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How Do I Meditate? A Beginners Guide To Multiple Styles of Practice

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An ancient practice, meditation has been a part of many societies and is not only still common today but has actually undergone a resurgence in recent years. In this article, we'll take a closer look at meditation techniques as well as offer some insight into different forms of meditation and how mindfulness practice can benefit us all.

What is Meditation Practice?

For thousands of years, human beings have used different types of meditation techniques to be a part of the present moment. Developed as a spiritual practice, in the modern era more and more medical and psychological professionals have started developing meditation techniques as an evidence-based practice to offer mental and physical benefits.

Meditation in general involves focusing the mind on the present moment and noticing physical sensations. While simply in theory, in practice, meditation can be quite challenging, especially in the modern world where our minds can be surrounded by distractions almost every moment of the day. While meditation is an ancient tradition with roots in Buddhist teachings, it does not necessarily have to be considered a spiritual practice (although it often is).

The Benefits of a Meditation Practice

In recent years, an enormous amount of research has gone into finding out more about how different types of meditation can offer both mental and physical health benefits. Scientific evidence shows that some of these potential benefits include:

  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease in chronic pain
  • Improving insomnia or other sleep issues
  • Focused attention
  • Greater self awareness
  • Improved mental health

Types of Meditation Techniques

There are many forms of meditation, and some may work better for you than others. Some are best learned under a guide or teacher, while others can be simple to practice on your own. The following are some common meditation approaches.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common forms of meditation, as well as the most researched. With this meditation technique, you sit in a comfortable position and observe the thoughts that come into your mind without engaging them.

You may focus on breath awareness or bodily sensations to keep the mind from becoming involved with passing thoughts. Also known as Zen meditation, mindfulness meditation is easily done alone or using a guided meditation app, and can be very relaxing.

Mantra Meditation

A mantra meditation is strongly rooted in Hindu and Buddhist teachings. In this form of meditation, you use a repetitive sound to free the mind. This can be simply a hum, a word, or a phrase. One of the most widely used is the word "om".

Movement Meditation

Movement meditation can be a good option for someone who is experiencing anxiety. It can sometimes be difficult to sit for prolonged periods of time to quiet the mind. Movement meditation allows the participant to do gentle forms of movement as they meditate. This type of meditation can also lead to greater body awareness.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation technique was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and developed to quiet the mind and create a sense of calm and peace throughout the body. It is a form of mindfulness meditation but can go deeper than traditional mindfulness meditation. This is another widely scientifically studied form of meditation, and a transcendental meditation program can be best experienced through a certified practitioner.

Chakra Meditation

Chakra meditation is a meditation style that has the practitioner bring their focus to seven invisible energy centers of the body known as chakras. Each chakra corresponds to a different part of the body, color, and function. The charkas include:

  • The crown chakra: purple, located above the head, spirituality
  • The third eye chakra: blue, located on the forehead, awareness
  • Throat chakra: blue, located in the throat, communication
  • Heart chakra: green, located in the chest, healing and love
  • Solar plexus chakra: yellow, located in the solar plexus, wisdom and power
  • Sacral chakra: orange, located in the sacrum, sexuality and creativity
  • Root chakra: red, base of the spine, basic trust, and security

Focused Attention Meditation

Focused meditation practices involve bringing attention to one of the five senses. You can focus on breath, or you can use external props such as listening to calming sounds like music from a sound bowl or gong, counting mala beads, or gazing at a candle flame.

Loving Kindness Meditation

Also known as Metta meditation, with loving-kindness meditation, you increase your compassion and love for the universe by opening the heart and mind to love, and then sending it back out to others. This can be used specifically to build self-compassion or to help with feelings of anger or resentment toward other people. Loving-kindness meditation can lead to greater inner harmony.

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is also known as body scan and is designed to reduce stress and tension in the body. Many practitioners recommend this as an assist for getting to sleep at night. Often guided, you focus on tensing and then releasing muscle groups throughout the body while breathing slowly.

Visualization Meditation

Visualization meditation involves creating positive scenes in the mind. This can be a beautiful landscape, an honored person, or even positive goals. The intention is to create as much detail as possible and get all five senses involved.

Vipassana Meditation

An ancient Buddhist form of insight meditation, Vipassana involves a focused meditation that allows us to observe things without judging or reacting. Vipassana means "to see things as they really are," and those who practice observing without particular feeling.

Other Types of Meditation

There are so many types of meditation practiced around the world that they can't really all fit into one article. Some are other forms of movement meditation like tai chi. Others are more spiritual meditation aligned with spiritual growth rather than secular benefits. A regular practice, no matter what the form can increase positive emotions, relieve stress, bring a feeling of deeper connection with the world, as well as inner peace in everyday life.

Bringing Balance to Life in Brooklyn with Therapy and Meditation

A mindfulness meditation practice can be beneficial to building self-awareness and managing stress, but sometimes we need more. If meditation programs haven't been enough to get rid of negative emotions, therapy can help.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group our team of doctoral-level psychotherapists are available to meet in-person or online so that you can choose the most convenient and comfortable option for support.

Give us a call today and our patient coordinator will help you find the right Brooklyn therapist to offer you the tools you need to manage stress, increase awareness, and guide you toward self-actualization.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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