The diverse benefits of meditation are now relatively well known as meditation has jumped into the spotlight in recent years. Just for a quick overview, meditation can help us to be calmer, happier and more productive. It can also improve sleep, balance hormones, lower blood pressure, balance mood, improve fertility and offer greater mental clarity. The thing with meditation is, that like everything we do, it can take time and practice to feel like you truly ‘get it.’ Sitting down cross-legged with closed eyes may not bring about the immediate sensation of tranquility and contentment that you may have anticipated! Perhaps you have tried meditation a number of times but haven’t quite reaped the results? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
New research suggests that its not only a matter of persistence and practice, it’s also about finding the right type of meditation that suits you. You may even be surprised to hear that there is more than one type of meditation. In fact, there are many different styles that all work in various ways to restore your inner calm. In the same way that exercise or fitness modalities appeal to us in different ways, finding the right meditation style is a sure-fire way to change the way you feel about a meditation practice.
It is common to get caught up in the belief that meditation is ‘too hard,’ or you are simply ‘too distracted’ to ever be able to meditate. Well guess what? If you can breathe, you can meditate! You may even be meditating without even realising you are meditating! Having a meditation practice doesn’t need to look like you sitting in lotus pose with a string of mala beads around your neck. Meditation comes from letting go and detaching from our thoughts to find a place of simple peace. Ever wondered why men enjoy fishing so much? Or why you feel so balanced and level-headed after time in the garden?
Just like there are different styles of yoga that appeal to different personality types, meditation offers a plethora of options. From mindfulness to transcendental, there is no shortage of ways to get your zen on. New research has revealed that practising a form of meditation that is tailored to your character traits is crucial for getting the most out of your practice. The various types of meditation also affect your brain in different ways and can result in different behavioural changes.
Which meditation type is best for you?
Great for- anyone who wants to try meditation at home, good for beginners, those dedicated to progressing and building a personal meditation practice.
Originating from Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation is a popular meditation technique in Western culture. It involves paying attention to your thoughts and not judging or condemning them, but just allowing them to pass. The practice is done by sitting with eyes closed and attention placed on the breath- when wandering thoughts emerge, one returns to focus on the inhale and the exhale. Mindfulness meditation is an ongoing life practice and promotes a focused attention and observation of the world immediately around you and nurtures a tone of surrender and acceptance of things just as they are.
Great for- more neurotic personality types or over-thinkers, prone to stress or anxiety. Also good for beginners or those new to meditation who need a little extra focus
This type of meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation, but instead of just letting your thoughts come and go, you maintain a very clear focus on one thing. Focused meditation is a general label for any kind of meditation that concentrates on any of the five senses- this could be a particular sound, sensation or something you visibly focus on like a candle flame. When your mind wanders, you bring your attention back to that single point of focus.
Great for- People who feel less comfortable in silence, those who enjoy having a clear focal point, thoughtful types that like the added inspiration of a mantra
Sitting in silence isn’t the only way to meditate. Mantra meditation uses a repetitive sound or set of sounds to clear the mind. By reciting or chanting a mantra, your mind is able to focus on the rhythmic song and release any other thoughts or stress in the body. With a long tradition in meditation, mantras can be sung loudly or whispered quietly, or just internalised in the mind. You can use an inspirational phrase or one meaningful word- whatever you find to be best to focus on.
Great for- conscientious types, serious/driven personalities, those who have quite good self discipline, those who like structure and routine
Founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Transcendental Meditation has been made popular by celebrity followers like the Beatles and is the most studied type of meditation worldwide. It uses a mantra or series of Sanskrit words (often Om) to focus during meditation, making it similar to mantra meditation. Yet Transcendental Meditation is slightly more organized and structured, with each student receiving a specific mantra based on a number of different factors such as birth year and sometimes gender. The aim is to practice for 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. Maharishi defines the purpose to be ‘reaching the state of enlightenment.’
Great for- those who are easily distracted, have active/outgoing personalities or creative types, anyone needing a little extra inspiration or uplift in mood
Guided meditation involves listening to an instructor guide you through a visualisation. Often, they will guide your attention through your body, focusing on each area and allowing it to fully relax, or on a fictional journey through a beautiful setting. This is a great option for beginners who find it particularly difficult to ‘switch off.’’ By imagining relaxing and positive experiences, the body will respond by releasing chemicals that generate feelings of positivity. This can also be a lovely meditation practice to do before bed to clear the mind and relax the body.
Great for – those who find real discomfort in sitting, anyone who is overly restless, those who spend most of their waking hours already sitting
Meditation doesn’t necessarily have to involve sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Walking is a great way to practice mindfulness and increase your inner zen. Instead of popping on your headphones or thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner, try and stay focused on something simple like your breathing or the sounds in nature around you. Try and walk with presence and take note of each time your foot connects with the earth. Other forms of movement meditation that are quite popular may include activities such as QiGong, or even dancing meditations.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Great for- those who want to cultivate more compassion in life, those who are nurturing and giving, or wish to be more so, tender personalities that can find it hard to do things for themselves, but easy to do things for others
Loving-Kindness Meditation is a practice where you show love to yourself and others. First, you silently ask yourself questions like, “May I be happy?” “May I be well?” Then you think about another person and ask about their wellness and happiness. Focus is on the heart center and can also utilise visualisation such as colours emanating from the heart out into the world or to certain people. The practice aims to increases connections in the brain for empathy and positively impact your daily life and interactions.
It’s good to keep in mind that meditation is also entirely subjective and there is no right or wrong way to meditate. By practicing every day and finding a style that compliments your unique personality, you can experience the simple joy that meditation offers. You may find that it is actually easier than you may have initially thought or experienced before! Happy meditating!
At Escape Haven, our luxury yoga retreats in Bali offer the perfect environment to experience or deepen your meditation practice. Many of the guests on our yoga retreats in Bali are new to meditation and our qualified instructors offer a variety of meditation practice is including beautiful visualisations and also Yoga Nidra which is a unique type of guided meditation that brings about a beautiful sense of calmness and balance. Explore our dates and packages, or chat to our team here.
Your Escape Haven Bali Retreat offers a luxury wellness experience for body, mind and soul
We invite you to experience our award winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.