When you start to look into meditation one of the first things you’re bound to realize is that it actually consists of many different variations. To beginners this often can be quite daunting, as the sheer number of variants that you have to choose between makes it seem as though you will have to spend ages trying to find out which one is best.
The truth is however, that there is no one form of meditation that is ‘best’ and by that same token, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ type of meditation. Each form of meditation has particular strengths, and the right type for you will largely depend on what you hope to gain out of it in the first place.
3 Main Types of Meditation
One of the easiest ways to approach meditation when you first start out is to think of it as consisting of 3 main types. That doesn’t mean that there are only 3 variants, but rather that most tend to fall into these 3 distinct types:
Focused attention meditation
Sometimes also referred to as ‘concentration meditation’, this technique is characterized by focusing on a particular thing throughout the session. While items and objects are often used as focal points, sometimes breathing or even an imaginary image is used instead. As you can probably guess, this type of meditation is often used to enhance concentration and improve focus.
Instead of focusing on a particular thing, a different approach to meditation is to focus on nothing at all and rather simply let your mind flow through thoughts, memories, and idle musings while observing them all. It is also known as ‘open monitoring’, and is often used to increase awareness, provide insights, and even reach a deeper state of relaxation to reduce stress.
In transcendental meditation, the goal is to eliminate all thought and reach a state of emptiness and complete introversion. It is often described as a ‘mantra’ type of meditation but although chanting mantras is often used to help aid in this type of meditation they are not strictly required. Through transcendental meditation it is possible to completely relax, and at the same time discover a pure state of consciousness.
As you can see, each of these types of meditation are distinct in their own way and the approach that you would use differs. It is worth noting that you can find some variants of meditation that merge two (or more) of these types and offer a more rounded approach.
The one thing that you should be able to appreciate now that you know more about the 3 main types of meditation is that you can choose one based on what you hope to attain. If it is focus and concentration, deep relaxation, or a purer state of consciousness – the answer should be clear. Of course you then have to look at the variants of meditation that are of that specific type, and pick one to try out.
Make no mistake, all types of meditation will help you to relax, reduce stress levels, alleviate anxiety, and provide a host of other health benefits at the same time as well. That is why there is really no ‘wrong’ choice here – and the best way to figure out which type of meditation suits you best is to simply try out different variants until you find one that you enjoy.
Simply put it doesn’t matter which type of meditation you first start out with, and what is important is that you do start. One method of meditation that many people find helpful especially when they’re first learning how to perform it is guided meditation – as it can help to have an audio recording that provides you with a structure that you can follow. Irrespective of which option you choose, as you start to meditate and learn the basics you’ll be able to see whether or not it feels right.
If it does – great, and if not you can always try something new. As you explore more and more variants of meditation not only will you find it easier to pick them up, but you’ll also start to get a better feel for the type of meditation that you prefer.