By now, I think most of us know that we should meditate. From numerous sources, we have heard about the benefits of the practice, and how we can improve our lives by simply taking a moment each day to be silent, entirely with your breath. However, getting started, finding a type of meditation practice you resonate with, and keeping a routine is where most people stumble.
There is a common misconception that meditation and mindfulness equals cross-legged sitting while being perfectly quiet, with a mind clear of thoughts. While that might work for some, there are many different types of meditation that you should try out. Below are some of the most common meditation techniques and practice that you can explore. Try keeping an open mind as you read through. Take part in each different exploration of mindfulness, and you may be surprised with what resonates with you. Hopefully, you will find the perfect practice for you.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: This practice is used and taught in many academic and medical communities, which helps create a connection between patients and medical teams, as well as connect the patient to themselves. This practice can also be used and taught to anyone to reduce stress and allow more considerable attention inward. The process uses breathing techniques and body scans. It is a great practice for those who are new or skeptical of meditation.
- Zen Meditation: Also known as Zazen, this is a more formal sitting practice with rules to adhere, a strong emphasis on breath and keeping awareness on breathing into the belly. Zen meditation is good for those that want a stricter structure with instruction from leaders like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana is another traditional Buddhist teaching that focuses on the breath, with a strong emphasis on returning to the presence of the breath as the mind may wander. However, this practice encourages people to notice their breath as it moves in and out of the nose. There are fewer rules in Vipassana, and practitioners have more freedom in how they choose to sit and if they want to have their eyes open or closed.
- Transcendental Meditation: Transcendental Meditation is a mantra-based meditation, with certain words in a specific order given to each practitioner by a teacher. The mantra you’re given is unique to the individual and is meant to be repeated continuously throughout the meditation to keep you present and focused.
- Loving Kindness Meditation: This practice of meditation is based on compassion and has been proven to increase empathy and positivity. Others can guide this meditation as you listen and repeat certain affirmations, extending kindness to others and yourself. This practice can also be done on your own by, first focusing on extending compassion and acceptance to yourself first, then to others close to you, and society as a whole.
- Kundalini Meditation: There are numerous different Kundalini meditations. Each Kundalini meditation has certain breath practices, hand placements, and potential mantras or specific points of focus. These practices can be powerful for healing with more profound connection and are wonderful for those looking to deepen their spiritual practices.