7 Meditation Styles For Beginners
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Have you decided to give meditation a whirl but are unsure where to start? There are numerous meditation techniques that you can try, but the abundance of information out there can seem confusing and overwhelming, especially to someone who’s just starting out.
In reality, meditation should be simple and straightforward. There is no “right” or “wrong” approach, and it’s important to explore different styles until you find the one that suits you best.
Meditation is an umbrella term for a variety of techniques. While the goal is essentially the same, the difference lies in the focal points used to anchor the attention. The ultimate goal is to integrate what you learn during your meditation experience – awareness, calm, empathy, positivity, peace – into the rest of your day.
To keep things simple and to help you choose the best meditation style for you, here’s a list of the top meditation techniques for beginners:
Note: To be most effective, these techniques should be learned under the guidance of an experienced practitioner or certified teacher.
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If you’re new to meditation and don’t know where to begin, then guided meditation could be the best starting point. As the name suggests, guided meditation is done under the guidance of a trained practitioner or teacher, who can help you get the most out of the practice. This is also the most popular style that you’ll find on a meditation retreat.
The teacher will guide you through a particular meditation technique, using relaxing imagery, visualizations, or sounds to help you focus. You can meditate by going on a retreat, to a class, listen to a recording, or use one of the many guided meditation apps that are now available for download.
Perhaps the most common form of meditation in the West, mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhist teachings and has influenced other meditation practices, such as Vipassana.
Mindfulness teaches practitioners to be aware of everything within them and outside of them. Or, in other words, to be fully present in the here and now, without getting distracted by thoughts of the past or future.
All you have to do is find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit down and allow yourself to concentrate on your breathing; nothing more, nothing less. You simply observe the thoughts and sensations passing through your mind and body, without judgment or extreme emotion. Every time you get distracted by a thought, you just let it go.
The appeal of mindfulness meditation stems from its very open nature – it can be done anywhere, can be practiced while doing any other activity, and it is not necessary to believe in a specific religion or spiritual belief.
Another form of Buddhist meditation, this technique focuses on cultivating positive energy and kindness towards all beings, including yourself.
It can be practiced anywhere, but it’s more common to be done while sitting in a comfortable position. Start by taking a few deep breaths and open your mind to receive loving-kindness. Then, proceed by directing love and kindness towards others and the world. Do this by repeating positive phrases, slowly but steadily, such as “May I be happy”, “May I be well”, “May I be safe”, or “May I be peaceful and at ease”.
You don’t necessarily need to sit still in silence in order to meditate. You can meditate while moving too. Examples of moving meditation include yoga, qigong, Tai chi, walking, hiking, or other nature-based activities.
In walking meditation, you let the movement of the body guide you, focusing your attention on the sensations in the body and mind.
Derived from Zen Buddhism, this meditation style can be very rewarding and relaxing. It is particularly appealing to people who find it difficult to sit still, are very active, and can concentrate better while moving.
Zen meditation, or Zazen, has its origins in Buddhism. It is extremely simple and precise in practice. Zazen means “seated Zen” or “seated meditation”, where the idea is to just sit and observe without any thoughts, judgments, or discrimination.
As the name suggests, this type of meditation pays quite a bit of attention to the way you sit, with many recommending the half-lotus or full-lotus sitting position, although other ways of sitting are acceptable so long as you maintain an upright body posture and your chin tucked slightly in.
The practitioner pays attention to the breath, particularly how it moves in and out of the belly, with the eyes open in a downcast gaze. Simply put, Zen meditation is about “just being”.
The oldest Buddhist meditation practice, Vipassana is also known as “insight meditation”. The practitioners learn to see things in their original nature or “as they really are”.
In Vipassana, practitioners sit in silence and are asked to be a spectator of the world and themselves. The goal of Vipassana is non-reaction – that is, non-reaction towards any experiences that others or we ourselves might experience, whether good or bad.
Some people find it easier to focus on a word instead of their breath. Mantra meditation is a more structured style in which the practitioner focuses on a mantra (a syllable, word, or phrase) to clear the mind. The mantra is repeated to help set intentions, boost awareness, and improve concentration. The subtle vibrations associate with repeating a mantra can help you enter a deep state of meditation and encourage positive change.
Mantras can be spoken, chanted, whispered, or repeated in the mind.
Ready to try your hand at meditation? The best way to delve into the matter is through a retreat! Find a beginner meditation retreat and embark on a life-changing journey!