There are so many styles of meditation- how do I choose one?
There are many different styles of mediation, and loads of wonderful teachers that are able to guide you. When it comes to picking a style of meditation that is right for you, you might have to try a few before you find the one that fits. Just like fitness or diet you have to find that works best for you and know that it is ok if the first style you try isn’t right. Everyone’s mind is different and might need a different style. Below is a list of the most common types of meditation to help guide you to a practice that sounds interesting to you.
Types Of Meditation
Breath Meditation- A type of meditation where the point of concentration is the breath, the practitioner becomes completely immersed in the sensation of breath, and uses effortless breathing or specific breath patterns (pranayama) to achieve a state of higher awareness and consciousness. This practice is great for those that are deeply connected with their breath and are used to breath-led mind/body practices like yoga or pranayama.
Guided Meditation- A form of meditation where the practitioner is led through a visualization or exercise by someone else to achieve a specific goal. This is my personal favorite style of meditation and the style that I recommend most begin with. When you use the guidance of a teacher it helps to keep your mind on track and eases you into single pointed concentration.
Present-Moment/Mindfulness Meditation- A form of meditation where the practitioner becomes completely present in each moment and tries not to be pulled into the past or future and does not cast judgment or thoughts on the moment, but simply experiences it. This practice can be challenging for beginners as you need to harness your ability to handle distractions and a wandering mind, but is wonderful for those that are craving a practice that is closer to the ancient roots of the practice.
Walking Meditation- A moving form of meditation, usually done between long periods of sitting meditation, in which your consciousness shifts from each step to step and each moment to moment. It is a slow, deliberate, and intentional walk, and it not the kind of walk you would take your dog on or for exercise. This practice is wonderful for those that are convinced they can’t meditate because they can’t sit still.
Loving-Kindness (Metta) Meditation- A type of meditation in which the practitioner focuses on radiating loving kindness, compassion, and good-will to people and the world around them. Those are looking to build compassion and happiness might enjoy this practice.
Vipassana Meditation- A type of insight meditation in which the practitioner focuses on one point of concentration usually the breath or body sensations and does this to get insight into the true nature of reality. You may need to look into a retreat or finding a Vipassana teacher nearby to get started on this practice.
Manifestation Meditation- A more modern type of meditation in which someone consciously raises their vibration, and works on manifesting something positive into their life, also known as attraction meditation. Those are are interested in the law of attraction, and are looking to make major changes in their lives might enjoy this style of meditation.
Mantras/Repetition Meditation- A type of meditation in which the practitioner repeats a word, phrase, or chant over and over to evoke a certain meaning, feeling, or state of being. This style of meditation is often used with a strand of Mala beads to keep track of your repetition, and is a popular style of meditation for beginners.
With so many different styles of meditation, it might be best to try a few out before you land on the one that feels right to you. There are also a lot of resources such as apps like Headspace, Calm, and my podcast Mindful in Minutes that will lead you through different styles so you can find the right one so you can explore the different styles.
What’s happening to me when I meditate? What are the benefits?
One of the biggest reasons people start to meditate is the health benefits that come along with the practice. It is widely known and accepted that meditation helps make the brain stronger, work better and achieve more clarity. But how exactly does this happen, and what happens in the brain when you meditate?
Meditation and your brain
The neuroplasticity of the brain, or it’s ability to change and adapt over time is one of the most incredible things our bodies can do. Much like if you went to the gym to lift weights, overtime when you workout your brain with meditation it will change and become stronger over time. But how does this work? During the act of meditation it appears that focusing on one thing lights up the parts of the brain that are associated with behavior, concentration, memory, and emotion. During meditation the activity in the brain goes from general scattered patterns and activity to concentrated activity in areas like the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, and quiets the fear/anxiety/pain center of the brain, the Amygdala. Studies have shown that an overactive, or larger Amygdala is one of the strongest indicators to anxiety disorders. Being able to shrink this area can physically help to reduce your anxiety and quell your nerves.
During mediation the brain also produces extra GABA, which gives you a sense of calm, and releases dopamine, the reward and pleasure chemical, norepinephrine, the chemical involved in anxiety drops, while the Amygdala stops firing activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system.
Although these changes won’t happen immediately, they do happen relatively quickly. Studies show that after regular meditation (8 weeks or longer) these neurological changes happen, and the structure and electrical patterns of the brain change and there are increases in mass of grey matter, hippocampus, and frontal lobe and connectivity between regions of the brain and decreases in the size of the Amygdala and will slow the natural aging, decaying, and atrophy of the brain
YogaFaith and Meditation from a Christian Worldview:
- Calms breath and mind to commune with Christ
- Deepens one’s union with God
- Allows one to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit
- Increases compassion and empathy for oneself and others, in turn, Increases the desire to serve others
- Draws one closer to Christ, His heart and will for one’s life
- Keeps one in a life of humility
- Helps one live in harmony with self and others
- Allows one to more contemplative
- Decreased emotional reacting
In addition to the many benefits of meditation in general:
- Relaxes the mind and body
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD
- Lessening of chronic pain
- Overall feeling of being more at ease
- Increases ability to act effectively under pressure
- Helps with letting go and just being in the moment
- Decreases negativity and judgement
- Improves Spiritual development
- Increases self-confidence
- Increases metabolism
- Improves ability to concentrate
- Creates inner wisdom and intuition
- Improves relationships by being more attuned and connected with yourself and others
- Manages psychological disorders
- Helps you learn to observe and accept ‘what is’ and to surrender the present moment in your mind, body, and spirit. The outcome leads to more freedom, satisfaction, and contentment in daily living
- Improves sleep and daytime feeling of being more rested
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