Types of Meditation: A Comprehensive Guide

Meditation has been practiced for centuries as an ancient Buddhist tradition with many different types offering unique benefits such as stress reduction & emotional regulation.

Types of Meditation: A Comprehensive Guide

Meditation is an ancient Buddhist tradition that has been practiced for centuries. It involves sitting upright and following your breath, particularly the way it enters and exits the abdomen, and letting the mind “just be”. Its purpose is to promote a sense of presence and alertness. There are many different types of meditation, each with its own unique benefits.

Focused Attention Meditation is similar to the traditional meditation practice, but instead of focusing on your breathing to calm your mind, you focus on a mantra (which could be a syllable, a word, or a phrase). The idea here is that the subtle vibrations associated with the repeated mantra can foster positive change, perhaps an increase in self-confidence or greater compassion for others, and help you enter an even deeper state of meditation. Chakra Meditation is an ancient and powerful Chinese practice that involves harnessing the body's energy by allowing energy pathways called “meridians” to be open and fluid. Sending this energy inside during meditation is believed to help the body heal and function; sending the energy outside can help heal another person.

Guided Meditation is perfect for beginners, as expert guidance from the teacher can help you get the most out of a new experience. You can also customize your search based on the desired result and try guided meditations focused on sleep, stress relief or acceptance. Spiritual Meditation is the conscious practice of believing in and connecting with something that is larger, more vast, and deeper than the individual self. In this meditation, you trust that there is something greater out there and that everything happens for a reason.

Mindfulness Meditation encompasses a set of techniques adapted from Buddhist traditions that date back more than 2500 years. In mindfulness, your orientation or the way you view your experience matters. An attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance is cultivated. Mindfulness begins at the most obvious levels of experience, often by noticing sounds in the room, breathing, or sensations in the body.

After just a few weeks of practice, mindfulness can help you see people, including yourself, more clearly, without thick layers of judgment or prejudice. Vipassana is an element of a set of practices and mental qualities considered important for spiritual awakening. Although vipassana disappeared in the 10th century, it was revived in the 18th century in Burma and eventually became popular in the West in non-religious forms. Vipassana is another type of meditation that has been studied extensively. Some of the most notable findings come from research conducted in prison settings.

A 4-year trial on the practice of Vipassana in the King County Jail showed that participating inmates were 20% less likely to return to jail. Mettā is often used to support the practice of mindfulness. It involves cultivating feelings of kindness towards oneself and others. Zen Meditation (also known as zazen) is a type of Japanese Buddhist meditation that aims to achieve a direct view of the nature of reality. After arriving in Japan, Zen was absorbed and mixed with pre-existing Japanese aesthetics and cultural norms. Although zen hasn't been as formally researched as mindfulness, it's a similar form of meditation and offers many similar benefits such as stress reduction and emotional regulation. Mantra Meditation involves focusing on a syllable, word or phrase instead of your breathing.

In some types of mantra meditation it is believed that the word has a specific meaning or that certain mantras help specific types of people. Mantra meditation can also take a more devotional form called japa which involves lovingly repeating sacred sounds associated with the name of God or gods. Transcendental Meditation is a specific form of mantra meditation taught individually by teachers who are trained and certified to do so. It involves repeating mantras in your mind throughout the session or whispering them softly as a way to help you focus.

No matter which type you choose to practice, all forms of meditation have been proven to reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing.