Types of Meditation

This Mental Health Daily article lists the following types and sub-types of meditation. Here is a brief summary of each. Please refer to the original article for a more detailed explanation of each type, including their benefits. As I learn more about each type of meditation, I will be adding my own notes and some examples of each type.

1. Guided Meditations
A guided meditation provides instruction to help the person attain a meditative state.
  • Affirmation meditation: State or listen to positive affirmations relating to a particular focus such as health, relaxation, mood, confidence, or magnetism.
  • Body scan: Focus on each part of your body and become aware of any tension or pain.
  • Brainwave meditation: Maintain focus on the specific tone or beats from relaxing music or sounds.
  • Guided imagery: Focus your attention on an image or series of images suggested by a narrator.
  • Progressive relaxation: Monitor the tension in a particular area of the body and intentionally increase tension in that region. Release the tension and notice a significant contrast in the sensation between tension and relaxation.
  • Self-hypnosis: Enter a deep state of relaxation, then let the hypnotherapist target the session to improve a particular aspect of your thinking or beliefs.
  • Standard meditation: A narrator tells you what to focus on and where to direct your attention,
2. Mantra Meditation 
In the Hindu tradition, mantra meditation is popular and involves repeating sound, syllable, or word with the intention of focusing the mind. The sound repeated can be anything, but some traditions assign meditators a specific syllable or word.

3. Metta Meditation 
(loving-kindness meditation, compassion meditation)
Direct feelings of unconditional love toward yourself, then expand those feelings and direct them toward others. The ultimate goal is to wish genuine goodwill, peace, and happiness toward all beings.

Example: More Than Mindful - Loving Kindness Meditation (five-minute meditation by Steve Diamond)

4. Mindfulness Meditation 
(Vipassana, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)
Simply focus on the present moment or life circumstance and pay attention to all emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts you experience, without judgment or attachment.

5. Qigong 
(Chi Gong - life energy cultivation)
Move slowly, with coordination and specific breathing, to elicit a calm state of awareness. Focus on some simple movements and breathing patterns with awareness or visualization. Chanting or the usage of sound is also common.

6. Taoist Meditations
Taoist meditation incorporates concentration, mindfulness, contemplation, and visualization. The primary objective with this meditation is to channel various forms of energy and become one with nature.
  • Breathing meditation: Concentrate on your breath until it becomes “soft.” Some would compare this practice to the mindfulness practice of Buddhism.
  • Emptiness meditation: Clear your mind of everything to achieve a sense of inner peace and solitude.
  • Internal viewing: Due to the complexities of visualizations, it may be necessary to work with an advanced teacher or read a book on this practice to better understand the technique.
  • Shouyi: Focus on visualizing a golden ball of light at a specific location within the body.
  • Yuanyou: This practice incorporates a meditative travel to other countries, sacred locations (e.g. mountains), the sun, the moon, and transcendent beings. 
  • Zuobo: This form of meditation is practiced sitting around a bowl (water clock) and is considered a communal form of alchemy. 
  • Zuowang: Attempt to enter a state of deep trance without any ego as to feel the cosmic current of the Tao.
7. Transcendental Meditation (TM)
What distinguishes TM from other forms of mantra meditation is that it is considered effortless. Your teacher assigns you a mantra that fits you individually and explains how you should repeat this mantra and for how long.

8. Vajrayana 
(tantric Buddhism)
The neurological adaptations that occur with consistent practice of Vajrayana include increased stimulation and mental focus. This is very different from other types of meditation, which tone down or decrease arousal.

9. Yoga Meditation
Practicing yoga typically consists of conduct, postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. The last four limbs of yoga (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi) embody the meditative practice in yoga.
  • Chakra meditation: This type of meditation is based on the seven main energy centers throughout the body called chakras. Focus on one of these centers and use its specific mantra to open up or expand energy flow in this area.
  • Gazing meditation: Gaze on an external object or symbol, such as a candle, then move on to focusing on the object with eyes closed to boost your visualization ability. 
  • Kundalini meditation: Practice this meditation with the intention of unleashing kundalini (serpent) energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine. This energy rises from lower energy centers to higher energy centers in the body. It typically involves alternate nostril breathing. 
  • Kriya yoga: This practice consists of meditation, energy work, and breathing exercises to increase tranquility and spiritual connection, mentally directing energy vertically up and down the six spinal centers.
  • Nada yoga: Nada yoga is based on the idea that the entire universe consists of sound vibrations (nada). It involves using sound in multiple ways, including internal and external music. Your internal sound eventually opens your chakras.
  • Pranayama: Pranayama translates to extension of the breath or life force. It is the fourth limb of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga.
  • Self-inquiry meditation: Constantly pay attention to the inner awareness of the Self. Focus your attention on inner feelings of “I” and maintain the focus for as long as you can. Whenever you get distracted by thoughts or sensations, simply bring the focus back to “I.” Ask questions such as, “Who am I?” as a means to better understand your true nature.
  • Tantra: Tan means expands and tra means liberates. There are a multitude of tantra practices and interpretations. 
  • Third-eye meditation: Direct your attention to the third-eye chakra, an area located on your forehead between your eyebrows. When your attention shifts away from it, simply refocus and maintain attention.
10. Zen Meditation (Zazen)
Zen (seated) meditation involves sitting in the lotus position and observing the breath. To tame the mind, focus your awareness on counting or watching the breath. 
  • Focus: Direct attention on your breath flowing in and out through your nose. If necessary, count each breath to a count of ten and repeat. Each time your attention drifts, simply bring your attention back to the breath.
  • Observation: Don’t focus on anything other than staying in the present moment, and simply observe your stream-of-consciousness thinking. Be aware of the thoughts flowing naturally through your head, without judging them or reacting to them.
  • Walking: Walk in a clockwise pattern around a room with one hand in a fist and the other hand covering the fist. Take one step after each full breath.

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