Which Type of Meditation is Right For Me & What are its Benefits?

Understanding What Meditation Is All About?

The practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years. It has been used successfully to develop an awareness of the present, to sharpen attention and focus, to develop a connection between the body and breath, to develop an acceptance of difficult emotions, and to even change your consciousness. Meditation has been found to offer a wide range of psychological and physical benefits like improved immunity, stress and anxiety reduction, and offer a sense of calm, peace, and inner harmony.(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

In our busy and demanding lives, meditation offers a solution to reduce stress and anxiety. Although there is no right or wrong way to meditate, if you want to benefit from meditation, it is important to find a meditation technique that meets your individual needs.

Here are the most popular types of meditation practice:

As mentioned above, not all meditation techniques will be right for everyone. It may take some trial and error to find out which practice is the right one for you. Remember to practice the one that makes you feel comfortable, and you feel encouraged to keep practicing it.

Which Type of Meditation is Right For Me?

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of meditation to find out which type of meditation is right for you.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation

    Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular forms of Buddhist teachings. This is also the most researched type of meditation that is widely practiced in the West. In mindfulness meditation, you need to pay attention to your thoughts as they cross your mind. Mindfulness focuses on not judging your thoughts or becoming involved with them. You are simply meant to observe and take notes of your thought patterns.(6,7)

    The practice of mindfulness meditation brings together concentration with awareness. You may also find it helpful to focus on a particular object or on your breath while you observe your thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations. Mindfulness meditation is ideal for people who do not have a teacher to guide them as it can be learned and practiced easily at home by yourself.(8, 9)

  2. Spiritual Meditation

    Spiritual meditation is a popular form of meditation that is used across all religions and cultures. There are many types of spiritual meditation, and many of the other types of meditation techniques may also be considered as a spiritual meditation.

    According to a study carried out in 2017, the focus of spiritual meditation is on the development of a deeper understanding of spiritual or religious meaning or building a connection with a higher power.(10) Some examples of spiritual meditation include:(11)

    • Sufi dhikr (remembrance of God)
    • Jewish kabbalistic practices
    • Christian contemplative prayer

    You can practice spiritual meditation at home or at your place of worship. This form of meditation is best for people who are seeking spiritual growth and want to build a deeper connection with a higher power or spiritual force.(12)

  3. Movement Meditation

    Most people tend to think of yoga when they hear of movement meditation. However, movement meditation might include:

    Movement meditation is an active form of meditation where the movement leads you into building a deep connection with your body while also focusing on the present moment.

    Movement meditation is perfect for those people who find peace in action and are interested in developing a deeper awareness of their bodies.(13)

  4. Focused Meditation

    The technique of focused meditation revolves around concentration while using any of your five senses. For example, you can focus on an internal influence like your breath, or you can bring in external factors to help you focus your attention. Some examples of focused meditation include:

    • Listening to a gong
    • Counting mala beads
    • Staring at a candle flame
    • Gazing at the moon
    • Counting your breaths

    While the practice of focused meditation might sound simple in theory, but it is difficult for beginners to hold their focus for more than a couple of minutes when they are just starting out. True to its name, focused meditation is ideal for those who want to build their attention and increase their focus.(14,15)

  5. Transcendental Meditation

    Transcendental Meditation (TM) is another very popular form of meditation, especially in the West. This type of meditation has been the subject of several studies by the scientific community, and its benefits are well proven.(16)

    Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded transcendental meditation. This type of meditation refers to a particular practice designed to quieten the mind and further induce a state of peace and calm within. Transcendental meditation makes use of mantras, and it is best if this type of meditation is learned from a certified TM practitioner.(17)

    Transcendental meditation is perfect for those people who want an accessible approach to the depth of mind and peace that meditation offers.

What are the Benefits of Meditation?

Over the years, there has been plenty of evidence to support the numerous health benefits of all types of meditation. Meditation offers many mental/emotional, as well as general health benefits. Some of these include:

  • Better sleep
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better mood
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Better emotional regulation
  • Reduced aggression
  • Healthier aging process
  • Enhanced ability to adapt
  • Greater sense of empathy
  • Better ability to connect with others

A review carried out in 2017 found that non-transcendental meditation was a good alternative remedy for reducing diastolic and systolic blood pressure.(18) At the same time, a 2019 review discovered that mindfulness-based techniques were effective in reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in employees who participated in mindfulness programs at their workplace.(19)

Meditation has also been shown to promote prosocial behaviors and emotions, reduce aggression, and improve mood and focus, while also promoting positive coping strategies during stressful times.(20, 21, 22, 23) Another 2018 review also suggested that meditation techniques can help in healthier aging.(24)

No matter what type of meditation you practice, the regular practice has been found to help with the symptoms of many medical conditions, including:

Meditation has been found to be especially helpful in the treatment of depression. A 2019 review found that mindfulness-based meditation brings about many positive changes and effects in a person that lasts for up to six months or more.(30) The same review also found that the lack of adverse effects of meditation makes it a promising supplemental therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Conclusion

So regardless of whether you want to reduce your stress levels or you are on the path of spiritual enlightenment, there is a right meditation type for everyone. Do not be afraid to try out the different kinds of meditation that are there. You can even take help from a teacher or professional practitioner to help you understand the basics of how to begin meditating. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and remember that it usually takes some trial and error before you find the best meditation type for yourself.

References:

  1. Monk-Turner, E., 2003. The benefits of meditation: experimental findings. The Social Science Journal, 40(3), pp.465-470.
  2. Chu, L.C., 2010. The benefits of meditation vis‐à‐vis emotional intelligence, perceived stress and negative mental health. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 26(2), pp.169-180.
  3. Van Vugt, M.K., 2015. Cognitive benefits of mindfulness meditation. Handbook of mindfulness: Theory, research, and practice, pp.190-207.
  4. Saeed, S.A., Cunningham, K. and Bloch, R.M., 2019. Depression and anxiety disorders: benefits of exercise, yoga, and meditation. American family physician, 99(10), pp.620-627.
  5. Anderson, T., Suresh, M. and Farb, N.A., 2019. Meditation benefits and drawbacks: empirical codebook and implications for teaching. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 3(2), pp.207-220.
  6. Schreiner, I. and Malcolm, J.P., 2008. The benefits of mindfulnes meditation: Changes in emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Behaviour Change, 25(3), pp.156-168.
  7. Van Vugt, M.K., 2015. Cognitive benefits of mindfulness meditation. Handbook of mindfulness: Theory, research, and practice, pp.190-207.
  8. Davis, D.M. and Hayes, J.A., 2011. What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), p.198.
  9. Charoensukmongkol, P., 2014. Benefits of mindfulness meditation on emotional intelligence, general self-efficacy, and perceived stress: Evidence from Thailand. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 16(3), pp.171-192.
  10. Burke, A., Lam, C.N., Stussman, B. and Yang, H., 2017. Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the United States. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 17(1), pp.1-18.
  11. Merton, T., 1960. Spiritual direction and meditation. Liturgical Press.
  12. Wachholtz, A.B. and Austin, E.T., 2013. Contemporary spiritual meditation: Practices and outcomes.
  13. Astin, J.A., Berman, B.M., Bausell, B., Lee, W.L., Hochberg, M. and Forys, K.L., 2003. The efficacy of mindfulness meditation plus Qigong movement therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of rheumatology, 30(10), pp.2257-2262.
  14. Hasenkamp, W., Wilson-Mendenhall, C.D., Duncan, E. and Barsalou, L.W., 2012. Mind wandering and attention during focused meditation: a fine-grained temporal analysis of fluctuating cognitive states. Neuroimage, 59(1), pp.750-760.
  15. Menezes, C.B., de Paula Couto, M.C., Buratto, L.G., Erthal, F., Pereira, M.G. and Bizarro, L., 2013. The improvement of emotion and attention regulation after a 6-week training of focused meditation: A randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
  16. Orme-Johnson, D.W. and Barnes, V.A., 2014. Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(5), pp.330-341.
  17. Tm.org. 2022. How does TM work?. [online] Available at: <https://www.tm.org/transcendental-meditation> [Accessed 1 January 2022].
  18. Shi, L., Zhang, D., Wang, L., Zhuang, J., Cook, R. and Chen, L., 2017. Meditation and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of hypertension, 35(4), pp.696-706.
  19. Heckenberg, R.A., Eddy, P., Kent, S. and Wright, B.J., 2018. Do workplace-based mindfulness meditation programs improve physiological indices of stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 114, pp.62-71.
  20. Luberto, C.M., Shinday, N., Song, R., Philpotts, L.L., Park, E.R., Fricchione, G.L. and Yeh, G.Y., 2018. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of meditation on empathy, compassion, and prosocial behaviors. Mindfulness, 9(3), pp.708-724.
  21. Luu, K. and Hall, P.A., 2017. Examining the acute effects of hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation on executive function and mood. Mindfulness, 8(4), pp.873-880.
  22. DeSteno, D., Lim, D., Duong, F. and Condon, P., 2018. Meditation inhibits aggressive responses to provocations. Mindfulness, 9(4), pp.1117-1122.
  23. Jones, D.R., Lehman, B.J., Noriega, A. and Dinnel, D.L., 2019. The effects of a short-term mindfulness meditation intervention on coping flexibility. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 32(4), pp.347-361.
  24. Conklin, Q.A., Crosswell, A.D., Saron, C.D. and Epel, E.S., 2019. Meditation, stress processes, and telomere biology. Current opinion in psychology, 28, pp.92-101.
  25. Marquez, P.H.P., Feliu-Soler, A., Solé-Villa, M.J., Matas-Pericas, L., Filella-Agullo, D., Ruiz-Herrerias, M., Soler-Ribaudi, J., Coll, A.R.C. and Arroyo-Díaz, J.A., 2019. Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension. Journal of human hypertension, 33(3), pp.237-247.
  26. Khalsa, D.S., 2015. Stress, meditation, and Alzheimer’s disease prevention: where the evidence stands. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 48(1), pp.1-12.
  27. Son, H.G. and Choi, E.O., 2018. The effects of mindfulness meditation-based complex exercise program on motor and nonmotor symptoms and quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Asian nursing research, 12(2), pp.145-153.
  28. Ong, J.C., Xia, Y., Smith-Mason, C.E. and Manber, R., 2018. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia: Effects on daytime symptoms and cognitive-emotional arousal. Mindfulness, 9(6), pp.1702-1712.
  29. Mitchell, J.T., McIntyre, E.M., English, J.S., Dennis, M.F., Beckham, J.C. and Kollins, S.H., 2017. A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotion dysregulation. Journal of attention disorders, 21(13), pp.1105-1120.
  30. Saeed, S.A., Cunningham, K. and Bloch, R.M., 2019. Depression and anxiety disorders: benefits of exercise, yoga, and meditation. American family physician, 99(10), pp.620-627.

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