If you are exploring meditation for the first time, choosing the best meditation technique for yourself can be a challenging process, especially if you don’t have any idea what meditating is all about. Or if you are getting frustrated or stuck in a particular meditation method after trying out for a few months, maybe you should start asking if the meditation technique that you practice is the best…. for you?
For a start, the information on meditation that you can get is overwhelming. Mindfulness, Mantra, Transcendental, Zazen, Chakra, Yoga and QiGong to name a few popular meditation techniques. (Check the full list here.) While these methods are definitely trending and popular right now, they may NOT be the best meditation techniques for you to start with.
Because not all meditation is the same. Each will have their own form, techniques, and goals.
While I don’t believe that there is an ultimate meditation method that reigns supreme, I do believe that certain meditation technique works best for some individuals.
I’m saying this despite being a huge fan of mindfulness meditation. Sometimes meditation like loving-kindness or mantra works better for me in certain conditions.
Popular Meditation Techniques At A Glimpse
Before we go into the criteria for getting the right meditation technique for you, let’s take a look at some of the popular meditation methods practiced these days. I’ve nothing against the lesser known form of meditation, but it is easier to get resources for meditation techniques that are relatively popular.
After all, if you are reading this article, chances are high that you are planning to learn meditation online via courses, forums or other resources.
This is the form of meditation that I started with almost two decades ago. While some said that mindfulness is being at the present moment, I think a more accurate definition is being in total awareness of all the thoughts and sensations that you are experiencing.
Mindfulness meditation is where you would use your breathing to train your monkey mind not to be carried away by the endless stream of thoughts. It’s definitely a good meditation technique for obsessive thinkers and worriers.
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This is where the infamous chanting “Omm..” comes in. This type of meditation involves continuously chanting of mantra or mentally repeating it in your mind. It is said that the mantra “Omm..” resonates at the frequency of the universe.
Try chanting “Omm…” and see how the frequency vibrates at your lower abdomen. (I’ve just tried it and it’s amazing).
There are also other mantras involved and one that is my favorite is the loving-kindness meditation.
Apart from developing focus power, mantra meditation also helps in to break our programmed subconscious routine when we bring the practice into our daily life.
First, you need to understand what chakra is. Imagine them as the gateway where your energy concentrates along your spine. There are 7 main chakra’s that regulates various aspects of psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being.
Chakra meditation is to align and balance your energies along these 7 chakras. There is a set of meditation techniques dedicated to regulating the energies for each of the chakras. Here’s one chakra meditation guide that really goes in depth for this.
This popular practice from ancient Hinduism brings body and mind together. While the word yoga triggers images of beautiful hard-to-execute postures, the practice of yoga goes beyond physicality.
Yoga incorporates postures, regulated breathing, meditation, and kundalini as one system that promotes physical and mental health directly.
Transcendental meditation or TM differs from other methods as only a certified instructor is allowed to teach TM. This form of meditation is derived from the ancient practice of Vedic meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and brought to the U.S. in the 1960s.
Since then it has been a popular meditation technique despite having to pay for its courses and has attracted well-known celebrities taking up this practice. Each student is given a secret mantra to be chant silently in the TM practice.
Zazen, which also means “sitting meditation” is a more specific form of meditation practiced in Zen Buddhism. While there may be some element of mindfulness in Zazen, it emphasizes on the use of correct postures as a structure to support the meditation practice.
What distinguish this form of meditation is the practice of Shikantaza or “just-sitting”. Unlike other meditation methods which usually uses a meditation object (breathing, mantra, visualization), the Zazen practice of Shikantaza is where you sit and let your thoughts flow unattached naturally. Here is one very good article on Shikantaza.
QiGong is an ancient Chinese technique that regulates our health, healing, and vitality by cultivating the flow of energy or ‘chi’ within our body.
The practice of QiGong emphasizes postures, whether stationary or moving, in circulating, increasing and healing the body with the internal energy.
How To Choose The Best Meditation Technique?
Don’t go for a particular meditation just because it is the popular style right now. Or don’t just take on a particular form just because your friends are all doing it and it works best for them. While there is no sure-fire way of choosing the right meditation for you, asking these few questions help in picking up the ideal meditation technique for yourself.
First, take a quick look at this infographic to get the whole picture of meditation.
Click to Enlarge Image
Why do you want to meditate? No doubt that meditation will give you a whole lot of benefits. But people normally pick up meditation because they have a problem to solve.
Are you hoping that meditation will stop your obsessive thinking? Or you are meditating to address your anger issue. Is having the lack of focus affecting your work and life?
Asking these questions often leads you to the type of meditation suitable for you.
Are you a stay at home mom or a busy corporate executive? There is some meditation that you can easily practice at home. There is also the situation where work takes the priority where you can’t even spare 30 minutes a day to meditate.
Can you see yourself doing Yoga? Or spending 30 minutes sitting and watching your breath? And most importantly are you willing to bring the elements of meditation into your daily life.
You are not going anywhere if you meditate 30 minutes a day and let your monkey mind goes amok for the rest of it.
Can you pick up a technique just by watching videos or reading meditation guides? Or do you prefer to learn from a meditation guru?
Certain meditation methods like yoga and qigong that involves complicated or subtle body movements may leave you no choice but to learn from an experienced guru.
While meditation techniques that involve more on the working of the mind can be easily practiced at home (well at least until it gets complicated)
While starting a meditation practice is easy, going down the road as your practice matures could be a challenge. You will find yourself having specific experiences and doubts that you hope someone could help you out with.
Can you get guidance from an active community or forum if you are not training under a guru? Some people gave up meditating after encountering certain frustration that they could not resolve by themselves.
I suggest checking out online forums like Reddit or answer sites like Quora for an active online community. Knowing that you are not on the journey alone could be an encouragement to keep the practice intact, especially for beginners.
If you have found your reasons of meditating, it is very likely that you have also found a particular meditation technique to your liking. If so, I suggest getting started right away. It takes constant practice and time for the benefits of meditation to show up. (If you’re curious how long does it take before you start seeing results, check this post.)
But if you wish to try out a few methods over a month or so in a systematic manner before deciding which suits you best, check out this Master Your Mind 5 weeks online meditation course by Giovanni Dienstmann.
Whatever you want to achieve with meditation, I hope it works out for you.
Over To You
Have you tried meditation? What method or techniques do you like the most? Do you have an inspiring meditating story to share? Share your thoughts here.