Six common types of meditation

A wonderful yet intimidating thing about meditation is the many different ways you can practice. In fact, techniques often overlap in definition and you can use multiple methods at the same time.

There’s no right or wrong way to get started with your practicein fact it’s quite easy. To help you understand the variety of practices and pick the ones that work best for you, we’ve outlined six common meditations below.

Bodyscan: This type of meditation, also known as progressive relaxation, involves bringing awareness to different parts of your body. Start at the top of your head, thinking about how it feels, and whether you are carrying tension, then move down to your forehead to assess that area. Continue moving down your body in a progression until you reach your feet.

Mantra: This meditation is ideal for anyone facing a specific challenge or striving toward a goal. Select a mantra—a word or phrase capturing your feelings—to use. It can be something high-level like “All is well” or “Patience.” It can also be specific like “I can make it through this meeting” or “I will have compassion for myself today.” After you select your mantra, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Chant the mantra—in your head or out loud—for as long as you like.

Focus: Focus meditations help increase your awareness by concentrating on an item. Pick something in your line of site that’s unlikely to move—perhaps a plant or a knick knack on a shelf—and focus on the object. Think about the shape, color, and texture of the item. Assess its details, then its whole. By focusing deeply, you are fully present in the moment.

Walking: Different from other practices because it involves movement, walking meditations are typically done outside. Practitioners concentrate on the feel of their body moving, the earth beneath their feet, and the things they see, hear, and feel throughout the walk.

Mindfulness: This meditation is all about being in the moment—the mission of mindfulness. It can be done sitting, focusing on the body, including the breath, muscles in the back, and the feel of the ground beneath. It can also be done throughout the day during various activities. The key is to think about what you are experiencing, sinking into the touch, sights, smells, and sounds, whether you are brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.

Guided meditation: While you can practice by yourself, guided meditations are led by another person and often revolve around a particular topic like surrender, dealing with uncomfortable feelings, or gratitude. You can access guided meditations on popular meditation blogs, in apps like Calm or Buddify, or in meditation centers (when we open again). Be Meditation has a variety of online, guided meditation programs. Read more about them here.

What types of meditation do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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