What are the different types of meditation? Just as there are different forms of exercises to train and relax the body, there are different ways to train and relax the mind. There are many ways to meditate depending on what you are personally trying to achieve. Our ability to resist an impulse determines our success. It’s probably the single most important skill for our growth and development. Meditation teaches us to resist the urge of that counterproductive follow through (McCown, Reibel, & Micozzi, 2010). The eight most powerful meditation techniques are:
Om meditation is the combination of the two great meditation techniques – breath and sound. They are combined form of yoga posture, breathing exercises and sound exercises. As Amit Ray said “Om is the mantra of harmony and celebration. Om is the mantra to access the Supreme Divinity residing within us. Om is the mysterious cosmic energy that is the substratum of all the things and all the beings of the entire universe. It is an eternal song of the Divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists. Om meditation is accessing that divine peace and silence” (Ray, 2010a).
Mindfulness Meditation is an adaptation from traditional Buddhist meditation practices, especially Vipassana, but also having strong influence from other lineages. This form of meditation simply requires that you be fully present with each of your activities. Rather than allowing your mind to bounce from thought to thought during the day, take the time to be mindful of what you do or think during daily activities. This type of meditation can be done while you are walking to your car, washing the dishes, typing on your computer, or any other type of daily activity. Often with everyday activities we start and finish almost automatically, not even remembering the in-between of what we just did. Being mindful and present is about being there for the in-between. As you drive home from work, take in your surroundings, be mindful of how you drive, shift gears, how the car sounds, or the noises around you. Being present and mindful on your drive home will not only make you a more alert driver, but you will find yourself arriving at home with a clearer memory of the in-between. The core of mindfulness meditation is: “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. (Ray, 2015)”
Zen is simple observing the mind and breath. We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in zazen they come together as one reality. The first thing to pay attention to is the position of the body in zazen. The body has a way of communicating outwardly to the world and inwardly to oneself. How you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind and your breath.
The most effective positioning of the body for the practice of zazen is the stable, symmetrical position of the seated Buddha. Sitting on the floor is recommended because it is grounded.
Once you sit comfortably, count each inhalation and each exhalation, until you get to ten. If your mind wanders, which it will, cast off the thought and then continue back counting from one again. When you are able to get to ten repeatedly without any intruding thoughts, it’s time to start counting an inhalation and an exhalation as one rather than counting them separately. Eventually you will be able to just concentrate on the breath and abandon the counting. For this to happen you need to practice zazen on a daily basis. You can practice Zen in as little as 15 minutes each day.
In walking meditation, called kinhin in the Zen tradition, practitioners move slowly and continuously while staying aware of the body and mind. For this form of meditation, use good posture (just like seated meditation), take deep breaths, and experience the motions of the body. The walking movement should be continuous, so pick a safe place with space to roam around, like a large park or field.
This form of meditation allows you to develop positive emotions and release negative ones. An individual repeats silent mental phrases directing feelings of love toward a loved one, toward themselves, toward a person they might not know, toward someone who has harmed them, and lastly, towards everyone.
Reciting a phrase like: I will be kind enough to take the time to listen to
- 1. Myself
- 2. A loved one (e.g. my wife/ husband, child or friend)
- 3. A person I do not know well (e.g. someone at work you might not have talked to before)
- 4. Someone who has done harm (e.g.someone you might have had a disagreement with)
- 5. Anyone that I meet (e.g. a store clerk) Using positive phrases
6. Dance Meditation:
Get ready to boogie—meditation just got a soundtrack! Most people, at one time or another, have put on some tunes and cut the rug to chill out after a tough day. Dance or kundalini meditation takes that release one step farther by asking participants to let go of the ego and surrender to the rhythms and ecstasies of movement. Some classes encourage yelling, jumping, and even hooting like an owl! Dance meditation may not be for the faint of heart—or arm or leg—but it can be a great way to release tension and get in touch with our instincts.
7. Daily Life Practice Meditation:
In this style of meditation, practitioners slow down daily activities to half-speed and use the extra time to be mindful and focus on thoughts. There’s no need to sign up for a class when it’s possible to meditate while washing dishes, taking a shower, walking down the subway steps…
8. Breathing Meditation:
This technique takes those pre-yoga class “Oms” to the next level. Also called yogic breathing or Pranayama, this meditation style is all about controlling the inhales and exhales. Longer exhales tend to be calming, while longer inhales are energizing. For meditative purposes either the ratio of exhale to inhale is even or the exhale is longer than the inhale for a calming effect.
9. Transcendental Meditation (TM):
Maharishi, an advocate of Transcendental Meditation defines the purpose, “The goal of Transcendental Meditation is the state of enlightenment. This means we experience that inner calmness, that quiet state of least excitation, even when we are dynamically busy.” In this Hindu tradition you sit in Lotus, internally chant a mantra, and focus on rising above the negativity.
10. Samatha and Vipassana Meditation:
“Vipassana” means clear insight into the real characteristics of body and mind. Vipassana bhavana (insight meditation) is sometimes called mindfulness meditation. The technique of Vipassana uses mindfulness to note every detail of our mental and physical experience from moment-to-moment, with an unbiased attitude. Mainly it includes nonjudgmental attention to body, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations of touch, pain or pleasant feeling, thoughts, etc.