The 8 types of meditation and their characteristics
Meditation is an ancient practice that has experienced a surge in popularity in Western countries in recent decades. For those people who are initiated in meditation practice, there can be some confusion associated with meditation: mantras, chakras, Vipassana Meditation, Tonglen Meditation, etc.
In this article you will find the different types of meditation and their characteristics so that you can understand what makes them different and know what their benefits are.
Benefits of meditation
Meditation is not always easy, especially at the beginning, as it requires discipline and practice for its perfection. Therefore, it requires effort, but in the long run its health benefits are numerous.
In the fast-paced world in which we live, many people find in meditation a way to reconnect with themselves, far from Western culture, where consumerism and materialistic values rule the lives of the vast majority of citizens. Meditation is a way of recovering one’s essence and achieving inner peace.
In summary, these are some benefits of meditation n:
- Increase your self-knowledge : some forms of meditation help you to reflect on your own experience.
- It mitigates the effects of stress: it helps to find calm and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
- Affects the immune system positively : has positive effects on general health.
- Improves attention and concentration capacity: it works on self-awareness and attention.
- It is useful for empathizing with others: it improves interpersonal relationships.
- Increases tolerance to pain : reduces painful symptoms.
- Improves memory and cognitive functions: increases memory as indicated by some studies.
- It encourages the emergence of positive thoughts: it helps to have an optimistic and positive attitude.
Types of meditation
Whether it is to calm the mind, to find oneself or to reduce anxiety or stress, it is interesting that you introduce this practice into your daily life, as it is a way to improve the quality of life.
But… what types of meditation exist? what do the different ways of meditating bring to us? You can learn more about the different kinds of meditation in the following lines:
1. Primordial Sound Meditation
Primordial Sound Meditation is a meditation technique based on mantras , rooted in the Vedic tradition of India. A mantra is a phrase that is repeated to help us reach the state of relaxation and interiorization that promotes the meditative state. Mantras are not random phrases, but are sacred sounds that ancient sages used for their meditative practice, because they possess great harmonizing power.
Although this type of meditation is thousands of years old, Deepak Chopra and David Simon revived this ancient practice and created a meditation program based on mantras that anyone can practice, so it enjoys some popularity in the West today. During meditation, it is necessary to repeat this mantra silently, as it creates a vibration that allows one to place oneself in a place away from the noise of the mind, reaching calm and pure consciousness. This type of meditation is ideal for those who are looking for structure in their meditation practice.
2. Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation is often known as insight meditation and allows one to see things as they really are . It is also a traditional Buddhist meditation practice, which is widely used in the West thanks to Mindfulness. This type of meditation emphasizes awareness of the breath, tuning in to the air that comes in and out through the nose. It also focuses on labeling thoughts and experiences as they arise.
Whenever a thought or emotion is identified, it is necessary to identify it and let it go with a non-judgmental attitude. There are several different types of Vipassana meditation that have evolved from the traditional style over the years.
- You can deepen this type of meditation with these techniques: “5 Mindfulness exercises to improve your emotional well-being”
3. Zazen (Zen) Meditation
The translation of the Japanese word “Zazen” means “sitting meditation” . Many people, when visualizing meditation, imagine a person on the floor with his legs crossed, eyes closed and fingers in the Mudra position. This does not happen with Zazen meditation.
Although this type of meditation focuses on the breath and observing the thoughts and experiences as they pass through the mind and observing the experiences of the environment, as in Vipassana meditation, there are some differences between the two types of meditation. One major practical difference is that in Zen meditation, the emphasis of the breath is on the belly, rather than the nose (as in Vipassana).
Another big difference is that the posture is much stricter in Zen meditation than in Vipassana, with special attention to the straight spine, the chin bent and the hands placed in a special position on the belly. In Zazen meditation, the eyes should always be open, with a low gaze, and in Vipassana, there are no strict rules for gazing, although it is customary to keep the eyes closed. Zen meditation is recommended for those who already have previous experience with meditation practice.
4. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation is another type of meditation based on mantras . Like Primordial Sound Meditation, its origin dates back to ancient India and each person is given a personal mantra employed by vibrational qualities to help calm the mind. Although the purpose of meditation in both forms is similar, there are quite a few differences, including the mantras themselves and how they are selected, the instruction of the meditation, and the recommended time to meditate.
5. Metta or Benevolent Love Meditation
Metta or Benevolent Love meditation has its meaning in unconditional goodness and friendship . This style of meditation also has its origin in the Buddhist teachings, mainly Tibetan Buddhism. As scientific studies show, compassion and this form of loving and kind meditation has proven to be particularly helpful in fostering empathy, positivity, acceptance and compassion towards oneself and others. Anyone with low self-esteem, high levels of self-criticism and a desire to be more empathetic to others can benefit from this practice.
6. Kundalini Meditation
The main idea of this type of meditation is that thanks to this technique one awakens his Kundalini energy , located at the base of the spine. When this energy is released, it travels down the spine and leads to an experience commonly known as Kundalini awakening, which ultimately leads to enlightenment. Kundalini meditations may include breathing techniques, mantras, mudras and chants to harness the power of the unconscious mind. It is an energizing way to awaken the mind.
7. Chakra Meditation
A chakra is an energy center in the body, and we have seven of them , each located in a different area of the body and each associated with a different color, sound and energy purpose. Chakra meditations can be very powerful, especially when they focus on and connect with one element in the physical or emotional body at a time. Many chakra meditations use sound, specific hand placement and visualization techniques to connect with the chakras and their healing energy.
8. Tonglen Meditation
This type of meditation is Tibetan Buddhist and is characterised by the fact that the person who practices it connects with his or her own suffering in an effort to overcome it. Our culture teaches us to avoid suffering and run away from it, the opposite of Tonglen meditation.
This meditation class teaches you how to handle difficult life situations, as it allows you to cope with them by developing an attitude of openness towards suffering and giving up negativity. It is also called give and take meditation, and cultivates compassion and empathy through breathing, visualization. The practice can be done in any comfortable position, whether sitting or reclining.