10 Types of Meditation: Benefits and Tips

Medically Reviewed on 4/30/2021
meditation practices
Meditation can calm our thoughts and reduce stress

Meditation is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Just as your body benefits from regular physical exercise, your brain benefits from mental exercise.

Through techniques that encourage focused attention on the body, meditation helps us stay in the present instead of worrying about the future (anxiety) or getting sad about the past (depression). Like a detox for the mind, meditation can calm our thoughts and reduce stress-releasing hormones in our bodies. 

Most meditation practices involve focusing on:

  • Being aware of your breathing patterns and making a conscious effort to breathe deeply and regularly.
  • Chanting a mantra repeatedly for a fixed number of times.
  • Concentrating on an image.

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate, and what works best for you depends on your lifestyle, schedule and energy levels. You may want to try different techniques to find one that suits you. Below, we discuss 10 of the most effective types of meditation practices and how they work.

1. Yoga

Yogic breathing techniques and asanas (postural exercises) originate from Hinduism and help to stretch the joints and muscles. This practice requires intense concentration and can help empty the mind of random thoughts.

2. Mantra meditation

Also rooted in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mantra meditation involves chanting a mantra like the popular “om” or a simple phrase like “I am happy” while you breathe deeply and observe the thoughts that come in and out of your mind without reacting to them.

3. Guided meditation

This technique requires you to sit still, close your eyes and imagine places or situations you find relaxing. A teacher or meditation app will guide you through the use of certain sounds (sea waves and birds chirping) or smells (incense, essential oils, etc.) to achieve a deep meditative state. This is similar to the Japanese practice called Reiki, which uses guided meditation techniques with the help of a “Reiki Master.” Reiki techniques harness the power of the subconscious mind in order to control our body functions such as blood pressure, hormones and anxiety.

4. Tai chi

Tai chi is Chinese form of martial arts that involves performing a self-paced series of postures and movements in a controlled manner while practicing deep breathing. It helps keep the muscles limber and controls your reaction to stress.

5. Progressive muscle relaxation

This practice is based on the belief that physical relaxation will result in mental relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques involve alternating tension and relaxation of the body’s muscle groups in a particular order, and it is often done before sleep. This is especially useful if you have anxiety issues, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or insomnia. It has also helped people with migraines, tension headaches and blood pressure.

6. Visualization

During visualization meditation, a guide or app prompts you to picture something in your mind. This may be scenery, your happy place or a pleasant memory from your childhood. By visualizing a positive image and focusing on it, you may begin to slowly shed the day’s stress. 

7. Reflective meditation

Reflective meditation invites you to ask yourself a question and think deeply about it, such as “What are you most grateful for?” Focusing on a positive emotion like gratitude can drive away feelings of anxiety or irritability.

8. Zen meditation

This is an ancient Buddhist technique that involves sitting upright and observing your breath, the way it moves in and out of the body. Instead of focusing on a specific object, you are encouraged to just “be” and not think about anything in particular.

9. Movement meditation

If you find sitting at one place tedious, movement meditation may be the technique for you. Have you ever wondered why squishing a stress ball or kneading dough can be so relaxing? Or felt the need to take a walk alone to gather your thoughts? Or sat at the beach listening to waves crashing on the shoor and watching sand sift through your fingers? Such practices are meditative because these movements connect you to your inner self. 

10. Contemplative meditation

For some people, writing in a diary, dancing, gardening and painting can be powerful meditative practices that help them integrate their bodily actions with their minds and thus burn off nervous mental energy.

What are the benefits of regular meditation?

  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Improves work productivity
  • Improves outlook in psychosomatic diseases (diseases that flare up because of stress) like asthma, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Helps you uncover and cope with repressed traumas
  • Improves posture and reduces muscle tension and aches
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Improves memory
  • Lowers heart rate and blood pressure

Tips for good meditative practice

  • Choose a fixed time and place to meditate.
  • Select a position that’s comfortable and relaxing, but one that isn’t going to make you fall asleep.
  • Begin your meditation journey under a trained expert.
  • Keep in mind that certain yoga and tai chi postures may not be suitable for you, especially if you are pregnant or have back issues or arthritis.
  • Patience is the key. Meditation is not a one-stop solution to all problems.
  • Take small steps at first and gradually increase the intensity.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/30/2021
References
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

https://aihcp.net/2012/10/17/what-is-movement-meditation/