5 Types of Meditation: Which Type Is Right For You?
By: Molly Pelletier, 500-RYT and Nutritionist
Meditation has become widely popular due to emerging research highlighting its many powerful benefits, including improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition to the emotional benefits of meditating, research suggests that meditation can decrease physiological markers of stress while also improving immune function!
The ancient practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years, so naturally, there are hundreds of different types of meditation. If you’ve already incorporated meditation into your daily routine, or you’ve just read our blog post on How To Begin Your Meditation Practice, then you may be wondering: What type of meditation should I practice? Here’s a list of 5 types of meditation practice and their unique mind-body benefits.
Mindfulness-based meditation is a type of meditation where you focus on being intensely present with your own senses. Practicing mindfulness involves bringing your focus to your physical body, your surroundings, and your experience of the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, the goal is to experience all physical and emotional sensations without judgment.
Similar to other meditation varieties, mindfulness may also involve breathing exercises that can help relieve anxiety and stress. Different from many other traditions, mindfulness meditation does not come with any spiritual or zen principles. This fact makes it a great choice for individuals looking for a simple and straightforward meditation practice. The Headspace app has lots of great beginner mindfulness meditations to get you started!
This type of meditation is common in many Buddhist, Hindu, and yogic traditions. A mantra is simply a phrase or expression which is repeated during your meditation. “Om” is an example of a very common expression used widely in a variety of mantra-based meditations. Depending on the mantra you choose, repeating a mantra or phrase can help to clear the mind, embody an intention, or cultivate a type of energy within the mind and body.
On days when I’m feeling anxious and want to embody a sense of grounding, I will repeat mantras such as “I am calm”, “I am whole”, or “I am rooted”. Mantra-based meditation can be a beautiful way to start your day on the right foot, choosing the energy that you would like to cultivate and carry with you.
Guided meditations that involve visualizations are ideal for beginners or for those who often find themselves lost in thought during a meditation session. The process of visualizing a calm scenery, a journey through the woods, or even just the breath as a sense of light through the body, can be a powerful tool to bring the mind out of thought and into presence.
This Free 10-minute Guided Meditation focuses on visualization techniques and is designed to relieve anxiety and self-doubt. Try incorporating this meditation into your morning routine to reduce stress and embody a sense of groundedness.
Similar to mindfulness meditation, focused meditation utilizes our five senses. However, the idea of focused meditation is to hone your focus on just one of your senses, or one point of focus, for the entirety of the meditation. You can choose to focus on an internal sensation, such as the feeling of your own inhale and exhale. Or an external focal point such as a burning candle or the counting of a mala bead necklace through your fingers.
Focused meditation is often practiced by monks with extreme discipline because it can be very challenging. With that said, this type of mediation may not be ideal for beginners or those who find meditating very challenging. It takes immense focus and concentration to keep the mind centered on one focal point. Other types of meditation where the focal point is moving or changing, such as mindfulness or visualization meditations, may be better suited for those just starting out.
Ideal for those who are short on time or have trouble sitting still, moving meditation can be a great stepping stone towards other forms of seated meditation. Zen meditation traditions often include walking meditations, where the practitioner is fully present and immersed in the sensations of their walk. Yoga is also another type of moving meditation that can aid in releasing stress and muscle tension. Yoga originated thousands of years ago in ancient India, alongside meditation as a way to open up the body for long periods of sitting.
Starting with a mindful walk or yoga practice can be an incredible way to become more present and begin reaping the benefits of a meditative state. Try this Calming and Grounding Gentle Flow before bed to let go of the day and enter a state of relaxation.
I hope this article helped you navigate the various forms of meditation and decipher which one may be right for you. As with any meditation practice, be sure to be patient with yourself. A daily meditation routine can yield incredible mental and emotional benefits over time, so don’t give up! Start small and don’t be afraid to use free guided meditations on YouTube, Insight Timer, or Headspace.
For full meditation, vinyasa yoga, and yoga sculpt classes, be sure to check out my Health & Wellness YouTube Channel.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Molly Pelletier is a Nutritionist and 500-hour certified Yoga & Meditation Instructor who frequently shares yoga sculpt classes and health tips on her youtube channel. For more nutrition and yoga, check out @zucchini.who on Instagram and Molly Pelletier on YouTube.