No matter what stage you're at in life, or your age, sex, or religion, we can all stand to feel a little more relaxed and a little more at ease.
Meditation in all its various forms is an excellent way to help gain perspective, calm the nerves, and relax your mind and body.
Whether you’re hanging in a hammock, out in nature, or in a meditation studio, there are various types of meditation that you can try. And by experimenting with a few types, you can find the right one for you to improve your physical and mental health and well-being.
Meditation is a practice that reduces stress and improves physical and emotional well-being. It provides increased relaxation and awareness in a hectic, fast-paced, and stressful world that tends to dull our senses and make us lose touch with what matters most in life.
Here are several of the most common types of meditation practiced today, including how to meditate:
Also known as Metta meditation, the goal of this meditation technique is to build an attitude of love and kindness toward everyone and everything, including those who cause you stress.
This meditation is designed to promote compassion and love for oneself and others. And it can help increase positive emotions for those with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While breathing deeply, open your mind to receiving loving kindness, and send messages of love and compassion out to the world and also to specific people.
Repeat this message of love and kindness as many times as necessary until you feel your attitude shift toward compassion for others and yourself.
This type of meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension, noticing the tension, and releasing it. It is used to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. It can also help people fall asleep, and it may help those with chronic pain.
There are two ways of doing this. You can tense and then relax your muscles. Or you can visualize a wave drifting over your body and releasing tension, starting at your feet.
Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the present, encouraging awareness of existing surroundings without any judgement, instead of dwelling on the past or dreading the future.
Mindfulness meditation has many benefits, including:
This type of meditation can be practiced almost anywhere by calmly noticing your surroundings, including the sights, smells, and sounds.
You can also practice breath awareness, being aware of your breathing. And as you relax, you will draw your attention to areas of tension in your body.
A form of mindful meditation, breath awareness focuses on mindful breathing. This meditation has the same benefits as mindfulness meditation, including improved concentration, emotional flexibility, and reduced anxiety.
With this meditation, breathe deeply and slowly, focusing on your breath and counting your breaths, ignoring other thoughts that enter your mind.
This form of meditation combines movements with mantras and deep breathing and is often practiced with an instructor in a class.
Like other types of yoga, kundalini yoga improves strength and energy, reduces pain, and improves mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.
Also called Zazen, this form of meditation is part of Buddhist practice, and is often studied under a teacher due to its specific steps and postures.
It is similar to mindful meditation, but it requires more discipline and practice.
The focus of Zen meditation is to find a comfortable position, focus on your breathing, and mindfully observe your thoughts without any judgement.
This is a spiritual form of meditation in which the practitioner aims to transcend above one’s current state of being while remaining seated and breathing slowly. It leads to heightened mindfulness and spiritual experiences.
During this meditation, practitioners focus on a mantra, a repeated word, or a series of words that are determined by the teacher. Alternatively, people may choose their own mantras.
How often you meditate is entirely up to you. Any amount of meditation is better than none. So if you’re wondering how to start meditating, try to meditate one to three times a week to start, working up to once a day.
If you plan to meditate at the same time every day, it will become a habit that will be easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You may also wish to meditate more than once a day, using it to reduce stress when needed.
Meditation is not a results-focused practice. So you shouldn’t focus on the results. Instead, be reassured knowing that meditation can work very quickly.
During meditation, you will likely feel less stressed, more at peace, and more accepting. And these feelings will eventually trickle into your life outside of meditation over time and with practice.
There are many types of meditation that you can try. So experiment with a few to find a style that suits you and your lifestyle.
Like with any skill, it takes time and practice to master a meditation method. But if you stick with it, it can become a part of your daily routine to improve your health, well-being, and overall quality of life.