Do you want to learn about the 3 types of meditation? Then you are in the right place. In today’s guide on the main types of meditation, we will take you through the three main types of meditation. Not just that. You will learn what they are, and also how you can get started practicing these types of meditation. There are also instruction videos to help (shortcuts if you will, especially useful if you are new to meditation). We have added recommendations as well on which of the 3 types of meditation can be best for you, to give you a head-start.
Great, let’s get started!
There are many types of meditation, or rather, styles – based on how you define or categorise them. But broadly, there are mainly 3 types of meditation, based on the process and practice methodology.
Here are the main 3 types of meditation:
This type of meditation, visualisation based meditation, is what still is the most commonly practiced type of meditation. If you have spent even a small amount of time on youtube or google looking for meditation lessons, you come across guided meditations – those are usually all about using visualisation to meditate.
You know how the audio or video instructions on those meditation tutorials guide you through a few steps, steps that get you to visualise certain things (usually something or someplace serene)? That is basically what visualisation based meditation is.
This type of meditation gets you to use your imagination to create images and sensory experiences in your mind, which can make the process quite immersive, and effective. The technique of seeing and feeling things in your mind is an effective way to calm your mind and get into a meditative state. But that’s not all – aside from its use in meditation, visualisation is also a very potent way to sharpen your skills (which is why many of the top athletes, and other professionals, swear by visualisation).
How to practice visualisation meditation:
- Sit or lie down somewhere quiet.
- Take deep breaths, and start relaxing.
- Picture in your mind being on a beach (maybe your favourite beach). Picture your surroundings, imagine hearing the sounds while sitting there on the beach. Imagine the sensations on your body. Try to imagine as best as you possibly can how you felt. Focus on the sounds, the sensations, the temperature, weather, colours, and the other details.
- Continue this for as long as you possibly can, ideally at least for a few minutes.
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If you want to know about the type of mediation that has been around the longest, mantra meditation very likely will take the top spot. This type of meditation has been around for eons and has been practiced by yogis and monks for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Long before meditation was even known in the West. In fact, when meditation first started to become popular, mantra meditation was the go-to type of meditation.
If you have ever come across someone chanting “Om” while meditating, then you already know what mantra meditation is.
Often the mantra is part of a ritualised meditation system where the student gets a mantra assigned to them by their teacher. The most famous system of meditation to use this type of meditation is transcendental meditation (TM). Deepak Chopra’s meditation method also uses mantra-based meditation.
There is a bit of mystic surrounding this type of meditation as often the mantra given to a practitioner is not shared with anyone and is said to have spiritual and even supernatural potency. Whether the mantra indeed has any such powers or not isn’t known for certain, but the belief alone can be quite powerful thanks to the power of our subconscious mind (this is the basis of the placebo effect after all – mind over matter). But whatever the other effects may be, the use of a specific word to focus on has been proven to be an effective way to meditate, and calm your mind, so mantra meditation is a potent type of meditation.
How to practice mantra meditation:
- Getting started with mantra meditation starts with selecting a word. The most commonly used mantra is the word Om, but you can get started with any word really. The key is to focus on the word and chant it repeatedly.
- Once you have selected your word or mantra, get into a comfortable position.
- Relax your body, and take deep breaths.
- Start chanting your mantra, either out loud or silently in your mind (out loud might make the process easier for beginners, but try it for yourself). As and when you get distracted, simply bring your focus back to the mantra. Continue breathing and chanting.
- Continue for at least a few minutes per day (the more you do it, the better).
Last, but not least, is a type of meditation that uses mindfulness. It’s rare these days to come across someone who has not at least heard about mindfulness. As the concept of mindfulness has caught the trend-winds and become popular, this type of meditation has also gained in popularity – meditation using mindfulness.
Nowadays, this type of meditation has become one of the most commonly practiced types of meditation. And for good reason – meditation does have a lot of benefits after all.
One of the main ways mindfulness meditation is different from the other two types of meditation is in the way it is practiced, namely its focus:
- Visualisation meditation focuses on creating mental images and often needs guidance.
- Mantra meditation focuses on using a chant or mantra.
- Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, just focuses on the present moment. The focal point becomes everything you are feeling, and nothing.
The above fact also makes mindfulness-based meditation relatively easier to do than the first type, as often with guided or visualisation mediation you need to use an aid like music, or a person talking you through the process. Whereas with mindfulness meditation you don’t really use any sort of aid. In that sense, it is pretty raw, as it depends solely on your thoughts, your mind, your consciousness. Mindfulness-based meditation encourages you to become aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing, which acts as a great way to reach a state of meditation, calm your mind, and more.
How to practice mindfulness meditation:
- Get yourself to a quiet space. Get into a relaxing position.
- Take slow, deep breaths. Just inhale and exhale naturally.
- Focus on the sounds of your breath. Then start becoming aware of the sounds around you, and really notice them. Once you have noticed those, expand your awareness to what you can feel – focus on each part of your body and feeling each of them individually, from the tip of your hair to the tip of your toes. Then expand your awareness even further, to notice what you can sense around you. The key here is awareness, the idea is to notice what is happening, both inside and outside. If you get distracted, simply notice the thought, acknowledge it, and let it pass.
- You can do this for as long as you like, and keep expanding your awareness.
Noticing your thoughts and letting them pass on their own is a great way to relax. It can also be a great way to come to terms with things that might be worrying or bothering you. This, by the way, is one of the best benefits of mindfulness.
Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness.
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Shortcut (Follow-Along Method)
If you are really new to meditation, you might find getting started on your own using the instructions above a bit of a challenge.
If that is the case, we have a shortcut for you, a hack if you will.
The easiest way to practice these 3 types of meditation is to find a teacher, and then follow along. But the next best thing is to find an instruction video and then follow along. There are actually tons of free ones available on youtube. That said, to make it easy for you, here are three (one for each type) to get you started:
Guided visualisation meditation tutorial
Mantra meditation tutorial
Mindfulness meditation tutorial
Which type of meditation is the best one for you?
Now that you have learned about the main three types of meditation, you might be wondering which type is the best. Here’s the thing, they all have merits.
All 3 types of meditation have benefits.
The important thing when exploring and examining different types of meditation is not about which type is the best, but rather, which type is the best for you. So if you have not tried meditating yet, if you are new to meditation, the best thing to do might be to try all three of them out and then take note of which approach works best for you.
In the same way that none of the fingers on our hands are exactly the same, no one meditation method will work for absolutely everyone. And that’s ok because what’s important is to find what works best for you.
That said, here are some recommendations:
- For those with a vivid imagination, visualisation meditation might work the best.
- For those who find it hard to calm their minds, for people with really active minds, mantra or visualisation (especially ones with guided visualisation) might work best.
- Mindfulness meditation can work best for those of you who have the patience (or want to develop patience). For beginners, this type of meditation can be a bit of a challenge, but a guided mindfulness meditation (like the one above) can help.
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Watch this video for a quick reminder about the 3 types of meditation:
To summarise, the main 3 types of meditation are:
- Visualisation meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation, by the way, is our personal favourite type of meditation. Why? Because of the many benefits mindfulness has (both mental and physical), as research has shown again and again. That said, any of these 3 types of mediation can be great. After all, achieving a meditative state and learning to calm your mind is what is important. So, use whichever of these 3 types of meditation works best for you.
What are your thoughts on these 3 types of meditation?
On that note, which one is your favourite, and why?
Share your thoughts, as well as any tips you may have, in the comments below.
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