Meditation can sometimes be misunderstood by people who feel that it seems inactive or boring. Other people are so used to the daily buzz that they don’t think it’s possible for them to sit silently for a period of time. Others still feel like they’re just TOO busy to meditate, even for a few minutes.
However, there are a multitude of ways to meditate, with options that can fit just about any lifestyle. Here are a few forms of meditation for practitioners of any concentration level, schedule, and interest in meditative spirituality.
This is the simple practice of directing well-wishes toward other people. To practice, sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and imagine what you want for your life. Start by directing phrases at yourself, such as “I wish to feel more peace.” After this, you extend well-wishes toward other people, and determine what positive hopes you have for them. These visualizations go beyond just friends or even people you feel neutral about, and reach out to people whom you don’t generally care for, in order to spread happiness to your surrounding world. This type of meditation has been shown to increase positivity, empathy, and kindness.
Best for: Those struggling with low self-esteem; those looking to become more empathetic to people around them.
There are several forms of moving meditation that can help people who like to multitask, or those who struggle sit still. Exercises such as Yoga or Tai Chi encourage people to move their bodies at a deliberate pace, all while focusing their attention inward in order to really connect their minds and bodies as one. Even walking can be a means of meditation if you simply focus your attention on your mind and body. During any form of moving meditation, it’s important to keep the body in continual motion, in order to maintain the mind-body connection.
Best for: Busy people; athletes.
This style of meditation is centered on the idea that we are made of seven different “energy centers,” each of which is located in a different part of the body. These energy centers, or chakras, are associated with a different color, sound and purpose. Mediation involving one’s chakras often uses sound, touch, and visualization to hone in on a specific area of the body, and heal any issues or heavy emotions that dwell there. Many people who practice yoga believe in chakra meditation, and use it as a supplement to their yoga practice.
Best for: Spiritual individuals; yoga practitioners.
Also called “Insight Meditation,” Vipassana Insight Meditation is the practice of paying close attention to sensation. It emphasizes awareness of breath, and teaches you to focus your attention on the thoughts that arise while you breathe in and out through the nose. No matter your thoughts, it asks you to allow them to flow through you without taking them too seriously, and then gently return your awareness back to your breath. This is the most common type of meditation that is offered at silent meditation retreats.
Best for: Beginners; those looking to attend a silent retreat.
Open Monitoring Meditation
Experienced practitioners see this as an actual purpose to meditation, and not a form of meditation itself. Open Monitoring Meditation encourages turning their focus on their awareness itself, rather than focus on one’s breath or their thoughts. One way to accomplish this might be to sit or lay down, and simply listen to the goings-on in the world around you. You might notice the weight of your body as it distributes onto your chair or the ground, or you can listen to the sounds outside of your window that were only background noise until now. Your state of awareness is heightened as you really start to pay attention to each passing car, gust of wind, or cool breeze. This type of meditation really enhances your connection to the world around you, and helps to calm your mind as you own racing thoughts become more still.
Best for: Busy thinkers; those who struggle to sit still.