Words by Puravi Joshi
When it comes to meditating, there are no strict rules of how to do it and there is no one right way to do it either. In fact, the notion of these could even be counter productive to meditation’s intention. So how can you practice meditation in a way that is right for you?
There are a number of different types of meditation and each has their benefits. Most people will find that certain types of meditation work better for them than others, it’s all down to personal preference and what you hope to get out of the practice. When you’re new to meditation I definitely encourage exploring all the different ways and see what works best!
When I first started meditating a few years ago, it took me a while to get into the groove of it and it took me a couple of different styles to help me achieve what I wanted and most importantly needed.
WHAT DIFFERENT MEDITATION STYLES ARE THERE?
This type of meditation is usually the first style a newbie will look to do. When most people think of this meditation, they think of someone telling them to close their eyes and think of the sound of the ocean or imagine walking through a peaceful forest. These visual aides are there for purpose. They help to provide direction and keep focus which can be difficult if you are new to meditation and finding yourself easily distracted
Guided meditation can also give your mind a chance to pause. We have so many thoughts whizzing around every single day, this allows your mind to switch off whilst having a sound to guide you and keep that focus going.
This is one of the most accessible meditation styles to try. Some of the benefits include:
increased patience and level of tolerance
improved stress management
increase your imagination.
Body Scan Meditation
This style of meditation focuses on easing tension in the body instead of focussing on the mind. This meditation is great if you’re going through a period of stress and are holding tension in your bodies and struggling to release it.
With a body scan, you bring awareness to each part of your body and notice the areas which feel tight and tense. When you find one of these areas, you focus on releasing the tension that has built up here.
With this meditation you start at either the head or the feet and work from one end to the other, you can repeat this process and check in to see if you notice any difference in how you feel. This is a great meditation to do before you go to sleep.
Through body scan meditation, you will notice some of these benefits:
immediate relaxation and the release of tension
greater self-awareness of your body
Breath Awareness Meditation
This meditation just as it says on this tin: it focuses on the breath. The simplest way to do this is to just pay attention to your breath, perhaps inhaling and exhaling to the count of 4.
You can also bring your attention to your breath in a specific part of your body, your belly noticing how it rises and falls with your inhales and exhales. It can also bring awareness of how it feels throughout your body, noticing all the different sensations.
Meditations focussing on the breath are great for:
Coping with anxiety and stress
Calm the mind
Focussing while coping with ADHD
When we practice a mindful meditation, we encourage ourselves to have more presence in the current moment and more awareness of this. Most mediation practices have an element of mindfulness in it however this practice can be done its own.
As we practice mindfulness, we take the opportunity to notice our surroundings, this doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be in totally silence sitting legs crossed, this can be done when you’re stuck driving in the car, or waiting to pay for your shopping, or whilst you’re on the bus
Mindfulness brings you to the present moment, as you notice what is going on around you, from what you might see, smell, and even feel. What mindfulness does is it takes your attention away from the past and repetitive thought you might have, this practice is particularly beneficial if you are someone that dwells on the past and situations out of your control.
Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- lower blood pressure
- improvement in sleep and reduced stress and anxiety
This practice is great if you’re prone to over thinking, if you struggle to find focus and find yourself easily distracted and especially for anyone that deals with high levels of stress.
Loving Kindness Meditation
This type of mediation is about opening up the heart space and love, for yourself and for others. This type of mediation is a great way to increase the amount of self-love for yourself. When we do this meditation, we also send love to others, even those you may dislike, those who may have caused you pain in some way and also those who may have caused you stress.
When we do this mediation, we normally start by being open to receiving love and kindness, after you have done this, you will begin to send this love to others, usually you’ll start with sending it to someone you deeply love, and then someone you like and so on until you are sending this love out to the world.
This mediation cultivates compassion for ourselves and for others. This is a really powerful meditation for anyone that struggles with complicated relationships or anger and frustration. This meditation allows you to pour love in towards yourself and then sending love to others.
This type of mediation improves:
- mindset and well-being
- can help you to have better relationships by increasing positive emotions and reducing the number of negative ones
Each of the different practices listed above have one common benefit of reducing stress and to leave you feeling calmer however the benefits are plentiful and some techniques will work better for you than others.
There is no hard and fast rule of how to mediate and which technique you should be practicing, I combine a few of these techniques whilst I meditate. And if you find one that doesn’t work for you don’t give up, one of the other techniques definitely will!