Top 5 Meditation Methods Anyone Can Try to Reap Maximum Benefit
Feeling intimidated by the complex world of meditation? You don’t need to.
Meditation is open to all - and it doesn’t require expensive equipment or personalized classes to get started. (although you might find more success if you work with a pro while you learn about it.)
There are many kinds of meditation and we’ll all resonate with something different. Some may connect with mindfulness and movement, others will find success with guided meditation. The method may vary, but the purpose remains the same - to go beyond the mind to experience peace and calm.
Let’s take a look at the wonderful world of meditation - and see which of these top 5 methods inspire you to clear your mind and find a higher level of peace.
1. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is likely the easiest form for beginners to follow. If you’ve ever had someone lead you through an exercise where you closed your eyes, breathed in and out for a certain number of counts, and then imagined different colors of light or relaxing various parts of your body (or something similar), you’ve been through a very basic guided meditation.
Past-life regressions sometimes use guided meditations as a way to bring the “readee” into a receptive or trance state similar to hypnosis, and that will allow memories of past lives to surface.
The advantage to using guided meditations is you don’t have to do much other than follow instructions. These meditations are very good if you find it hard to concentrate without something external to focus on, and they are easy to find for free on the Internet, or through purchased books and audio.
The only caution is that you should do only those guided meditations that let you feel safe. If you feel uncomfortable while doing one because the instructions make you feel like you’re not safe, try a different guided meditation.
2. Chants & Affirmations
If you don’t feel up to undergoing a full meditation, or you just need something fast to calm you down, a chant can be very helpful. Chanting is truly a form of meditation as it requires you to sit quietly (except for the chant) and concentrate on the chant for a certain amount of time.
Transcendental Meditation is one of the more famous versions of this type of meditation; you’re given a mantra by your teacher. In a silent version of this type of meditation, called Primordial Sound Meditation, you are given a specific mantra that is linked to your birth date and place as evaluated using Vedic charts.
At a more informal level are chants involving affirmations or mantras that you choose. For these, you’ll also need a quiet space, but the affirmation or mantra you use is one you create. Your task is to focus on the affirmation and the feeling of how you want your life to be while you repeat the words for a certain number of times or a certain amount of time.
3. Clearing Your Mind
A number of meditation styles focus on silently concentrating on your breathing here and now. Zen, or zazen, meditation is one of the more famous; you have interaction with and learning from a teacher, but you also sit quietly and observe something focused, like your breathing or a blank mind.
No-mind (also called breath-awareness) is a related form; it’s not linked to Buddhist sutras, and you don’t need to take classes. This is a meditation in which you calm yourself down, often through counting your breaths and clearing your mind, and then you try to make your mind as blank as possible. If thoughts intrude, you simply acknowledge that they’re there and go back to your blank mind.
4. Mindfulness & Movement
If sitting quietly isn’t your style, you could try a meditation you can do while moving. One is mindfulness, in which you try to pay full attention to what you are doing in the moment.
When you hear someone talk about eating mindfully, they’re using the mindfulness technique to concentrate on what they’re eating, how they feel when they eat it, how they felt when they craved it, and so on. You can drive mindfully; you can even have a conversation while being mindful. The whole idea is to be conscious and present fully for what you’re doing in that moment.
If you find that physical activity helps you calm down and focus, you could benefit from active meditation. Tai chi and yoga are likely the most well-known of this type of meditation. The movements require your full concentration and have a physical effect similar to stretching, where tension is released.
You may find the activity makes you feel like you have a clearer head, too. When you do tai chi, yoga, or another form of active meditation, you’ll usually have the activity first, with a quiet cool-down period at the end that allows you to sit quietly.
You might also be interested in visualization. This is not an active form of meditation; you have to sit quietly and focus. However, it does not involve chanting or trying to make your mind blank. Instead, you visualize how you want an aspect of your life to be. It’s related to intention and manifestation, and in fact, many people use visualization specifically as part of their manifestation practice.
You don’t have to go that far, however. Take an aspect of your life that you’d like to change think about how your life would be if those changes were made. For example, if you want to have a happier life, how would you feel internally if you were in that life? Visualization involves creating that image in your mind. You might also want to work with a vision board to start picturing your goals.
Athletes often use this practice - in their mental preparation before a game, some sit quietly in a private space and picture a great performance in their heads - hitting a home run, blocking shots, running past everyone to catch a pass. It can help to calm any nerves, but is also effective as a rehearsal of sorts - they’ve trained physically to perform well, and this helps the mental aspect of that practice. They know what they need to do.
You see? Meditation comes in many shapes and forms, just like we do! This is not a competition - you get what you put into it and everyone will come out with a different experience. The point is to sample new practices that will help you feel amazing - and more in control of your life.
Which style do you prefer? Let us know!
Related Article: Connecting With Yourself: How To Have The Best Relationship With You