You’re totally new to meditation — or you’ve tried it some — and you decide to open up your browser and do some research. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably get overwhelmed by all the different types of meditations you see. But, because I’m here to help you get started, here are my favorite types of meditation you can start with (by the way, with all of these, you can sit in silence or listen to soft, relaxing music):
With concentration meditation, you focus on a single point, like a single word or mantra, a non-moving object (like a candle or figurine), or your inhalations and exhalations, which is what I do primarily. For example, I will inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to four. Of course, the idea is to continue concentrating the entire time, but you still might find that your mind wanders. When this happens (and it will, no matter how “seasoned” you are as a meditator), gently bring your awareness back to the chosen object of attention, and let the thoughts go.
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intent is to not get involved with the thoughts nor judge them but to simply be aware of them, and let them float on by without giving them your energy or attention.
So, I don’t know if this is the “real” name, but affirmation meditation is using affirmations while you’re, well, meditating. You can choose affirmations for whatever you might want to work on in your life like creating calm, abundance, joy, etc.
If you’re going to create your own, here are a few tips:
- Begin with the words “I am,” and/or use present tense. Speak it as if it’s happening now.
- If you’re having trouble believing what you’re saying (which is key), say something like, “I believe it’s possible to…” or “I give myself permission to…”
- Make it positive. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t let negative people disturb my peace,” say, “I am only allowing positive people around me, and that brings me peace.”
Okay, so I can’t say this is a favorite as I’ve never done it, but I thought it was…interesting. As I was looking for a photo to go with this post, I saw the above picture that I’d saved a couple of weeks ago, and it made me remember that I’d heard of laughter yoga. Then I thought, ‘Well, there must be laughter meditation, too.’ So, I Googled it, and here we are.
According to do-meditation.com, laughter meditation has three parts: 1) Stretching; 2) Laughter, and 3) Stillness; and the best time to practice this is in the morning on an empty stomach; but if not, do it before lunch or dinner. To begin, stretch your entire body (one to two minutes) by standing on your toes, and bring your arms overhead with your fingers interlaced. You should also loosen and stretch the muscles of your jaws and face.
Next, start smiling softly; broaden your smile, and begin laughing without force. Deepen your laughter so you feel it from your belly. Try and laugh ‘with’ yourself but not ‘at’ or ‘about’ someone or something; be mindful of the moment of laughter — whatever you’re experiencing in that moment, laugh with it.
Finally, stop laughing and close your eyes. Come to stillness, and if you were standing, find somewhere to sit. Become aware of the silence, and when thoughts come to you, let them go, and focus on the sensations in your body.
Have you tried any of these meditation techniques? Which are your favorite?
“Meditation and concentration are a way to a life of serenity.” – Baba Ram Dass