Whenever you’ve seen the word “spirituality” or “spiritual practices” nine times out of ten, meditation probably came right after it. Meditation is a spiritual practice where mindfulness techniques are used to refocus the mind to achieve a mentally clear and calm emotional state. Meditation is a pretty prominent spiritual practice, and what a lot of people don’t know is that there are many types of meditation practices we can use. That’s right, there are other ways to meditate besides sitting Indian style on the floor in complete silence while chanting “om.”
Meditation is an ancient practice that can be found in cultures all around the world. They all serve the similar purpose of creating peace, mindfulness, and inviting clarity into our lives, but how that is achieved can varies from culture to culture. The great thing about the abundance of meditation styles is we can choose a meditation that fits our needs, skill sets, and lifestyles. We won’t be able to cover every meditation style out there, but here are five popular types of meditation to help you get started.
Spiritual meditation is very similar to prayer. It’s a time for pure reflection and deepening our connection to the Universe and God. Spiritual meditation can be done anywhere, whether that’s at home or a place of worship, and is great for those seeking spiritual growth. Spiritual meditation takes us to the depths of who we are. We are stripped of perceptions of ourselves that are negative and able to transcend to eternal peace. During spiritual meditation, we should choose a comfortable position away from noise, loosen up, pray, and acknowledge the thoughts that come to us. Through spiritual meditation, we can release and settle our thoughts, unwind, sink in peace, and empower ourselves to reach a higher consciousness.
Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and focuses on paying attention to our thoughts as they pass through our minds. When we can bring awareness to what we are directly experiencing in a given moment, we can experience mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the breath and creating awareness around the body and mind. It’s a practice that can be done alone, but if you’re having trouble, apps like “Calm” or “Headspace” offer mindfulness mediation tools that will help guide you through this meditation style.
What’s great about mindfulness is it can be practiced outside of meditation and incorporated into our everyday lives. Megan Monahan, the author of Don’t Hate, Meditate says, “Anytime that you are resting your attention in the present moment and whatever you are doing/experiencing, you are practicing being mindful.”
Movement meditation is a more active style of meditation that allows us to be guided by movement. Movement meditation focuses on gentle forms of motion, such as walking, running, dancing, or other activities we enjoy that bring us peace. When we are having a stressful day, this meditation style can create an immediate shift in consciousness. When we place intention behind our movement and remember to stay connected to our breath, we can achieve a meditative state without being confined to one place. That is the beauty of movement meditation.
Mantra meditation is probably the most popular form of meditation and is typically what people think of when they hear the word meditation. Mantra meditation can be found in Hindu and Buddhist traditions and uses a repetitive sound, word, or phrase to clear the mind. Mantras can be chanted, spoken, whispered, or repeated in the mind, and can serve as mental protection against unwelcomed distractions or emotions. Many people prefer mantra meditation because it can be easy to focus on a given word or phrase versus breathing, and their minds often wander less during this practice.
Focus meditation involves focusing our attention on an object, sound, or sensation to stay in the present moment. We can choose to focus on things like our breath, looking at the sky, or the sound of cars as they pass by. To practice focus meditation, choose a target to focus on, get into a comfortable position, turn your attention to your chosen target, and calm your inner voice by turning your attention back to your target whenever a distracting thought comes along.
Focused meditation is simple, but it can be tricky for beginners to focus on something for extended periods. Start with shorter sessions like five minutes and work your way up over time. This type of meditation is great when we start to feel like it’s hard for us to stay focused on tasks. It can also help improve our memory.
These are just a few of the many meditation styles out there for us to experience. With any type of meditation, the objective remains the same, and that’s to help us feel more connected to ourselves, the world around us, and a higher power. Meditation is the perfect antidote when life becomes unruly, and we need a moment to bring the focus back to ourselves. It will also be key on our journey to self-discovery, spiritual transformation, and healing.