Meditation can be much different than the picture we have in our mind of a solitary person sitting cross-legged on a floor mat with their eyes closed, chanting “Om”. That is one kind of meditation, but there are many others. So many that there’s sure to be at least one meditation approach that will feel comfortable for you.
While there are many different ways to group meditation styles, it is common to categorize them by the status of the body during the meditation: still meditations and moving meditations.
During still meditation, your body is at rest. You will focus on an object, idea or process. At the same time, your focus remains open to everything else that is happening around you and in your mind. With practice, it becomes easier to ignore distractions and maintain attention on the chosen focus.
There are many different forms of still meditation. These are a few:
The idea behind this meditation is that the breath holds tremendous power. Also called yogic breathing, this technique invites the practitioner to control their inhales and exhales. Longer exhales are calming, while longer inhales are energizing.
Dip your bubble wand into bubble solution. Take a deep breath in, and with a steady exhale, blow as many bubbles as you can! Keep the exhale steady. Let the inhales fill you up with a childlike sense of play, and let the exhales release any tension you may be holding onto. This fun meditation can be done by yourself or in a group, and is especially fun with children.
To help increase your ability to focus, this meditation involves concentrating using any of your five senses. This may be as simple as counting beads, listening to a gong, staring at a candle flame, or focusing on your internal breath. It can be difficult for beginners to hold their focus for longer than a few minutes. If your mind wanders, simply come back to the practice and refocus.
Gazing Meditation (also called Trataka)
By staring at a fixed object, this form of meditation offers improved eye health and headache relief, lower stress levels, and better focus. While sitting or standing, fix your gaze on an object like a stone, tree, lit candle, or something that holds personal meaning. This meditation can be intense, so start with only 15 to 20 seconds with plenty of rest time.
A voice will ask you to visualize a peaceful scene, a healing white light, or to see yourself accomplishing a goal. Either recorded or live, this soothing voice will verbally guide you through the meditation. Soft music may play in the background, and the guide will offer directions for how to relax your mind and body. By imagining relaxing and positive experiences, the body will respond by releasing chemicals that generate feelings of positivity. This form of meditation is inspired by the words of the Buddha, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
Heart Rhythm Meditation
This form of meditation focuses on the heart (both the physical heart and the emotional or poetic heart). It uses conscious breathing to coordinate the breath with the heartbeat. It helps the practitioner better handle stress and develop an appreciative and joyous spirit.
Visualize your heart as a lotus flower. This image creates a safe, comfortable place for your mind to settle. This meditation helps the practitioner feel connected to the heart as a place of unconditional love.
Instead of focusing on your breath, mantra meditation is verbal. A mantra can be a word, phrase or sound. By repeating the mantra aloud, you can clear your mind and become more in tune with the world around you.
Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular meditation technique in the West. This practice is done by focusing on your breathing and paying attention to the thoughts that pass through your mind. Don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them; simply observe and take note of any patterns. Research has found that mindfulness can reduce anxiety and depression.
By standing instead of sitting or lying down, this meditation can help relieve lower back pain and promote greater internal stability. Stand in a comfortable, straight posture with feet pointing forward, about shoulder width apart. Mentally scan through your body to establish awareness and release tension.
Ideal for those who like structure and are serious about maintaining a meditation practice, transcendental meditation offers a path to enlightenment – a constant state of inner calmness. This meditation practice typically requires expert guidance to learn effectively.
This active form of meditation uses simple, repetitive motion to help you gain awareness and relaxation. Movement meditation is good for people who find peace in action and prefer to let their minds wander. While most people think of yoga when they hear movement meditation, this practice may include walking through the woods, gardening, qigong, and other gentle forms of motion, such as:
Daily Life Practice Meditation
Meditate while you wash dishes, take a shower, or walk to work. Simply slow down your daily activities to half-speed and using the process as an opportunity to be mindful and focus on your thoughts.
Let go of your ego and surrender to the rhythms and ecstasies of dance. Dance meditation can be a great way to release tension and get in touch with your instincts.
Hand Movement Meditation
For many people, the toughest part of meditation is sitting without moving. This meditation will guide you to notice the air touching your palms, fingers, and thumbs as you gently lift your hands into the air, imagining the energy field between your hands. Slow-motion movements can help capture your mind’s attention, and relax your body and mind.
These rhythmic physical movements are a combination of meditation, breathing techniques, and low-impact exercise. One of the oldest forms of meditation, Qigong helps the individual control their reactions to stress, and reduces anxiety, improves blood flow, and increases energy.
This ancient wellness practice looks like slow-motion dancing, and is all about aligning energy, “chi”, in the body and the mind. Benefits may include increased memory and brain size.
Choose a safe place with space to roam around – like a park or field. Begin to walk slowly and continuously while holding good posture and breathing deeply. Be aware of your body and mind, and experience your body’s motions.
This is only a short list of more common meditations. While there are many more ways to meditate out there, every practice requires that we be willing to face our thoughts, focus our attention, and reach deep inside to access the source of our inner strength and calm.
Which of these meditation styles speaks to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
To give meditation a try, check out our “Stress Reduction” guided meditation and get a taste of the mental clarity and physical relaxation that meditation offers.
With love & gratitude,