Many of us may begin revisiting our self-development goals for inner peace and happiness and find that we’ve fallen a bit short.
Maybe you had a resolution or goal to begin meditating regularly and haven’t quite gotten around to starting yet. If this sounds like you, don’t worry! It’s not too late to begin.
Perhaps the most common reason we tend to put off starting a mindfulness or meditation practice is lack of knowledge. Choosing the right style of meditation as a beginner can feel like a pretty daunting task.
Exploring the world of meditation and mindfulness doesn’t need to be overwhelming or confusing. In reality, it’s actually quite simple! According to many renowned spiritual centers, there are five basic types of meditation that are considered best for beginners.
Each type has a slightly different focus and unique set of advantages that will help you find your zen and advance along your quest for more peace and balance in your life. Now, who doesn’t want that?
Guided meditation eliminates the pressure of having to immediately jump into a completely silent meditation and instead uses vocal guidance to lead you through a meditation session.
These sessions often feature a theme, such as healing, manifesting, or self-improvement, and can be done with an in-person meditation instructor or using recordings.
For example, your guided meditation instructor might use a relaxing narrative that engages your imagination and brings your attention to the present moment.
Best for: Guided meditation is especially great for anyone who likes the feeling of being led through the experience, or for beginners feeling a bit insecure. It’s also great for those with active imaginations, since guided meditation often asks you to paint vivid stories within your mind.
Benefits: The major benefits of guided meditation are that it’s typically far less intimidating than being immediately left alone with only your thoughts. This method can help focus distracted minds and can also bring additional clarity when it comes to making difficult life decisions.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
In general, mindfulness refers to the practice of simply focusing on the present moment. It can be done anytime and anywhere, whether it’s while walking, eating, showering, or during any activity where you can bring your attention to the world around you.
Mindfulness practice originates in Buddhist philosophy and because it is an ongoing approach to daily living, it can really have a huge impact in your life. This approach asks you to observe and accept what is happening in the present moment without judgement, and then release it.
By doing this, we allow life to flow freely by focusing our attention on the positive aspects of our life and releasing what does not help our growth. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to choose moments throughout the day aimed at bringing your attention back to the present moment.
Best for: Mindfulness meditation is an easy technique that can be utilized by just about anyone. It is a wonderful option for individuals with busy lives or limited resources who still want to add meditation to their lives. It is also a beneficial method for anyone who is easily stressed or constantly “stuck” in their heads, as mindfulness consistently brings you back to the present moment throughout the day.
Benefits: An ongoing mindfulness meditation practice can help improve overall well-being, promote better focus on the present moment, increase self-awareness, allow you to better manage stress, and just generally feel happier in your life overall.
3. Deep Breathing Meditation
This type of meditation is largely focused on the strong connection between the body and mind and uses deep breathing techniques to bring your focus and attention back into your physical body.
We often forget how irrevocably intertwined our mind and body is, from increased heart rate during stressful moments to digestive problems linked to anxiety. Whenever life gets overly stressful or chaotic, it helps to break our normal pattern of overthinking by returning to our “center,” our breath. In meditation, the breath is considered the foundation upon which all else is built.
This style of meditation can be done through self-guided meditation or guided recordings where an instructor leads your breathing patterns.
Best for: If you want to feel immediate benefits from your meditation practice, this style of meditation may be a great choice to start with. The relaxing physical rewards of this technique can often be felt right away and it can do wonders for anyone feeling highly stressed or chronically anxious. By using consistent breathing patterns, this method can be excellent for anyone who feels a bit out of touch with their physical body.
Benefits: A regular deep breathing practice can help you become more in tune with the connection between your mind and body. It improves physical health, reduces stress, clears the mind of unnecessary worry, and has a revitalizing effect on the body. It can also help you make better, more conscious decisions.
4. Loving-Kindness Meditation
This style of meditation is a contemplative practice used to develop compassion and is centered around using certain images, words, and feelings to instill a feeling of love for ourselves and others.
Centered in Buddhist tradition, the purpose of loving-kindness meditation is to cultivate greater love and compassion through meditative techniques of visualization and heart-centered focus. It begins first with unconditional love for ourselves, because without this, we cannot extend love outwards towards others. It then continues onto garnering a greater respect and non-judgemental understanding for everyone else in our lives and in the world.
Best for: Despite the fact that the concept behind loving-kindness meditation originates in Buddhist philosophy, it can be adjusted to apply to anyone looking to expand their view of the world, regardless of your religion or beliefs. Loving-kindness meditation can also help anyone in need of healing, including individuals who are particularly hard on themselves, or those struggling with low self-image, guilt, or difficult personal relationships.
Benefits: This type of meditation increases empathy, compassion, wisdom and kindness, and promotes greater understanding of ourselves and our innate connections to all living beings on the planet. It can improve relationships and social connections, promote better overall mental health, and increase self-love.
5. Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation uses words, sounds, or phrases to center and balance the mind. Some mantras have a specific purpose (such as aiding on the path of enlightenment) and others are used for their specific sound or vibrational frequency.
The idea behind this type of meditation is that by focusing on a chosen ‘mantra’ (meaning “vehicle or instrument of the mind”), the meditator will be able to harvest the full power of their mind and be fully aware in the present moment.
Mantras can be repeated both silently or out loud and are often used by monks during meditation to reach higher levels of consciousness or trance-like states.
Best for: This practice is best suited for meditators who enjoy a more structured environment or for those with a wandering mind that may benefit from the repetitive nature of mantras. It is also a great choice for studious types with a thirst for knowledge, as there are many different types of mantras that can be learned, or for meditators serious about reaching higher levels of consciousness.
Benefits: Mantra-centered meditation can greatly assist anyone seeking to understand their deepest desires, and can also help greatly reduce stress, improve overall health, and improve discipline and focus.