If you’re new to meditation, you are forgiven for thinking it’s just sitting cross-legged saying: “ooooommmmmmm”.
There are, in fact, loads of different types of meditation you can practice. Plus, the benefits you’ll receive are well documented. Research has suggested practitioners have reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and even less physical pain.
If that sounds like something you need, then check out these eight different types of meditation you can fit into your daily routine.
Check out our video and read the full article below!
1. Transcendental Meditation
Best time to practice: After waking up in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Have you ever wondered what Clint Eastwood, Russell Brand, and Rupert Murdoch have in common? No, probably not.
But the answer is transcendental meditation.
The super successful trio are all practitioners of the technique, which has its roots in the ancient Vedic tradition.
Meditators take two 20-minute periods a day to sit comfortably while repeating a very specific mantra in their mind.
This can significantly reduce symptoms of trauma and intrusive thoughts, according to a recent scientific study. Plus the technique is also apparently popular in Wall Street to help combat the high-pressure environment the workers perform in.
Unfortunately, however, you can’t just find a mantra with a quick Google search. Trained teachers need to pass a phrase on to anyone who wants to reap the benefits.
2. Movement Meditation
Best time to practice: On your walk to work.
Have you noticed most forms of meditation require you to sit still or even lie down? That’s fine most of the time, but what happens if you’re full of energy?
Movement meditation is perfect for when you’re feeling a bit hyper and want to stretch your arms and legs.
The technique comes in many different forms. Typically people will strike a series of poses (think Madonna dancing in Vogue) but you could just go for a walk.
The key is to pay attention to your body. Notice the tension in your muscles, the ends of your fingertips as you stretch out.
If you’re new to it, the video below is a great place to start:
Best time to practice: During a coffee break.
If you’re anything like me, your mind is constantly on the move. It’s thinking about food, work, TV, wine… pretty much anything apart from what I’m doing at that moment.
Mindfulness is the antidote to that.
It’s the deliberate process of being aware of our movements, thoughts, and surroundings and noting them in a non-judgemental fashion.
It can be done in any place, at any time for as long or as short as you want. That makes it an excellent form of meditation for anyone who struggles to find an hour within their day to switch off.
Plus a scientific study by Michigan Technological University researchers found the benefits are almost instantaneous. Newbies to mindfulness reported reduced anxiety after just a one-hour introductory session.
4. Visualization Meditation
Best time to practice: During your lunch break.
Many forms of meditation will ask you to “empty your mind”. Well, that’s very easy to say but when you’ve got three deadlines and two children to think about, almost impossible to do.
Visualization is the exact opposite of that.
It comes in many forms, but all of them make the meditator focus on an image. That could be a beach in the Bahamas or a non-specific shape such as a ball of light.
From there it’s about paying attention to detail within your mental image. That could be watching the waves lap on the shore or watching the different rays of light twinkle in your mind’s eye.
The technique is beneficial in all sorts of ways including overcoming fear and building self-confidence. Just try not to nod off if you’re going to do it at work. Trust me, it’s easily done.
5. Focused Attention Meditation
Best time to practice: While you sit at your computer.
Like I said, emptying the mind is all well and good, but pretty damn tough a lot of the time.
How can you think of nothing when you’ve got your cell phone ringing every five seconds?
Focused attention meditation overcomes this problem by asking you to fill your mind, rather than empty it.
All you need is something for your mind to focus on. That could be a noise, smell or mental image. Put all your attention into that focus point, letting it wholly consume you.
When you’re just starting out with focused attention meditation, it can be difficult to concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes.
However, you can train your mind to improve your concentration over a period of time. Start with two minutes and work towards half an hour. You’ll get there soon enough.
6. Spiritual Meditation
Best time to practice: Five minutes before you’re about to leave work.
You might think spiritual meditation is only for the deeply religious. But that’s far from true.
In fact, everyone can practice it. You don’t need to pray to a certain deity, any higher power will do. That could be Mother Nature, a ray of light, or the universe.
The key is to find a quiet spot and just submit to that higher power. It’s all about accepting who you are, warts and all.
Through acceptance, you’ll find an inner calm and peace.
If you’re a beginner, you might need a bit of guidance. The below video will help you through your first few sessions:
7. Zen Meditation
Best time to practice: Straight after you get home from work.
Zen meditation is a heavy hitter when it comes to self-reflection. It’s all about answering the big questions. Who are we? What are we here for? What is the meaning of life?
It might sound a bit heavy after a full day’s work but an exploration of these concepts is a route to inner peace.
The ancient technique (also known as zazen) has practitioners sit in a comfortable position and focus on freeing their mind from invasive thoughts. There’s a number of ways this can be done but the simplest is just to be quiet and let your mind empty. Ah, bliss.
8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Best time to practice: Just before you fall asleep.
Next time something really winds you up, have a think about what your muscles are doing. They’re probably tight and ready for action.
Well, progressive muscle relaxation is a pretty similar process to unwinding after something’s riled you up.
There’s no fancy mantra or guru needed to do this. Just a spare five minutes squeezed into your day.
Simply lie down, breathe in deeply and, as you do, tense a muscle group for around four to 10 seconds. Then breathe out and release the tension. As you do, pay attention to how the muscles feel as you give yourself a short break.
Then, pick another muscle group and repeat.
To thoroughly work the body you should go from your feet to your head, tensing and releasing all the muscles along the way.
The method is a highly effective form of anxiety release, according to a study into its effects on nursing students in Iran.
There’s More Than One Way to Meditate
As you can see, meditation goes beyond just sitting on a cushion in a quiet room. It can be done at any time, and any place. Try any of these eight types of mediation to add a little calm and peace throughout your day.