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What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves using a variety of mindfulness techniques to create or achieve a calming mental state and physical well-being. Meditation uses a blend of mental focus, awareness, pointed observation, and breathing exercises to give you a stable mindset, helping you process your emotions and thoughts so that you can live a more fulfilling, present life. According to scientific research, regular meditation can have a therapeutic effect on your mental health and wellness while helping with stress reduction. There are many types of meditation, including guided, Kundalini, mindfulness, Transcendental, and zen, all of which use their own unique techniques to help meditators obtain a calming mental state.
10 Types of Meditation
When developing your own mindfulness practice, consider these meditation techniques:
- Breath awareness: Breath awareness is a meditative practice that focuses on breathing, using deep inhalation and exhalation to push out any intrusive or banal thoughts. This meditation style aims to prevent the mind from wandering, allowing you to clear your thoughts and establish emotional stability during your session.
- Guided: Guided meditation refers to an instructor-led meditation session, performed live during a meditation course or via pre-recorded audio, which you can listen to online or using a meditation app on your phone. The guider speaks in a soothing voice, guiding the listener through their meditation. They may instruct the meditator to do a body scan (mentally visiting the various parts of your body), hold their breaths for a certain number of seconds, or form specific visualizations in their minds.
- Kundalini: Part of the popular yoga practice, Kundalini meditation uses a combination of deep breathing, mantras, and hand movements, and mantra meditation to wake and distribute dormant energy in the body.
- Loving-kindness: Loving-kindness meditation, or Metta meditation, centers compassion, directing the meditator to feel love and kindness towards everyone in their lives, even those they consider their enemies. The meditation’s goal is to cultivate feelings of love and kindness that can erase the negative thoughts and feelings that cause stress.
- Mindfulness: Mindful meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on staying in the present moment and being completely aware of your body and the surrounding environment. This form of meditation can entail a quick check of your current public surroundings or a deep, quiet observation of your room at home. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to achieve a relaxed state of awareness without judging your thoughts, body, or environment.
- Progressive: Progressive relaxation, or body scan meditation, focuses on scanning the body for areas of stress or tension. In this meditation technique, users focus on body awareness, starting at one end, slowly combing their way through, and releasing each point of physical stress as they identify them.
- Transcendental: Transcendental meditation, created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, uses the repetition of a silent mantra to help rise above oneself. This meditation practice introduces bubbles of thought into the mind gradually, causing a state of de-stress and relaxation.
- Vipassanā: With links to early Buddhism, vipassanā meditation uses concentration and awareness to help push out mental impurities and strip away the illusions that muddy the way we see the world. Liberation and self-transformation are the primary goals of vipassanā, commonly practiced by Buddhists in Southeast Asia. In Buddhism, vipassanā (also spelled vipaśyanā) is a term that means “insight” or “without seeing.”
- Walking meditation: Also known as “movement meditation,” walking meditation uses gentle, low-impact movement to set the mind wandering. Walking, gardening, and qigong—a gentle form of martial art that combines breath with slow and steady movements—are all popular movement meditation forms.
- Zen: Zen meditation is a Buddhist tradition that allows the meditator insight into how their mind works. This meditation style is a common spiritual practice in Buddhism that uses pointed observation to help the meditator process and address core issues, providing clarity and increasing compassion.
Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Simple Guide to Meditation
Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In his view, learning how to meditate doesn’t need to be complicated: the simplest forms of meditation focus on the breath, partly