15 Types of Meditation to Bring Mindfulness to Your Everyday Life
With a pandemic raging, unemployment surging and civil unrest making the headlines, more people than ever are feeling unstable and scared of what the future holds. 2020 might be good fodder for dumpster fire memes, but it’s taking a toll on mental health worldwide.
Meditation might not cure everything that ails you, but it can force you to take some time out, be in the moment and find a measure of peace and comfort. Even if you don’t take to it immediately, it’s worth dedicating just five minutes of your time each day to get into the habit. Over time, you’ll notice a decrease in anxiety, better relationships with your loved ones and even increased physical health.
There are dozens of different meditation types, from simple mindfulness to specific breathing and visualization techniques. Research and try them all to see which work the best for you—you may find that certain situations or emotions are better suited for one type over the others. YouTube offers a wealth of meditation videos and meditation music if you need external guidance.
- Basic meditation. In this meditation, simply get in a comfortable position, sit or lie down and pay attention to your breathing. You don’t need to regulate it, just pay attention. If your thoughts stray, bring them back to your breath. Do this for 3-5 minutes.
- Body scan. Lie or sit down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. While breathing deeply, start with your toes and evaluate each body part, looking for tension. If you notice tension, relax it. Continue this until you reach the top of your head.
- This meditation is similar to the basic meditation, but as you notice thoughts, feelings or sensations, simply register them and let them go. Try this for at least five minutes each day.
- Self-inquiry. In this meditation, when you have a thought or physical sensation, ask yourself, “Who is feeling this?” (The answer is, obviously, you.) In turn, ask, “Who am I?” and continue that line of questioning as you breathe deeply, following it until you feel completely aware of your existence in the moment.
- Guided meditations are part of transcendental meditation, which usually requires a teacher. However, there are plenty of guided meditations available on YouTube—give them a try to see if this kind of meditation works for you.
- In this meditation, you make your focus external. Look at an object (candle flame, ocean, a flower) until your eyes feel uncomfortable. Close them, and try to keep the image of the object in your mind. Repeat as necessary.
- Loving kindness. In this type of meditation, you start by directing feelings of love toward yourself, then slowly focus outward. Send loving feelings to your family and friends, then try to send those feelings to neutral acquaintances and even bitter enemies. You might be surprised at the joy you feel.
- For this meditation, you’ll block one nostril, breathe deeply, then block the other nostril instead and repeat the process. Proponents swear it has life-changing results.
- Qi is the life force in Taoism. For this meditation, sit up straight, breathe deeply and focus on your center, about two inches below your navel. Try to feel the life force swirling throughout your body.
- Zazen is a Buddhist meditation variation that focuses on sitting up straight, your legs in one of three positions (Burmese, half-lotus and full lotus) and focusing completely on your breathing.
- Chakra meditation starts with the belief that there are 7 major energy centers throughout the body, each associated with a different color. A chakra meditation opens and aligns these energy centers so your heart, body and mind all feel balanced.
- Third eye. A third eye meditation focuses solely on that chakra, located in the forehead between the eyes. Direct all your focus to that spot while breathing deeply.
- This is a sitting mindfulness meditation variety. In this version, you label your thoughts, feelings and sensations before letting them go. A car driving by would be “car” or “noise,” while a twinge in your muscles might be “pain.”
- Mantras are sounds with no meaning, designed to bring your focus to nothing but the sound. Try “om” to start with.
- Taoist emptiness. Finally, this meditation type encourages you to let go of all your sensations, emotions and thoughts, focusing on your breathing until you feel completely empty.
Give these meditation varieties a try, and get ready to reap the benefits of a calmer, happier life—yes, even in 2020.