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7 types of meditation techniques

7 types of meditation techniques

Meditation, a practice that’s been around for years, has increasingly become popular for its health and well-being benefits. Many studies have proved over the years how beneficial meditation is for cognitive development, mental health, productivity and focus, cardiac and respiratory health, among others. A senior Harvard study author, Sara Lazar said, "Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day." 

A 2018 review suggests that meditation may contribute to healthy aging. Another 2018 review found that meditation resulted in reductions in cognitive decline and perceived stress as well as increased quality of life, connectivity, and blood flow to the brain.

Meditation enables us to develop awareness of the present. It sharpens our focus and attention, connects the mind and body, allows us to be more accepting of emotions and situations. It greatly reduces stress, improves immunity and mental strength. Given the demanding lives we lead today, meditation is a common way to deal with stress, fight illnesses and diseases, depression and chronic pain. Many spiritual traditions have developed meditation techniques as a part of their teachings and practices. 

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, but there are different techniques that you can practice. Each technique varies slightly but are all beneficial. Most significantly, learning to be an observer of our thoughts but not engage or react to those thoughts is a popular technique. Here are some commonly practiced meditation techniques: 

Body scan meditation

This technique brings your awareness to the body by performing a mental scan. You start from the top of the head to the end of your toes. You are slowly asked to move your attention over your body, bringing awareness to any discomfort, sensations, tensions, or aches that exist. This helps align the body and mind. Also called progressive relaxation, it promotes immense relaxation. Often, this form of meditation involves slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. This form of meditation is often used to relieve stress and unwind before bedtime

 

Mindfulness meditation

The process of fully being aware and in the present moment is mindfulness meditation. Being mindful means being aware of where you are and what you’re doing. When practicing mindfulness meditation, you are asked to observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment or reaction. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns. This habit once developed can be practiced and implemented anywhere. Some people prefer to do this meditation in a quiet place, closing their eyes, and focusing on the breath. Over time, you will choose to be mindful at any point of the day, including while you’re commuting to work or doing chores.

Originating from Buddhist teachings, Mindfulness meditation is the most popular and researched form of meditation in the West. This type of meditation is useful for those who are practicing on their own without a teacher guiding them. A 2019 review noted that mindfulness meditation has positive effects when it comes to depression. Its effects may last up to 6 months or more. 

Transcendental Meditation

While it sounds profound, transcendental meditation is a basic technique of choosing a mantra in the form of a word, phrase or sound and being totally aware while chanting them. It is practiced for about 20-minutes a day and allows the body and mind to fully relax by inducing peace and calm. 

Guided Visuals Meditation

This method of meditation includes forming mental pictures or situations that can be very relaxing. Some of these images will also help in purging out some sub conscious fears and phobias. It is typically done under the guidance of a teacher who will pick the right images for visualisation. Normally one is also asked to become aware of the senses around them such as smell, sounds, and textures, etc. 

Vipassana Meditation

Originating from ancient India, Vipassana means to see things as they really are. This form of meditation allows one to self-transformation through self-observation. You are asked to focus attention on physical sensations in the body and be aware of any feelings. This establishes a deep connection between the body and mind. This promotes balance, calmness, love and compassion. 

Loving Kindness Meditation

Inspired by Buddhist concept of Ahimsa and compassion, this technique fosters a feeling of love and kindness towards oneself and others. It can also be called affirmations meditation where you are asked to repeat specific words and phrases that evoke a feeling of warmth and belonging. Upon sitting in a comfortable, relaxed position, you can be asked to repeat phrases such as “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” After a period of directing this loving kindness toward yourself, you may begin to picture a family member or friend who has helped you and repeat the mantra again, this time replacing “I” with “you.” You can end the meditation with the universal mantra: “May all beings everywhere be happy.” This meditation strengthens compassion, kindness and acceptance towards oneself and others. It releases any feelings of anger or resentment. 

 

Mantra meditation

Instead of focusing on the breath to quiet the mind, you are asked to focus on a mantra (which could be a syllable, word, or phrase). There are subtle vibrations associated with certain words such as Om. Repeating the mantra encourages positive change. It allows you to go into a deeper meditative state as well. The chosen mantras can be spoken loudly or quietly. After chanting the mantra for some time, you’ll be more aware and in harmony with your surroundings. 

While there are many techniques and types of meditations, choosing one that you enjoy is helpful. But the most decisive factor with any technique you choose is regular practice. Only with regular consistent practice you will be able to go into deeper meditative states and the benefits will be profound. Starting your practice under the guidance of a teacher before you can start self practice will help hone and master a technique.

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7 types of meditation techniques
Shvasa Editorial Team

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7 types of meditation techniques

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