Mental Health

Types of Meditation: Which is The Right One For You

Different meditation practices demand distinct skills and mindsets. Learn the meditation methods that work for you, and gain insights on how to begin your practice.

By URLife Team
19 Jan 2024

Meditation stands as one of the oldest and most widely embraced techniques for attaining heightened mental and emotional stability. The origins of meditation trace back to approximately 1500 BCE, with the earliest written records found in the Hindu Vedas. Fragments of meditative practices are also evident in both Taoist China and Buddhist India. Determining the exact origins of meditation proves challenging due to its ancient roots in orally transmitted traditions that were documented much later. Nonetheless, Indo-Aryan sages, known as rishis, had been passing down these teachings orally for centuries before they were eventually recorded in written form.


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Through this cognitive training, individuals effectively manage anxiety and stress, fostering increased tranquillity in their daily lives. Originating in religious and spiritual contexts, the history of meditation has evolved alongside changing cultures and societies. 


For millennia, meditation has served as a technique aimed at cultivating awareness of the present moment. This ancient practice confines various methods, including those designed to enhance focus and attention, establish a connection with the body and breath, foster acceptance of challenging emotions, and even induce alterations in consciousness.


Related story: A Beginners’ Guide To Meditation


Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, both physical and mental. A 2022 study issued by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shows that mindfulness and meditation practices yield a plethora of physical and psychological benefits, ranging from stress reduction to enhanced immune function.


Here are some of the key health benefits of regular meditation practice:

Helps reduce stress

Meditation is known for its ability to reduce stress by promoting relaxation and calming the nervous system.


Improves emotional well-being

Regular meditation can enhance emotional well-being by fostering a positive outlook, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improving overall mood.


Enhances concentration and focus

Meditation practices, especially mindfulness meditation, have been shown to improve concentration, attention, and cognitive focus.


Promotes better sleep

Meditation can contribute to improved sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing racing thoughts that may interfere with sleep.


Increases self-awareness

Meditation encourages self-reflection and awareness, helping individuals gain insights into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.


Manages pain

Mindfulness meditation has been found to be effective in reducing the perception of pain and improving pain tolerance.


Improves immune function

There is evidence to suggest that regular meditation may positively impact the immune system, potentially leading to improved overall health.


Stronger mind-body connection

Meditation promotes a stronger mind-body connection, fostering a sense of holistic well-being and interconnectedness.


Related story: I tried Meditation For 30 Days—Here’s What I Learned


Choose Your Type of Meditation

Given the diverse array of meditation styles, not every practice suits everyone, necessitating distinct skills and mindsets. The question then arises: How can you determine which meditation practice aligns best with your needs and preferences?


Choosing the right meditation practice is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not be the best fit for another. There are different types of meditation that a person can practise for his/her physical and mental benefits.


Here are some considerations to help you determine which meditation practice aligns best with your needs and preferences.


1. Mindfulness Meditation: Embracing The Present Moment

A common focal point in mindfulness meditation is the breath. Practitioners often direct their attention to the rhythmic inhalation and exhalation, using it as an anchor to keep the mind centred. Alternatively, bodily sensations may be the focus, fostering a deep connection with the physical self.



  1. Find a Quiet Space: Mindfulness meditation can be practised anywhere, but finding a quiet and comfortable space minimises external distractions. This could be a dedicated meditation area or simply a quiet corner of a room.
  2. Comfortable Posture: Maintain a comfortable and upright posture. This helps in sustaining focus without unnecessary physical discomfort.
  3. Focus on the Breath: Begin by bringing attention to the breath. Observing the inhalation and exhalation with mindful awareness, they anchor their attention to the present moment.


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2. Transcendental Meditation: Journeying Beyond Ordinary Thought

Transcendental Meditation (TM) stands as a distinct form of meditation, distinguished by its use of a mantra and the pursuit of a transcendental state of consciousness. Rooted in ancient Vedic traditions, TM has gained popularity as a contemporary technique for achieving deep relaxation and heightened awareness.



  1. Sit Comfortably: Sit comfortably with eyes closed, creating an environment conducive to inner exploration.
  2. Repetition of Mantra: The meditation session involves the silent repetition of the chosen mantra. Unlike other forms of meditation that may involve focused attention on the breath or sensations, TM centres on the mantra as a means to go beyond thought.
  3. Non-Striving: This practice emphasises a natural approach to meditation. Practitioners are encouraged to allow the mind to settle spontaneously, without force or concentration, fostering a state of effortlessness.


Related story: Guided Meditation With Michele Paradise


3. Loving-kindness Meditation: Cultivating Compassion Within And Beyond

Loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, is a practice rooted in the cultivation of positive emotions and goodwill. Originating from Buddhist traditions, this meditation encourages practitioners to foster feelings of love and compassion towards themselves and others, contributing to a more compassionate and open-hearted approach to life.



  1. Settle into a Comfortable Posture: Loving-kindness meditation can be practised in a comfortable seated position with eyes closed, fostering an environment of inner reflection.
  2. Focusing on Phrases: Focus on repeating phrases such as "May I/you be happy, may I/you be healthy, may I/you be safe, may I/you be at ease." These affirmations serve as a vehicle for cultivating positive emotions.
  3. Visualisations: Visualisation techniques may be incorporated, imagining a warm, glowing light of loving-kindness expanding from the heart and enveloping oneself and others.


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4. Zen Meditation (Zazen): Cultivating Stillness And Insight

Zen meditation, or Zazen, is a central and foundational practice in Zen Buddhism. Rooted in the pursuit of enlightenment and understanding, Zazen involves sitting in a specific posture and focusing on the breath to achieve a state of deep concentration and insight.



  1. Seated Posture: Find a comfortable seated posture, whether on a cushion or chair, ensuring a stable foundation for the practice.
  2. Breath Awareness: Direct attention to the natural flow of the breath. Focus on the sensation of each inhalation and exhalation, maintaining a gentle awareness.
  3. Stillness and Alertness: Cultivate physical stillness while remaining mentally alert. Allow the mind to settle without getting entangled in the stream of thoughts.
  4. Letting Go: As thoughts arise, practitioners are encouraged to observe them without attachment. By letting go of mental chatter, they return to the breath and the present moment.


Related story: 6 Expert Tips To Make Meditation Easier


5. Guided Meditation: Nurturing Inner Journeys Through Imagery

Guided meditation is a contemplative practice where a facilitator or guide leads participants through a series of mental images and visualisations. It serves as a powerful tool for relaxation, stress reduction, and achieving specific goals by providing a structured and immersive experience.



  1. Comfortable Seated Position: Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, to facilitate relaxation and ease of focus.
  2. Attuning to the Inner Voice: Participants listen to the guide's instructions, allowing their minds to follow the verbal cues and engage in the mental imagery presented.
  3. Immersion in Visualisation: The guide leads participants through a narrative, encouraging them to immerse themselves in the mental images presented. This might involve envisioning calming scenes, personal achievements, or symbolic representations of inner states. 


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6. Body Scan Meditation: Journeying Within Through Mindful Awareness

Body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves systematically directing attention through different parts of the body. This technique focuses on observing bodily sensations, promoting relaxation, and cultivating an awareness of the present moment.



  1. Progressive Attention: The meditation begins by bringing attention to a specific body part, such as the toes, and systematically moving through each area, directing mindful awareness.
  2. Observation of Sensations: As attention moves through each body part, practitioners focus on observing sensations without trying to change or manipulate them. This includes noticing areas of tension or relaxation.
  3. Mindful Breathing: Integrating mindful breathing is common in body scan meditation. Practitioners may be guided to breathe into and out of specific areas, enhancing the mind-body connection.


Related story: 5 Breathing Techniques For Instant Calm


7. Chakra Meditation: Balancing Energy Centers For Holistic Well-being

Chakra meditation, deeply rooted in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, is a practice that centres on aligning and balancing the energy centres, known as chakras, within the body. This meditation form integrates visualisations and affirmations associated with each chakra to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual harmony.



  1. Comfortable Seated Position: Chakra meditation is typically practised in a comfortable seated position, with the spine straight and hands resting on the knees.
  2. Focus on Individual Chakras: The meditation may begin by focusing on the root chakra and progressively moving upward through the sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakras.
  3. Visualisations and Affirmations: As attention shifts to each chakra, practitioners visualise the associated colour, symbol, and qualities while repeating affirmations to enhance the energetic balance.
  4. Breath Awareness: Conscious breathing is often integrated to facilitate the flow of energy. Practitioners may synchronise breath with the visualisation of energy circulating through each chakra.


8. Yoga Nidra: Yogic Sleep For Deep Relaxation

Yoga Nidra, often referred to as "yogic sleep," is a guided meditation that facilitates profound relaxation and rejuvenation. Rooted in yogic traditions, this practice involves a systematic body scan and visualisation to induce a state between wakefulness and sleep.



  1. Comfortable Reclined Position: Yoga Nidra is typically practised lying down in a comfortable and supported reclined position. The goal is to minimise physical distractions and promote deep relaxation.
  2. Guided Instructions: The instructor provides guided instructions for relaxation, starting with a body scan and progressing to visualisations and affirmations that promote a sense of calm and well-being.
  3. State Between Wakefulness and Sleep: Yoga Nidra aims to induce a state between wakefulness and sleep, often referred to as the "hypnagogic" state. In this state, the body is deeply relaxed, and the mind is receptive to positive suggestions.
  4. Conscious Awareness: Despite the deep relaxation, practitioners maintain a level of conscious awareness, distinguishing Yoga Nidra from traditional sleep. This state allows for a profound inner experience.


9. Vipassana Meditation: Cultivating Insight through Sensory Awareness

Vipassana meditation, originating from Buddhist traditions, is a contemplative practice that places a strong emphasis on observing sensations in a systematic and disciplined manner. This form of meditation is designed to develop insight into the impermanence of sensations and, by extension, the nature of life itself.



  1. Focused Attention: Begin by directing attention to the natural breath, using it as a focal point to develop concentration.
  2. Systematic Body Scan: The practice then progresses to a systematic body scan, where attention is directed to each part of the body. Sensations, whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, are observed with impartiality.
  3. Equanimous Observation: As sensations arise and pass away, maintain equanimity, neither clinging to pleasant sensations nor resisting unpleasant ones. 
  4. Insight Development: Over time, the practice of Vipassana meditation leads to the development of insight (vipassana) into the nature of reality, impermanence, and the interconnectedness of mind and body.


Related story: My Journey On the Path of Vipassana


10. Mantra Meditation: Harnessing the Power of Sound for Focus

Mantra meditation is a contemplative practice that involves the repetitive chanting or silent repetition of a specific sound, word, or phrase known as a mantra. This ancient practice is designed to focus the mind, induce a meditative state, and cultivate various mental and spiritual benefits.



  1. Selecting a Mantra: Choose a mantra based on personal preference, spiritual tradition, or guidance from a teacher. Examples include universal sounds like "Om" or personalised affirmations such as "I will not compare myself to others", "I let go of all that no longer serves me", or "I am healthy. I am whole. I am enough.
  2. Comfortable Seated Position: Mantra meditation is typically practised in a comfortable seated position, with the spine straight and hands resting on the knees.
  3. Repetition with Intention: Repeat the chosen mantra either silently or audibly, focusing on the sound and its resonance. The repetition is performed with intention and mindfulness.


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