Which Meditation Style is Right for You?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghOctober 20, 2021 help for anxiety, how to meditate, kinds of meditation, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, stress management, wellness0 comments
There are a plethora of meditation styles available which can support your overall wellness goals. With such an array of meditation styles, you may wonder which form would be most helpful for you to reduce stress or induce your next nirvana. Since each meditation style require different skills and mindsets, read on to see which one might be right for you.
- Walking Meditation. Walking meditation allows the act of taking a foot step to become the very act of meditation itself. This form of meditation is especially helpful for someone who wants the benefits of practicing focused awareness without being seated and cross legged for too long. Walking meditation can also allow the practitioner to focus with curiosity on their surroundings and ask open ended questions as they meander upon the grass or carpet around them.
- Zen Meditation. Zen is likely the form of meditation you most commonly think of when imagining traditional meditation, here the practitioner sits with their eyes closed and allows any thoughts that come to them to simply drift away. The goal is the focus on the sound and sensation of the breath floating in and out of the nostrils.
- Mantra Meditation. For mantra meditation you might be seated or standing, posture is less important that the act of practicing focused awareness on a sequence of words or phrases. This is most traditionally done in Sanskrit but in new age and mindfulness traditions there are many English adaptations of empowering phrases. The words and integrating them into consciousness or offering them to a beloved deity is the goal of this form of meditation.
- Chakra Meditation. A chakra is a Meridien or an energy line/lines that run in the body. Chakras intersect with the meridiens and fuel them. There are 7 chakras which run along the spine and through the head. By doing a meditation that visualizes each of them, any points of energy blocks can be opened and healed. Chakra meditation often involves a visualization.
- Guided Imagery. Guided imagery is done by listening to a speaker or recording take the participant through a story like script that can inspire or address some underlying mental health needs usually with a positive psychology angle. Sometimes guided imagery also incorporates a focus on breathing.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing Meditation. Diaphragmatic breathing meditation focuses on breathing deeply into the belly to activate the calming abilities of the body. By using this slow abdominal breathing style, the parasympathetic nervous system can be activated and you can reduce the symptoms of stress and hyperarousal. This is something you can do anytime and anywhere to instantly stimulate your vagus nerve and lower stress responses associated with “fight-or-flight” mechanisms.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is an active meditation with a somatic focus that is helpful in dispersing high levels of physical tension. In this style of mediation you will focus on squeezing and releasing different areas of the body and then relaxing them. The more that we tighten our muscles the more that we are able to relax upon release.
- Loving Kindness Meditation. Loving kindness is a heart meditation which helps the meditator to offer forgiveness and love to any person in their life or to themselves. You might visualize love or tenderness coming from your heart or mouth and sending it out into others in the world.
Insight Timer is a great free app that offers many different options. Pick a meditation style, try it out and see how it feels. If it’s not working for you, simply try another one.
Meditation, Ommmm-my! Getting from Mind-Full to Mindfulness!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 1, 2019 how to meditate, kinds of meditation0 comments
We all have the innate capacity for greater clarity, calm, and focus. Consciousness is in fact a skill that can be sharpened when each day we wipe clean the debris that clouds our minds and trickles even into our physical bodies. Mindfulness meditation is a kind of focused awareness where we become distinctly aware of our selves, the nature of our thoughts, the quality of the sensations coursing within our veins. Yet mindfulness is not merely helpless attention that is splashed around our roving internal focus. It also incorporates the potential to alter the state and being of our consciousness, via our breath and attention. While meditation has so much potential that it can be prescribed as a tool to manage anger, depression, and anxiety, it is extremely trans-formative when used as a spiritual or mindful tool for wellness.
While there are many various forms of meditation, let’s explore some of the most common, starting with Zen Buddhism meditation. In the Zen tradition, the practitioner is seated cross legged or in lotus position, one of the more important components of which is that your spine be completely erect. Your focus then is simply on the sound and motion of your breath coming in and out of your nose. The sound and sensation of each breath is a meditative focal point, very simple but powerful. The drawback is that for beginners it may be very hard to just sit and breathe!
Another common Buddhist style of meditation is Vipassana. It is a style of insight-based awareness when attention itself is used as a tool. To concentrate all of one’s focus on a specific point can be an enlightening and extremely calming experience. For instance, you could place all of your attention on a body part, a thought, or a visualization. The goal is truly to become liberated from the shackles of our own awareness which tends to lack focus and be chaotic in its natural state. This style of meditation takes years of cultivation to improve upon but can be seen as a daily or regular practice. Like polishing a jewel, we clarify our thoughts and mind, as we will notice many different thoughts coming through our consciousness as we are seated. We do not attach to any one of them however, we allow them to slide by and label them as mechanisms of the ego, or desire, or self defeat. We become very aware and curious about our thoughts in this style of meditation.
This is perhaps the most accessible style of meditation for the beginner. It may start with breathing in a seated or lying down position with closed eyes. From there an instructor cues in various visual scenes, sometimes like a story. The practitioner is able to visualize various motions and enactments that can journey them into their unconscious. This is a favored method for beginners because it allows a place for the meditator’s focus to rest and is highly interactive and imaginative. After completing the meditation, if done in a group setting, the practitioners may talk about some of the things that they felt and visualized in the sequence.
This form of meditation is best performed after gaining a basic understanding of each of the chakras by becoming aware of their placement and function through the body. The practitioner then visualizes sending breath and sometimes light to those seven energy centers through the physical and subtle body. The subtle body is the non-visible and esoteric energy centers including the chakras and meridians. This form of meditation can be very effective and energizing to unblock the chakras and re-balance them. Chakra meditation is related to bringing balance to the flow of Kundalini energy which flows from the crown of our skull to the base of our root. This is an ancient yoga style that tends to be more spiritually focused.Learn More