What Is Meditation
Meditation is practiced widely around the world, within various cultures. The sense of peace and harmony allows one to grow a better understanding of mindfulness. Through meditation, one can gain awareness, a much-needed quality in our fast-paced society. With the increased stress put upon people, it is no wonder meditation is growing in popularity. Meditation is a time to put down the to-do lists, planners, and worries to focus on the present moment. There is no right or wrong way to meditate; it is best to tailor your practice to your own preferences.
Origin of Meditation
It is currently unclear where meditation originated from but it is thought to have originated by Hindus or Buddhists in India.
The Different Types of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation and we have compiled a comprehensive list of them for you and included any relevant articles to ensure you get all the information you need.
It’s important to explore various different methods to keep in tune with your body and mind to learn which method works best for you.
Below are the various different types of meditation.
Practicing mindfulness meditation allows one to be fully present in the moment. During a mindfulness meditation practice, people become conscious of their thoughts and achieve a peaceful state. Also, one’s heightened awareness brings them closer to themselves.
The remarkable thing about mindfulness meditation is it can be done ANYWHERE. Some like to have a premade meditation spot while others can do it virtually everywhere. (Additionally, you can bring mindfulness into any daily moment—while doing work, laundry, or walking.)
For beginners, you may be wondering, “how do you meditate?”
First, find a comfortable seated position and begin to focus on your breath. Feel it slowly filling up your lungs, and exhale releasing stress. It is vital to remember to observe your thoughts and emotions while letting them pass without judgment. During your practice, focus on the moment, rather than the abstract thoughts that pop up. When your mind drifts, gently nudge it back to your breath.
If you are new to meditation, we highly recommend starting with a mindfulness practice. You can attend in-person classes, download a free meditation app, listen to a guided practice online, or meditate alone. Music, candles, aromatherapy, and dim lights can deepen the restorative effect.
The ordinary meditation benefits are decreased stress levels, enhanced ability to deal with illness, reduced blood pressure, decreased depressive symptoms, and improved general health. It is true that when your mind is happy, your body will soon follow. To treat yourself, take a couple minutes from your day to focus on your breath. (After all, how much do we get done in 5 minutes anyway? Not much! So, why not meditate?)
During this uplifting practice, one will receive a wide variety of benefits that will seep into everyday life. Focused meditation requires one to concentrate on one of the five senses. (For example, focusing on your breath, what you feel, or what you see.) The use of external stimuli aids in this meditative practice, such as counting meditating with mala beads, listening to music, or candle gazing meditation.
The practice sounds simple, but it can be challenging for beginners to hold their focus. If your mind wanders, gently come back and refocus. Ideally, the practice is perfect for those who are looking for a boost of concentration.
Focused practice is best performed in a quiet environment, such as your home, to further remove distractions.
We have specific guides on various types of meditation down in our meditation guides for beginners section.
Spiritual meditation streams from Eastern religions (Hinduism, Daoism, and Christianity.) In a spiritual practice, it’s linked to reflection toward oneself and the universe. No matter what faith you believe in, you can meditate to reflect on God or the Universe. The deepening effect of this practice is essential for all who practice religion.
In this practice, you focus in silence, in a prayer-like manner. Those who practice spiritually will typically use essential oils such as sage, myrrh, and frankincense. This is to attract additional spiritual energy into the exercise. Like mindfulness meditation practices, spiritual practices can be practiced anywhere. Whether in your home or a place of worship—this practice will help one to thrive and reach spiritual maturity.
Many tend to think of mantra meditation when the word comes up. Commonly, the sound “om” is used in this practice, but mantras can be anything you’d like. In this form of meditation, one uses a repetitive sound to clear the mind. It can be a pure sound or word to wash away negative thoughts from one’s mind; the mantra should reflect what you wish to gain from your practice.
It does not matter if you say your mantra out loud or in your head—as long as your mind is solely focused on the mantra. Mantra meditation is best practiced in a quiet, dimly lit room with minimal distractions. Candles and essential oils are a perfect pair for all types of meditation practices, including mantra meditation.
For those wanting mental clarity, peace, and overall bliss—a mantra meditation is an excellent option for you.
One of the most popular types of structured reflection, transcendental meditation is perfect for all experience levels. In this technique, one is assigned a mantra (a sound, word, or phrase) repeated in a specific way. One practices the meditation 20 minutes twice each day while sitting in a comfortable position with their eyes closed.
The purpose of the technique is to allow one to settle into a profound state of Zen. Throughout this delightful state, one can achieve inner peace without concentration or effort. Additionally, the relaxation and rest will benefit those suffering from anxiety and depression.
For those looking for a general boost of positivity, calmness, and reassurance—a transcendental meditation is best.
Metta Meditation (Loving-Kindness Meditation)
The attractive benefits of this practice are not only valuable to the one practicing, but to those around them! During a Metta meditation, otherwise known as a Loving Kindness Meditation, one directs well-wishes toward others.
When practicing, one recites specific words meant to bring heartwarming feelings. In a typical practice, one sits in a relaxed, comfy position. After a couple of deep breaths, one slowly recites the following: “May I be happy, may I be well. May I be safe, may I be peaceful.”
After directing loving-kindness toward oneself for a while, one will begin to picture a loved one and direct it toward them. It could be a family member, a friend, or a stranger who has been randomly kind to you that day. Some practitioners recommend visualizing people you have difficulty with, in better hopes achieve self-contentment.
The purpose of a Metta meditation is to direct a sense of love to yourself and others—to gain a full insight, acceptance, and peace.
The final form of meditation we are going to discuss is perhaps to most beneficial.
First off, what is a chakra meditation? A chakra meditation originates from India, with the word chakra meaning “wheel.” A chakra is a center of energy, containing spiritual power in the body. The common belief is that there are seven chakras, with each chakra having a different location on the body. Additionally, each chakra has a corresponding color, and its energy connects with varying properties of the body.
When practicing chakra meditation, one performs a series of techniques, focused on bringing balance to all seven chakras. All methods include visualizing each chakra in the body and its color. Additionally, those will imagine each chakra growing brighter in its colored light after each breath. Some choose to light incense, use colored crystals for each chakra, and a repeated a mantra.
All chakra meditations are unique and can be tailored to align the chakra of your choosing.
Choosing The Right Type of Meditation For You
No matter which form of meditation you use, it is restorative, peaceful, and beneficial for all. We recommend practicing each one of the seven meditation types, to better understand what your body is looking for in a practice. Remember to customize your session to your specific needs, to reap the full positive benefits.
We hope you find this list informative and helpful in achieving your wellness goals.
Namaste, and good luck!
If there’s one thing that’s common to us humans, it’s the overwhelming desire to find happiness and contentment out of life. Be it a crying child, a responsible family person, or a teenager battling insecurities, we all look for that one thing that offers us comfort.
Trinlay Rinpoche, scholar, and meditator, once said real happiness comes to us when we have clarity of thought. The pleasures of life are only enjoyable when we are happy within.
Buddha also once stated that meditation programs the mind not to dwell on the past or the future. It helps the mind focus on now and lets us see the beauty around us presently. There are many different types of meditation with all kinds of benefits but the most common benefits I have listed below.
Below is our list of 12 meditation benefits that you can expect when you start on your journey.
Lowers Stress Levels
Ever feel like you are carrying all the troubles of the world? Try meditation. It’s effective at reducing the body’s anxiety and stress. A study has found that practicing Zen-type meditation and mindfulness significantly lower stress when you exercise for more than three months.
Another similar study also concluded that mediation could shrink the brain tissue associated with worrying and anxiety. Therefore, if you wish to lower your stress levels, meditation is what you need.
Improves Your Mental Wellbeing
Looking to fill you with life and happiness? Regular mindful meditation can increase the body’s psychological function. In the process, mediation enhances the body’s sense of well-being. Tai Chi and yoga have also been found to cause the same effect – based on studies, they have immense therapeutic benefits and improve quality of life.
The benefits of meditating come in small doses, but over time, the cause what is known as the compounding effect. Essentially, when you meditate for a long time, the benefits add up and create significant results.
Increases Empathy & Connection With Others
Are you feeling somewhat detached from the world around you? Try some compassion meditation. Metta meditation is a compassion meditation technique that helps to enhance the areas of the brain responsible for empathy and mental processing. This type of mediation improves your sense of social connectedness. If you not a fan of hugging, you might just become one after some Metta meditation.
Improve Your Mental Focus & Awareness
How about making a razor edge focus part of your life? Research data shows that meditation can help to improve your cognitive capacity. It can also enhance your ability to implement tasks that need focus.
A study investigated several different kinds of mediations, including Vipassana, Transcendental meditation, Tibetan Buddhist meditation, Hindu meditation, and Sufi meditation. The researchers found that all these types of meditation improve focus at differing degrees. Coffee used to be the go-to beverage to help improve concentration, but many people are turning to meditation.
Helps You Relate To Others Better
Looking to improve the quality of your relationship? Meditation has been found to improve how you relate with others around you. How? It enhances a person’s ability to empathize with others and hones the ability to pick up cues that show how another person is feeling. Besides, mediation increases emotional stability, which makes you less likely to be influenced by negative thoughts.
Improve Your Creativity
Ever wonder how you could get a little more inspiration? Meditate! Meditation can enhance your creativity based on several studies. This explains why creatives such as David Lynch, Yoko Ono as well as Marina Abramovic made meditation part of their daily routine.
Want to become the next memory champion? Alternatively, do you want to be able to remember the door attendant’s name each time you walk into your building? Meditation is the way to go.
Research data shows that mediation can improve the mind’s ability to remember things, store information, or consolidate new data.
Better Decision Making Skills
There’s one reason why high-powered execs meditate to make themselves better at what they do. Studies show that transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation help individuals make informed choices by improving the working of the brain’s decision-making areas. If you wish to cultivate your inner boss, meditation is worth a shot.
Improves Cardio Vascular Health
Concerning the health benefits that meditation has to offer, cardiovascular health features at the top the list. Research has shown that Transcendental meditation reduced the risk of death, stroke and heart attack among African Americans with a pre-existing heart issue – a group with the highest risk of an adverse outcome.
Based on data from this study, this group can cut down its risk by more than 50 percent. Mediation can also lower the systolic blood pressure compared to those who have only received health education but have not tried meditation. So, give your ticker some more life and good health through some meditation each day.
Get Better Quality Sleep
Want to sleep better at night? A few minutes of meditation will get you to sleep like a baby. When you can seem to get good sleep at night, it means your circadian rhythm is disharmonious. The rhythm instructs your body when it should go to sleep or when to be up based on our 24-hour cycle.
Modern technology with all the devices and lights has caused our natural rhythm to be distorted, so even when you wish to sleep, you cannot. With mediation, the body achieves sufficient rest, and the circadian rhythm resets back to normal. Feeling too busy to make it part of your routine? Think again!
Feel Less Anxious
Although there are many home-based remedies to help you find inner peace, meditation is especially helpful. People suffering from anxiety disorders who try mindfulness mediation show tremendous decline is their stress hormones when exposed to a stressful scenario.
Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the past of the future. Therefore, meditating a few minutes every day will help you cope better with stress.
Amazing For Improving Your Coping Skills
Patience is essential is you want a calm life. Some people are quite adept at being patient than others. This is especially true when it comes to life-changing choices. Those who practice mindfulness an adverse tend to be better at coping with wait and see stresses. They are also very likely to take on an optimistic view of life in everything they do. Want to be upbeat and happy in life? Meditate.
Meditation Guides For Beginners
- How To Prevent Back Pain During Meditation
- How To Use Mala Beads In Meditation
- A Guide To Meditation Crystals For Beginners
- Ultimate Guide to Candle Gazing Meditation (Trataka)
- Guide To Using Tibetan Singing Bowls For Meditation
- The 7 Chakras – What They Mean and How To Balance Them
- Guide To Meditation During Coronavirus Quarantine
Meditation Supplies & Gear
Whenever I start a new habit or routine I love to get fully immersed in that activity which is why when I first started meditating I really got into all the different meditation accessories and supplies for my home to really make it an amazing zen experience.
While it is absolutely not necessary to get all of these products for your meditation practice, they will definitely help you get more out of it.
One of the best things I found was that by using different things it actually got my brain into the right headspace to start meditating and made it quicker to get into the zen zone.
An important part of meditating is making sure that you are completely comfortable and relaxed. Your clothing can really determine whether you have a great session as you want to make sure you are not restricting the blood flow which might happen if you are wearing tight clothing such as denim.
We have done a full write up of our favorite meditation clothing that will help you take your meditation practice to the next level.
- Best Buddhist Monk Robes & How To Wear Them During Meditation
- Best Meditation Clothing For Relaxation & Comfort
Another important way to help your mind and body relax is by using all of your senses. Incense candles for meditation are a great way of helping to relax especially if you have had a stressful day or something is bothering you.
Certain smells can really relax you such as lavender or even citrus smells like lemon or orange.
- Best Scented Meditation Candles For Relaxation & Stress Relief
- Intention Candles and Their Affirmation Magic
For the ultimate comfort we recommend using both a Zafu and Zabuton when meditating as they work very well together and will help ensure your posture stays correct in positions like the lotus position.
If you are not quite sure which type of cushion best suits you read our reviews on various meditation cushions here and that should help you decide. If you have to choose only one then I would go for a Zafu personally.
- Best Meditation Cushions + Zafu & Zabuton Pillow Sets
- Buckwheat Meditation Cushions – Our Top 3 Picks
Meditation Benches, Stools & Chairs
If you aren’t a huge fan of using cushions or pillows then a meditation stool may be perfect for you. One of these stools allows you to sit with great posture while tucking your legs underneath which helps make sure you don’t cut the blood flow off on your legs which regularly happens when sitting cross-legged.
There are quite a few different kinds of benches or stools to choose from and we have written about them quite extensively on this website.
If you prefer listening to music while meditating instead of enjoying the sound of nature or silence we would highly recommend you get some great headphones for meditation as you want to have a really nice sound that works in proper stereo to really recreate those ambient nature sounds that you want to listen to.
Cheap headphones can do in a pinch but are really not ideal long term as you want to make your meditation sessions as incredible as possible.
Singing Bowls For Meditation
If you want to try something new, singing bowls are a great thing to try as they can really add to your meditation experience and they are so incredibly calming you will feel like a million dollars afterwards.
You can get singing bowls for meditation in all different shapes and sizes (well they are still bowls but you know what I mean..). Try it out for yourself and let us know how it goes.
How Should I begin a Period of Meditation Practice?
First, settle yourself. Then, call to mind all your intentions and aspirations – perhaps to steady and calm yourself so that you can find the balance you need to live peacefully. Allow your heart and sincerity to be the drive that directs what unfolds.
For how long should I sit every day?
Deciding in advance how long you plan to sit will help you achieve your meditation goals. For most people, a reasonable period is between 5 and 45 minutes. If you continue sitting every day, you will benefit from the compounding effect of meditation. All those little benefits you enjoy every day will pile up into radical benefits.
If you have just started, experiment with different time lengths. You could start with only five minutes every day, and then gradually begin doing it for longer until you get to a period you can commit to comfortably.
Does it matter when I sit?
Set aside some time and sit every day. Intentionally dedicating time to meditate requires a bit of sacrifice on your part. Morning is usually the best time because you get to set a tone for the rest of the day.
Nevertheless, the best time for meditating is that which you can genuinely commit to regularly. Some people prefer two to three short sessions, one in the morning and the other in the evening.