6 Types of meditation
As I said before, there is no right way or wrong way for you to meditate. However, it is crucial that you find the meditation practice which is suited to your needs your needs. Here are the 6 most popular, but not limited to, meditation practices that you can choose from-
- Mindfulness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Movement meditation
- Focused meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Mantra meditation
As not all these meditation styles will be right for each and everyone, you need to develop a particular mindset to practice your preferred style. Just go for whichever one feels the most comfortable to you and you feel motivated to practice.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is perhaps the most popular and widely practiced style of meditation, especially in the West. Based on ancient Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation is the most simple practice that requires you to focus your attention on your breath. You simply observe and allow your thoughts to appear and pass without judging them or getting involved in them. By focusing on your breath or any object, you observe your emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations
2. Spiritual Meditation
This type of meditation is primarily practiced in Eastern religions, like Daoism, Hinduism and even in Christianity. It is very similar to praying in silence where you focus on the silence and reflect on your thoughts. The focus here is on seeking a deeper connection with the Universe or God.
3. Focused Meditation
This form of meditation requires you to concentrate on something based on any of your 5 senses. You can either focus on your breath or any external objects, count beads, look at a candle flame or listen to gongs or bells. It may sound simple, but it will certainly require a lot of practice like any other form of meditation.
4. Movement Meditation
Most forms of meditation require you to remain seated in a particular position. But this style of meditation requires you to focus on your body while in motion. Movement Meditation, also known as walking meditation, is a variant of mindfulness meditation and is also related with Tai chi, Yoga and various other forms of martial arts. You can practice this while walking through the woods, playing a sport, gardening, walking your dog etc.
5. Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation or chanting meditation is widely recommended by Eastern and Western religions. While chanting, your mind must be focused on the sound and melody of the mantra, like the very popular “Om” mantra. The repetitive sound of the mantra helps to cleanse our mind, makes us more alert and deepens our awareness.
6. Visualization Meditation
Here you are required to visualize a particular image that invokes a specific feeling in your mind. You can close your eyes and imagine a beautiful mountain lake, a pristine beach, a lush meadow, the open sky or any other landscape or visualization that you can relate with. This type of meditation is believed to help the practitioners get rid of negative or unwelcome thoughts and attain inner peace.
How should you start meditating as beginner
Meditation for beginners should be easy to practice. Now that you have got some idea about meditation, what you need to do now is to forget it all and clear your mind before you get started. Yes, you heard me right. You will have the best meditation experiences only when you view it as a simple practice that you can do anytime you want. The information I provided above, is to give you an overview of what meditation is, not to confuse you or to make the process complicated for you.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche says beginners should keep things simple and easy when starting meditation. You surely don’t want to argue with a Buddhist monk, especially when he is the happiest person in the world. The meditation master recommends that you keep your sessions short during the first few days or even weeks. He suggests –
“You cannot meditate a lot at the beginning; it’s not a good idea. If you are very new, may be do 5 minutes a day. But do it for 30 days. Then, it will become a habit. Once you build up that habit, you can add another 5 minutes, and it gets easier and easier.”
As a rule of thumb, it is widely believed that a daily 10 minutes of meditation practice can have significant effects on your body and mind. But it mainly depends on you and how you want to go about it. As I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for a few years now, I would recommend you get started with mindfulness meditation for beginners as it is perhaps the simplest and most effective methods. You may also try guided meditation as a beginner, if you want.
Here’s how you can start practicing meditation as a beginner-
1. Pick a spot
Choose a location in your home which is distraction-free and has decent room temperature. It can be your bedroom or living room or anyplace you feel comfortable in.
2. Sit down comfortably
Sit down on a meditation cushion or chair in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Imagine an invisible string is tied to the top of your head and it is connected to the ceiling above. Maintain this posture as comfortably as you can.
3. Close your eyes
Gently close your eyes without exerting any force to keep them shut. Keep them softly closed throughout the entire duration of the session.
Start with a few deep breaths: take a long, slow, deep breath in (for a count of 4 seconds), now hold your breath (for another count of 4 seconds), then gently and slowly release your breath (again for 4 seconds). After doing this a few times, relax you breath and breathe naturally. Do not make any efforts to control the pace of your breaths.
As you close your eyes and start breathing, bring your entire attention on your breaths. Focus on how you inhale, the exact moment when your inhalation ends and you start holding your breath, and when you start exhaling your breath releasing it fully. Keep your attention on the entire process of breathing in, holding your breath and breathing out.
When you breathe, focus on how it feels on the tip of your nose and inside your nostrils. You may focus your attention on any specific element of your breath. Just keep breathing naturally. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. But it’s easier said than done.
6. Be aware
As you already know that awareness is the essence of meditation and that your mind will wander while you meditate, the next thing you need to do is be aware. Every time you start thinking of something or your mind gets engaged in something external, gently bring your focus back to your breath without any judgment. Every time your mind wanders, repeat the process. The more you are aware, the better your practice will be. Otherwise you are just sitting there motionless, which is not what you want. Awareness is everything in meditation. And this is the hardest part. You can also do a full body scan to see how each part of your body feels while you meditate.
You might feel bored. You might wonder when it’s about to end. You might feel a slight pain in your knees, back and other joints. But as long as you are sitting comfortably, keep your focus on your breath unless you feel you are done with your practice, which can be 2, 5 or 10 minutes during the first few weeks.