Meditation for mental health the last article I shared the many health benefits of meditation and some simple tips to get started. If you’re not convinced why it’s good for well-being or want some simple tips check it out.
There’s 100’s of types of meditation and methods from different traditions, ancient, spiritual, cultural and religions. Yikes, 100’s that may seem overwhelming – not to worry they can be broken down into common types. You can also choose what outcome of meditation, the intent, you’re looking.
How do you find what type of meditation is right for you?
First determine the outcome of your meditation.
Are you looking for transformation/insightful or peace/calming/sleep?
One way to think about this is after meditation what state do you want to be in. Are you wanting to be wide awake, focused, and full of energy? Or maybe you’re looking to destress after a long day, lower anxiety, relax or fall asleep.
Transformative, intentional, or insight meditation often has an element of transforming the mind, body or soul. There can be an intention for a clear mind, increased focus, better attention to details, improved concentration, chakra cleansing, closer to a higher power/God/Allah, Spirit, or focus on a goal/intention.
Calming and soothing meditations focuses on soothing and calming the body, mind and soul. The intent can be to lower anxiety, decompress, find peace, and calm. They can be focused on sleep, falling asleep and staying asleep as well.
The most common types of meditation in the Western world
This is popular method from India, Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Mantra is a Sanskrit term that means - “man” = mind and “tra” = release. Mantra = mind release. Mantras can help with focus, concentration and bring awareness.
A mantra, sound, word, phrase is used in a repetitive method as the focus. The “OM“ sound for example. There are different mantras that can be used to focus for different intentions and centering thoughts for different and outcomes.
Mantra meditation is what I do most often as I’m trained from the Chopra center in meditation. I find that a sound/mantra to silently repeat in tune with the breath helps keep me focused. It also allows me to go deeper into a meditative state and relax. Meditation really helps calm my mind, lowers my anxiety, improves my focus and concentration. When I am lost or stuck in squirrel brain, a quick meditation can bring me back to center and calm down my overactive mind. If I’m cranked up from the day a meditation can help be relax. If I’m sloggy in the morning a focused energetic meditation can get me going and motivate me.
Another popular method based from Buddhist teachings is mindfulness meditation. You may even be practicing this as part of being more mindful. The focus is on the breath, an object, or a candle. While focusing on the object we allow our thoughts and emotions to flow. We suspend judgment with our thoughts and emotions. We observe them and let them go. We return our focus to the object, or breathe often to a particular cadence or count. The outcome is intended to become comfortable with the present moment.
Another popular meditation type. It is an active form of meditation where we use movement to focus on the present moment and mindfully connection deeper with our physical body.
I like a walking mindfulness meditation where I focus on nature – things like the clouds, blue sky, everything green, cool breeze, the falling leaves, etc. This form of meditation is great for beginners and kids. Gentle yoga, stretching, tai chi, qi gong, or gardening are other examples where you focus on the movement in the present moment.
There are many diverse methods and different aspects for doing a spiritual meditation. The purpose and focus are often a means of connecting to a higher power (God, Allah, Universe, Spirit, etc.). This type can also be to with the intention of developing a deeper understanding and meaning. Some examples and types are: Christian prayer, Jewish Kabbalah practices, Sufi remembrance, Hindu japa mala, Zen Buddhism, trance states in Shamanistic traditions.
Focused meditation is where we focus on the five senses, often choosing one. It can be internal or externally focused. Breathing focused meditation is a common internal focus: using your breath in certain counts to help focus your attention. Focus can be external using sight to gaze at an object, moon, or candle; touch - manipulating mala beads; sound - listening to a chant, bell or gong for example.
One example that is becoming more common is the body scan or progressive relaxation meditation as a form of focused meditation. This is a terrific technique to relax, reduce stress and tension. A good calming, before bed ritual as well.
Body scan form often starts with deep breathing, tuning into our body, noticing where we’re holding stress. The breath or visualization of water or cool air can be used to release tension. It can involve slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. I utilize this method when feeling really tight, stressed or have trouble falling asleep.
Can be used for either visualization of peace and calm or as a form of motivation and visualization of success of goals and intentions.
This practice can include visualizing a scene, person or thing that you desire. Some examples: A healthier you, a financially secure you, your Zen zone, happy place, the beach or mountains. You then imagine in great detail using all five senses to vividly adding as much detail as possible to this image in your mind. The intent is to give your body, sound and mind the specific vivid vision so that you can then reach your goals or find your peace when you imagine this vision.
The word “chakra” comes from Sanskrit and translates to “wheel” referring to the movement and shape of the energy centers that unite mind, body and spirit/soul. We have seven chakras/main energetic centers along our spine that correlate to different aspects of life. The image I chose above is an example of this representation. These energy centers can become blocked causing unbalance and disrupting well-being. Meditating on them is a powerful way to rebalance, unblock, heal and create positive energy.
I used guided chakra meditations from Insight timer app when I first started meditation. I found it to be another easier meditation method and I felt better afterwards and it felt like meditation was working for better well-being. I still do chakra meditations but often more intentional focused on the need or blockage for whichever area seems blocked. A general chakra cleansing meditation always feels great as well.
What are the 7 Chakras?
Root chakra - base of the spine in front of tailbone- basic physical needs. Root chakra meditations focus on restoring stability, lessening overwhelm, grounding, dealing with change and finding certainty. Its color is red.
Sacral chakra – pelvis area below the navel – creativity and emotional intelligence. Meditate here to become open, less stuck, less rigid, new experiences, and connect to. Its color is orange.
Solar plexus chakra - your stomach area representing security, self-esteem and power. Focus here to find courage, regain confidence, self-esteem, discipline and your power. Its color is yellow.
Heart chakra – your heart location - love, how you love yourself and connect with love. Meditate on this chakra to tune into agape love, build empathy, reconnect, feel less lonely, heal broken heartedness, and build compassion. Deep breathing with this chakra is a part of the practice as the lungs are part it. Its color is green
Throat chakra – your throat and neck area - responsible expression of self - speech, communication, creativity, artistic, and self-expression. Focus on this chakra help you to find self-expression, power of your words, communicate, and live more authentically. Its color is blue.
Third eye chakra – in the middle your forehead. This is your third eye as it looks inward - represents intuition and insight. Meditate here to break limiting beliefs, develop wisdom, and find clarity. Its color is indigo or royal blue.
Crown chakra – located at the top of your head. Connecting to your spirituality and God. Meditate on it to relieve hopelessness, isolation, and connect to the higher power of God. It can help connect to love, meaning and peace. Feel one with the universe. Its color is violet.
Now that you know something about the types of meditation and the intent, how do you feel about trying one with a specific intent?
Further reflection questions:
- Which type of meditation resonates with you?
- What sort out of outcome would you like?
- Do you practice one or more of these regularly?
- Are you open to trying another type for a different experience?
Remember that meditation has a multitude of benefits, there’s no right way to do it. The intent is to slow your body and mind to find a state of rest and rejuvenation in the present moment.
I’d love to hear from you about your meditation journey, techniques and insights
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May you have well-being, may you be healthy, may you be healed and may you be happy.
If you or someone you know would like support in life or business working towards healing, health and happiness, please reach out and contact me. I provide a safe place to explore your life – both personal and professional.
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Peace and blessings,
Teresa – Mantra meditating for focus and peace
Teresa Q. Bitner, M.Ed., PMP, PCC - Resiliency, Change and Loss Coach
Partnering with those who have been knocked down my life and want to build resiliency and move forward and live a bold life.
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