In this article I will explain the different types of meditation techniques and give you at least a good clue or two about how to choose the one you’re most compatible with. You can also listen to the audio version above or on YouTube.
First of all let me tell you something, meditation in its basic bare bones form is composed of only two parts, “mindfulness” and or “concentration”.
Concentration is the art of focusing on one thing and becoming deeply more intimate with it. As the meditation progresses you become more relaxed and present with this one thing on deeper and deeper levels.
I liken it to an act of deep and passionate love, when you’re in the throngs of deep passion it’s easy to concentrate and enter fully into the moment, your pupils may dilate and time slows down, this is a sign that you’re totally immense in the experience, there is a merging process that’s taking place.
In meditation the same process is happening with your meditation focus, when the mind wanders away you just return your attention back to the object of focus yet again.
Mindfulness is the art of being present with experience that is happening in the NOW. But what often happens instead is that when we try to concentrate, our thinking wanders to the next undertaking and we enter into a wrestling match against future or past possible actions or feeling.
The ego just can’t stand still, so the mind just keeps on chattering, and the ego keeps pushing away discomfort and chasing after comfortable experiences, almost like it has a Will of its own and is baiting you with distraction so that you will not discover the shocking truth, the truth that the ego is not real, it is not who you are.
With mindfulness you are noting thoughts as they happen in the moment, you’re paying attention to experiences as they happen in the moment, this includes thoughts, emotions, and distractions of all different kinds.
During a meditation practice when thoughts distract you from your object of focus you let them be, you take notice of them and know that you are the sky and they are the clouds, they are just processes floating within you at the present moment.
Then without judgment you go right back to your meditation object, meditation techniques vary the most according to the object that you are focusing on.
The Different Types of Meditation Techniques
Meditation techniques vary the most according to the object you are focusing on.
Verbal Object Meditation
These include Mantras, Mantra meditations have a word or a phrase repeated silently or aloud over and over again.
Other verbal object meditations include a line of a song or a prayer, you can sing this phrase or speak it silently or aloud. Sometimes as in the case of kirtan devotional chanting you singing the whole song.
kirtan is a Sanskrit word that means “narrating, reciting, telling, describing” of an idea or story and the practice of Kirtan chanting comes from the bhakti yoga tradition, often called the yoga of devotion.
Lord make me an instrument of thy peace is a Christian version of devotional chanting which comes from Saint Frances and makes an excellent meditation mantra if you have Christian beliefs, otherwise a positive phrase like I am peaceful and happy also works.
Some love and kindness meditations in the Buddhist tradition follow a verbal pattern, and in many cases it’s a verbal prayer wishing the highest form of happiness for all sentient beings. In these cases, it may be a whole paragraph filled with words.
And again, when the mind wanders from your object you take note and honor the distraction, you are an impartial observer taking note of what’s happening now, and then you bring your mind back.
Visual Object Meditation
The object in a visual meditation technique is an image happening in your mind. It can be a nature scene from childhood, it can be a meditation on a flower or a beloved deity. And with these the same principles of concentration and mindfulness apply.
Kinesthetic or Feeling Meditation
In kinesthetic meditation techniques, you focus on something you can feel. This is a sensation in the body.
Body scan meditations belong to this category. They have a roving object of focus, which means it changes every couple of minutes. You start with the bottoms of your feet and become more intimately aware of the sensations. Every couple of minutes you work your way up to the calf’s the knees the thighs the genitals and all the way up to your face, your jaw, the top of your head and you’re just relaxing into the experience increasingly the relaxing sensation along the way.
Breathing meditations are generally in this category because you’re paying attention to the feeling of your breath.
Your senses are the objects of sensory meditation techniques, candle gazing, moon gazing, camp fire gazing, the kinesthetic techniques mentioned earlier also belong to this category, or listening to a water fountain or a beautiful song these are all sensory techniques. With these you pay attention to the sense itself because whatever you’re looking at or listening to is an experience happening within you.
In the case of sensory meditation you don’t focus too much on the object of the sense, and with visual meditations the eyes are a little bit defocused and you’re just paying attention to what’s going on within as you experience it. For example, the experience of hearing the crickets when you’re on your patio at night.
One very popular form of meditation is breath meditation, and in this type of meditation technique you focus on the breath. You may just watch your breath without controlling it or you can breathe deeply through the nose.
There are different yoga pranayama techniques that can each become meditations, some of them are pretty complex and some are simple. Alternate nostril breathing and Ujjayi are some of the more popular ones. Those aren’t usually classified as meditation techniques but as long as you apply the principal of concentration and mindfulness then they become meditation techniques.
In the simplest form of the breath meditation you just focus on the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils, without judging how deeply you’re breathing, you’re just watching the breath.
A slightly lesser known style of meditation is concept meditation, the focus here is on a concept, on a thought. All you’re thinking about is love, beauty, infinity, God, the Buddha, cosmic consciousness, peace and of course you’re only picking out one of these. You’re not going to think of all of them at once.
Concept meditations often brings a flood of intuitive insights as you become more intimately connected with the reality behind the concept. As you become more intimate with the concept, it becomes less and less of a concept, and you start to become connected with the reality that is beyond the concept.
With Concept meditation the same rule applies, remain mindful as thoughts or distractions take you away, note them and go back to your concept.
Movement meditation is another style and these include Tai Chi Chuan and certain Qigong exercises, where you’re concentrating on a fluid movements in these disciplines, they are kinesthetic and often have the goal of eventually feeling the more subtle experience that many refer to as Ki or energy, which when rightly understood is awareness, a pure unrefined mindful consciousness or you could even say that it is the soul or source of your beingness.
Mudras are another very subtle movement mediation that utilize organized hand movements, which are repeated very slowly over and over again, and the more you practice the more awakened you become to what’s happening within you. And of course what’s happening in your hands, and you take in a lot more of that experience as you increase your capacity for experience.
Tantric yoga also uses mudras, to awaken subtle chakras that inter link via a system of nadis or energy pathways in much the same way as acupuncture is used to control the flow of Ki via energy meridians.
There is another class of techniques that usually ends up in the kinesthetic category with Tai Chi and Qigong exercises. They are the various chakra meditations, chakras are the seven (7) energy centers along the spine, with chakra and mudra meditations you work with very subtle processes that we experience as energy sensations, at least we eventually do after some training and patience.
Some people prefer movement and kinesthetic styles energy meditation, while others prefer visualizations using their minds as a form of sonar that dials into the very subtle energy systems in the body and mind.
So, these are the major types of meditation techniques that you will come across, other ways in which they very other than the meditation object include how people warm up for meditation, how they integrate it into their daily life, and the techniques they use to do that.
Which Meditation Technique is the Right One?
So how do you choose that technique that you’re most compatible with? The short answer is that you find an object that you can relate too, something that invites a state of deep absorption in that object.
And this might take some experimentation or maybe you have something in mind already. You want to start with something that really compels you to concentrate on it, then try something else entirely.
So that’s it for now.
Are there any meditation types I missed? Do you have experiences you want to share about techniques that you’ve tried? Leave a comment below.
If you liked the content and would like to take your spiritual journey deeper, learn about meditation or go even deeper with your meditation journey, I offer books, articles and instructional audios that cover a variety of metaphysical topics and the different types of meditations, plus online meditation and personal development courses available within ZeropointMan.com’s Premium Online-Learning Academy and it would be my privilege to have you as our newest member.
Related Mindfulness post
- How to Practice Mindfulness Every Day
- How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation and What Mindfulness Is
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