The Top 7 Meditation Techniques: Which Is Best For You?
Meditation is, hands down, one of the most powerful ways to keep the mind, body, and spirit young as we grow old.
Numerous studies show that a dedicated meditation practice prevents cognitive decline while promoting longevity on all levels. Mediation also reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and enhances health and well being on so many levels. But I don’t need science to tell me how truly effective meditation is. I experience its positive health benefits each time I take to the cushion.
For this reason, I want to inspire those of you interested in meditation to take action, and commit to a regular practice – one that makes sense to you. With so many styles of meditation to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to begin. There’s moving meditation (think yoga, tai chi and qi gong), mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, Zen meditation, vipassana meditation, walking meditation, Metta (loving-kindness) meditation, guided visualization meditation, and a whole treasure trove of various yogic meditations which include third eye meditation, chakra meditation, sound meditation, kundalini meditation, mantra meditation, gazing meditation, and the list goes on and on.
If you’re ready to start meditating, but don’t know where to start, here’s a look at some of the most popular styles of meditation, so that you can choose the one (or two) that seem right for you.
1) Mantra meditation
Mantra meditation is one of my favorite styles. I like to practice with a set of mala beads, to keep track of the number of repetitions I’m doing. With mantra meditation, you get to choose from literally thousands of mantras that exist within the yogic pantheon of mantras. There are mantras that correspond to specific Hindu gods and goddesses, mantras that invoke wealth and prosperity, mantras to heal relationships, mantras to break free of negative patterns — on and on.
2) Transcendental meditation
This style of meditation was made popular by the Beatles. It was created by Maharishi Mahesh, the Beatles’ infamous guru. Transcendental meditation is similar to mantra meditation. It’s different in the fact that you actually have to go to a teacher who gives you a personal mantra. Your personal mantra typically depends upon your sex and date of birth. Once you have your mantra, you’re supposed to practice with it twice a day, for about 20 minutes each session.
3) Sound meditation
Also referred to as ‘nada yoga,’ sound meditation is all about – you guessed it – sound! But not just any form of sound. Nada yoga makes use of calming sounds such as ambient music or singing bowls. The ultimate goal is to hear the vibratory sound of “OM,” the sound that is said to have filled the Universe when the Universe came to be.
4) Kundalini meditation
Kundalini meditation is rather complex, and one that’s geared to more advanced yoga students, or at least those under the guidance of an expert kundalini yoga and meditation teacher. Kundalini meditation consists of chanting, mudras, and even kriyas (movements linked to breath). They require much discipline and focus.
The ultimate purpose of kundalini yoga and meditation is to awaken the kundalini energy that is said to lie dormant at the base of the spine. Once it’s activated, it opens up the chakras and eventually leads to enlightenment. Again, with such dramatic promises, it’s essential to have a teacher.
5) Gazing meditation
Also called ‘trataka,’ gazing meditation is just as it sounds. You sit quietly and gaze at an external object (a candle, for instance), while breathing deeply and calmly. You can also gaze at a sacred symbol (a yantra, for example) or even an image or picture of a god, goddess, or guru you love.
6) Chakra meditation
Chakra meditation is helpful if you want to balance your chakras. This is especially good for those of you already familiar with the chakra energy system. During chakra meditation, you typically focus on one of your chakras, while chanting (out loud or to yourself) the bija (seed) mantra associated with the chakra you’re focusing upon.
If you want to live a life that’s more heart-oriented, rather than head-oriented, you’d meditate upon your heart chakra while chanting ‘yum.’ If you want to strengthen your intuition via the third eye, you focus upon your third eye while chanting the mantra ‘om.’
7) Loving-kindness meditation
This heart-opening meditation is also known as Metta meditation, and it comes from the Buddhist tradition. Practicing this form of meditation is said to increase empathy and compassion for all sentient beings. You typically chant a mantra like this: “May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings find peace.”
First, you send these warm wishes to someone who is close to you, then to a mere acquaintance, then to someone you might deem an adversary, then to a group of people who might be experiencing hardship in another country. You may also repeat the mantra and focus the words on yourself. This promotes self-love and self-compassion. Metta meditation is a lovely practice and one that brings feelings of connection and inner peace.
Whatever style of meditation you choose, keep in mind that it’s all a journey. Your preferences will change as you change. As a yogi who’s continually evolving, you never need to worry about what style is right for you for always. Everything is a process, including your meditation practice. Enjoy the journey!
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