Meditation is widely regarded as an effective means to empty your mind, gain clarity and relax. It’s an amazing tool that can be used by any person, at any time, regardless of their physical or emotional state. Sounds pretty versatile, right? It is. But, just like picking the perfect pair of jeans, one size does not fit all. There are a myriad of meditation types, each one offering a unique path to peace. But before we dive into the different types of meditation, it’s important to gain an understanding of what meditation is and how its practiced.
Meditation is a reflective, contemplative practice developed to help people reduce stress and foster clarity.When meditating, you typically find a quiet place where you can comfortably sit alone. For a pre-determined amount of time (usually starting with a minute or two), you choose to empty your mind and focus developing a sense of peace and calm. As you hone your practice, you can work up to meditating for longer periods of time. This is a very basic description that does not take meditation’s many variations into account.
Before selecting a type of meditation that will work for you, take a personal inventory of where you are and where you want your meditation to take you. Are you hurting? Are you happy? Is there something missing in your life? There is a meditation available for every need, you simply need to identify it. The following details 25 different types of meditation. Take stock of your head and your heart, read this article and select the meditation that’s right for you.
1. Vedic Meditation
Vedic meditation is one of the oldest meditations with its origins coming from ancient India. This type of meditation is a mantra-based meditation where you repeat a particular phrase that has been chosen for you by your teacher. It is not associated with any religion, but rather with the Vedic philosophical system which helped birth mathematics, yoga, and more. The mantras have specific qualities that calm the nervous system and the brain to relax from daily life and increase the path toward spiritual living. It is performed in a seated position, and the length of time varies depending on the mantra.
2. Gratitude Meditation
Gratitude meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the feeling and expression of gratitude for your life and everything in it. Gratitude meditation can be practiced informally at any time during your day; it is not something you have to sit down, sit, and practice. Rather, it can be done immediately upon waking in your bed or even done over your next meal. Giving thanks for what you have and the things in your life, both good and bad, challenging and happy, enable the practitioner to grow through times of change and understand life from a greater perspective. To practice this technique, think of what you are grateful for and allow yourself to sit with what that feels like.
3. Daily Meditation
Daily meditation is the act of meditating on an everyday basis. When something is practiced every day, it becomes a habit. Meditation on a daily basis is a positively reinforcing habit because it helps to reduce stress, cultivate mindfulness, cope with change, and enhance the overall quality of life. It is said that meditating every day, even for only 5 minutes, is better than meditating for 30 minutes once a week. It is helpful to do it at the same time every day.
4. Sleep Meditation
Drifting off to sleep may be a sweet dream for some while for others it may be a restless night of tossing and turning. Sleep meditation is an all-natural antidote for insomnia and sleep deprivation that leaves practitioners feeling refreshed, energized, and reinvigorated to start the day with a clear head. Meditation for sleep calms the mind by allowing it to focus on the present moment through breath and body awareness. It can be performed in bed or as a practice before sleeping. The reason for this is because meditation increases the brain waves which induce sleep such alpha, theta, and delta and decrease beta waves, which can cause insomnia.
5. Morning Affirmations
Using affirmations in the morning upon waking is a way to set your mindset for the day. Using positive affirmations is a meditation tool to train your brain to be at its very best from the moment you wake up. They are a great way to prepare your mind for meditation by letting go of worry, promoting tranquility, and bringing the mind into the present moment. It is beneficial to use one or two as an anchor point at the beginning or end of a meditation through which you can focus your mind on. It is important that you use positive, present-tense affirmations when using this technique. An example would be “I am free from stress today”.
6. Merkaba Meditation
The word Merkaba has Egyptian roots and is an energy body meditation technique. Mer means “a light that rotates”, ka means “spirit”, while ba means “physical body”. This merkaba meditation technique activates this particular energetic shape around your body to accelerate consciousness and enlightenment. It is performed through particular breathing techniques with 18 steps. The shape of the merkaba is are 2 intersecting 3-dimensional triangles with one pointing downward one pointing up. The meditation helps rotate this merkaba energy field around your body to assist in the ascension process.
7. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-Kindness Meditation, also called Metta Meditation, is a Buddhist form of meditation that involves cultivating and sending the feeling of loving-kindness toward yourself and others in your life. First, you must cultivate loving-kindness toward yourself, then toward someone you respect (such as a teacher), someone you love highly (such as a family member), someone neutral (such as the grocery store clerk), and someone you feel disregard toward (which may be the most difficult). You can cultivate the feeling of loving-kindness through visualization or reflection of the feeling itself. This meditation helps cultivates an attitude of serenity and care through any situation, especially in the face of challenge.
8. Zazen Meditation
Zazen meditation is the core meditation practice of Zen Buddhism. It helps cultivate a sense of inner and outer peace. It is practiced in a seated position, often on a cushion called a zafu, however, a variety of positions can be used to accommodate anyone. The spine is long with the hips relaxed. The gaze lowers to a 45-degree angle and the eyes stay open. The hands form a mudra in the lap with the left hand on top of the right, palms upward and the thumbs touching. Then the focus turns to the breath, in order to still the mind. It is best not to force it, rather to just let it happen.
9. Guided Meditation
A guided meditation is performed under the guidance of a teacher or alongside a recording. This technique is very useful when learning how to meditate. It helps keep the mind on track and free from distraction if one is not disciplined to the act of meditating yet. The meditation can be any style, but the important aspect of this one is that you let go of some of your control and surrender to whatever you are being told to do. It requires a deep sense of listening in order to get the full benefit and build a disciplined meditation practice.
10. Visualization Meditation
Visualization meditation, also called Guided Visualization, is a type of meditation that uses the imagination to paint a picture inside the mind’s eye. It is not an object-focused meditation but is rather a subjective experience for the practitioner. It is often used as a tool to create positive change in one’s life. One is often guided through an experience, such as walking into the forest to promote relaxation or perhaps even visualizing success in a relationship or career move as a way to accomplish goals.
11. Letting Go Meditation
A letting go meditation is one that is used to release excess emotional baggage. This type of meditation is helpful in order to create space for new energy to grow. It is useful to help release old emotions or attachments to people, relationships, jobs, ideas, or things which may be preventing the development of ourselves. When you are able to let go, you can plant new seeds to start anew. It is often performed through visualization and breathing. For example, you can inhale white light and exhale toxic black smoke as a way to release negative thoughts. Or you can visualize yourself moving towards a goal after releasing an old habit and see what that all plays out to be inside your mind.
12. Third Eye Meditation
The third eye meditation is a gazing meditation focused on the third eye area. The third eye is located in the space between the eyebrows and is associated with the pineal gland. According to yoga philosophy, the third eye is the seat of intuition and wisdom. It is a spiritual center of peaceful inner knowing. To perform this meditation, you can first warm up the eyes by gazing right with both eyes for 1 minute and then to the left for 1 minute. Then follow the nose tip down to a single point on the floor and hold there for 1 minute without blinking. Then, you will perform shambhavi mudra, which is gazing at the third eye. This is done by turning the eyes upwards and slightly inwards to gaze at the space between the brows without blinking. Start with 3-5 minutes and work your way up from there.
13. Chakra Meditation
A Chakra is a spinning wheel-like vortex of energy. There are seven Chakras in the human energy body located along the spine which all relate to different qualities of being. They each have associated colors and mantras, among other things. A Chakra Meditation will help to balance aspects of energy in the body, from stability (root), creativity (sacral), willpower (solar plexus), love (heart), communication (throat), intuition (third eye), and bliss (crown). The meditation can be performed by visualizing the color associated with each chakra at the location (colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and white), reciting the mantras, and even visualizing the chakra spinning.
14. Walking Meditation
A walking meditation is exactly what it sounds like… a walking meditation! It stems from the Buddhist mindfulness tradition of paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment, which in this case would be the act of walking. This meditation is calming and stress-relieving. It is recommended to practice this at least once a week for 10 minutes to see results. To practice walking meditation, it is best to find a nice spot outdoors (which also helps you connect with nature). Begin walking slowly in one direction and notice the following about each step: how your foot connects to the ground, how it lifts off, which parts of your feet you feel more than others, how shifting your weight feels in the body, and what the ground under your feet feels like. When the mind wanders, bring it back to sensing each step slowly one-by-one. This technique helps one to slow down during daily life.
15. Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation technique that means “to see things as they really are”. It is done through purification of thoughts by self-observation of the breath and body. The Vipassana theory believes when one is freed from the suffering of the mind and body, true joy can arise as a harmonious experience of life instead. It is traditionally taught on 10-day silent meditation retreats, which are donation-based, at centers around the world.
The meditation technique itself is sectarian and can be practiced by anyone. A series of moral agreements are made by the practitioner upon starting the practice, which prevents harm to be done. The first three days focus on the breath, which helps control the mind. Then the practice of Vipassana is taught, which permeates the entire mind with clarity and insight to let of toxic and negative thoughts and patterns. The technique itself provides a way for the mind to categorize the small and subtle experiences of simply sitting, breathing, sounds in the environment, etc. On the 10th day, the silence is broken and the practitioner can ease back into normal life with greater insight and peace.
16. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation originated from traditional Buddhist meditation practices as a Western interpretation. It is also frequently called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was popularized by John Kabat-Zinn in the West. This style of meditation is performed by focusing on the present moment. This can be done through certain indicators such as the breath or the body to hold the focus of the mind. When thoughts or feelings arise, the mind is invited to go back to the object of focus without judgment. Ultimately, the mind will get distracted at some point; it is a practice in letting go of how that distraction feels.
17. Tonglen Meditation
Tonglen Meditation is from the Buddhist tradition. It is also called the “taking and sending” meditation. It is a practice to develop compassion. This technique is a breathing meditation. On an inhalation, you inhale someone else’s pain and suffering and as you exhale, you send them comfort and ease in order to relieve them of their suffering. This style of meditation reverses the way we think about pain, which is usually avoiding it and forces the practitioner to face it without fear. It can help break old patterns and develop self-love and love for others in our lives.
18. Japa Meditation
Japa Meditation is Hindu in origin and is a mantra-style of meditation. It is performed by repeating a specific mantra 108 times, which is a multiple of 9. This number is auspicious in Hindu philosophy and astronomists say the diameter of the sun is 108 times that of the Earth and the distance between our planet and the sun is also 108 times the diameter of the sun. Japa is typically performed with mala beads, which are strands of 108 beads counted on one hand with the middle finger, bringing the beads toward you. This helps the practitioner ensure they do the correct amount, which can be any multiple of 9 (so more than 108 times is okay). A popular mantra is “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” which means “may all being everywhere be free and at peace”.
19. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM, originated from India and was spread throughout the world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi starting in 1955. The practice and the guru were popularized by international pop stars such as The Beatles. It is a mantra-based meditation practiced from 15-20 minutes per day seated with the eyes closed. It has to be learned at a TM center under the guidance of a teacher.
20. Trataka (Gazing Meditation)
Trataka is another meditation technique that arose from India and is used in the yoga tradition. Also called “blinkless gazing”, it is practiced by staring at an object without blinking for several minutes. Traditionally a candle is used but it can also be performed with the moon, images of gurus or deities, or a dot on the wall. It is a practice to awaken the third eye. One must remove contacts or glasses and stare without blinking for 1-3 minutes. Then close the eyes and observe the afterimage in the mind’s eye without trying to control it. Over time, the practitioner can build up to longer periods of gazing.
21. Kundalini Meditation
Kundalini Meditation also arises from the yoga tradition of India. According to yoga philosophy, kundalini is the energy of spiritual awakening that travels from the base of your spine and up through the crown of your head through the central energy highway called the Sushumna. It is often likened to a coiled serpent resting at the base of the spine that uncoils upward once awakened from its slumber. There are various types of kundalini meditation practices that can awaken this energy through mantra, breathing techniques, and even movement itself. The practice is also associated with what is called “kriyas” in yoga, which are essentially internal cleansing techniques using mantras, the breath, and mudras (hand positions). One such kriya, called Sat Kriya, from the kundalini tradition, is performed by chanting the word “sat” on the inhale and the word “nam” on the exhale, which means “truth”.
22. Sound Healing Meditation
The use of instruments in meditation has a long history and sound healing meditation continues that tradition. Various types of instruments are used like flutes, drums, singing bowls and indigenous instruments like the didgeridoo from the aborigines of Australia. Sound healing meditation can help relieve depression, anxiety, and stress as it is very calming for the mind and nervous system. It helps shift the brain into the delta stage, which is the stage of deep sleep. They are often performed in group settings over the course of an hour in a circle with the facilitator playing the instrument personally for each individual for the desired and relaxing results.
23. Emptiness Meditation
Emptiness meditation is a Taoist meditation that seeks to find the quiet space inside. It is performed by attempting to empty the mind and body thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is a natural way to just let anything that occurs to happen and simply surrender it away without attachment. It teaches the practitioner to not engage with what is unnecessary and become an empty vessel instead through which creation can be reinvigorated and move freely.
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We hope that this article helps you find a meditation type that resonates most with you. If you’d like to dive further into your wellbeing and personal growth, download our Mindbliss Meditation App HERE from your iPhone/Android. We have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜
The Mindbliss Team.