Six Types of Meditation by Steve Gillman
There are so many different types of meditation. How many? Who knows, but enough so that you can find the one that’s right for you. To get your search started, here are six types of meditation you can try.
1. Breath watching. Can meditating be as simple as paying attention to your breath for a few minutes? You bet. Relax in whatever position works best for you, close your eyes and start to pay attention to your breathing. Breathing through your nose gets your diaphragm involved and gets oxygen all the way to the bottom of your lungs. As your mind wanders, just re-focus your attention on the air going in and out of your nose. Just do this for several minutes, or longer as you get used to it.
2. An empty mind meditation. Meditating can create a kind of “awareness without object,” an emptying of all thoughts from your mind. The techniques for doing this involve sitting still, often in a “full lotus” or cross-legged position, and letting the mind go silent on its own. It can be difficult, particularly since any effort seems to just cause more business in the mind.
3. Walking meditations. This one gets the body involved. It can be outside or simply as a back and forth pacing in a room. Pay attention to the movement of your legs and breathing and body as you walk, and to the feeling of your feet contacting the ground. When your mind wanders, just keep bringing it back to the process of walking and breathing. Meditating outside in this way can be difficult because of the distractions. If you do it outside, find a quiet place with level ground.
4. Mindfulness meditation. A practice Buddhists call vipassana or insight meditation, mindfulness is the art of becoming deeply aware of what is here right now. You focus on what’s happening in and around you at this very moment, and become aware of all the thoughts and feelings that are taking your energy from moment to moment. You can start by watching your breath, and then move your attention to the thoughts going through your mind, the feelings in your body, and even the sounds and sights around you. The key is to watch without judging or analyzing.
5. Simple mantra meditation. Many people find it easier to keep their mind from wandering if they concentrate on something specific. A mantra can help. This is a word or phrase you repeat as you sit in meditation, and is chosen for you by an experienced master in some traditions. If you are working on this alone, you can use any word or phrase that works for you, and can choose to either repeat it aloud or in your head as you meditate.
6. Meditating on a concept. Some meditative practices involve contemplation of an idea or scenario. An example is the “meditation on impermanence,” in which you focus on the impermanent nature of all things, starting with your thoughts and feelings as they come and go. In the Buddhist “meditation on the corpse,” you think about a body in the ground, as it slowly rots away and is fed on by worms. The technique is used to guide you to an understanding that your rationalizing mind might not bring you to.
There are many other meditations you can try, such as the “meditation on loving-kindness” or “object” meditation, and even meditating using brain wave entrainment products. Each type has its own advantages and effects. For this reason, you may find that at different times and for different purposes you want to use several different types of meditation.