What Style of Meditation Is for You?
Meditation has been circling around the fitness community for quite some time now. But in the age of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels that haven’t yet peaked, shutting off your mind (and your phone) can seem next to impossible, therefore negating the entire idea of meditation. As mentioned, though, this is the age of dozens of social channels, apps, and increasing technological advances, the “people” have also brought us multiple types and versions of meditation techniques making it easier to find the right one for you. We’re breaking down 5 of the most popular types of meditations and what type of personality types and preferred relaxation methods they speak to. While many of them are going to sound similar in name, don’t skimp on the details as you may have just found your new type of zen.
- What? Mindfulness meditation, like several other forms, derives from Buddhist traditions – fun fact, the Buddhist term “sati” translates to mindfulness. The key theme here is to conjure mindfulness by acknowledging reality by letting any thoughts, ideas, and judgements come up to help understand the present. This may sound familiar to the notes your yoga teacher walks you through at the end of your practice during Savasana.
- Who should try it? This is best for people who don’t have easy access to a teacher – or desire to practice without an instructor present. But, if you’re the former of the two, there are plenty of internet resources to find groups that you can share practice techniques and guidance tips with.
- How? In this practice, as with most, it’s helpful to set amount a desired time that you’d like to “practice” but avoid obsessing about a certain stopping point (aka not a waiting-for-my-delivery-in-15-minutes type of meditation). Find a sitting position that leaves you upright and sturdy and be there for a few moments bringing the attention to your breath. After that, your attention will inevitably wander and this is the time to acknowledge those distractions and then continue to try to bring the attention to the breath. Most importantly, enter every practice without judgment or expectation.
- What? The most popular and practiced type of meditation using sets of mantras or Sanskrit words to allow practicers to focus on something other than their breath or the surrounding silence. This differs from mantra meditation in that the mantra or phrases are meant to be specific and unique to the practicer in some way.
- Who should try it? Those who are new to the meditation practice or crave a more structured practice or those who are interested in the most popular trending topics. Also, big Seinfeld fans (Jerry Seinfeld is a huge fan).
- How? Give yourself somewhere from 10-30 minutes with a mantra or series of mantras in mind (no pun intended). Ideally – and to authentically practice-, the mantra would have been given to you by a licensed instructor and would never be shared with anyone else.
- What? This involves concentration of all five sense and allows for the use of outside props (think candles, mala beads, etc.). It usually involves a lot of internal visualization practice and the concentration of the pulsing of your breath in and out.
- Who should try it? Those requiring or craving additional focus in their life. Also great for true beginners to the meditation game who are exploring the practice to gain focus on their mind.
- How? Choose your target focus point – this can be anything from an engaging smell or an appealing picture. Regardless of what you choose, it should help with your overall focus (duh). Get comfortable, calm your inner voice, and turn your attention to your choice object or sensual choice. Rather than think about it, try to experience it. All in all, give it time and accept failures as they come (and in the beginning there will likely be many).
- What? Prominent in many teachings but has its roots In Buddhist and Hindu traditions. A repetitive word or phrase is used over and over again to find inner peace and clear the mind. Mantra derives from two words the first part (man) meaning mind or to think and the latter, tra (or trai) meaning to protect. “Om”, anyone?
- Who should try it? If you find peace in repetition and silence unsettling, then this is the meditation for you.
- How? There are many types of approaches used to find the mantra best for you and your practice and you’ll find with time which is most appropriate for you. In the secular approach, you’ll choose a mantra based on meaning (the most important) and sound. The meaning should represent something you want to develop more or connect further within yourself. The sound should be how the word makes you feel – in a sense, it should “speak” to you. On the flip side, the spiritual approach will ask you to choose a mantra based upon the “energy” you sense the word has.
- What? One of the broadest types of meditation as there is no specific or assigned movement for this practice. The movement can range from gentle yoga to a hike off the beaten path. The main takeaway when practicing movement meditation is to let the movement, whatever it may be, be your guide.
- Who should try it? Chronic sitters and people who find the most comfort and peace when they’re moving. Also, if simply sitting is a distraction for you, movement meditation is likely the best practice for you.
- How? When choosing the type of movement, choose one that you’re comfortable with and have at least some level of competence of the activity. This will help your mind relax into the flow of the movement as you’re not spending all of your energy focusing on the activity, but instead on the actual movements. Try to be aware of all parts of the body even when one muscle group is the dominating the position. Lastly, use your breath to guide the movement – slow and steady breath allows you to focus on the movement and allow the mind to settle in, too.
Whatever your personality type may be or your preferences are, there is a meditation that’s right for you. Take your time to find the one that puts your mind at ease and grounds you from inside out.