So, perhaps you’ve read all about The 21 Benefits Of Meditation and you’ve possibly even tried it once or twice, but you don’t have a regular practice because nothing seems to have inspired you?
When discussing meditation, I often hear comments like “Oh, I tried it once, but…” “it was so hard” or “I kept nodding off” or “It was so boring!” It’s true, meditation is not always easy, but perhaps it’s not that meditation isn’t right for you, perhaps its just that you simply haven’t discovered the style that’s best for you. So, where do you start and which style is best for you, anyway?
As unique an individual as you are, there are many different ways to meditate. Just as some people prefer to go to the beach, whilst others prefer the snow-covered mountains, we all have preferences that resonate with us.
Creative visualisation; Breath focused meditation; Body scanning meditation; Mindfulness meditation; Mandela meditation; Mala beads; Chanting or speaking a mantra meditation; Chakra visualisation, Guided meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation; Trance dance; Candle focus meditation; Mala beads; Walking meditation and Yoga as meditation are just some of the many forms of meditation available to cultivate feelings of calm and peace.
For an idea of which style may suit you best initially, let’s look at preferred learning styles: We humans take in information through sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Most people have a dominate sense (or two) when doing this, which determines their learning style. The three main ones are visual, auditory, kinaesthetic. Knowing what your learning style is may give an insight into which is the best meditation style for you.
If you are a visual learner, you will most likely relate to using a focus that involves looking and seeing, be it internally or externally. Examples include:
- Creative visualisation meditation – guides you to visualise a peaceful place in nature filled with things you find calming, comforting and meaningful to you;
- Nature meditation – observing something from nature, like a flower or a shell with curiosity, cultivating a sense of awe, without mental commentary;
- Candle meditation – for short periods of time, observing at a candle flame and then closing the eyes to see the flame in your mind’s eye;
- Mandela meditation – gazing into the centre of a Mandela, allowing the focus to soften;
- Chakra visualisation meditation – seeing the energy centres from the seat to the top of the head and visualising their respective colours permeating the body.
Listening may be your preferred practice style for meditation. This includes:
- Singing or speaking a mantra;
- Listening to music;
- Listening to sounds from nature;
- Counting or chanting with mala beads;
- Listening to the sound of your breathing;
- Listening to a guided meditation.
If you learn through feeling, touching and doing, you may find the following meditation practices most suitable:
- Body scanning meditation – feeling into the body, experiencing each body part, one at a time;
- Trance dance – free flowing, un-choreographed, movement to music;
- Mala beads – holding the beads between the fingers and moving the fingers along the beads with each mantra said or sung;
- Chanting – feeling the vibration of the sound in the body;
- Walking meditation – feeling the foot as it touches the earth, experiencing every subtle movement and how that impacts on the limbs, spine, arms etc
- Yoga – feeling the muscles lengthening and contracting with the movements of each posture and the transitions between them. There is also an awareness of as the breath synchronising with the movements.
Meditation is a process of learning that develops through practice. Ultimately, its about giving our minds a break from the habits that keep us on the move mentally and physically. And whilst we may wish to start with a style that feels comfortable and holds our interest, ultimately, by moving towards the styles that don’t feel so comfortable, we can expand our awareness and discover more of ourselves outside of the comfort zone.