Different types of meditation
I remember when I returned from living in Zambia and went for the first time to a UK supermarket – I was overwhelmed by the choice! If you want yoghurt and there are 30 different types, how do you choose?
In Zambia there was only one type of yoghurt and it made life easy!
Meditation can be the same, there are many different types, but there is no ‘one type fits all.’ However, within the different types of meditation I can guarantee that there will be one that will suit you! Something we explore on the Yoga and Walking Holiday I teach on in the Spanish Pyrenees.
So how do we choose without feeling a ‘spiritual overload’?
I’m guided by my feelings – if it feels good then do more of it (my philosophy on just about everything in life!) if it doesn’t feel comfortable then try another. Of course becoming comfortable with meditation isn’t always an instant feeling, we need to give it more than 5 minutes! On the retreats that I run, I start slowly, helping people to feel at ease with sitting still with their eyes closed- this is the first step! I recommend 15 minutes each day, this is enough to give you a taste of inner peace and connection. This feeling may come at the 14 minute mark, or before, but certainly a sense of calm and relaxation will happen for you. The next day maybe you will find it happens after 10 minutes of sitting, and each day you will find that calmness more and more easily because you will now know what you are looking for.
Meditation has its roots in the East – and the image most of us have in our minds is one of a yogi sitting in the lotus position, somewhere in India in a state of enlightenment!
Modern life and the Western world doesn’t lend itself to this lifestyle, so we must adapt meditation to suit us – meditation must work from the place where we are!
A number of the most popular types of meditation techniques, have been adapted to the Western world. There are many classes and courses on offer, so give one a try and go with your ‘gut’ feeling.
What are the different types of meditation?
Transcendental Meditatiopn TM
This type of meditation became popular in the 1960’s when it was introduced in the West by Maharishi Mahesh. The Beetles and the Beach Boys became some of his more famous followers. It is now practised in every corner of the globe, which has made it one of the most popular types of meditation. A mantra is used, and is repeated over and over silently, to quieten the mind, bringing one a sense of inner peace and calmness. For the first 7 years of my meditating life, I used this method, and I am eternally grateful to TM for starting me on the path.
My advice is to find an accredited practitioner to learn this technique.
This is a traditional Buddhist practice, dating back to the 6th century, the word means ‘insight or clear seeing’. Sitting on a cushion or chair, with the back straight and the spine erect, one focuses on the breath initially. As the practice deepens and develops, one notices subtle rhythms and sensations in the body. As a result, you develop the clear seeing, known as the three “marks of existence”: impermanence (annica), insatisfactoriness (dukkha) and emptiness of self (annata). As a result, equanimity, peace and inner freedom is developed in relation to these. Many people take 10 day Vipassana retreats of silence to deepen the practice, there are many centres around the world where these retreats are run.
This is an adaption of the Buddhist Vipassana meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of intentionally focusing on the present moment, accepting, and non judgmentally paying attention to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise. Again it is focused on the breath. Mindfulness meditation can be practised during our daily activities: while eating, walking, and talking.
For “daily life” meditation, the practice is to pay attention to what is going on in the present moment, to be aware of what is happening – and not living in “automatic mode”. This is different type of meditation is growing in popularity in the West, and there are several schools that are now using simple Mindfulness techniques with children. The results are amazing.
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta meditation)
Again it’s origins are in the Buddhist tradition. Demonstrated benefits include: boosting one’s ability to empathize with others; development of positive emotions through compassion, including a more loving attitude towards oneself; increased self-acceptance; greater feeling of competence about one’s life; and increased feeling of purpose in life.
Sitting in a meditation pose with eyes closed, one starts by cultivating feelings and thoughts of kindness and love, towards oneself, then progressively towards others, and finally all beings.
Visualisation /Guided Meditation
This type of meditation is very helpful for those who are just starting out, and is very popular in the West, where our lives are more hectic and full.
By sitting with eyes closed, and listening to a guided meditation, one is transported to a beautiful place, here we can quieten the mind, and find a deep inner peace.
As Giovanni Dienstmann said “Guided Meditation is like cooking with a recipe. It’s a good way to start, and you can eat the food you make. But once you understand the main principles and flavors, you can cook your own dish. It will then have a different, unique taste; it will be tailored for you, and be more powerful. And then you will not want to use the recipe anymore!”
So by all means start with guided meditations but then allow yourself to develop your own practice so that you don’t become reliant on this type of meditation forever.
Here I have given you a taste, of just a few of the different types of meditation on offer at the Spiritual Supermarket!
Of course there are many more types – please do your own research, explore and try out which ones feel good for you. If you would rather experience meditation from the comfort of your home, there are now several ‘apps’ that can be downloaded for your phone, or tablet, that can guide you as well.
From my experience it’s the getting started that’s the hardest, making that commitment to yourself to find 15 minutes each day.
I’ve found that my daily practice has deepened and developed to suit me over the years, just as I imagine it did, to suit Buddha all those centuries ago – we are individuals, and finding inner peace is such a personal journey.
Join me on the exclusive Yoga and Walking Holiday I run in the beautiful Spanish Pyrenees. Here I facilitate a space where you can develop your own practice of meditation, and discover what that peace feels like for you. I offer you some tips and tools to help you on your way, but I won’t be telling you how, or when you should be meditating! That is something you need to develop for yourself, and fit in to your own unique lifestyle. What I can guarantee is a week in beautiful surroundings, with laughter, joy and a sense of sharing.
The group size is limited so you really benefit from the sessions. I am also available throughout the week for one-to-ones, to help you deepen your connection to self, and to answer your questions. This is all part of this fully inclusive retreat.
I wish you luck, joy, fun and most of all, a deep peace on your journey with meditation.