So you’ve decided you’re ready to start a practice in meditation. Great! Now what? There are many different styles to choose from and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you.
Did you really think this path to self-realization was going to be easy?
Here’s the good news- you never have to stick with one style!
Find whatever works for you
One style is going to work for you in the beginning. However, as you advance in your practice, you might merge with another style. For example, one day you’ll try a guided meditation. The next day, you focus on mindfulness. There is no right or wrong way to do this!
A word of caution: before you decide that a certain style isn’t “right” for you, ask yourself if the process of meditation is bringing up some uncomfortable pieces of who you are. If that’s the case, and it’s pretty common, then stick with what you’re already doing. Keep practicing and it will pass.
The 5 heavy hitters in the meditation world.
- Guided Meditation: This one is pretty self-explanatory. In this style of meditation, you allow yourself to be guided through a series of prompts. It can be through a regular dialogue, similar to guided imagery. However, you might allow yourself to just focus on your breath. Whatever the case, guided meditation is a great way to begin your practice. This style of meditation makes it easy for you to learn how the process feels. You don’t have to tell yourself what to do. You only need to be present and listen. Remember, you want to take this path one day at a time. Don’t try to make yourself do too much at once. It can stop you dead in your tracks.
And speaking of your tracks…
- Walking meditation will teach you the concept of mindfulness. Most traditional styles of meditation are done in a seated position; walking meditation is done, well, walking (duh). Before you begin this practice, pick out a set path that’s free from distractions. Choose one where you can give all of your attention to yourself. As you become more mindful of your movements, you’ll begin to see that something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store can become a healing experience.
- Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness isn’t necessarily meditation, although it can be. Meditation isn’t necessarily mindfulness either. It is the act of being truly present in whatever you’re doing. It can be while meditating, but, it can also be practiced while you’re doing laundry, cooking dinner, changing the oil in your car, or having a conversation with a friend. Mindfulness is the complete opposite of running on autopilot. Doing anything with mindfulness means slowing yourself down and becoming aware of your senses. We often miss a lot as we go blindly throughout our days. A mindful practice teaches you how to be “in the moment”. Try this quick and easy mindfulness exercise here.
If you experience anxiety
- Mantra Meditation: Mantra loosely translates into “sacred word”. The idea behind mantra meditation is to repeat this sacred word or phrase for the duration of your meditation. This is a wonderful way to overcome a stressful situation. You choose your word or phrase before beginning your mediation and you focus only on that word or phrase. There’s no right or wrong words. Choose something that can be repeated within an inhale and an exhale. You can choose words in Sanskrit or you can choose words that appeal more to you. Phrases like “I am” are widely used. On the inhale, say or think “I am”. On the exhale, say or think “peace” or “happy” or “calm”. Make sure the word you’ve chosen is gentle to your spirit.
- Transcendental Meditation: This is an evidence based style of meditation that centers on “transcending” your own self-awareness. It is done one-on-one with a coach. Tens of thousands of people have experienced life changing benefits from practicing transcendental meditation. You can learn more about the process and find a personal coach here.
It’s really up to you
As you can see there are many different ways to learn meditation. Every person experiences change differently so be open to trying several styles before deciding what works best for you. Keep in mind, any method you choose will no doubt, have positive effects in your day to day life. Each system of practice may have different foundations to begin with, but they will lead you to the same ending- a more peaceful, happy and well balanced lifestyle!