6 Types of Meditation to Try
One of the most intimidating things about starting meditation is finding the best one for you. Meditation is a regular practice that you can add to your everyday life. There are many meditation techniques to choose from and they all come with different benefits.
If you are trying to find the perfect type of meditation that can specifically help you with certain things, keep reading.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient tradition that was initially used to target spiritual growth. Spiritual meditation was a common practice in the daily life activity of many people in different areas of the world. The oldest documentation of meditation dates back to India around 5000 to 3500 BCE.
Meditation quickly began to be adopted by people in different areas of the world as more people became knowledgeable about its benefits. Over time, different westernized forms of meditation have begun to surface. Today, meditation isn’t only used for spiritual benefits. It’s a practice that people of all ages and backgrounds can adopt.
Why It’s Beneficial to Meditate
There are different benefits of meditation. Different meditation techniques may all bring various meditative benefits—which will be discussed later on—it all depends on the one you choose. Overall, meditation comes with common benefits, such as the following:
Reduces stress and anxiety.
Stress is caused by high levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known as the main stress hormone. This hormone is produced to activate the fight-or-flight response to fight off anything that the body sees as a threat. This response should come on and off, but high levels of stress can cause it to remain permanent—which is not good for health.
Too much cortisol can lead to mental and physical symptoms. Physical symptoms of anxiety include dizziness, sweating, rapid heart rate, body aches, tension, and more. Mindfulness practices like meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce mental health problems related to stress and anxiety.
Meditation can assist in lowering overall cortisol levels in the body. It also helps you focus on centering your thoughts and leaving distractions behind. When you meditate, you focus on what you are currently feeling. This exercises your mind to eliminate the negative thoughts that may be causing you to experience negative stress symptoms.
Meditation can also help reduce the risk of anxiety or panic attacks. With reduced anxiety, people can enjoy the other numerous benefits that meditation has to offer. You can look at it as a ripple effect of benefits.
Lowers blood pressure.
Increased blood pressure is a common health condition for many people with stress. High blood pressure can also be caused by poor habits, like not getting enough daily exercise, too much salt or processed foods in your diet, or too much alcohol or caffeine.
Meditation can help in increasing the amount of nitric acid in the body. Nitric acid is a necessary compound needed to expand blood vessels. This makes it easier for blood to flow freely and easily. Deep breathing and relaxation during meditation can decrease blood pressure at that moment, but the continued practice of meditation can make these effects more permanent.
Helps regulate mood.
Your mood is most likely altered by negative thoughts and emotions that your mind is full of during the day. It may be hard to slow down racing thoughts at that very moment. Meditation requires you to put aside those distractive thoughts and focus on the current moment instead.
When you can control your thoughts in this way and gain control of your mind, you simultaneously improve your mood. Practicing meditation can help you deal with stressful situations in a more positive manner.
Improves sleep quality.
Racing thoughts, a cluttered mind, physical symptoms of stress and anxiety—these are all things that can keep you up at night. Lack of sleep is a common problem among people with mental health issues. As stated earlier, meditation decreases the amount of cortisol in the body. Not only does it decrease cortisol levels, but it increases melatonin production.
Melatonin is known as the sleepy hormone. Increased levels of this hormone can lead to a better night’s sleep for people with problems like sleep deprivation due to stress.
Meditations You Can Try
Although all types of meditations have mutual benefits, there are certain meditations you can practice to provide more specifics. Here are some different types of meditations you can try and how to get started:
For some people, meditation is hard to start simply because they don’t know how. This is when guided meditation can come in handy. This type of meditation uses a guide to help you through your meditation session. This meditation can be done individually or in a group setting.
Another purpose of a guide is to help you remain focused on the task at hand—meditating. When your thoughts drift or you have difficulty centering yourself, your guide can help you through the process to reach the end goal of positive thoughts.
Guided meditations help increase self-awareness and with enough practice, you may be able to do other meditation techniques that don’t require a guide.
How to start:
This meditation is all about following your guide.
- Find a comfortable position to meditate in that is free of distractions.
- Your meditation guide will encourage you to start focusing on your breathing before going to the next stages in the technique.
Many meditations with this technique incorporate positive affirmations to further rid the wandering mind of negative thoughts and emotions.
Try these guided meditations on the BetterSleep app:
- Fast Asleep Technique
- Surrender to Sleep
- The Mindful Breath
Being mindful is the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of all circumstances and not be overwhelmed or overreactive. Mindfulness meditation is the perfect meditation practice that can be done by people who need to work on this ability. You use mindfulness techniques to slow down racing thoughts and gather your emotions whenever you find yourself overwhelmed.
Mindfulness exercises like meditation encourage you to focus on the present moment instead of the negative thoughts that cause stress. It’s also great for people of all ages who may struggle with curating positive thoughts.
How to start:
- Find a quiet place that allows you to focus and is free of distractions.
- Get comfortable to meditate. Be sure to choose a position you can stay in for an extended period.
- Relax your body by closing your eyes and focusing on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Center your thoughts on the current moment and what you are feeling. If your mind wanders, no big deal. Accept the thought and then refocus yourself.
At this moment, it’s important not to worry about things of the past or what may happen in the future.
Try these mindfulness meditation techniques on BetterSleep:
- Retreat in the Here and Now
- Your Mindful True Nature
- Mindfulness Meditations for Sleep
A mantra is a syllable, word, or phrase that is repeated through meditation. Sometimes, one mantra meditation session can include all of these factors. Mantra meditation uses repetition to bring focus and positivity to the mind.
Some benefits include increased self-awareness and self-compassion, a more positive outlook on life, breath control, and focus. There is no wrong way to choose a mantra to meditate on. Mantras are usually driven toward a specific goal or feeling that you want to achieve. Some examples of common mantras are:
- I am loved.
- I am at peace.
- My life is full of joy.
How to practice mantra meditation
- Find a comfortable location and position.
- Set a timer for the amount of time you wish to meditate. For beginners, you may want to do mantras for 3 to 5 minutes a day and work your way up as you get accustomed to the practice.
- Start your mantras as you continue to breathe. You can say these mantras out loud or silently within yourself. Matching your mantras to your breath can help you remain focused and relaxed without feeling like you’re doing too much work to stay centered.
Try these mantra meditations on BetterSleep:
- Morning Affirmation
- So Hum Mantra Meditation
As humans, it’s easy to judge yourself and be your biggest critic. While this is usually the case for a lot of people, it does not have to be. Practicing different ways to increase self-compassion and a more positive attitude toward yourself is what loving-kindness meditation is all about. As you increase your self-compassion, you inadvertently increase the passion and kindness you show to other people.
How to get started:
- Get into a comfortable position.
- Start breathing deeply and centering yourself.
- Use a series of mantras or repetitive phrases that you wish to achieve within yourself.
- Imagine yourself in a state of complete wellness.
- Continue this for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
BetterSleep meditation for loving-kindness:
- Mindfulness of the Heart
- Emotional Pain & Healing Meditation
- Meditation for Trauma
Body Scan Meditation
Meditation is known to have benefits that help with mental health problems, but there are benefits aimed specifically at physical ones as well. People who suffer from things like chronic pain may be looking for a simple and natural way to heal their bodies. Body scans require you to focus on each part of your body so that you learn to understand and accept the different physical sensations you may feel. This way, you can begin to work on these problems individually.
How to do body scan meditation:
- Lay down on a flat surface, like your floor or bed.
- Start with breathing and clearing the mind. This helps relax the body so that you’re focused.
- Go from one end of the body to the other, focusing on what you feel in each area. Acknowledge those feelings, whether good or bad.
Body scan meditations on BetterSleep:
- Self-love Body Scan
- Warming Body Scan
- 10-minute Body Scan
- Complete Release Body Scan
Created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this meditation technique is used to relax the body while remaining alert. This detaches you from anxiety by promoting positive thoughts. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a word or phrase to yourself so that it can settle deep into your consciousness. This helps lower blood pressure and levels of stress in the body. This technique also helps you become one with yourself through awareness.
How to start:
- Find a comfortable place.
- Focus on breathing.
- Choose your mantra and begin to repeat it silently in your head.
- Repeat daily for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
Many meditations require you to sit in one position for a long period. For some, this may not be ideal. Things like chronic pain or finding a location free of distractions may prohibit your meditation. Some people can focus and meditate better when they incorporate movement into their practice.
The beauty of walking meditation or exercise meditation is that it can be done anywhere at any time.
How to start walking and meditating:
- Find a good location. You can walk outside or indoors, as long as you have enough room to get steps in.
- Start by breathing deeply to create a sense of focus for your walk.
- Choose the foot you want to start walking with. Walk intentionally by taking note of how you feel each time your foot comes into contact with the ground.
- Feel your surroundings and welcome your thoughts before refocusing on yourself.
If you are walking in your home, you can take 15 to 20 steps in one direction before slowly turning around and walking in the other direction.
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