Types of Meditation: A Comprehensive Guide

Meditation has been practiced for centuries as an ancient Buddhist tradition with many different types offering unique benefits. Learn about Focused Attention Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Love & Kindness Meditation & more.

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 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.

Love and Kindness Meditation (also known as Metta Meditation) is designed to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness to everything, including towards a person's enemies and sources of stress. Mindful Meditation is something that people can do almost anywhere; while standing in line at the supermarket, for example, a person can calmly observe what surrounds them, including the sights, sounds, and smells they feel. Some evidence suggests that mindfulness can improve health. For example, a study of African-American men with chronic kidney disease found that mindful meditation could lower blood pressure.

As a form of mindfulness meditation, Breathing Awareness offers many of the same benefits as mindfulness, such as reducing anxiety, improving concentration, and greater emotional flexibility. Guided Meditation exercises are perfect for beginners as expert guidance from the teacher can help you get the most out of a new experience. Apps, videos and instructional tracks can help guide you through guided meditations. They give you instructions on the meditation style you choose.

Many websites have free educational programs to get you started. 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 opens you up to experiencing your thoughts and emotions honestly, without judgment.

This type of meditation improves your awareness of yourself and the world around you; it helps you to see your emotions honestly and to control negative emotions while paying more attention to positive emotions. Mindfulness Meditation is often recommended for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Movement Meditation focuses on posture, body movement, body interaction with the ground, and breathing. This can be done through a formal practice such as yoga or through everyday activities such as working in the garden or folding clothes.

Focused Meditation (or Concentration Meditation) shares some practices with mindfulness meditation; it often involves focusing on something external such as a flame or running water or reciting a mantra or humming an “om” syllable. Like mindfulness meditation, as your mind begins to wander you can refocus your attention; rather than opening yourself up to your thoughts and feelings, the goal of focused meditation is to strengthen your ability to concentrate. Vipassana, Samatha Meditation of Love and Kindness (Metta), Zazen, Koan Walking Meditation and many types of Tibetan Buddhist Meditations are all popular types of meditation. With all other types of meditation, the “I” (self) focuses on some object - internal or external - physical or mental. In reality this is the real purpose behind all types of meditation - not a type of meditation in itself - but Mindfulness Meditation may be the only type for some people who focus solely on its physical and mental benefits since it is generally taught dissociated from several Eastern concepts and philosophies that traditionally accompanied its practice. Kundalini Meditation is one type that focuses on using meditation techniques to strengthen and relax the nervous system; its main characteristic is generating, transforming and circulating inner energy. No matter what type of meditation you choose - whether it's Focused Attention Meditation or Chakra Meditation or Mindful Meditation - it always requires prior training to be effective even if this isn't stated expressly. This comprehensive guide will help you understand each type of meditation so you can find one that works best for you.