This post was most recently updated on March 30th, 2020
There are many methods of meditation. Finding the right meditation style for you will be the glue to you forming a regular meditation practice. I’ve listed here 18 different meditation techniques and their challenges. If you are new to meditation, what may surprise you is that there are more options than the common seated meditation styles as you will see from this list of meditation practices.
One of the main things to do is to choose a style that you are likely to continue with. Because getting into a daily practice of meditation is what will bring you the most benefits. It’s one of the best daily habits for winning at life. Seek out tips on how to meditate and these will help you with your practice.
It has many benefits for wellness. Many successful people practice daily meditation to help them deal with their stressful lives. One example is Jack Dorey of Twitter who has been practicing meditation for 20 years.
Benefits of Different Types of Meditation
This list, though not exhaustive, contains ways to meditate while in motion as well as those in a sitting or standing position. It covers not only the types of meditation and benefits but also the challenges of each.
1. Yogic Meditation
Required/Challenge: Centering your mind
There are several yogic techniques for meditation. Pranayama is considered the foundation of yoga practice. The Pranayama or Yoga Breathing technique involves a particular breathing pattern that alters your state of mind, especially good for stress relief.
A modern version is the breathwork meditation technique, which is done to a curated music playlist using your breath to center awareness. Counting is optional in breathing meditations. Breathwork is a healing meditation. It helps reduce stress and anxiety and improves mental health overall.
2. Candle Meditation
Required: Open Eye. Darkened room. Challenge: stillness, especially with eyes.
Candle meditation is known for giving you improved concentration skills. Staring at a candle brings about a focused attention and helps open channels to intuition. See my article on the best meditation for intuition.
3. Chakra Meditation
Required/Challenge: Best guided by an expert.
This style is known for recharging energy. It is typically a guided meditation. Chakras are used to center awareness.
4. Cosmic Meditation
Required/Challenge: Visualizing techniques
This spiritual meditation enhances your awareness of your connection to the universe — or, opens you to a spiritual awakening. It inspires a bigger picture outlook. The breath is used to center awareness. Visualization involves imagining a light around the body.
5. Healing Guided Meditation
This practice is known for healing suffering of body, mind, and heart. You might seek this for pain relief.
6. Loving Kindness Meditation
Required/Challenge: Coordinating the phrases with the breathing
One of the most practiced forms of the Buddha meditations is the Loving Kindness. It helps with cultivating forgiveness of people or situations that have troubled you. You use a mantra relating to freedom from fear and suffering in relation to people in your life. Known also as Metta meditation. It is a method of developing compassion.
The focus is on the solar plexus (your chest area, your ‘heart center’). The breath inhaled and exhaled is combined with traditional phrases.
7. Mahamantra Meditation
Required/Challenge: Chanting the primordial sound
This is a Krishna meditation that uses mantras. It is known for making your mind firm or rooted so that you stop seeking attention from others and you are filled with energy.
8. Mindfulness Meditation
Required/Challenge: Finding a quiet, uninterrupted time/space
This is a simple but very powerful practice. It is used with children. It is known as a natural treatment for emotional issues. It helps you to stop reacting to disturbing thoughts.
The types of mindfulness meditation may vary but a simple one is to use the breath to center awareness. Mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
9. Standing Nature Meditation
Required: Open space Challenge: Passerby distractions
You might already know how nature helps us feel better. Here are meditation techniques to practice in nature.
It is said that a real meditator never feels the lack of external materials ~ Dalai Lama
Try these steps:
- Find somewhere to stand with ease and in comfort and safety
- Take off shoes
- Stand barefoot
- Touch the Earth (grass, sand, soil).
- Wiggle your toes
- Imagine the energy of the earth beneath
- Breathe deeply and imagine drawing that energy up into your body
- Close eyes
- Relax taking rhythmic breaths
- Listen to the sounds of the birds or nature
- Note your thoughts and feelings
- Be revived by the spirit of nature
10. Transcendental Meditation
Required/Challenge: Only taught by certified teachers through a standard course of instruction.
Transcendental meditation is known for out of body experiences. Refer also to the Maharishi Effect. It’s a Hindu meditation with a goal of transcending or rising above all that is impermanent. The pose is seated, and focus is through a mantra while actively changing the breath to alter your mental state.
It typically involves 15-20 min a day with a mantra.
11. Visualization Meditation
Required/Challenge: Seeing images on the screen of the mind
This practice is used most often for attracting success and change. In this, you use mental images while meditating (a meditation screen). It is not only a traditional Buddhist meditation but also found in Yoga and Taoism.
I start with progressing through each color of the seven chakras. With meditation starting this way, I find I can enter into a state of relaxation.
12. Vipassana Meditation
Required/Challenge: Code of discipline
Also known as Goenka meditation because of a known teacher, Vipassana is for enlightenment or insight. This is a style in the form of the Buddhist meditations. Vipassana means to see things as they truly exist and is a Buddhist form of meditation. The focus is on the breath. It includes contemplation and introspection and awareness of bodily sensations.
This is the one that Jack Dorey of Twitter and Square hashtagged about on twitter after spending 10 days in silent retreat.
13. Sufi Meditation
Required/Challenge: Awareness of heartbeat
There are a variety of Sufi types of meditation. The Sufi Heartbeat Meditation is usually practiced while sitting. It focuses on the heartbeat to gain a connection with the spirit (or Divine). While in the meditative state, left thoughts go towards love and develop the feeling of warmth, peace, and sweetness while contemplating your heartbeat. You can repeat a mantra while doing this.
Moving Meditation Methods
Required: open space without obstructions Challenge: outside distractions
Deliberating on movement can help with the monkey mind.
3 Types of Meditation in Motion
I’ve classed my list for these into three groups
- Eastern tradition
- Meditative exercise
- Creative practice
Examples of Eastern meditative practices while in motion include Qigong (or Tai Chi), Yoga. Modern exercises include walking and running. And, creative practices include writing, journaling, and art. I’ve used writing as the example.
This is a Taoist approach based on the breath circulating energy through the body to an altered consciousness.
Rather than just a set of poses or an exercise regime, as is mostly portrayed with its use in western society Yoga is meditative.
Types of Yoga Meditation
Hatha Yoga combines asana, mudra, pranayama, and meditative awareness. Another is Iyengar. I have practiced and gained great benefit from both. Iyengar, in particular, I found gratifying after learning through a certified trainer.
The Yoga meditations have three progressive stages: Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. In the theory of Yoga, we are all innately connected to the one life force, the universe, and this universal power guides us. This belief corresponds to that of quantum physics in that everything is interconnected. We are all part of the wholeness underlying the grand cosmos.
16. Walking Meditation
This meditation style is known for relaxation, incorporating exercise. Awareness is centered on the movement of legs and feet or arms and lungs. It is open-eyed but can be done with eyes closed (see below).
Walking meditation with eyes closed.
- Walk slowly with your eyes closed
- Focus inward
- Move at a rhythmic pace
- Notice any meanderings of your mind
- Pay attention to where it goes
- Deflect any ego-based thoughts by chanting
17. Running as a Meditation
Meditation while running works on the same basis as meditating while walking.
18. Writing as Meditation
This activity is known for providing insight.
Try these five steps:
- Relax first for 5-15 min. Maybe do some inhales and slow exhales.
- Set a timer and write freely for 10 mins without judgment, editing, or thinking about what you are writing even
- After 10 min, take a couple of deep breaths then read aloud what you just wrote
- Go through and underline any phrases or bits that stand out for whatever reason
- Use these bits as prompts for future writings
Just like art and meditation, writing allows us the space to connect with our true selves. It’s also an important tool in developing our intuition. This is the reason why journaling is so popular.
As Chandresh Bhardwaj, founder of the Break The Norms meditation program explains, “When you are deeply involved in any activity, you become meditative.” This holds true for other activities, for example, gardening, knitting, crocheting, sewing, drawing, or something as mindless as ironing.
Other Meditation Types
Other forms of meditation include Jyoti, Reflective, Vajrayana (which is a tantra style used to attain Buddhahood), and Satanama meditation. There are numerous types.
You can check out the types of meditation Psychology Today list for meditation based stress reduction. The most important thing to note is the 20 scientific reasons they give as to why you should start meditation today. This includes calming the chaos in your mind among overall benefits for the health of your body, mind, and soul.
Mantras to Use
Choose your own mantra or use those of tradition. The Sufis mantra is “Allah”. In western society, a common mantra used is ‘om’.
Which Meditation is Best for You?
“The reason the practice of meditation causes so much debate is that meditation accesses a field of limitless wisdom that everyone has their unique connection to…There’s not one practice or experience that’s best for everyone.” ~ Rod Galbraith, co-founder of InYoga.
Remember… the best meditation techniques are the ones that you continue to practice. Most of the above list is from Eastern cultures. For example, four types of meditation listed above have origins in Buddhism: Loving Kindness, Visualization, Vipassana, and Mindfulness. There are also examples from Hindu meditations and those of Sufis.
A recommended source for practical meditation techniques: Practical Meditation: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide by Giovanni Dienstmann.