26 Types Of Meditation (And How To Do Each One)
Meditation has a TON of scientific benefits, but which type of meditation should you try first?
We’ll look into the 26 most popular meditation types; show you how to do each one and provide you with the type we recommend if you’re new to mediation.
What are the types of meditation? The 26 most popular types of mediation are:
- Bahá’í Prayer and Meditation
- Binaural Beats
- Body Scan
- Chakra Meditation
- Contemplative Meditation
- Kriya Yoga
- Kundalini Meditation
- Loving-Kindness Meditation
- Mantra Meditation
- Meditative Kabbalah
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
- Nada Yoga
- Natural Stress Relief (NSR)
- Self-Inquiry Meditation
- Sufi Meditation
- Taoist Emptiness Meditation
- Third Eye Meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Walking Meditation
- Zen Meditation
Meditation covers a wide spectrum as seen on the list above.
If you are new to meditation we recommend trying out Mindfulness Meditation, which focuses on the moment.
You could also try out Pranayama and Mantra meditation because it allows you to focus on a specific action or thought which helps to keep your attention.
The practice of meditation brings with it many benefits, and topping the list of benefits are relaxation and a sense of well-being.
Read on to learn about our other recommendations.
Before we go super in-depth into the different types of mediation, it’s useful to know that mediations generally fall under two categories: Open Monitoring and Focused Attention.
Open Monitoring (OM) is where the meditator’s awareness is focused on the thoughts, sensations, and feelings happening at the moment in their body.
The focus of the meditation is the monitoring of awareness itself.
The aim of Open Monitoring is to stay in the monitoring stage and staying attentive to any experience that may come up.
This is done without judging or focusing on an object.
In contrast, Focused Attention (FA) meditation is where the meditator focuses their attention to an object or an event, say, a spot on the wall or their breathing.
The focus is turned to a specific object or event to avoid their mind from wandering.
The aim of Focused Attention is to develop your ability to keep the attention focused and the distraction lesser.
As the meditator keeps on meditating, the steadiness and the ease with which they meditate develops and deepens.
Keep these two meditation categories in mind when looking at the different types of mediation.
The 26 Meditation Types
Here we have a list of the most common types of meditation.
Each type will be given a short background and a guide to performing the specific meditation.
1. Bahá’í Prayer and Meditation
Bahá’í meditation is rooted in the Bahá’í faith, a religion that originated from Iran and founded by Bahá’u’lláh in 1863. They teach that God is too complex an idea to understand and to only through meditation will God reveal himself. The practice of the Bahá’í meditation brings with it peace and enlightenment, and an openness to being more compassionate to others.
How To Meditate The Bahá’í Way
1. Turn off all sources of distraction–your phone, the TV — to prepare your mind.
2. Some go through a physical cleansing by washing their face and hands to feel refreshed.
3. Listen to music to calm your spirit, although this could be optional.
4. Find a quiet place to sit and be comfortable.
5. Say a prayer to calm your soul and reflect to gain insight on the oneness of man with God and peace.
Here is a video of meditation and prayer of the Bahá’í faith from Jorj sayar.
Additional Information: The Bahá’í faith preaches equality and unity among men regardless of age, race, or religion. Try it if you like something inclusive and non-denominational.
2. Binaural Beats
Binaural beats meditation is a form of soundwave therapy. You put on headphones to listen to two slightly different frequency tones in each ear while meditating. If your left ear is listening to a 150 Hz tone while the right is listening to a 160 Hz tone, the difference between the tones is the binaural beat.
Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered binaural beats in 1839 and was brought to the American consciousness by Gerald Oster in 1973 through an article in the Scientific American.
Binaural Beats use 4 categories of frequency patterns:
- Delta pattern: Set at a frequency between 0.1 and 4 Hz, and is associated with deep relaxation of the body as in REM sleep and a decrease in cortisol.
- Theta pattern: Set at a frequency between 4 and 8 Hz, and is associated with enhanced physical healing, more restful sleep, and reduced mental fatigue.
- Alpha pattern: Set at a frequency of between 8 and 13 Hz, and is associated with increased creativity and focus, production of more serotonin, and an increase in energy levels.
- Beta pattern: Binaural beats in the beta pattern are set at a frequency of between 14 Hz and 40 Hz, and is associated with increased concentration and improved critical thinking. Take caution with Beta waves though as it is also associated with feelings of stress, overthinking, and the fight-or-flight response.
How To Do a Binaural Beats Meditation
1. Find a comfortable spot, a place where you don’t associate with stress and you won’t be disturbed.
2. Sit in the lotus position or a chair, you can also try lying down. Keep your spine straight and free your mind.
3. Put on your headphones and listen to the binaural beats recording for 15 minutes.
Pro tip: Use quality earphones, ones that cover your ears. The volume should be comfortable, loud enough to drown out the noises around you (if you are in a public place, like the park) but not too loud that you end up with an earache.
4. Listen to binaural beats therapy daily for 15 to 30 minutes. Initial therapy is 45 days and maintenance would be 15 minutes daily.
Here is a sample binaural beats audio track you can listen to. This is in an alpha frequency and will help with physical and mental alertness.
There are also apps for binaural beats meditation available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
Additional Information: Binaural beats meditation is ideal for people just starting with meditation. Starting on this therapy would not be so frustrating and time-consuming as traditional therapy. It is useful and helpful with bringing stress levels down or improving your focus and attention.
Avoid binaural beats if you have epilepsy and seizure episodes. It is also not ideal for those with pacemakers and irregular heartbeats.
3. Body Scan
Body scans have been around and are categorized as a passive relaxation technique. It is incorporated in other meditation types such as Qigong, MBSR, Transcendental Meditation, and Yoga Nidra.
Body Scans can be done on its own and it will help bring you to mindful awareness of the tension in your body, which you then address to turn stress to relaxation.
How To Do A Body Scan
1. Sit in a comfortable chair and fully relax your body. You can also do this lying down. Find a position that will help you relax, but will not cause you to fall asleep.
2. Close your eyes and let your body relax by taking breaths from your stomach instead of your chest. You know you are doing the breathing exercise correctly when your belly rises and fall with your breath while your shoulders do not move.
3. Take stock of your body and notice where your tensions lay. Start from your head and bring awareness to the sensations you feel: pressure, tingling, tightness. This may take some getting used to but as you practice, this will be second nature. Work your way down the different areas of your body until you reach your feet.
4. Focus on the areas of the body where there are tension and pain. Breathe with the sensations and visualize the stress leaving your body. It may feel that the tension and pain are intensifying but it will go away once you get into the rhythm of breathing. Focus on your breathing and awareness of your body then move to another body part.
5. You will notice a lightness as you become aware of the sensations in your body and the stresses that you have released.
You can follow this guided Body Scan Meditation led by Greg De Vries to walk you through a short session.
Additional Information: As with all meditation practice, this works best with long-term practice. Results may not be noticeable until at least 4 weeks of practice has been done. The body scan is ideal for those who are already knowledgeable with Mindfulness and Pranayama.
4. Chakra Meditation
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that translates to “wheel” or “cycle.” Chakras are the energy centers of the body, of which there are seven forming a vertical line from the base of the spine to the top of the head. An open and balanced chakra maintains your health and well-being.
Chakra meditations have seven main energy centers:
- The Root Chakra: This is found at the base of the spine in your tailbone and perineum. It connects you to the outside, survival skills, and fulfilling basic needs. The parts of the body associated with the Root Chakra are the lower extremities, bones, large intestines, and adrenal glands.
- The Sacral Chakra: This chakra is located between your belly button and the base of your spine. The Sacral Chakra deals with your emotions and creativity. The body parts associated with the Sacral Chakra are the reproductive system, kidneys, and bladder.
- The Solar Plexus Chakra: This chakra is located between the navel and the rib cage. It’s the source of our self-esteem, desire, and agency. The Solar Plexus Chakra is associated with the digestive system – the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, and the small intestine.
- The Heart Chakra: As the name implies, this chakra is located in your chest, near the heart. It is concerned with your emotional connections to others. It is also the center of a person’s love, compassion, harmony, and trust. It is associated with your heart, lungs, and the cardiovascular system.
- The Throat Chakra: This chakra is located at the throat and is connected with how we communicate, our representation of the truth, and how we express ourselves. The parts of the body associated with the throat chakra are the mouth, tongue, neck, and lungs.
- The Third Eye Chakra: The sixth chakra is the intuition chakra and is located between the two eyes. The Third Eye Chakra is connected with psychic ability, vision, intuition, and imagination. Body parts and organs associated with the Indigo blue is the color associated with it. Various organs linked to the third eye chakra include the brain, nose, face, and eyes.
- Crown Chakra: This chakra connects you to the universe and the “divine” and is located at the top of the skull. The body parts most connected to the 7th chakra are the pituitary gland, the cerebral cortex, and the circulatory system.
How To Do Chakra Meditation
Chakra meditation primarily focuses on unblocking the chakras which lead to a restoration of good health in the body and a connection to you a higher spiritual level.
1. Find a quiet place and assume the lotus position. Close your eyes and take deep breaths to relax your body.
2. Focus your attention on your breath. Regulate your breathing until you are relaxed. Move your attention to your heartbeat paying attention to its pulse. Imagine a ball of light – your aura traveling up your body.
3. Focus your attention to your chakras starting from the root at the base of your spine all the way up to your crown chakra. You may use the words or mantras associated with each chakra to repeat as you meditate.
These mantras are lam for the root, vam for the sacral chakra, ram for the solar plexus chakra, yam for the heart chakra, ham for the throat chakra, sham for the third eye, and om for the crown chakra.
4. Breathe deeply as you finish your chants, open your eyes, and stretch.
Here’s a guided Chakra cleansing meditation with Robin Krasny
Additional Information: there are many practices that fall under chakra meditation. Some are dedicated to spiritual awakening, others to healing or relaxation. It is important to note that the spiritual practice aspect of chakra meditation best done with a qualified instructor.
5. Contemplative Meditation
Contemplative prayer is a guided Christian meditation that seeks to heighten the personal relationship between man and God. If prayer is talking to God, contemplation is still prayer, focused on listening to God.
How To Pray Contemplatively
The main goal of Contemplative prayer is to empty your worries and cares to be in God’s presence. To keep your thoughts centered, a sacred word is used. Similar to a mantra to keep your mind from straying. Any word taken from the Bible can be used as a sacred word. Typical sacred words are Jesus, grace, peace, or be still.
1. Set aside time for your contemplation, ideally 30 minutes a day. Find a quiet place to sit. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the floor or on a chair.
2. Find a comfortable position but not too comfortable that you fall asleep. Close your eyes and let your mind settle with controlled breaths as you think of your sacred word.
3. When your thoughts wander, return to your sacred word and continue sitting still and listening to God.
Pro tip: Practice is the key. It won’t be easy at first as your mind isn’t used to the still and quiet. Continue to practice daily contemplation it will become second nature. It would also be helpful to set a gentle alarm in your smartphone to let you know your session is done.
4. As you finish, sit in the quiet for a few minutes before opening your eyes and getting up.
This is a video that talks about contemplation. It also includes a guide through a centering prayer from the Christian Contemplative Tradition.
6. Kriya Yoga
Additional Information: Contemplative prayer may bring to the surface long-buried emotions and memories from your subconscious. On a positive note, that may be a good time for you to address the hurt or trauma, let go, and start healing.
Kriya Yoga combines meditation practices, breathing techniques (Pranayama), and “right” living.
It aims to bring you to heightened spiritual awareness and devotion. Kriya is ideal for people seeking a higher level of spiritual and enlightenment.
How To Perform Kriya Yoga
1. Find a quiet place to meditate. It can be indoors or outdoors, the important thing is you will not be disturbed.
2. Sit and assume the correct position. With your spine straight and your back not touching the back of the chair. Your knees should form a 90-degree angle, your shoulders squared back without tension, and your chin is parallel to the floor.
3. Place your hands with the palms upturned on your lap where the crease of your thigh and abdomen meet.
4. Close your eyes and look up to the point between your eyebrows as you begin to relax your body. Follow along to the prayer. See the prayer in the guided meditation video below.
5. Exhale a deep breath through the mouth twice–by making a huh, huh sound–and inhale through the nose. Hold your body in a tense position for 6 counts and exhale through the mouth twice as you relax the tension from your body. Repeat the breathing exercise 3 times.
6. Relax as you return to breathing normally and free your mind of thoughts. Focus on the peace that fills you as you meditate.
7. Repeat the affirmations out loud or mentally. See the affirmations in the guided meditation video below.
8. End the session with a prayer. See the prayer in the guided meditation video below.
Kriya Yoga has several levels of training and initiation, but you can practice some of its simple meditation techniques such as energization exercises or guided meditations.
Try out this simple guided Kriya Meditation for beginners.
Additional Information: If you are a devout person and prefer spirituality more over relaxation, Kriya Yoga is a good bet for you. You can learn more about Kriya from the Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought Kriya Yoga to the West.
7. Kundalini Meditation
Kundalini is a combination of various Yoga forms – Kriya, Pranayama, and Asanas (poses) to wake the Kundalini energy that is said to live in the base of your spine. Meditating awakens and recharges the Kundalini energy in your nervous system which brings with it numerous health benefits.
How To Perform Kundalini Meditation
Since there are many forms of Yoga that go into a typical Kundalini session, we’ll narrow it down to focus on tuning into your rhythm.
1. Sit on the floor and assume the lotus position. Use a cushion so your hips are higher than your legs. Keep your spine straight with your palms facing each other and raised to your chest.
2. Take deep breaths and exhale. Close your eyes and look up to the point between your eyebrows as you begin to relax your body. As you regulate your breathing, chant the Adi Mantra “ONG NA MO.”
3. On one deep breath, chant the second part of the Adi mantra through your mouth, “ “GURU DEV NA MO.”
4. Repeat the mantras several times. The number of times is dependent on your capability to ‘tune into’ your body and finding your rhythm.
Additional Information: Kundalini Yoga is said to open your third-eye and awaken Kundalini energy. It is best to get guidance from a trained professional. Harnessing Kundalini energy may be overwhelming for some if they are not mentally and emotionally prepared.
8. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-Kindness is also known as Metta, a Pali word that translates to kindness, good-will, and empathy. The practice of Loving-Kindness develops empathy and kindness to yourself and to others.
Beyond the obvious benefit of increasing compassion and empathy, Loving-Kindness also reduces rumination and slows down aging by increasing the telomere (markers that protect the cells from aging) especially in women.
How To Do Loving-Kindness Meditation
1. Find a comfortable spot, a place that’s quiet and you won’t be disturbed.
2. Sit in the lotus position or a chair. Keep your spine straight and free your mind. Close your eyes and relax your body. Focus on the moment and meditate on the awareness of the present with your breath and the sensations of your body.
3. Repeat 2 or 3 positive affirmations to yourself. Here are a few that you can use:
- May I be healthy and safe.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be open to receive happiness.
- May I be generous to give and receive appreciation today.
4. You can continue with your positive emotions towards yourself or you may switch to others. You can use the progression below:
- A close friend or a family member.
- A neutral person, someone who you have no strong feelings of attachment or dislike.
- A person you are in conflict with.
- Yourself, your friend, and your enemy.
- The rest of the world.
Use the positive affirmations in number 3 as you think about other people.
5. As you finish your meditation, quietly reflect in the stillness before returning to regular life. Remember to revisit your meditation and the emotions it’s evoked throughout the day to help you practice compassion and empathy towards yourself and others.
Note: You can set a timer to help you switch and meditate for others.
Check out this quick guide to Loving–Kindness Meditation.
Additional Information: Loving-Kindness is ideal for people who have difficulty forgiving themselves. Often we are harder on ourselves and can be our own worst enemy. It’s also a good way to balance out self-conceit for those on the opposite end of the spectrum.
9. Mantra Meditation
A mantra is a word or phrase often chanted or repeated in your mind as you meditate. The most recognized mantra is “Om,” a sacred text from Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Mantras help you to focus, but can also be words or phrases that you came up with. A repeated mantra shifts your minds attention to the present – reciting the mantra, instead of thinking.
How To Meditate with a Mantra
1. Decide on a mantra that would best serve your intention.
You can choose a mantra in 2 ways: Based on a secular approach as a tool for personal growth, improved well-being, or relaxation. This can be just a word or a sentence, peace, love, forgiveness, etc. or I am peace, I am whole, it could be an affirmation to yourself or a habit you would like to instill.
The other uses a spiritual approach. The traditional mantra words from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions are examples of this. You can also use Hebrew words or passages lifted from the Bible, the Quran, etc.
2. Find a comfortable spot. Sit on the floor and assume the lotus position. You can use a pillow to support your hips. Keep your spine straight and close your eyes. Relax your body by focusing on tour intention and your breath.
3. Chant your mantra as you relax into your breathing. There is no prescribed time for the length of the meditation. You decide how long or short you want the session to be.
Note: You can set a timer with a gentle alarm to alert you to end your session.
Here’s an example of a Guided Mantra Meditation.
Additional Information: Mantra meditation is ideal for those who have difficulty focusing when using breathing techniques. It is also one of the easiest to do and get used to. Mantra meditation can be integrated into your daily routine because of the repetitive nature of chanting.
10. Meditative Kabbalah
Meditative Kabbalah is practice in the Jewish faith It shares strong similarities with Sufi Meditation; both are religions with roots in Judaism. The aim of Meditative Kabbalah is to bring positive changes into your life and impact others it goes beyond relaxation or quieting the mind.
Kabbalah advises you to set and focus on an intention and to stick to a single name of God in Judaism, combinations of the Hebrew alphabet, and Kavanot (mystical intentions).
Additional Information: Kabbalah is often viewed and thought of as a taboo topic. There are those who believe it to be the most sacred part of the study of the Torah and should be kept secret. There are also those who oppose its study due to the use of sexual imagery in its text.
11. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a buzzword in health and wellness circles over the last 2 decades. It is the most common form of meditation taught in schools and workplaces because of its proven benefits of focusing attention and lessening anxiety.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and is the basis of another relaxation technique, MBSR (see the next entry).
How To Do Mindfulness Meditation
1. Set aside time to find a quiet spot to meditate in. Sit in a position that will help you relax, but won’t make you fall asleep.
2. Follow along to a guided meditation (there’s a sample below) or set a timer anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes, so your mind wouldn’t be distracted with thoughts of going over your time limit.
3. Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose while exhaling through your mouth. Keep your breaths the same length, ideally up to 4 counts. Close your eyes and pay attention to what is happening to your body as you breathe in and out.
4. Let the thoughts flow in and out of your mind. Let your thoughts flow without fear or judgment. Take note of the thoughts that come to your mind. If it is worry, hurt, happiness, that is just that, worry, fear, and happiness.
5. If your thoughts start to take over, as it is prone to happen, gently refocuses on your breath.
6. As the session ends, open your eyes and sit in silence to reacquaint yourself with your surroundings and slowly get up.
Here’s an introduction and guided meditation to Mindfulness meditation video from David Nichtern.
Additional Information: For people without any previous experience or idea about meditation, Mindfulness Meditation is a good starting point. Children as young as preschool age take to mindfulness with ease. Practice and consistency is key. Start with 15 minutes daily and build up as you become better at being mindful and present in the moment.
12. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a technique developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Stress Reduction Clinic. Today, MBSR is used in hospitals, schools, and offices around the world.
The program is 8 weeks of mindfulness training that uses Buddhism-based mindfulness and yoga approaches to deal with unconscious thoughts which leads to stress and illnesses.
There is no specific way to do MBSR as it is a combination and adaptation of eastern meditation practices and modern psychotherapy practices.
Some of the most popular MBSR Techniques and exercises include breathing exercises, body scans, focus mindfulness, mindful eating, and walking meditation.
Additional Information: MBSR was first used to treat patients with chronic pain who were not responding to medication. Other uses of MBSR that have proven beneficial is lessening of anxiety and helping to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia. MBSR is ideal for beginners as it is easy to learn and adapt so much so that schools have also incorporated it into their curriculum.
13. Nada Yoga
Nada yoga or sound meditation uses the vibrations in sounds as the focal point of the meditation. You meditate while listening to soft, ambient music. As you get better at tuning into the sound vibrations, you can meditate on the internal sounds of the mind and body.
The practice of Nada Yoga helps you to tune out the worries of the world which helps you experience joy and calm. It also enhances your ability to focus.
How To Perform Nada Yoga
1. Set aside a time and place to meditate. Play soothing instrumental music to help you focus and relax.
Note: Meditation can be done any time of the day but long-time Nada Yoga practitioners suggest practicing between 12 midnight to 2 am. This period is ideal as there is little to no activity that may cause distractions. Plus the absence of light in the atmosphere helps you to focus your mind inward.
2. Sit in a comfortable position, you can assume the lotus position or a seated kneeling pose. Place your hands on your thighs or with the right palm up and the left laid in the palm of your right hand and the thumbs lightly touching.
3. Close your eyes and let your body relax by taking deep breaths, focusing on the sensations of the breath going in and out of your body.
4. Focus your attention on the music. All you hear is its sound vibrating through your body. Gradually move your focus from the external sound (the music) to the internal sounds of your body.
5. Your mind and body will be in a deep, relaxed state. Stay in the meditative state for as long as you find comfortable. There is no set time for meditation sessions but it is advised that you pace yourself.
Additional Information: Though it may seem steeped in mysticism, Nada Yoga is helpful for musicians and others whose learning style leans to auditory
14. Natural Stress Relief (NSR)
Natural Stress Relief Meditation is a mantra-based meditation developed by former Transcendental Meditation teachers and practitioners. NSR uses single-mantra-for-all meditation to relieve stress. It does this by bringing you to a state of physiological rest, but at the same time keeping you on full mental alertness.
NSR is a paid online course available for download as a PDF and mp3 audio file from Instituto Scientia. It is suggested to do NSR twice a day for 15 minutes to get its maximum benefits.
This guided NSR meditation will walk you through a simple meditation to find peace.
Additional Information: NSR is a lower cost alternative to Transcendental Meditation. The creators of NSR point out that although they are trained practitioners and teachers of Transcendental Meditation, NSR is not Transcendental Meditation nor based on it. NSR is a good alternative to Mantra Meditation if you are not comfortable with the spiritual mysticism attached to the practice.
Pranayama or Pranayam comes from the Sanskrit word ‘prana” which means lifeforce and “ayama” which means expand. Essentially, it is breath control. Pranayama is a breathing exercise that you perform to increase oxygenation in the body. It falls under the category of Yoga but it can be done on its own.
Pranayama helps to calm down a racing mind and racing heart. Breathing in and out deeply eases stress symptoms and lessens anxiety. Pranayama is also useful to treat asthma symptoms. This is achieved by the oxygenation of the blood which helps purify the blood and lungs.
How To Perform Pranayama
There are many breathing techniques to choose from with Pranayama. This is the Sama Vritti or Equal Breathing. With this pranayama technique, you inhale and exhale for equal lengths of time.
1. Find a quiet place free of distraction. Sit on a pillow on the floor and assume the lotus position, making sure that your hips are higher than your knees and your spine straight.
2. Take a deep exhale to clear your lungs. Inhale through the nose for 5 counts and exhale for 5 as well. Continue breathing in and out in counts in counts of 5. You can also switch it up by changing the length of the breather to shorter or longer counts.
Note: The important thing is to keep the counts similar and focus on the quality and sound of your breath. As you continue to practice Pranayama, you refine your breathing ability and become aware of the prana, life force flow in your body.
3. Perform the breathing exercise for 20 minutes and close your meditation session with 10 minutes in a Savasana pose or corpse pose.
Here’s a video of the breathing basics of Pranayama from Aparajita Jamwal
Additional Information: Pranayama is low stress and has zero-impact with the poses involved but as with all therapies, check with your doctor first. Avoid Pranayama if you are on your period or a pregnant. People with a recent history of a heart attack and low blood pressure should also avoid Pranayama without a go-ahead from their medical professional.
Qigong also spelled Chi Kung, is a meditation technique that focuses on bringing balance to one’s qi or life force through breathing, meditation, and movement. The practice began in China and is Daoist in origin.
By restoring the flow of qi, vitality is renewed, improving the function of the organs, relieving stress, and improving sleep.
How To Do Qigong
1. You can do this meditation standing or seated on the floor. It is important to make sure your spine is straight but not holding tension.
2. Close your eyes as you relax your body. Take deep, long breaths exhaling softly. Focus on your breaths to calm your mind.
3. Focus your attention to your abdomen or “lower dantien.” This is where your qi is stored.”
4. Meditate on your dantien and harness your energy by moving your arms and hands in slow, deliberate movements.
5. Finish your session by relaxing and returning to your breathing – deep, long breaths and exhaling softly.
Here is a variation of Qigong meditation called Standing Pole Qigong demonstrated by David James Lees.
Additional Information: As mentioned above, Qigong has many therapeutic uses. It is very low-impact, can be done sitting down or standing up. This is ideal for the elderly and those recovering from injury as the movements (if you will incorporate the poses into the routine) are very fluid and easy on the joints.
17. Self-Inquiry Meditation
Self-inquiry, sometimes called “Who Am I” is the literal translation of atma vichara. This meditation helps the meditator find answers to the questions of self that leads to a true, intimate knowledge of our true being.
Compared to other meditation which aims to cultivate mindful awareness, relax the body and quiet the mind, Self-Inquiry is focused on uncovering who we are.
Self-Inquiry does not require any special postures or breathing techniques, although, it is practical to follow the basic guidelines of meditation posture.
Here is a good introduction to and a simple guided Self-Inquiry meditation by Mooji.
Additional Information: Self-Inquiry may seem heavy if you have no experience or knowledge about meditation. You can get started with basic meditation techniques (see our meditation tips at the end of the article) and follow along to guided meditation videos to get direction until you feel confident to do it on your own.
18. Sufi Meditation
Sufi Meditation is a practice in Islam and includes mantra meditation (zikr), breathing meditation, gazing meditation, walking meditation, and whirling meditation. For this introduction, let’s look at zikr.
Zikr is similar to Contemplative Meditation and may use prayer beads and the repetition of the names of God, Allah, or his attributes.
Some examples would be Allah hu (“God, just He”) and La ilaha illa ‘llah (“There is no God but God”).
How To Do a Sufi Meditation or Zikr
Zikr (also dhikr) is essentially prayer. Set aside a time and place where you can perform zikr in solitude and without disturbance. Sufis recommend performing zikr for 15 minutes, up to 3 times a day.
1. Sit in the kneeling pose. You may use a cushion or a prayer mat to lessen the strain on your knees.
2. Sit in quiet contemplation with your eyes closed. Take deep breaths, exhaling slowly and focusing your thoughts on specific attributes of Allah – He is merciful, He is forgiving, He is.
Note: You can find the 99 names and attributes of Allah here.
3. Synchronize your breath and recite the names or attributes you wish to focus on after each exhalation.
4. Sit in contemplation after your session and let the quiet and peace guide you through the rest of the day.
Watch this video for the general guidelines and intention setting when performing zikr and dhikr.
Additional Information: Sufism is a mystical part of Islam and Muslims take this seriously. Do not approach in the spirit of trying out as an experience. It is also important to decide on your intentions when taking up Sufi meditation.
The practice of Tantra has been promoted and identified as “tantric sex.” Tantra offers much more than that. One benefit of Tantra is the deepening of your connection to your energy, your body, and ultimately, your partner.
Tantra combines the use of asana (poses), mantra (chants), mudra (hand positions), and bandha (energy lock) and chakra (energy center) to build strength, clarity, and peace in daily life.
You can check out a simple daily meditation technique in the first video or follow along to this meditation technique for couples in this video.
20. Taoist Emptiness Meditation
Emptiness meditation is another Taoist (Daoist) meditation practice. It is called Zuowang. Emptiness meditation aims to forget about everything by emptying the self of thoughts and feelings and be in a state of detachment from the cares of the world and achieving objectivity and focus.
Emptiness Meditation’s aim is not to clear the mind to a blank state but to help you focus on one thing as your anchor.
How To Perform Emptiness Meditation
1. Sit in a meditation posture. You can assume the lotus position or sit in a chair. Take care of your posture, keep the spine straight, the shoulders relaxed, and the chin slightly tucked in.
2. Take deep breaths and exhale slowly. The air should fill your lower abdomen and contract as you exhale.
3. Observe the breath as it comes in through your nose and goes out of your mouth. Count each breath going from 1 to 3 and then restarting at one.
4. Be mindful of the thoughts going through your mind. When you notice a point where there is no thought as you transition between 2 thoughts, focus gently on those periods pause until the pause is longer. Eventually, your thoughts will cease as you become more adept at focusing on the pause.
Watch this video to help you get a better understanding of the process of Emptiness Meditation.
Additional Information: Daoist-based meditation is easier for people who have a strong connection to nature and are in tune with their bodies.
21. Third Eye Meditation
Third Eye Meditation is another one of the branches of Yoga. It overlaps with Trataka and Chakra meditations. The objective of Third Eye meditation is to gain the ability to sense objects and energies and develop intuition. Additional benefits of developing your third eye include better focus and improved creativity.
You can refer to the steps in the Chakra meditation with a focus on the 6th chakra, the Ajna (third eye) chakra. Some additional tips are to introduce indigo, deep blues, and purple to the area where you will be meditating. Visualize the color as you meditate as it is said to be the color of the Third eye’s aura and use “sham” as your mantra when meditating.
Additional information: Take into consideration your emotional and mental readiness to take on Third Eye Meditation. It is advisable to seek guidance from an experienced meditator to teach you the proper techniques and provide emotional support.
22. Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental meditation was taught by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is a form of Mantra Meditation. The Maharishi gained fame from being a spiritual guru to celebrities like the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
The meditation aims to promote self-realization and harmony, as well as relieve stress by repeating a personal mantra. The mantra is chosen by the guru you are learning from based on your age and gender. The meditation is done twice a day, seated in the lotus position, and with the eyes closed.
Transcendental Meditation is only available under a training program form the Maharishi’s organization and his certified TM Teachers. Learn more about the program from the official TM website.
Additional Information: Many people swear by the life-changing effects of Transcendental Meditation. There have been scientific studies conducted on its efficacy and benefits some of which you can find on the TM website. One thing that detracts from Transcendental Meditation is that it’s very expensive – $1,500 for training and lessons. If the cost is an issue, you can try out Mantra Meditation and Natural Stress Reduction as alternatives.
Trataka is a form of Yoga and is also called Gazing Meditation. It is a Sanskrit word which translates to “to look” or “to gaze.” Trataka improves the ability to concentrate and enhances the memory and the ability to focus.
Meditating with the Trataka method uses Baharinga (external gazing) and Antaranga (Internal gazing) to quiet the mind by focusing its attention to a single object. It could be a physical object like a candle flame, as in Baharinga; or a mental picture in your mind’s eye, as in Antaranga.
How To Perform Trataka
1. Sit on the floor and assume the lotus position. Have a lit candle in front of you at an arm’s length away. Make sure that the flame is steady and the room is not drafty.
2. Close your eyes and focus on your mantra (the basic “om” will do) to calm your mind. Open your eyes and look at the brightest spot on the flame without blinking. Do this for 15 seconds and then close your eyes.
3. Concentrate on the flame’s image in your mind’s eye. Keep your focus relaxed so you do not chase the image away.
4. Open your eyes to gaze at the flame again and concentrate on the image in your mind after. Do this 3 times.
5. As you continue to practice, you will be able to gaze at the flame for a minute straight and focus on the flame’s image for 4 minutes.
Note: You can also practice with a black dot, about the size of a pea, on white paper.
A how-to video of Baharinga, external concentrated gazing, with Michael Stebbins
Additional Information: Trataka is an alternative for people who can’t focus their attention and relax their minds with breathing techniques. It is also helpful with strengthening one’s concentration abilities. Trataka also develops intuition and will power.
The practice of Trataka is cautioned against those with schizophrenic tendencies or are prone to hallucinations. If you are myopic or nearsighted, wear your glasses while doing the gazing to avoid eye-strain.
Vipassana is a Pali word that means “Insight.” It originated from Buddhist teachings and is the basis of mindful meditation. The practice of Vipassana is a simple and practical way to attain inner peace and happiness.
How To Perform Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana is done in three phases: The first focuses on the breath, the second is a mindful scan of the body, and the third, the 3 phenomena of impermanence (annicca), no self (anatta) and unsatisfactory nature of things (dukkha). The last is for long-time practitioners of Vipassana.
1. Sit in a comfortable posture, assume the lotus position if you wish.
2. Observe your breath coming in and going out by focusing on the sensation on the area below the nostril.
3. Stay focused on your breath and if your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to the breath.
The breathing exercises can be done for 5-10 minutes.
The second stage of Vipassana starts here:
1. As you continue to breathe, start observing the sensations on the surface of your body.
2. Do a body scan starting on the top of your head to the bottom of your toes with your awareness. Maintaining mindfulness, awareness, and equanimity.
3. You will start noticing the interaction between mind and body with your thoughts becoming sensations and how thoughts and sensations come up and pass away.
This should be done for 20-30 minutes.
The third phase could be done with the help of a teacher. It is suggested that you attend a Vipassana retreat to properly learn this technique.
Additional Information: Vipassana is a good way to get into meditation. Its practice will ground you on the awareness of your body and give you insight into how your mind works. Resources are available online for free or with a minimal fee to learn of its techniques and practices.
25. Walking Meditation
Walking Meditation has its roots in Daoism, Buddhism, and Yoga. Mastering your emotions and focus through walking and breathing is the cornerstone of walking meditation. This meditation type incorporates mindfulness, breathing, and body scanning. Walking calms your mind and helps to ground you, remember there is no destination just being in the present moment.
How To Do A Walking Meditation
1. Find an area you can walk and meditate in. Ideally, it should be a low-traffic area so you will not be distracted from your meditation. Also, check that the general path is free from rocks and other blockages that may cause you to stumble.
Pro tip: A long hallway in your home or a secluded spot in your backyard will do.
2. Start walking by taking 10 to 15 steps along the path you chose. As you reach the end, pause and take deep breaths. When you are ready, walk back to the opposite end of the path. Continue walking back and forth through the path ensuring you pause and breathe at the end before making your way back.
Note: Make your steps deliberate in a slow, measured pace.
3. Take stock of your body and notice the sensations going through it as you take your steps. Have awareness for what you feel when you lift your foot; when you bring down your foot and rest your foot on the ground; and when you shift your weight to the other foot.
4. Focus your attention when your mind wanders by concentrating on your breath and the movement of your feet. Keep your speed slow and constant. Ease out of your meditation by stilling and thinking about how you can use mindful awareness in your life.
Walking meditations usually last 10 to 15 minutes.
Additional Information: Walking meditation is recommended for people who are not comfortable sitting for long periods. It also is non-threatening for those who have no idea what meditation is. Plus, walking is a no-brainer and you do not need to learn anything new.
26. Zen Meditation
Zen meditation comes from the Japanese word “Zazen” meaning “sitting meditation.” It is Japanese in origin but traces its roots to Chinese Zen Buddhism. Zen meditation is spiritual and its practice helps to give clarity and awakening of the mind. The practice of Zen meditation brings does not try to look for solutions to the world’s problems. Instead, it tries to address the real source of unhappiness and shift our focus to a true understanding of life and happiness.
How To Perform Zen Meditation
Zen meditation uses 3 techniques: Observation of the breath, quiet awareness, and group meditation.
1. Set aside time and area for you to do your meditation in. You may sit on the floor in the lotus position or on a chair. If you will use a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your back does not rest on the chair’s backrest.
2. Keep the spine straight but not stiff. Stretch your back by swaying side to side as you take deep breaths to expand your chest.
3. Your head should be straight not leaning forward or to the side with your chin tucked slightly. Place your hands on your lap with the right palm up and the left laid in the palm of your right hand and the thumbs lightly touching. Keep your eyes half-closed to soften your focus.
4. Breathe in through your nose, filling your lower belly with air and slowly releasing through your mouth. Count each breath–1 in, 2 out, 3 in, and so on–until you reach ten and start at one again. You can focus on your breathing and have awareness on the breath filling and emptying your lower abdomen.
5. As you end your meditation, make small movements from side to side to wake up your body. Sit in stillness for a while and then slowly get up.
For a demonstration of the positions and breathing techniques, watch this video from the Yokoji Zen Mountain Center.
Additional Information: Zen Meditation is a formal and very structured practice with poses, chanting, and reading from the teachings of Buddha. It is for people looking for the authenticity of a rigid meditation experience.
Some Simple Meditation Tips For Beginners
Starting a new habit can be overwhelming.
Here are some simple steps to follow and tips to keep in mind when meditating
Start small. Again, getting into meditation may be overwhelming for some so take baby steps. 5 minutes a day will do wonders for your concentration and is all you need to get your dose of daily mindful awareness.
Be consistent. Do it every day, ideally at the same time to establish a routine. Associating a set time with the activity programs the habit into your body, mind, and schedule.
Don’t rush it. Meditation should bring you calm, center you, and keep your focus. Jumping out of bed and getting all worked up because you have less than 3 minutes before you start meditating and you haven’t had breakfast yet or did your morning ablutions is counterproductive.
Turn off distractions. Put away your phone and any tech that will take your attention away from what you are doing – focusing and finding your center.
Find your quiet spot and be comfortable. You can meditate indoors or outdoors. If you get distracted easily start indoors where you can have control of who comes in or turn off the devices that may potentially distract you. Sit on the floor or on a chair and keep your spine straight. You should be comfortable but not too comfortable that you fall asleep.
Relax. Close your eyes and start breathing through your nose. Do not regulate your breathing. You would be conscious of your breath at the beginning but as you practice and get used to it, it will be second nature.
Focus on your breath. Pay attention to what your body feels. Observe without judgment. If you have difficulty focusing on your breath, count your breaths until you reach 5.
Calmly refocus when your mind wanders. It will happen. Even the most experienced meditators find their thoughts straying off the path. When this happens, focus on your breathing and you’ll be back in the zone.
Set a timer to signal the end of your session. Your smartphone should work for this. You can turn off your phone and program the alarm to go off at a specific time. Set the tone to something soft and soothing to transition you to full alertness. Cap your session with a good stretch.
Keep doing it. Practice, practice, and practice some more. This is a lifestyle and is not something you can do once and scratch off your list. The mindfulness you develop is a way of life, continue doing it and reap the benefits.
So Which Meditation Type Should You Do First?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to meditation.
Approach the selection and decision based on what you want to achieve, the time you have available, and the level of knowledge you possess about a particular meditation type or technique.
With the available resources out there, the glut of information may be overwhelming for some.
Start with the basics of Mindfulness or Pranayam to get you comfortable with mindful awareness and the proper breathing technique. Once you have these two learned, the rest would be easy to adapt to.
Another perspective to look at is through your level of spirituality. Some people are open and perceptive to the esoteric and will naturally gravitate to Yogic techniques such as Chakra or Tantra.
Others have a stronger connection to nature and would probably respond positively to Qigong ar any of the Daoist meditations.
Lastly, there are those who have a deep rooted devotion to their faith, if this is you, you may want to try any of the faith-based meditations mentioned above – Kabbalah, Sufi, or Contemplative Meditation.
Whatever you decide, you are on the right track to a better awareness of yourself, your emotions, and inner peace.
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Greater Good In Action staff (n.d.) Body Scan Meditation. Retrieved from https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/body_scan_meditation#data-tab-why_you_should_try_it
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