You’re sitting on the floor in a dimly lit room. Your legs are crossed and eyes are closed as you try to be silent. You hold your arms at 90 degree angles at your sides so that your forearms are just above your legs. Your fingers? They stick straight out while you ensure that the tips of your index finger and thumb touch, ever so gently.
Your back is straight. Your head is steady. You close your eyes; inhale softly, but deeply; and let out of melodic, “Huuummmmmm.”
Is this your vision of meditation? A ritualistic, forced, and awkward display of silence, stillness, and strange humming that is supposed to increase your mental and spiritual depth?
These stereotypical images of meditation do not tell the full story. Meditation is a diverse practice with several styles and techniques.
And people don’t just sit on the ground to listen to themselves hum.
Many people practice meditation as a way to transform their mental state. Meditation is believed to:
- Reduce stress
- Improve concentration
- Increase self-awareness
- Increase happiness
- Slow aging
Those who practice meditation, swear by it and truly believe that it improves all aspects of their lives.
For many, meditation is a key component in their wellness routines, and they make time for it daily.
While meditation has a reputation for being a rigid and inflexible practice that is only suitable for people with lots of free time, the opposite could not be more true.
There is a lot of flexibility throughout meditation practices and they can be suitable for people at all stages of life.
If you are new to meditation, or are looking to diversify your practice, try some of these meditation varieties to help you find your niche and connect with yourself.
Meditation for Kids
Did you think that meditation was just for adults? Children can also benefit from learning meditation. Some even argue that children can more easily achieve deeper states of meditation than adults, because they have fewer preconceived notions and biases about life.
Meditation is believed to help children regulate their emotions, achieve cognitive growth, foster self-esteem, and enhance empathy. To get the most out of meditation, it is important for children to get in the habit of practicing daily.
Help your child develop a healthy meditation practice by:
- Dedicating a special area in your home to meditation. This will give him or her a sense of ownership and pride in the meditation practice and should increase enthusiasm for it.
- Teach your child breathing exercises that follow fun, rhythmic music.
- Include meditation time in your child’s daily schedule. That way, they can anticipate it, making it feel like a normal practice in their lives.
- Quietly read stories to your child and have them close their eyes and quietly envision themselves taking the path of lead character.
Parents can also use child meditation as an alternative to traditional – and often ineffective – punishment techniques.
For example, instead isolating a misbehaving child through time-out or grounding, try reinforcing the principles of meditation to help them recognise their behaviors and avoid negative ones in the future.
With some practice, child meditation can be beneficial for the whole family!
The goal of transcendental meditation is to transcend above your state of being. In doing so, the practitioner aims to avoid distracting thoughts and achieve a state of relaxed awareness.
Transcendental meditation is amongst the most flexible forms of meditation. Each person’s practice will vary based on his or her personality and life circumstances. Because of the flexibility and personalisation involved in transcendental meditation, it is best for individuals to learn this craft from a certified practitioner.
Certified teachers can help you develop your practice and find your mantra. A mantra is a sound or phrase that the meditator focuses on while settling his or her mind into progressively deeper levels of thinking.
Research supports that a properly executed transcendental meditation practice can help relieve stress and anxiety, clear the mind, and promote heart health.
And while it is not always cheap to learn this meditation practice, the benefits to your health and wellness are priceless.
Guided meditation involves an individual or group meditating in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner. The teacher will often give meditation guidance through sound or video, but it is also not uncommon for meditators to practice based on written guidance.
Guided meditations are popular because they provide a sort of meditative community for participants. They are also beneficial for people who are new to meditation and may be uncomfortable with the practice.
Those interested in guided meditations can find lots of free, guided meditation sessions on the internet. You can also find a guided meditation studio to practice in larger groups.
Those who practice guided meditation regularly benefit from decreased inflammation, making guided meditation a great compliment to any pain management regimen.
The practice of mindfulness is everywhere. Due to its growing popularity, more people are taking an active role in improving their wellness and mental states.
But what is mindfulness, exactly?
Simply put, mindfulness is achieving a state of awareness – awareness in the present moment, awareness of your feelings, thoughts, and sensations.
Mindfulness meditation is a tool of mindfulness and helps people achieve a fully conscious state.
Mindfulness meditation is relatively easy to practice and does not require any instruction or guidance. To practice it:
- Sit down
- Focus on your breath
- If your attention strays, refocus
That’s it! Following those steps can help you get to know yourself better and lead to enhanced cognitive abilities, reduced depression, and a stronger immune system.
If you struggle with insomnia or restlessness, sleep meditation might be a great therapy to try.
With sleep meditation, the practitioner achieves the state of being asleep and awake – at the same time. Or, in other words, your body will be completely relaxed, while your mind is completely aware.
This is different from normal sleep, in which the subconscious takes over and you carry all of your stress and worries into your rest. With sleep meditation, you separate yourself from your mental burdens and build the relationship between your mind and body.
While sleep meditation is often performed with audio guidance, you can practice this form of meditation alone by:
- Settling down in a quiet place
- Loosening up and having your mind visit all of the parts of your body
- Relaxing each part of your body as your mind visits it
- Breathing slowly through your nostrils
- Thinking positive and happy thoughts
Doing this will help relax your body to a state of sleep, while keeping your mind fully aware. This meditation method is known to increase calmness and improve sleep.