WHICH STYLE OF MEDITATION IS BEST FOR YOU?
The word is out: meditation is a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle. It has been scientifically proven to make peoples’ lives happier, less stressful, and even more healthy. However, meditation isn’t necessarily easy to commit to doing every day. If you’ve ever tried to jump in at random, you may have found it to be a challenge. It could be simply because you haven’t found the right meditation style that jives with your soul.
The essential aspect of meditation isn’t based on how “well” you do it, what you’re wearing, or where you are. It’s about what appeals to your spirit, and since that is such a subjective thing, there is no right or wrong way to do it. The important thing is to be committed and practice every day.
We found seven meditation styles for you to check out. If you still aren’t sure of which sounds the best, try them all out! Make note of how you feel before and after each style, and understand what works for you. Allow yourself to go with the flow. Some important questions to ask yourself when figuring out your meditation style include: Do you like to move, or does stillness work better for you? How about vocalizations? Do you want to focus on something or nothing? Your particular way into meditation may be different than what the mainstream is doing, but getting the benefits of stress relief, reduced anger, feelings of well-being, lowered blood pressure and so on is what is important for you.
This is a rather general label for any kind of meditation that includes focus on some aspect of the five senses (visualizations are the most popular). For instance, you might be asked to focus on an image of a flower, a flame, or moving water. These are all ways to keep the mind gently focused so you are less likely to become distracted. You may also be asked to concentrate on the feel of something — your fingers against each other, the way your breath feels moving in and out of your body, or the alignment of your spine. Sound is another method, as you may focus on a simple sound (a gentle gong, a bell, or music) or sounds from nature.
This style is a focused meditation that is not self-led. Usually a teacher or instructor will take you through it duringa class you attend. It usually includes one or more of the techniques in focused meditation. The instructor will lead you through breathing instructions and some kind of visualization, body scan, or sound, or a mantra.
In layman’s terms, this is known as prayer. You may have done it growing up, or you may practice it as part of your religion. While it isn’t the exact same thing, there are familiar elements to this style of meditation. Essentially, you dive into a quieter, more reflective state, whether that’s at home or your place of worship. To practice spiritual meditation, you begin with the words you have heard or said yourself in your worship, but instead of stopping at the end of a prayer or song, keep sitting quietly. You can ask a question and listen for an answer. Sometimes people feel that an answer comes from outside of them through the Divine, God, or the Universe. Other people simply enumerate what you are grateful for. Use your experience of prayer to access that quiet, meditative mind space.
This practice is a label for when you use a sound or a set of sounds, repetitively, to enter and stay within the meditative state. Against popular belief, using only silence when practicing meditation isn’t the only way to meditate. Mantras are a great focusing tool, and they have a long history within the tradition of meditation. People usually chant either quietly, whispering their words, or loudly and proudly, turning the mantras into a more rhythmic song. Again, however, there is no one way to do it. Saying your mantras in your head is perfectly fine, or in a different language, or in a simple onomatopoeia like "Ohm." You can even make up sounds or words if you like or take them from another language; it all depends on what the sound or words mean to you personally, and if they are a helpful way to prevent distracting thoughts.
When scientists tout the benefits of meditation, this is the type that's most likely been studied. It’s certainly the most popular form, with over 5 million practitioners worldwide. It’s also usually easy to find free or low-cost classes in most places. It is a little more formalized than some of the other meditation types mentioned here, but it useful for beginning or exploring meditation if you are new to it. They have an official site, which states this form of meditation as "... a simple, natural, effortless procedure practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. It’s not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle."
This form is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the active branch of meditation. It’s a chance to move around the room, the house, a woodsy path, or the garden (or wherever) — usually in a relatively simple and relaxing way, rather than getting your heart rate up. Walking meditation, most types of yoga, gardening, and even basic housecleaning tasks can be moving meditations. This meditation type is great for people who already sit all day at work and want to move and meditate when not at a desk, and for those people who find sitting still to be a distraction from being able to meditate at all.
This is a type of meditation that is an ongoing part of life, rather than a separate activity. It is more of a lifestyle than anything else. It’s a great way to address stress in the moment it is happening, and over time becomes more like a mental skill than a focused time set apart from the rest of your day. It can be easier to get into a mindful state of mind if one has already been practicing other forms of meditation separately.
via Rachel Grussi