There are over a dozen different styles of meditation to choose from. Some are better at improving concentration, while others are better at relieving stress. Some are better at developing self-awareness, while others are better for developing communication skills. With so many options to choose from, how can you choose the right meditation style for you?
Why Not Try Each Style Once?
Before selecting the meditation style that you’ll use on an ongoing basis, it’s a good idea to give each meditation style a try first. For example, for one week, try doing a different kind of meditation every day.
A good place to start is the Search Inside Yourself book. In Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan discusses over two dozen different kinds of meditations that you can try for yourself. These meditations are specifically designed to combine mental and emotional development with professional development.
5 Common Styles of Meditation
Here are some of the most common styles of meditation:
- Visualization-Based. These meditations center around using visualizations to guide the meditation experience. For example, the “Tonglen” meditation in Search Inside Yourself uses the visualization of light to ease pain and develop compassion.
- Auditory-Based. These meditations often center around a mantra or a question. It might be a question you’re reflecting on, or something you continually tell yourself throughout the meditation. For example, in Search Inside Yourself Meng talks about mentally saying “I want you to be happy” to others as a way of developing empathy.
- Awareness-Based. These meditations focus solely on developing attention. These meditations are great for developing concentration and focus. For example, the breathing meditation taught in the beginning of Search Inside Yourself.
- Physical Sensation Based. These meditations use the physical body as a gateway to understanding the mind. Most emotions are actually felt in the body as physical sensations. A good example of this is the “Body Scan” meditation, also found in the Search Inside Yourself book.
- Guided Meditation. Some people find that they have better results with meditation when they’re being guided through the experience. Search Inside Yourself also provides free guided meditation mp3s, available at the top of the page.
Of course, there are dozens of other kinds of meditation as well. But these 5 styles of meditation are a great place to get started.
Test First, Then Build Consistency
Once you’ve had the chance to try out a variety of different meditation styles, ask yourself – which style made the biggest impact for you? In addition to paying attention to how you feel during the meditation, make sure you also pay attention to how you feel throughout the entire day after the meditation.
Once you’ve found a style that works for you, scale it down. Instead of meditating for 30 minutes a day, start with 5 or 10 minutes. Make it a consistent practice on a small scale, then slowly add more time once you build it into a habit.
What style of meditation works best for you? Share in the comments below!