutes and broken down to five distinct stages, each stage requiring practitioners to express different physical movements, breathing or emotions.  It is a practice that is unlike most meditations.

In a study recorded in the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI), such dynamic meditation has shown significant reductions in stress marker in participants who volunteered for a 21-day trial.  It was reported that the Osho dynamic meditation can produce anti-stress effects, which is suitable as a healing intervention for the amelioration of stress and stress-related physical and mental disorders.

Sound Meditation

Sound meditation is usually led by a facilitator who uses tools like gongs, singing bowls or another form of sound tool to produce soundwaves to restore harmony in the body, mind, and soul. 

At a more complex level, such tools are tuned to certain notes for healing and balancing in a specific area in the body.  For example, the note C can help to balance the Root Chakra (where most of our insecurities are buried) while the note G can bring harmony to the Throat Chakra (for improved communications and expression).

For self-administered sound meditation, practitioners can also use meditation music that is widely available in the market.  Such music can soothe the emotion and create a more conducive ambience for meditation. 

Reiki or Qigong Meditation (Energy-based Meditation)

Energy-based meditation is more common amongst energy healers and practitioners who are attuned to certain healing modalities.  Some examples of such meditation are Qigong meditation and Reiki meditation. 

During these meditations, practitioners will harness the energy in their body and allow it to flow through their energy centers for healing and rejuvenation.  In most cases, such meditation is a self-healing process whereby the practitioner will move the energy through their body in a systematic way so that healing can be extended to every part of the body.

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