Fitness / Meditation

How to Choose the Right Style of Meditation for You

We’ve got you covered with this quick breakdown.

By now, you’ve heard that meditating is good for you, but putting it into practice seems easier said than done. Luckily, meditation also comes in all shapes and sizes. This means the length, style, and purpose can vary while still offering benefits like reduced stress, a stronger mind-body connection, calmer breathing patterns, and improved emotional well-being. Our experts explain the most common forms, what you can expect from each, and how to choose the right styles of meditation for you and your lifestyle.

Aaptiv has hundreds of meditation classes if you’re interested in adding it to your daily routine. 

What styles of meditation exist?

There are several different forms and styles of meditation, all of which can be applied as a spiritual or secular practice. Additionally, many of them can be paired together.

“Breathing meditation focuses on controlled breath cycles with an emphasis on sitting in stillness,” says Aaptiv Trainer Ceasar Barajas. “Visual meditation still encompasses controlled and conscious breathing but can be done on the move—i.e., commuting, traveling, walking, etc. Visual meditation can also include sitting in stillness and focusing on your physical surroundings. Intention meditations may include repeated mantras, affirmations, or a particular intention and can be done sitting or moving.”

Just as various types of yoga exist, there are thousands of ways to approach meditation, adds Susan Shumsky, who has taught meditation for 50 years. And all varieties use certain methods to get out of the mind, says meditation expert Jennifer Pennell,

“One approach is to categorize meditation based on the practicality of how you are meditating,” says Ian White, a yoga teacher who has been teaching meditation practices since 1991. “For example, sitting meditation, moving meditation, contemplative meditation, reflective meditation, and mindfulness are all forms of meditation that take place in different contexts. This way of categorizing meditation gives us an immediate idea of how a particular meditation practice is performed and what is required in order to do it.”

Are there different benefits to each?

The benefits vary, says Barajas, but you can basically pick and choose which styles of meditation you need on a given day. In general, research indicates practicing meditation as a whole results in more energy and focus for anyone. But some styles of meditation may affect your mind and body differently.

Here’s how, according to White.

Give it time.

Whatever you choose, know with time and practice you’ll probably start to notice a difference between lighter forms of meditation, like walking, versus deep meditation, which guides you toward a state of deep relaxation, says Shumsky. “There can some benefits from just sitting by a body of water, relaxing in the sunshine, or taking a dip in a lake. You might call that meditation because it’s relaxing. But a true deep meditation is a higher state of consciousness.”

How do you figure out which type of meditation works best for you?

Typically, breathing and intention meditations are done sitting down. But you can also do them on-the-go in order to focus on your breath and the present moment, says Barajas. There’s no best or ideal way to meditate, says Shumsky. It just depends on how many minutes you want to spend in meditation—whether that’s five or sixty minutes a day. Finally, says Pennell, take an approach similar to exercise. Try a few different styles or teachers, notice what you like, and then turn it into a regular practice.

“You know yourself best,” concludes Aaptiv Trainer Jade Alexis. “If the thought of sitting up for a meditation sounds painful, then try a lying down or walking one. If the idea of using mantras and different breathing techniques sounds like it’s not your cup of tea, then try a mediation that focuses on breath and just being present. There are so many different types. The only real way to know which suits you best is to try one. And if it doesn’t seem to work after a fair try, then try another style.”

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