When you think about meditation, chances are big that you are thinking about just sitting down with your eyes closed and trying to keep your mind quiet. And even though the latter is the main goal of meditation, there are actually a couple of types of meditation practices around. So, if sitting and just breathing isn’t so much your thing, then read on and have a look at what you might want tot to try!
Why meditation is good for you
You’ve probably heard quite a lot about meditation already, so I’m going to keep it brief and just tell a little bit about it.
The main goal of meditation of course is to connect you with your inner self, mind and body. You don’t read a lot about this in articles, as they are talking about the benefits you’ll gain from meditation. But thrust me, these benefits all flow from a state of connection with yourself. When you connect to your true self, that’s when you start to notice, see and decide what is good for you!
But that said, here are a couple of benefits you might experience from meditation or from connecting with yourself:
- Lower stress / better handling of stress
- Bigger focus/attention
- Better memory
- Improved sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved / more efficient breathing
- And many more
As you can see, there is a long list and that’s just the ones that I actually like. There are many more and you can find them easily.
Before we continue I’d also like to mention that meditation, even though affiliated with Buddhism, doesn’t involve any God. It’s not a prayer, even though there are similarities in effects, so you can do it even if you practice a different faith.
#1 Mindful Meditation
Mindful meditation is probably the most famous one and probably the closest to silent meditation. But then again, it’s also the easiest one and you can basically do it anywhere you want! Just make sure that you aren’t in an environment where you are going to your attention, like on the road or when operating any type of machinery.
The difference between meditating silently and mindfully is that when you are in silence you try not to focus on anything at all en you merely observe. Which is why this might be a bit challenging for newer meditators. Therefore the mindful way is somewhat more approachable.
Basically, you make sure you are comfortable (sitting, standing, lying down) and you tune into your breathing. There are a lot of apps that help you with this. I, for example, use headspace. They are very easy to use and they are really recommendable for all of you wanting to start a meditation practice.
But if you don’t want any gizmos for your phone, you can actually easily do it yourself too.
A mindful way of breathing might go like this:
- Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth three times
- Close your eyes and breath in and out through your nose
- If you feel that you are losing your attention and your mind is drifting off, you can start counting your breaths
- Do this for as long as you want and then gently open your eyes when you are ready again.
You see, that’s how easy it is. And whenever thoughts come along, just let them pass by.
#2 loving kindness / metta meditation
This probably is my favourite meditation of all time! I do it on a weekly base and it is easy as it can be. It does sound a bit like a prayer, so just see if it is something for you. It promotes positive feelings and it is amazing if you are looking to expand your empathy.
That said, it is easy to do on your own, and you can even tweak it yourself a bit. I’ll write a couple of sentences down below but feel free to invent your own:
- Sit comfortably
- Close your eyes
- Stage 1: Direct sentences below to yourself
- Stage 2: Direct sentences to a loved one
- Stage 3: Direct sentences to a neutral person
- Stage 4: Direct sentences to a stranger
- Stage 5: Direct sentences to someone you have negative feelings for
- Open your eyes
All of the stages are optional of course and you can do whatever you feel is the best for you at the moment.
The sentences you might want to repeat are the following:
- May (I or person) be happy
- May (I or person) be healthy
- May (I or person) be safe
- May (I or person) be free of suffering
#3 Candle Meditation / Trataka
This meditation is a little bit different as you’ll be doing this one with your eyes open. Yes exactly, you can keep your eyes open! That said, there’s a little warning. If you have any issues with your eyes like glaucoma, and issues like seizures. This meditation is also not advised while on alcohol or drugs, but that actually goes for all meditations, please don’t use anything before meditation..
For this meditation, surprise, surprise, you’ll be needing a candle! It really doesn’t matter which one. And it would also be good if you are able to make your meditation room (whether it be your living room, bedroom, …) dark.
Put the candle about a couple of feet away from you, lit, of course. And then sit while you are gazing at it. Try to make sure not to blink your eyes to often. Just keep looking at how the flame is moving and let your thoughts just pass by. If you are a beginner to meditation, try to keep it short, like 1 minute. And build up to longer periods.
The benefits of this meditation are improved cognitive processes, more focus, improved mental health, and so on!
These are just three types of meditation that I often practice. There are a couple of more types of course, like vipassana. I didn’t want to focus on them now as these are not the styles that I practice very often. I love to write about what I know, rather than copy and paste from different websites. I hope you enjoy them and remember that you can always book a private class if you want to deepen your practice!