Yesterday I shared a blog post on how to meditate for the first time, today I wanted to go a little deeper into that and explore the different types of meditation. There are so many different types of meditation that there will definitely be something out there that works for you, all you have to do is try them all out, be curious and find one that clicks!
This is the type of meditation that I practice, I don’t know if it has an exact name but it is basically just prolonged concentration. In the 8 limb path of yoga, before you even start meditation you practice dharana, which is concentration or attention of the senses.
When you use this technique of meditation there are several things that you can focus your attention on:
- Internal body awareness (the sensations in your hands, feet etc.)
- The breath
- Internal or external sounds
- Your third eye
- A mantra
This meditation is really all about being present and grounding yourself in the present moment. It relieves stress and anxiety, and I find it helps me stay more present for the rest of the day.
Mindfulness meditation has been developed from Buddhist meditations by Job Kabat-Zinn and is now being used more and more in the west to treat mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The basic principle, again, is to be present. It is all about observing the present moment and letting your worries, judgements and thoughts subside.
Here are a few things you can do to practice mindfulness meditation:
- Focus on your arms and legs, scan your whole body and feel each sensation
- Focus on your breath
- Allow your thoughts to come and go
- Observe the present moment
You can also use the headspace app for a guided mindfulness meditation, I have used this in the past and found it really helpful for when I was just starting my meditation practice. If you are interested you can buy the Headspace guide to mindfulness and meditation book or the Headspace guide to mindful eating, because mindfulness can be practiced at all times during the day, not only when you are sat in meditation.
I have found creative visualisation to be very powerful and we often do it in yoga. This meditation is to manifest whatever you need into your life, by visualising what you want you attract, it then becomes your reality.
Here are some tips:
- Use all of your senses to imagine your dream
- Get very specific and imagine every detail
- Trust in the universe that it will provide you with all the opportunities you need to manifest the dream
- Afterwards allow your mind to be completely still
I often use an affirmation at the end of my meditation in the morning. I find using an affirmation is another great way to manifest things into your life, for example I repeat the line it is possible silently to myself. Using an affirmation will also help to focus your mind and bring your awareness inwards.
To practice this meditation there are a few things you can do:
- Pick an affirmation that is going to work for you. Often this is what you need more of in your life, or what you do not believe you are, for example I am calm..
- Silently repeat it to yourself and allow your whole body to be consumed by this affirmation
- Return to it continuously throughout your day.
I have just recently learnt the difference between a mantra and an affirmation. Mantras are words that have no meaning behind them and are used to still the mind, however an affirmation may have a lot of meaning for you and is used to manifest more of what you need into your life.
You can play around with mantra meditation by using any of these sounds to meditate: Om, So-ham, Rama, Yam. These sounds come from the hindu and buddhist traditions and are sometimes easier to focus on than your breath. Try them out and see what works for you.
If I am honest, I have never tried transcendental meditation, however in my search to find all the meditation techniques it has been popping up everywhere and yesterday someone I know said that they are going on a course. I wanted to include it here because it might be useful for you if you are still looking for a meditation technique that works well in your life.
Transcendental meditation was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and is a specific form of mantra meditation. It became popular in the late 60s when the Beatles became students of Maharishi.
The downside of transcendental meditation is that you cannot learn it online for free. You can check out the TM website HERE for more information, however they advise you to sign up with a teacher if you wish to learn.
Vipassana means insight, or to see things as they clearly are. It was rediscovered by the Buddha and was taught by him as a way to achieve complete bliss in life. It is a self observation technique, and by observing your self and your thoughts you are able to uncover the suffering you feel and find lasting happiness.
This is what you do:
- Start by listening to your breathing to become present
- Start to be aware of all the sensations in your body
- Be aware of your thoughts and be the watcher of your thoughts.
I have just signed on to a 10 day vipassana course in March, so I will have more experience to explain how it is done after that. There is lots of information online, and dhamma.org is especially helpful.
There are so many other methods of meditation that I recommend you explore them all and find one that works for you. As you can probably see, a lot of these meditation techniques have things in common, specifically being present. So whatever you can find that helps you be completely present is a great form of meditation and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Yoga is a great form of moving meditation. In a yoga practice you will have all your awareness on your breath and as you move your thoughts will start to dwindle. Yoga was how I got introduced into meditation and it is a really great way to step into meditation.
Walking can also be moving meditation. If you have no distractions (no phone) and you are completely present, being aware of each step you take and everything going on then this is meditation.
I also use art as a form of meditation. When I am in that creative zone I get into a kind of flow where all my thoughts subside and I am completely in the present moment. I love art as a way to actively meditate rather than sitting still.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone and everyone out there. Let me know if you have any questions, I am happy to help! Also comment your favourite method of meditation because I am interested to find out what everyone enjoys best.
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