Today, increased demand to attain a healthy frame of mind has given birth to dozens of meditation styles. Meditation gurus and instructors keep inventing new techniques as days pass by to ensure there is something for everyone. It means that there is not a definite number that can tally how many meditation styles there are as of today.
Thanks to the multiple inventions in these styles, we have a variety of choices. You will always find an approach that best suits your needs, lifestyle, and/or personality. However, it does not mean that picking a meditation style is an easy-peasy process.
It can be overwhelming, which explains why most of us start with experimenting. Experimenting sounds great, but it can take most of your precious time and energy. The trick is to first understand what all meditation styles entail. The comprehension will then allow you to compare the style you have chosen against your needs.
How Many Styles of Meditation are There?
There are plenty of meditation styles and techniques. The steps and postures of all these different styles of meditation differ. This means that you must learn how to perform each style correctly. Here are the most popular meditation styles:
The meditative practice hails from Buddhist culture, meaning it is one of the Buddhist meditation styles. It is popular in the West, despite the form being slightly different. In this style, you are required to pay close attention to your present moment.
It requires alertness to your surroundings. So, you should be able to tell what is happening around you, whether it is pleasant or not. The key concept of this style is staying alert without showcasing any judgment (10).
Thus, you should take note of the changes in your surroundings without criticizing them for how they appear.
Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Follow these detailed steps if you want to try this practice:
- Sit upright on a cozy chair. Your feet should be resting on the ground and your arms resting on your thighs.
- Shut your eyes and focus on how you respire. It should be normal.
- Direct your entire concentration on your facial structures. Concentrate on your forehead, nose, lips, cheeks, and so forth.
- Clear your train of thoughts and slowly expand your concentration to your other body features. Allow yourself to get lost in the moment. It might help you in either relaxing or resetting your radar.
It is quite easy to practice the above meditative style. Since it is general, it allows you to widen your concentration to your other daily activities.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
According to research, this contemplation method has plenty of benefits. They include:
- Improving your memory. It enhances your recall capability, which comes in handy during tests such as your math quizzes (3).
- Improving your sleep quality. In-depth concentration appeases you, making you relax and sleep soundly through the night.
- Reducing your anxiety and stress levels. The technique allows you to recognize and accept your perceptions and emotions, regardless if they are positive or negative. As a result, you tend to worry less about such factors, consequently reducing your anxiety and/or stress levels.
- Reducing migraines. Migraines may result from increased stress and anxiety. Since this technique curbs both stress and anxiety, it lowers your chances of getting frequent migraine attacks.
- Pain management. The mindfulness technique is about training your mind on focusing on positive aspects. Therefore, it may help you ease pain by averting your thoughts away from it.
However, it differs from this technique as it is more demanding in terms of form and discipline (9). The sole aim of this practice is to foster your alertness and existence. Therefore, if you are looking for a style to direct you in your spiritual journey, then Zazen has you covered. Nonetheless, you have to learn its precise steps before practicing it.
Practicing Zen Meditation
The recommended approach to practice Zazen includes the following:
- Find a cozy position and sit down. Close your eyes.
- Concentrate on your respiration. Ensure you are respiring from your nose and not your mouth.
- Unlike other meditation styles, here, you are not required to brush off your thoughts. Instead, you are asked to let your mind be and let your thoughts wander. Do not judge your thoughts but instead allow them to be.
Progressive Relaxation or Body Scan Meditation
A body scan refers to an entire body examination. Likewise, body scan meditation or progressive relaxation is a technique encouraging you to examine your entire body for tension. This style aims at recognizing an area of tension and allowing you to release it (9).
Usually, you are required to evaluate your body parts one by one, looking for tension areas. So, you could start by examining your toes and move upward or start from your head and move downward. It is entirely up to you.
During this progressive relaxation process, you have to practice concentration to determine these tension areas. In some cases, you will be required to tense your muscles and then relax. On the other hand, you might be required to envision an energy wave moving through your body to release tension.
Benefits of Practicing Body Scan Meditation
Continuous practice of this meditation style can help in the following ways:
- Improving your relaxation. The progressive relaxation method allows you to determine high tense areas and learn how to de-stress them. As a result, your muscles can relax, consequently relaxing your mind and other body parts.
- Improving your sleep quantity and quality. Since this style gradually and regularly relaxes your body, you can easily and soundly sleep throughout the night.
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Various types of yoga fall in the category of meditation styles. One of them is Kundalini yoga. Kundalini is a phrase referring to coiled like a snake (2).
Kundalini yoga is a physically active meditation style that incorporates various movements, respiration, and mantra usage. Its sole aim is to help you release pent-up rage, emotions, and energies.
You are required to learn this yoga style from an accredited yogi. Usually, the Kundalini yoga class will commence with chants and ends with songs. In the middle of the class, the instructor may also embody asana and/or pranayama. The embodiment may be useful in helping you attain your goals.
Advantages of Practicing Kundalini Yoga
The benefits of practicing this style include:
- Improved physical strength. Kundalini is like any other form of yoga. This means that it will improve your physical strength if done continuously.
- Improving mental health. Kundalini yoga helps in reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. These are factors that may affect your overall emotional well-being.
- Easing pain. This form of yoga has been identified to help in easing chronic pain. However, before adopting it for therapy, ensure you consult with your physician.
Loving-kindness is another reflection method you can try. It is quite different from other meditation styles. Its sole aim is to help you cultivate love and compassion (6). Therefore, with time, you will have immense love for yourself, as well as others.
This method is quite effective if you are battling various interpersonal conflicts. If you want to awaken the love you have for yourself and others, then try this approach. All you have to do is focus on how you view yourself and others.
If you love them, you will automatically spread positive energy towards them. Since the positive energy arises from within, it means that you will also have good spirits. This ripple effect will help improve your emotional well-being, as well as strengthen your relationship bonds.
Vipassana meditation is another well-known form of meditation sitting style, which means that the correct posture for doing this reflective practice is while sitting. The term Vipassana pertains to the ability to see things as they truly are.
This also signifies that the technique is observational. It entails detailed attention to your physical sensations to comprehend the association between your mind and body (7). Vipassana meditation can also be referred to as insightful reflection.
The insightful reflection method was developed by Satya Narayan Goenka. He aimed at developing an approach that changes the relationship we have with our thoughts instead of their content.
It means that while practicing this technique, you do not have to act and react upon your thoughts, regardless if it is negative or positive. The goal is to observe them and attain a better understanding of how they affect you.
Practicing Vipassana Meditation
You will need to do the following to practice insight contemplation:
- Assume a sitting posture and cross your legs. Your back must be straight to avoid any related back pains. If you cannot keep your back straight or cross your legs, then you can sit on your chair.
- You will then have to be quiet and spend an extended silent period. While in this stance, your objective should be reflecting various insights into your life. Just visualize them and do not react to these feelings or thoughts.
Benefits of Practicing Vipassana Meditation
The advantages of trying out any of the different styles of Vipassana meditation include:
- Lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease (1). Practicing this technique has been linked with lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. These are two factors that increase your susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases.
- Improving your mood. Insightful contemplation can also help in brightening up your mood by enabling you to reflect on your valuable insights.
- Embracing impermanence. The approach helps you develop a culture of not acting upon your emotions but instead observing them. So, you can recognize and accept the uncontrollable things in your life.
Guided meditation is also known as visualization or imagery reflection. It is among the most recommended meditation styles for beginners due to its simplicity. Unlike other approaches, in this one, you are required to paint several images in your mind.
The images could be of an object or location. However, you have to ensure they are nothing but appeasing. Visualizing these images helps in trimming your train of thoughts and focusing your attention on something you consider relaxing (5).
Eventually, these pictures you have painted in your mind will help you either calm down or fall asleep. It all depends on your goals. If you have never tried this practice before, then you can begin with an instructor or guide. With time, you can proceed to do the technique by yourself.
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Choosing among the Many Meditation Styles
You must choose a style that spiritually talks to you. In other words, pick a technique that helps you discover your meaning and purpose in life. To do so, you will need to consider the following factors:
Your Body and Health
Some of these techniques actively engage your body, such as Kundalini yoga. It entails performing various movements that engage some of your body parts. You must learn and be able to understand the limits of your body.
Some techniques may not be suitable for you if you have some existing health conditions. So, always consult with your doctor to determine what is best for your overall well-being (4).
Your Meditation Level
If it’s your first time meditating, then it is better to narrow down your search to meditation styles for beginners. The techniques are more welcoming to beginners as they contain fewer and easier postures and steps.
There are various reasons besides relaxation explaining why you might want to meditate. You could be looking to beat insomnia, lose weight, improve your memory, or use a meditation style to replace sleep.
Several techniques can meet all these needs. So, ensure you determine your goal before selecting a technique. After that, you must always consult with your instructor and doctor about your pick (8).
The Bottom Line
Regardless of your goals, needs, and/or personality, there is a meditation style that best suits you. Do not be afraid to peruse this list and learn these popular meditation styles. The one you need might just be on this list.
When you eye a technique that you think can work for you, consult with your physician and meditation instructor. They must validate if it is safe and can help you meet your goals.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- AHA: Meditation May Play a Role in Lowering CVD Risk (2017, medpagetoday.com)
- How does yoga work? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How Mindfulness Can Help Your Health (2015, webmd.com)
- How to meditate when it feels like everything is out of control (2020, theguardian.com)
- Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Meditation: Different Approaches, Different Benefits (2018, medicinenet.com)
- Overlooked No More: S.N. Goenka, Who Brought Mindfulness to the West (2019, nytimes.com)
- Seven ways to start meditating (2019, theguardian.com)
- What is the best type of meditation? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Mindfulness Can Do for You (2020, webmd.com)