Types Of Meditation
The goal of meditation is to put you back in your most natural state. Various schools of meditation use various tools to enable this journey. Some use chants or mantras, others use specific thoughts, yet others ask to focus on specific external objects or visualize a certain setting, for the mind to settle into the rhythm of our being. The proof of the pudding, though, is in the eating.
Read: Meditation 101: Guided Meditations for Beginners
You May Need an Instructor
Just reading about the different types of meditations is not enough. Meditation is one practice that is better learned under the guided supervision of a meditation teacher or instructor rather than self-teaching. This is because, in the beginning, an instructor can remind you to become aware of the mind again and again. You may also undergo experiences that an instructor can help you make sense of. Once you have a few hours of practice behind you, you may not need this nudge from the instructor. To learn about languages or sciences, you need a teacher. Similarly, the subject of the mind is a deeply complex one, where you will need a teacher to guide you through the uncharted territory of your inner life. Having said that, it helps to know a little about the different types of meditations you have available to you.
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) Meditation
The SKY meditation is a powerful rhythmic breathing technique being practiced by over 450 million people all over the world. It involves deep breathing practices followed by a cyclical breathing technique cognized by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The practice ends in an effortless meditative state.
Some of us prefer to be instructed about what to do and how to do it. For those of us, there are guided meditations available. Here we simply need to follow through the instructions given in a soothing and relaxing voice.
How to pick a good guided meditation?
An ideal choice for an instruction based meditation is one which is
- At least 10–20 minutes long
- Does not require much ‘doing’ or ‘focusing’
- Deeply Relaxing
- Should require the least mental gymnastics
- Meditating to the voice of meditation gurus or teachers who are known to be established in their self, will give you more confidence in your practice.
The best test of a good meditation session is observing your state of mind before and after the session. Some guided meditations you can pick from:
- Panchakosha or Five Sheath Meditation
The Five Sheath meditation is a guided meditation where one’s attention is moved through five layers of existence-environment, breath, body, mind, memory /intellect, to the self.
- Meditation For Transforming Emotions
A 20-minute meditation guided by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, that transforms an emotionally charged state of mind to a state of total acceptance, peace, and assimilation.
- Yoga Nidra or Yogic Sleep
A structured power nap and a meditative way of giving yourself deeper rest, where you take restful awareness through different parts of the body.
A 10-day residential meditation protocol where participants follow strict physical and mental discipline, learn the technique, and practice it over the course of the program.
This popular technique is a mantra based technique that encourages an individual to focus during meditation.
Sahaj Samadhi Meditation
Cognized by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, ‘Sahaj’ in Sanskrit means effortless and ‘Samadhi’ is an equanimous mind. The technique uses a sacred sound to move the mind step by step through thoughts, worries and regrets to a deeper more blissful state.
A meditation technique rooted in Buddhism in nature, it encourages a practitioner to improve one’s present moment awareness.
Walking the Labyrinth
Here, you walk into the center of a labyrinth (a maze of concentric circles), while taking one’s attention within. One experiences quietness on reaching the center of the labyrinth and comes out of the labyrinth the same way.
An activity like reading can become a meditative experience if done with the right awareness. When you are totally in the moment, absorbed in the written word and become the experience, you are already checking all the boxes of a good meditation. Ideally for reading meditation, pick up a book of spiritual wisdom. Something like Bhagvad Gita or Bible or Ashtavakra Gita (a spiritually rich conversation between a sage and a king), that house the essential wisdom to help us lead peaceful and aware lives, taking us notch closer to our higher self. When you read such texts meditatively, the knowledge effortlessly becomes a part of your consciousness.
At our Art of Silence Retreats, a favorite among the participants is the walking meditation. Here, participants are encouraged to walk amidst the nature in total silence with full awareness.
Another unique way to dive into oneself effortlessly is by using powerful chants or Mantras. “Mantras are impulses or rhythms of the consciousness. They create vibrations in the spirit. Their effects, influence, method and mode of working are all a mystery,” says Bhanumathi Narasimhan, a senior Art of Living Sahaj Samadhi meditation pioneer, who has taught the practice to millions across the globe, “In Sanskrit, it is said, Manana trayate iti mantra. Mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. A repetitive thought is a worry. Mantras help to free you from your worries.”
The vibrations from chanting mantras get absorbed into human consciousness, relieving the stress and worry from the system, It gives you a calm, peaceful state instantly.
Mudra stands for ‘seal’, ‘gesture’, or ‘mark’. In yogic sciences, they facilitate the flow of energy in particular direction. Mudras when practiced along with pranayamas, settle the mind down instantly into a thoughtless state. Mudras are healing modalities that involve the tips of the fingers and placement of the fingers in a certain pattern to give the desired outcome which can be-balancing doshas, energizing the body and mind, pain reduction, increasing blood flow to particular parts of the body, improving digestion, mitigate migraine, among others.
Ayurveda says, our body is made up of five elements- fire(Agni), Air( Vayu), sky(Aakash), earth (Prithvi), water(Jal). Each finger is known to correspond to these five elements.
Index finger—Air (Vayu)
Middle finger—space or ether (Aakash)
Ring finger—Prithvi (earth)
Little Finger—Water ( Jal)
How to practice these Mudras
You can practice them any time of the day or night.
- Sit in padmasana (lotus pose), Sukhasana (easy pose), or Vajrasana, keeping your spine erect and shoulders lose.
- Hold each mudra for 13–15 breaths and then move on to the next one.