Meditation is an ancient practice that has experienced a boom in popularity in Western countries in recent decades. For those people who initiated in the meditation practice, it can be a little confusing 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 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 short, these are some benefits of meditation:
- It increases your self-knowledge: some forms of meditation help you reflect on your own experience.
- Mitigates the effects of stress: it helps to find calm and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
- It positively affects the immune system: it has positive effects on general health.
- It improves the capacity of attention and concentration: it works on self-awareness and focus.
- 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
- Promotes positive thinking: 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 are there? What do the different ways of meditating bring to us? You can learn more about the different kinds of meditation in the following lines:
Guided meditation is a tool that allows us, through words and images, to let go of negative emotions such as pain, stress, and everyday worries, helping us to connect with our inner selves.
This technique has become increasingly popular. On the one hand, because of the need to manage the stress of today’s society and, on the other hand, because it is a tool that can easily be applied daily with the right help.
How guided meditation performed is quite simple. A person who acts as an expert in meditation, such as a guru or a spiritual guide, is responsible for offering a series of instructions to help interested people achieve a state of relaxation.
The person who leads the meditation helps to focus on the personal goals of the person who comes to him or her. These goals can be a better emotional state in general, the acceptance of a situation in which one has no control or psychological preparation towards a concrete objective. This is why it is often used in the training of elite athletes.
To carry it out, you can attend specialized workshops and gyms, but there is also the possibility of doing it from home because you do not need much space or too many resources to meditate. On the Internet, you can find hundreds of videos explaining different types of meditation, as well as CDs, videos, and very detailed books.
Primordial Sound Meditation
Primordial Sound Meditation is a mantra-based meditation technique rooted in the Vedic tradition of India. A mantra is a phrase that is repeated to help us reach the state of relaxation and internalization that promotes the meditative state. Mantras are not random phrases but are sacred sounds that ancient sages used for their reflective practice because they possess high harmonizing power.
Even though this type of meditation is thousands of years old, Deepak Chopra and David Simon revived this ancient practice. They created a meditation program based on mantras that anyone can practice, which is why it is so prevalent in the West today. During meditation, it is necessary to repeat this mantra silently, because it creates a vibration that allows you to place yourself 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.
Vipassana meditation is often referred to as “insight” meditation and allows one to see things as they 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 coming in and out through the nose. It also focuses on labeling thoughts and experiences as they arise.
Whenever a thought or emotion 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.
The translation of the Japanese word “Zazen” means “sitting meditation. Many people, when they visualize meditation, imagine a person on the floor with their 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 skills of the environment, as in Vipassana meditation, there are some differences between the two types of meditation. One significant 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 particular attention to the straight spine, the chin down, and the hands placed in a unique position on the belly. In Zazen meditation, the eyes should always be open, with a deep gaze, and in Vipassana, there are no strict rules for gazing, although it is customary to keep the eyes closed. Zen meditation recommended for those who already have previous experience with meditation practice.
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.
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 compelling, primarily 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.