Meditation is not of a single type or category but it has multiple types. There are a lot of different ways of doing meditation and dozens of techniques are involved in the process. Thus, it becomes very important to know that which technique will work out the best for you. You may also find some misleading information on the Web regarding various types of meditation, so it is important for you to get a detailed knowledge of each category in order to understand which one is beneficial for you.
This article will help you navigate the sea of different practices of seated meditation, briefly explaining each of them. There are literally hundreds of types of meditation, so here we shall explore only the most popular ones.
General Types of Meditation
Meditation is usually classified based on the way they focus attention, into three categories: Focused Attention, Open Monitoring, and Effortless Presence.
1. Focused Attention
As the name suggests, this type of meditation is about focussing the attention on a single object during the entire session. This object may be the breath, a mantra, visualization, part of the body, external object, etc. With the due course of time, a practitioner’s ability to keep the flow of attention in the chosen object gets stronger, and distractions become less common and short-lived.
Some common examples of Focussed Attention Meditation are Chakra meditation, Mantra Meditation, Zazen.
2. Open Monitoring
This works on the reverse principle of the Focused Attention. Instead of focusing the attention on any one object, we keep it open, monitoring all aspects of our experience, without judgment or attachment. It is the process of non-reactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment, without going into them. In this type of meditation, we monitor all kind of perceptions, be it internal or external without attaching to them in any form. Internal perceptions can be thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc, while External perceptions are like sound, smell, taste, etc.
Some common examples of Open Monitoring Meditation are Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana or Insight meditation, etc.
3. Effortless Presence
Effortless Presence is the state where the attention is not focused on anything in particular but reports on itself – quiet, empty, steady, and introverted. It is like a “Choiceless Awareness” or “Pure Being”. This is actually the true purpose behind all kinds of meditation and not a meditation type in itself. All traditional techniques of meditation recognize that the object of focus, and even the process of monitoring, is just a means to train the mind, so that effortless inner silence and deeper states of consciousness can be discovered. Eventually, both the object of focus and the process itself is left behind, and there is only left the true self of the practitioner, as “pure presence”.
Categories of Yoga Meditation
In this section, we will be discussing important types of Yoga meditations in detail for a clear understanding of each one of theem.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
This is a Buddhist form of Meditation which works on the simple principle of keeping one’s mind fully focused on the present. Present means only the current happenings, no past, or future. This is perhaps the most advisable way to get started with meditation.
The Buddha says our mind is like a chain of reactions and desires. When we catch ourselves in this downfall of reactions, we miss experiencing the true meaning of life. The human mind is tricky and a bit difficult to understand and control. For a human mind, the grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence. Mindfulness Meditation is about keeping the mind in the here and now, and enjoying the present moment with full focus and attention. The technique is simple where you just need to keep your attention on the breath. This might be easy to say, but for the untrained mind, it can be hard to achieve one-pointed attention for more than three minutes. So, you need to learn to control your thoughts while performing this type of meditation which wanders at different places – your past or future and keep it devoted to the present.
Purpose or Goal: It helps to retain focus on the physical and mental benefits of meditation. It also brings good things and energies into your life.
2. Mantra Meditation
The word “mantra” stands for an instrument of thought, basically a sacred sound which is a powerful way to focus the mind. This type of meditation requires conscious engagement on your part where you repeat the mantra multiple times with purpose and feeling. In chanting, you also include rhythm and pitch in your sounds to help expand your state of awareness. Chanting a mantra keeps the mind busy while you breathe in a specific pattern. It’s like singing a song, your breath pattern becomes the same as the singer’s breath pattern. Mantra meditation instructs your mind to focus or rest upon an object during meditation.
Purpose or Goal: Mantra meditation is useful when the mind is racing with many thoughts since it demands constant attention. Because a mantra is a word, and thoughts are usually perceived as words, it can be easier to keep the focus on a mantra rather than something else.
3. Insight Meditation
Insight Meditation is also known as Vipassana meditation. It enables one to see things as they really are. The technique of Insight meditation is based on self-observation and by observing the variants of the mind, a person can take control over their own mind. The chain of actions and reactions becomes conscious, and negativity and suffering disappears. In this type of mediation, the meditator uses his concentration as a tool by which his awareness can chip away at the wall of illusion that cuts him off from the living light of reality. It is a gradual process of ever-increasing awareness into the inner workings of reality itself.
Purpose or Goal: Insight or Vipassana is an excellent meditation to help you ground yourself in your body, and understand how the processes of your mind work. There are no formalities or rituals attached to the practice.
4. Sufi Meditation
Sufism is the way to one’s heart.
Sufi meditation is directed towards the heart since it is the center and the seat of love and divine inspiration, and the heart does not falsify that which it sees. The ultimate aim of Sufi Meditation is to gain the knowledge that enables one to understand the Divine, Merciful and Compassionate power which is “God”. Meditation in Sufism involves several steps; one must collect his or her energies from the outside world and gradually learn to focus them in the center of the heart.
Purpose or Goal: One will find peacefulness and freedom in Sufism meditation, but this is not its only goal. The main purpose of Sufi meditation is to understand the power and purity of God, the divine power.
5. Chakra Meditation
Chakra meditation is a form of meditation that consists of a set of relaxation techniques focused on bringing balance, relaxation, and well-being to the chakras. “Chakra” is an ancient Sanskrit word that means vortex or wheel which can be traced back to India. The Chakras are visualized as centers of energy that appear throughout your body. There are many Chakras all over the body, but the most known are seven. Each Chakra is associated with a color and different characteristics. The meditation is guided, and it is done by focusing the mind in this energy vortex and their qualities. Because your chakras are part of an intimately connected system, there is only so much work you can do on singular chakras.
Chakras can become blocked and if even one of the 7 Chakras becomes blocked, it sets us up for physical and emotional problems which are something that no one wants. It’s better to meditate on all of them to bring the entire system into balance.
Purpose or Goal: Through chakra meditation, you can improve the balance of your key chakras and bring your health and mental attitude into a more peaceful state.
6. Zazen Meditation
Zazen is a type of meditation unique to Zen Buddhism. This means sitting in Zen or sitting in concentration experiencing emptiness. Zazen is being awake but letting go, experiencing your present moment awareness without thought or story. The way to practice this is by counting each breath, to focus your attention and develop your powers of concentration. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and is effective in working with depression, anxiety, and anger. These are all good reasons to meditate, but ultimately Buddhists practice Zazen to realize what our true nature, which is beyond self-identity with its self-imposed limitations.
Purpose or Goal: Best for people working with depression, stress, and anger as it diminishes anxiety, and lowers blood pressure developed as a result of excessive stress.
7. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation, introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is also about repeating a holy mantra. This is a very simple, natural and effortless way of letting your mind settle down into an extremely calm and wise state of rest. It is recommended to do this twice a day in the morning and evening for twenty minutes each. While meditating, the person practicing Transcendental Meditation sits in a comfortable position with eyes closed and silently repeats a mantra. By practicing this, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness. In this state, the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, order, and a complete absence of mental boundaries.
Purpose or Goal: Transcendental Meditation will make your mind-body system calm as it has a well-proven effect of letting your nervous system settle into a state of deep rest. This will automatically turn the notch down on your level of stress.
8. Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness Meditation is also known as Metta Meditation. Metta means kindness, benevolence, and goodwill. Love Kindness Meditation also leads to increased self-acceptance, a greater feeling of competence about one’s life, and increased the feeling of purpose in life. This practice of this type of meditation is started by developing loving-kindness towards yourself, then progressively towards others and all beings. The more you practice this meditation, the more joy you will experience. It is beneficial both for selfless and self-centered people, and it will help increase your general level of happiness.
Purpose or Goal: It boosts one’s ability to empathize with others. It also helps to develop positive emotions through compassion, including a more loving attitude towards oneself. This meditation is also an antidote to insomnia, nightmares, or anger issues.
Thousands of people have begun the journey of personal health. To achieve the maximum level of health one must eat well, exercise regularly, and improve their mental well-being. Today, when people are living a life to fulfill expectations of their loved ones, friends, and family, they are struggling to improve their mental well-being because it is the most ambiguous and hardest to see tangible results.
Meditation is the best way to mentally reduce stress and develop an air of peace and tranquility. Not every meditation method will be the best fit for you or favorite. So try these out and see which one helps you achieve that level of inner peace you are looking for. Once you have found your go-to method, incorporate that into your daily schedule to best combat the enormous levels of stress synonymous with life.