different meditation techniques

In this guide, you’ll learn 34 different types of meditation techniques for beginners, and some advanced meditation techniques too. I’ll help you find the best one for you, and we will look at the benefits and history of meditation as well. You can also download this guide as a PDF below. 

We will look at all the different types of meditation practices from Buddhism, Yoga, Hinduism, Christianity, and some non-religious forms of meditation; some are easy and some more advanced. Some are just for health. Some are transcendental.

But first: 

I highly recommend that you read my article on how to meditate properly for beginners. It will teach you how to use the different meditation techniques correctly.  

CONTENTS

  VIDEO

31 Different Types Of Meditation From Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga

31 different meditation Practices & techniques from beginners to advanced

I’m about to share with you everything you need to know about all the different types of meditation techniques.

But first, here’s the order of all the best meditation techniques from beginners to advanced 

Best meditation practices for beginners

Intermediates

Advanced 

close up hands meditation

1: OPEN MONITORING 

Good for: creativity, relaxation, happiness,
inner peace

 

One of the main types of meditation practices is open monitoring or “non-directed” meditation.

In open monitoring exercises, the mind is “open”.

Not open like momma’s favourite tin of biscuits. Open like a window that lets all things enter.

When you perform these types of meditation technique, you do not focus on one singular thing. You’re not focusing on the breath or on a sound. Instead, you are aware of the totality of existence.

You are aware of your thoughts and feelings, physical sensations, and all the information that comes to you by way of your senses (sound, smell, taste etc.). You non-judgmentally observe the world, allowing your focus to extend to everything in your environment.

What open-monitoring feels like

Do you remember the most chilled-out moment in your entire life?

Maybe you were lying down on a beach with the sun shining on you. Or maybe you were lying down in bed after a truly satisfying day. Or perhaps it was after a perfect romantic evening.

Cast your mind back to that time and remember the feeling.

Do you remember how you felt? Did you feel as though you were one with the world? Were you inwardly still and silent?

That is open monitoring.

When we practice open monitoring, we are essentially letting the whole world in. 

In open awareness, consciousness is spread out evenly (hence “non-directed meditation”)

A definition of open awareness is: Not intentionally focusing on one thing, and instead, opening the mind for the whole world to enter.

How about an example:

One of the best open awareness activities is to gaze up at the sky. You should feel as though you are not intentionally focusing on anything. Everything is entering your mind freely.

Try This Open Awareness Meditation Script:

  1. Sit or stand with good posture.
  2. Close your eyes, and do not think about anything.
  3. Focus on your senses.
  4. Let the whole world come to you.
  5. Continue to let the whole world in as you take 25 deep breaths.

That’s the open awareness meditation practice. Doesn’t it feel o’ so relaxing?

ACEM : 

One of the most popular kinds of open-monitoring techniques is Acem. Acem is a modern practice that is backed by science. Studies show that Acem is good for stress and relaxation.  

 

Benefits of open-monitoring methods like Acem

Open techniques are relaxing. They make you feel free.

Like a butterfly arising from a chrysalis to take flight into the world, the mind is freed from its usual shackles of thoughts and stresses, freed to take in the fullness of existence.

I personally practice open monitoring early in the day. I find this is a very good way to start the day positively and mindfully. I’ll practice open monitoring before sitting down to write. It’s like I’m allowing the world to come to me while exercising and warming-up my creative mind. By spending twenty minutes opening my mind and boosting my creativity I ensure that my creative juices are flowing for the whole day.

So, creativity is one benefit of open monitoring.

There are lots of other benefits too.

Open monitoring:

If you have been struggling to let go, you will find open awareness incredibly liberating.  

So that’s the first entry in this list of the best meditation practices. Beginners can do this one easily too. 

yoga girl meditating

2: Focused attention meditation techniques

Good for: creativity, relaxation, happiness,

inner peace

The next form is focused attention.  

The mind may be open to take in the whole world, but it may also be closed to focus on just one object.

That’s why alongside open methods we also have focused-attention types of meditation practices.

Best for focus and concentration, this method is surmised by the classic Zen quote “When sitting sit.”

This old Zen proverb reminds us to focus on what we’re doing right at this very moment. It is a simple but important lesson that is taught through closed methods.

Basically: focus on one thing. And just do that one thing, nothing else.

Think of it this way:

If open monitoring is like the light-bulbs in the ceiling that shed light on all things, closed types of meditation practices are like flashlights, a one-directional source of light.

When we perform “focused attention” we focus on one thing. We may focus on a mantra, a physical object, on the breath, on music, on mental imagery (visualisations)… We may focus on any one single thing, and in so doing, we will be performing a closed technique.

This is the most popular type of meditation practice.

There are far more focused attention activities than open monitoring activities.

Take a look:

Examples of focused attention meditation practices:

These forms are powerful. You know what Spinach does to Popeye, right? That’s what focused types of meditation techniques do for your mind.

The Benefits of Focused Attention Methods

Would you believe that there are over a hundred different benefits of focused-attention methods?

So what do focused-methods do for you? It depends on the specific technique.

Some methods boost positivity and happiness; others cultivate compassion, others can cure illnesses, some stop stress, anxiety and depression, and some help with serious mental health conditions like OCD and ADHD.

Here’s what you need to know:

3: Effortless Presence (Best meditation practice for beginners to relax)

Good for: equanimity, calmness, inner peace, relaxation

As well as open monitoring and focused attention, there is effortless presence, a yoga technique.

Effortless presence means existing without effort. In other words: not consciously directing your focus, just existing, as though empty but aware. Think of this as simply giving in to reality. You are completely giving up control and letting the universe take over.

This is very similar to open-monitoring and offers most of the same benefits.

Right then, maties, where are we?

So far we have covered:

These are the three main psychological definitions of meditation. Think of them as different kinds of cars. You can have a sedan or an SUV, but there are lots of different variants within those groups. The same is true for the different types of meditation practices.

The three forms we have looked at are the top-level groups. But within those groups are very many specific techniques. We’re going to cover those meditation scripts now.

Okay.

Take a deep breath.

We are now going to pack our bags and go on a spiritual vacation. What am I talking about?

We’re about to travel through the cultural evolution of meditation techniques.

Excited? You should be.

No one online has ever covered the topic in this much depth. EVER (honestly, find an article as in-depth as this one, and I’ll give you a free cupcake).

You are about to transform your life by learning all the best meditation techniques.

man meditating outside

Traditional Types Of Meditation Practices & Scripts

For over 3000 years meditation scripts have been taught as a way to boost happiness; find enlightenment; stop stress anxiety and depression; and achieve total health.

The traditional techniques from Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga and other spiritual systems are potent.

And you’re about to learn all the best meditation practices from those traditions.

Plus, you’re going to learn the history and culture of meditation, too.

One of the best things about studying different types of meditation techniques is the sheer amount of culture involved.

Digging into classic texts and reading the words of masters like Lao Tzu, Thich Nhat Hanh and Osho is a real pleasure that should be enjoyed alongside your practice.

Where does the practice come from?

The core of the tradition is found in the ancient texts. It’s in the ancient classics like the Bhagavad Gita, the Vimalakirti Sutra, and the Pali Canon, that you’ll find the roots of this ancient technique.

Like the trunk, branches, and leaves of a great tree, the practice of mindfulness has grown over countless years, but you’ll find its roots anchored in the ancient texts, among the fertile soil of ancient Eastern culture.

It’s here our adventure begins.

We’re going to travel through the different cultures of meditation. And as we do, we will look at the best meditation techniques ever.

So while you learn the history and culture, you will learn techniques to become the master of your own mind.

Excited? You should be.

 

Buddhist Meditation Practices—Introduction

Let’s travel to Tibet and take a look at the different types of meditation from Buddhism.

Most of the different types of meditation techniques practised today come from the tradition of Buddhism. That’s why it is worth learning the background of traditional Buddhist methods.

If we’re going to truly understand Buddhist methods of meditating we need a little bit of background info. We need to consider the Buddhist belief system.

Buddhism has different forms. Some of the most important are:

Most Buddhist schools use three types of training:

These three types of training are the pathway towards enlightenment, and each one is essential.

Meditative training (Samadhi) is taught alongside ethical training (Sila and Panna).

Where did Buddhist ethics originate?

They’re based on the “Noble Eightfold Path”, which is the “way” towards enlightenment.

The eight paths are:

  1. Right understanding
  2. Right thought
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness,
  8. Right concentration.

Strictly speaking, if you want to train in Buddhist meditation techniques you should train in those points above, too.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Here are the most important Buddhist methods.

The Best Buddhist Meditation Practices & Techniques

Just as there are lots of forms of Buddhism, there are lots of forms of Buddhist meditation practices too.

Some of the different types of meditation found in Buddhism are used universally. These include recollections and breathing methods.

Other Buddhist methods are used by only specific Buddhist schools.

Jhana 

The word that is used for meditation in Buddhism is: Jhana / Dhyana or bhāvanā.

Bhāvanā can be translated to mean “Developing into existence”.

Dhyāna refers to the practice of focusing the mind, which is done to achieve enlightenment.

The purpose of Buddhist methods

Buddhists meditate in order to achieve enlightenment.

Enlightenment basically means “Release from the self”.

On his blog, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says,

Enlightenment is a state of perfect knowledge or wisdom, combined with infinite compassion… Enlightenment is an understanding of both the relative mode of existence (the way in which things appear to us) and the ultimate mode of existence (the true nature of these same appearances).  

Pro tip:

When we look at the Buddhist methods, remember that these were originally conceived as a path to enlightenment.

Now let’s take a look at specific Buddhist techniques.

 

4: Zazen:

Good for: focus, calm, happiness, depression, stress, anxiety

Zazen (Zen) comes from the tradition of Chinese Zen Buddhism, which began in the 6th Century.

Zen is usually practised sitting on the floor on a mat or pillow, traditionally sitting in lotus position with the legs crossed.

In this position, we focus either on the breath or on the pure act of sitting, both of which cultivate mindfulness. These techniques help us to live in the moment with pure awareness.

Zen-Buddhism.net states,

The practice of Zen meditation or Zazen is at the heart of the Zen Buddhist experience. Originally called Dhyana in India, Zen meditation is a very simple yet precise method, where the correct posture is imperative.

 

5: Vipassana:

Good meditation exercise for: insight, changing thoughts, enlightenment, self-control, inner peace, depression, anxiety, stress

 

The practice of Vipassana began back in the 6th Century during the time when Mahayana Buddhism was expanding through the East from India to South East Asia.

The word itself, “Vipassana”, is Pali for “clear seeing” or “insight”.

Specifically, Vipassana leads to awareness of what Buddhists call “the three marks of existence”— the three characteristics shared by all sentient beings, namely impermanence (anicca), dissatisfaction (dukkha), and non-self (anattā).

In Vipassana, we focus on breathing and we extend non-judgmental awareness to the inner workings of the mind.

Try This Vipassana Meditation Script

  1. Sit quietly
  2. Focus on your breath
  3. Begin to observe your mind and thoughts
  4. Label your thoughts and feelings as what they are (“that’s a thought” “that’s a feeling of joy” etc.)
  5. This process helps us to achieve great understanding of ourselves and of the mind.

6: Mindfulness:

Good meditation exercise for: focus, present-moment-mindfulness, productivity, inner peace, focus, self-control, anxiety, stress, depression, inner peace

The mindfulness script is the single best meditation practices for beginners. [Try these beginners mindfulness exercises]

Writing for his blog WildMind.org, Bodhipaksa says,

My definition of mindfulness is very simple: Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.

Because mindfulness has gone through such a process of evolution there is actually some confusion as to precisely what the term means today.

These three share a similar theme. They are all about observing the present moment.The purpose of mindfulness is expressed in this Thich Nhat Hanh quote:

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present… and when you go there, happiness comes. ”   

7 Loving Kindness:

Good meditation exercise for: compassion, love, joy, happiness, kindness, oneness

Loving Kindness is also called Metta.

Metta is a Pali word meaning goodwill and benevolence.

In the Tibetan and Theravada Buddhism traditions, Loving Kindness is practised in order to develop compassion and warm feelings, which leads us to feel closer and more connected to other people.

Want to know a secret?

Loving kindness is my favourite technique. Why? Because it creates feelings of love and compassion, and it boosts your social and personal life too.

Are Buddhist scripts best for you?

In Buddhism, Jhana (meditation) is inseparable from philosophy.

The purpose of Jhana is to cultivate the right mind, which ultimately leads to enlightenment. This is why Buddhist Jhana is best practised by those who follow the Buddhist belief.

By understanding the principles, theories and philosophies of Buddhism you can gain a much deeper understanding of things than by simply meditating.

Yeah, but:

If you just want to learning the meditation practices, that’s fine too. Buddha himself said that people should feel free to take his teachings and use them in their own way.

Buddhist techniques can be practised in order to cultivate positive mental states. You can also use Buddhist practices to help with health problems. So they are good to practice even if you’re not interested in fully committing to the true practice of Buddhist meditation.

Are Buddhist meditation practices best for you?

Hindu Meditation Practices & Techniques

Let’s travel to India to take a look at the Hindu types of meditation scripts.

Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion and was one of the most important factors in the creation and development of meditation.

My friends and acquaintances often debate among themselves as to which religion, Hinduism or Buddhism, actually created meditation (it’s a fascinating conversation). Some argue that Buddha was born a Hindu and was familiar with Hindu practices, so, therefore, the practice of meditation derives from Hinduism. Others argue that meditation as we know it was not created until the beginning of Buddhism and is, therefore, a Buddhist practice.

What do you think? Write a comment at the bottom.

Either way, there are a great many similarities between Hindu and Buddhist forms. And the two can readily be used together.

Let’s take a look at the most important Hindu methods.

 

8.Dhyana / Jhana 

Good meditation exercise for: oneness, concentration, focus, studying, insight, inner peace, relaxation

In Hinduism meditation is called Dhyana or Jhana.

If you have ever spoken to a Hindu meditation teacher you will likely have heard them discussing how to use Dhyana.

Dhyana is used to:

Hindu meditation practices first appeared in the classic text the Upanishads, a collection of dialogues between Hindu sages and their students.

In these scripts, sages discuss meditation as being “deeper concentration of the mind”. The sages say it leads to “great self-knowledge and liberation from the illusion of Maya, the illusion of the material world”.

A fascinating bit of history:

One of the most important classic texts is the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is a narrative that shows a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna.

In the Gita, Arjuna is faced with a duty to fight the righteous war between two opposing sides, the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

Krishna advises Arjuna to “fulfil his Kshatriya (warrior) duty as a warrior and establish Dharma.”

It is this dialogue that introduces the Dhyana Yoga system, the Hindu meditation system that synthesises Dharma (the Hindu order) with Bhakti (faith and worship).

Dhyana Yoga (meditation) is the seventh and penultimate limb of the Eight Limb path of Hinduism. It is preceded by Dharana and followed by Samadhi. These three (Dhyana, Dharana, and Samadhi) form the Samyama, the Hindu process through which the mind is liberated from the physical world.

9: Dharana  

Good meditation exercise for: insight, intuition, third eye chakra, concentration

One of the most important Hindu meditation practices is Dharana. In this script, we focus the mind and sight between the eyebrows. This develops concentration.

While focusing on this fixed spot, energy enters the mind. This energy gradually builds and the focus intensifies, leading to meditation and the state called Samadhi, a point of extreme concentration.

Here’s the important thing:

Dharana is different to other methods of meditating.

When we practice Dharana we are not aware of the fact that we are meditating. We are only aware of our own existence and the object on which we are meditating. This creates a powerful sense of oneness. It is a beautiful and powerful experience in which nothing exists but the individual and the object of meditation, fused as though they were one.

 

10: Mantra  

Good meditation exercise for: depends on the mantra

One of the most popular types of meditation for Hindus is mantra meditations. These involve the recitation of specific words or sounds.

If you visit India during a religious celebration such as Krishna Janmashtami, (the festival which celebrates the birth of Krishna) you will hear Hindus reciting mantras throughout the night, showing devotion.

Different mantras are used to worship different Hindu Gods, and mantras can also be used to create certain benefits. Those benefits range from love to happiness to inner peace to wealth and so on.

It is believed that these mantras work via energy resonance.

Because different sounds occur at different frequencies, we can control the frequencies in our bodies by reciting mantras.

It is worth noting that mantras do not have to be used expressly for worship or for specific ambitions. They can also be used for pure relaxation.

Mantras are one of the best beginners meditation practices. The act of reciting a mantra gives the mind something to focus on, which helps us to stay with the meditation as opposed to being lost in distractions.

 

11. Self Enquiry  

Good meditation exercise for: self-awareness, insight, enlightenment

The Sanskrit term Atma Vichara refers to a type of meditation known in the west as Self Enquiry.

This meditation script is used to gain an understanding of our true nature and to discover the true self.

If you’ve ever asked “Who am I?” then this is one type of meditation you should definitely consider.

Self Enquiry began thousands of years ago and is mentioned in Hindu classic texts. But it became more popular when it was advocated by an Indian sage called Ramana Maharishi. Eckhart Tolle then taught millions the art of Self Enquiry in his book The Power Of Now, which led this technique to become quite common in the West.

Try This Self Enquiry Meditation Script

  1. Sit quietly somewhere peaceful
  2. Take a few deep breaths to relax
  3. Ask “Who am I?”
  4. Focus on the “I”
  5. Where does the “I” come from? What is it? What energy is behind that “I?”
  6. Meditate on the energy that creates the “I”
  7. Do you feel the pure energy creating that thought of “I”?
  8. Rest in that pure energy as you take 50 breaths.

This is a very liberating and enlightening exercise.

Are Hindu Meditation Practices Best For You?

Hindu meditations are one part of a very rich tradition and culture. If you are going to learn Hindu meditation practices correctly, you should learn them alongside the culture.

While some Hindu meditation practices (mantras, for instance) can be learnt quite quickly and easily, others (like Dharana ) are harder to learn and are not ideal for beginners.

Similar to Buddhism, there are two ways to go with Hindu meditations. We can:

yoga girl meditating

Yoga Meditation Practices & Techniques

Let’s take a look at the meditations used in yoga.

Yoga stems from Hindusim, and there are a great many yogic types of meditation, dating back to 1700 B.C.

Yogic meditation practices aim to create enlightenment and self-knowledge, and they form just one part of a much larger discipline.

The classic yoga system involves:

Interested in learning yoga meditations? Here are some of the most important forms.

12: Trataka  (fixing our eyes upon a particular object)

Good for: focus, concentration, grounding, eyesight

Trataka is steady gazing. It’s a yogic meditation form that we can immediately see the benefit of.

When we are anxious or when we have monkey mind our eyes dart about, looking in all directions.

So what happens when we have still eyes?

When we focus our eyes on one thing we develop concentration. And that is the purpose of trataka.

Trataka is usually practised by focusing on a candle. A popular alternative is to write OM on a piece of paper, put it a few feet in front of you and focus on this.

Either way, the principle is simple:

Still eyes = Still mind.

Trataka meditation script

  1. Dim the lights in the room
  2. Light a candle
  3. Sit comfortably at a level where your eyes are parallel to the candle’s flame and at a comfortable distance
  4. Take 10 deep breaths to relax
  5. Focus on the flame of the candle
  6. Keep your eyes still.
  7. Meditate on the candle for few minutes.
  8. Close your eyes. You will see a reflection of the candle behind your closed eyes.
  9. Meditate on the image of the candle behind your closed eyes. Try to keep the image the same. Do not let the image fade.
  10. This is a powerful meditation for concentration.

13: Chakra Dhyana

Good for: creativity, relaxation, chakra activation, inner peace, joy, grounding, more

The seven chakras are energy points in the body through which prana passes.

Each of the seven chakras is associated with different mental strengths. For instance, the sacral chakra is connected with the basic emotions. Meditating on this chakra creates emotional balance.

By activating and balancing these chakras you can achieve many health benefits.

There are many different types of chakras meditation.

One of the most important follows next (Third Eye Meditation).

 

14: Third Eye  

Good for: insight, intuition, wisdom, knowledge

The third eye is the source of insight and intuition.

Activating the third eye opens up parts of the mind that are often dormant.

So if you want to know your true potential, you need to open your third eye (“Ajna”).

But how you gonna do that, Grasshopper?

The best way of opening Ajna is to use the Third Eye Meditation script.

This technique involves focusing on the spot between the eyebrows. It is one of the most important meditations in yoga.

 

15; Kundalini  (Transcendental meditation)

Good for: grounding, centring, enlightenment, prana, energy,

Do you remember when I promised you some advanced forms of meditation? Well, this is definitely one of them.

The purpose of kundalini methods is to awaken the kundalini energy dormant at the base of the spine. This activates the psychic centres of the body and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Enlightenment? Sounds familiar.

That’s because Buddhists also meditate to achieve enlightenment.

Now listen:

This a dangerous meditation practice. I really wouldn’t want any of my readers to practice this without guidance. Please find a teacher if you want to try the Kundalini forms.

16: Kriya Yoga  

Good for: breathing, relaxation, health, inner peace

Kriya Yoga is a group of meditations and breathing exercises taught by Paramahamsa Yogananda.

 

17: Nada Yoga 

Good for: focus, relaxation, inner peace

Nada Yoga techniques are meditations in which we focus on sound.

In the early stages of Nada Yoga, we focus on external sounds like ambient music.  

Give it a try:

Nada Yoga Meditation Script

  1. Sit comfortably somewhere peaceful. Crossed-legs position is best.
  2. Play some relaxing music.
  3. Keep your hands on your knees.
  4. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  5. Take 10 meditative breaths.
  6. Meditate on the music.
  7. Move your focus from the music to your own inner-sound.
  8. Rest in this state of meditation.
  9. Stay in this state for 10 minutes.
  10. Open your eyes slowly.
  11. Release your hands.
  12. Express gratitude for this meditation.

In advanced Nada Yoga, we listen to the internal sounds of the body and mind.

But here’s the big deal:

When we practice Nada Yoga we are training the mind to hear para nada, the “Ultimate Sound”, which manifests as “OM”.

18: Tantra (includes transcendental meditation techniques)

Good for: pleasure, joy, happiness, heart, pain management

Tantra? You mean the sexual practice?

Tantra actually has a lot less to do with lovemaking than pop culture seems to think.

Tanta is a very rich tradition full of lots of different practices for mind, body and soul.

To give you an idea. One of the main tantric texts is the Vijnanabhairava Tantra. That one text contains 108 meditation alone.

Lots of them are advanced meditations not suitable for beginners.

Here are some examples of tantric meditation:

Notice how these tantra meditation practices are quite poetic? They’re advance methods of meditation not suitable for beginners.

 

19: Pranayama 

Good for: breathing, relaxation, health, overall wellbeing

Pranayama is the meditative style of breathing performed when doing yoga.

Pranayama and meditation are actually different things. The best way to think about pranayama is that it is a gateway toward the meditative state.

Because pranayama does not technically belong in this list, I won’t go into detail here.

Similar is the Tibetan pranayama technique Nine-Round breathing.

Are Yoga Meditation Techniques Best For You?

Yoga meditation techniques are best for people who already practice yoga. Some yoga meditation methods are easy and suitable for beginners, where others (Kundalini, for example) are more advanced meditations. 

Most people find the best yoga meditation techniques are the simple ones, such as focusing on pranayama while exercising, or doing mindful breathing in Savasana after your yoga practice.  

taoist monk meditation

Taoist Meditation Practices & Techniques

Daoism / Taoism was created by Lao Tzu in the 5th Century BC.

The Taoist code advocates living in harmony with the world, with nature, and with the Tao—the “path”.

In the 6th Century, Lao Tzu wrote the classic Tao Te Ching. In this classic text, Lao Tzu gave the first description of Taoist types of meditation. These techniques gradually evolved, most notably in the 8th Century, when Daoism came under the influence of Buddhism.

Here’s the most important thing:

Daoist types of meditation focus on the creation and circulation of energy, Qi, which promotes health, harmony, and unity of body, mind and spirit.

In Chinese culture, Qi is the principle energy that gives life. Most Chinese spiritualities and exercises involve the creation and circulation of Qi.

Most Westerners practise Daoist meditations methods for longevity and health.

Let’s zero-in on the most important Daoist meditations.

 

20: Emptiness  

Good for: self-awareness, inner peace, enlightenment

In emptiness meditation, we sit silently and empty the mind of thoughts.

Do you remember when we discussed Effortless Presence earlier in this article (meditation #3 above)? Emptiness is similar.

Emptiness meditation creates a state of tranquillity, allowing the body and mind to repair themselves and to restore Qi.

 

21: Zhuangzi  

Good for: energy, qi, prana, health

Daoists call breathing meditations “Zhuangzi”. They use Zhuangi to unify mind and body with qi.

In the Tao Te Ching, the sacred Taoist text, Lao Tzu instructs us to practice Zhuangi by “focusing on the vital breath until it is supremely soft.”

Further instruction is given on a relic that was found bearing the following meditation script:

To circulate the Vital Breath:
Breathe deeply, then it will collect.
When it is collected, it will expand.
When it expands, it will descend.
When it descends, it will become stable.
When it is stable, it will be regular.
When it is regular, it will sprout.
When it sprouts, it will grow.
When it grows, it will recede.
When it recedes, it will become heavenly.
The dynamism of Heaven is revealed in the ascending;
The dynamism of Earth is revealed in the descending.
Follow this and you will live; oppose it and you will die.

 

22; Inner observation  

Good for: changing thoughts, self-awareness,
intuition, insight

In this type of meditation, the practitioner visualises the inside of their body and mind, including their organs, “inner deities”, thoughts, and qi.

This inner visualising is said to develop the knowledge and understanding of one’s own nature.

23: QiGong  

Good for: health, wellbeing, energy, qi, relaxation, arthritis

A highly popular exercise in China, the word QiGong can be translated from Chinese to mean “life energy cultivation”.

As with most Chinese meditation practices, QiGong is about creating and circulating Qi around the body and mind.

In the West, QiGong is currently quite popular. Many health organisations advocate practising QiGong for the alleviation of arthritis and other health complications. Many spas and gyms run basic QiGong classes that teach a part of the overall QiGong system.

Western QiGong is usually a simplified version of the full technique.

The full QiGong system that is taught in the East is a complex system involving more than 80 types of breathing and literally thousands of different exercises.

Each QiGong exercise and technique offers different spiritual and health benefits and all have a specific reason for being.

That said, you certainly don’t need to know the precise details of all the moves just to get started.

You can readily pick up a QiGong DVD and enjoy a tremendously relaxing routine.

Are Taoist Meditation Practices Best For Me?

Taoist types of meditation are excellent for people who believe in living in harmony with nature.

They’re also great if you’re interested in improving your health and in gaining extra energy.

Some Daoist meditation practices are quite difficult (QiGong should be learnt with instruction, for instance). Other techniques, like Emptiness meditation, are perfectly suitable for newcomers.

christian meditation technique

Christian Meditation Practices & Techniques

Christian methods have a different purpose to Hindu, Buddhist, and Daoist techniques.

In the East, meditation is about purifying the mind, transcending the self, and achieving enlightenment and oneness.

The largest Western religion, Christianity, does things a little differently, albeit with somewhat similar results.

Christians practice different types of meditation practices primarily as a way to be closer to God and to understand the bible better.

One of the most popular meditation exercises for Christians is to take a passage of the bible and to meditate on it contemplatively. This is calming and can certainly have many positive results, such as developing depth of character and positive traits.

 

24; Prayer  

Good for: connecting to God, divinity, relaxation, faith, belief

Meditative prayer is a type of meditation that Christians use for contemplation.

When praying in this way, we repeat the words of a prayer in a similar fashion to fashion to repeating a mantra (though, arguably, without the energy resonances that mantras produce).

To do this, choose your favourite prayer and recite it like a mantra, meditating on both the meaning and sound of the words.

 

25: God-based 

Good for: faith, belief, inner peace

Meditating on God is another popular type of meditation for Christians. In this exercise, the individual opens their heart to God and asks to be made one with God (which is similar to the Buddhist technique of Bhakti).

Is this the best meditation practice for you?

Christian meditation is really meditation that has been adapted for integration into the Christian faith.

If you’re a Christian, definitely use this type. The bible is loaded full of references to different meditative techniques. These offer a way of increasing your connection to God.

girl listening to guided meditation

26: Guided  Meditation Techniques

Good for: relaxation, calmness, anxiety, stress, depression, more

Guided meditation can be seen in Buddhist and Chinese traditions. For instance, Neiguan is a Chinese form in which we visualise the inside of the body.

Guided meditations have really taken off recently. They have achieved stratospheric popularity in the West since the rise of the New Age movements and self-help / personal development.

Guided meditations are now one of the absolute most popular types of meditation. Simply hit up Youtube and you’ll find thousands of free guided meditations (of varying quality).

Part of the reason why visualisations have become so popular in the West is that they are so easy.

What could be easier than lying back, closing your eyes and listening to someone reading a relaxing meditation script?

But the ironic thing is that the very fact that guided meditations are easy makes them less effective than most other meditation techniques.

When you do a guided meditation you’re not really training your mind. So while guided techniques are fantastic for relaxation, they are not as effective as traditional techniques when it comes to actually training the mind.

The mind is like a muscle. To grow strong it needs to be exercised. Guided meditation can relax the mind, but it is not true “exercise”. It will not train the mind like traditional meditations do.

However, guided meditations and visualisations are still beneficial.

Just consider:

Let’s look at the most important types of guided meditations.

Different Types Of Guided Meditation Practices & Techniques

27: Body scan  

Good for: grounding, self-awareness, emotions, mind-body connection

 

Body scans, which were created by Jon Kabat Zinn, are one of the most important types of guided meditation.

Body scans are a good way to become mindful of your body. This is one type of visualisation that I personally do advocate.

The technique involves passing your focus around your body. This heightens the mind-body connection and is a great way to get back in touch with your body.

If, for instance, you’re trying to find the motivation and energy to get back into exercising, body scan meditation can help to inject energy into your body, naturally motivating you to use your body more.

 

28: Affirmations

Good for: creating positive thoughts and beliefs

Another popular type of guided meditation is affirmations.

Affirmations involve reciting a positive message in your mind while seeing a certain image.

I once taught an affirmation to a lady who was dealing with an alcoholic husband. She was fighting to preserve her inner peace (well, her “sanity”, as she called it). I taught her to use the affirmation “Calming, letting go” while visualising stress dripping off of her body like beads of water. This simple technique gave her a way to teach her own mind to let go of the stress, which helped her to relax. 

 

29: Binaural Beats  

Good for: brain, productivity

In 1839, physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove created Binaural Beats.

Dove learnt that when two different frequencies of sound are put into each ear the brain detects phrase variation. This leads the brain to try and reconcile the difference between the frequencies.

By using the right phase variation it is possible to lead the brain to produce alpha brainwaves (10 Hz), the waves used in most meditation techniques.

So if you’re looking for an alternative way to meditate, binaural beats are a good choice.

Is this the best meditation technique for you?

If you find meditation difficult at first then guided meditations can be an excellent entry point.

Guided meditations are fabulous when you get home from a hard day’s work and simply want to chill out. Put your feet up on the couch, close your eyes, and let your guide lead you to relaxation.

Here’s the problem

It’s important to know that if you start with guided meditations, the time will come when you need to move on to meditation techniques that require more effort. To build those mental muscles, you need mental exercise. Guided meditations are like taking a casual stroll, compared to the full workout that is a disciplined meditation regime.

Movement Methods

tai chi group practice

One of the most influential proponents of meditation in the twentieth century was Chandra Mohan Jain, better known as Osho.

Osho was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher.

Throughout the 1960s, Osho toured India giving inspiring but often controversial public speeches on everything from politics to spirituality.

Osho then moved to Bombay in the 1970s, where he became a spiritual teacher and gave exegeses on his interpretations of religions and philosophies.

His controversial perspectives and magnetic charisma led Osho to gain notoriety in the West in the 1970s. It was then that his teachings on meditations were translated into English.

Among Osho’s teachings was the term “Dynamic meditation” (or “Movement Meditation”).

You can learn Osho methods here,

Let’s take a look.

30: Dynamic 

Good for: energy, changing habits, mind-body connection, happiness, joy

Dynamic meditation is a form of movement meditation that was at first a very specific technique taught by Osho.

The original script has subsequently been amalgamated with other forms of movement meditation.

Today, the term “dynamic meditation” is generally used to refer to any type of meditation that involves physical activity (often dance).

So what’s so good about dynamic meditations?

They’re great for people who struggle to sit still.

When Osho created dynamic meditation he did it as a means to make meditation more applicable to modern lifestyles.

Osho believed that it is near impossible for the average modern person to enter a truly meditative state. Osho thought that most people have too much mental noise, stress, and thoughts. Ths mental noise makes it hard to focus. That is why Osho created Dynamic Meditation. It is a more active form of meditation I.t incorporates dramatic movement that is designed to release tension and inhibition. This helps us to discard mental “noise”.

 

31: Nataraj 

Good for: overcoming blockages, energy, changing habits, happiness, joy

One of Osho’s most popular dynamic meditation techniques is Nataraj, a dance meditation.

“Nataraj is the energy of dance. This is dance as a total meditation, where all inner division disappears and a subtle, relaxed awareness remains,” says the official Osho website.

“Forget the dancer, the centre of the ego; become the dance. That is meditation. Dance so deeply that you forget completely that ‘you’ are dancing and begin to feel that you are the dance. The division must disappear; then it becomes a meditation.”

Is this the best meditation technique for you?

Dynamic meditations / movement meditations offer a different experience to traditional techniques.

It’s hard to find many research papers documenting the effects of dynamic meditation. For this reason, much of what we know is speculative. However, most practitioners agree that movement meditations are energising and that these techniques create a tremendous sense of liberation.

Dynamic meditations are, of course, much more active than other meditation techniques, so they are not as easy to perform.

These forms should be learnt with the help of a professional instructor.

For Atheists

It is worth bearing in mind that although meditation stems from religious practice, it is also suitable for non-religious types and atheists.

Today, meditative techniques are practised by people of all religions, as well as agnostics and atheists, all around the world.

In fact, one of the best things about meditation is that it applies to so many people from all different walks of life.

So, bear in mind that while mindfulness is historically tied to spiritualities and religions, it can also be used as a non-religious practice.

 

More Meditation Techniques 

32: Walking (Kinhin)

Waling meditation technique is a traditional form used in Zen Buddhism, where it is called Kinhin. 

Walking meditation involves slowly walking down a path while meditating on the sense of movement in your feet and legs. It is generally done using the Buddhist mudra called Shashu.

33:  Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)

Forest Bathing Meditation is traditionally called Shinrin Yoku. It is a traditional form of Japanese meditation in which we meditate in the forest. 

Numerous scientific studies have shown that spending time in nature is good for the mind, and adding meditation to the mix simply makes things much better. 

34: Falun Gong 

Falun Gong is an advanced meditation technique that involves physical exercises like qigong and meditation methods, as well as philosophy. It became incredibly popular in China in the 1990’s. 

Conclusion

In this frankly awesome tutorial on meditation, we have looked at techniques from all around the world, and we’ve seen what different meditation techniques can be used for.

What should you do next? Find the method that works best for you!

 

Meditation Techniques PDF

Download all the meditation techniques as a PDF here. 

Which type of meditation is best for you?

Which types of meditation scripts have you tried? What do you think are the most effective types of meditations? I would love to hear your opinion in a comment below. Thank you.

Found this guide helpful?

Please share on Facebook / Twitter / your own blog.

Every time you share one of my articles you let me know I’m doing the right thing, and you motivate me to create more great content. Thanks.

 

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About Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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19 Responses

  1. Hello Paul. thanks so much for this PDF transcendental meditation/mindfulness. I’ve been practice TM 2014 it was the most deep bliss i’ve ever experience in my life and since then i was been practicing it. There were couple years i had experiencing in/out of practice. But i have the skills on how to do it. I love this TM so far and I’m continuing this forever now

  2. I just started using some binaural beats apps, usually before bed. It’s a different type of mediation (more of a trance) but it I have to admit that it works great for sleep.

  3. What is different about Transcendental Meditation? I have always been interested, but hesitant to pay so much money. A friend who used to study with Osho made some intriguing comments. I have used Mindfulness and Kundalini. I loved Kundalini but I have some current physical problems. Mindfulness is meh.

  4. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you
    don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing
    my thoughts in getting my ideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or
    hints? Cheers!

  5. Such a great article. I’m a yoga teacher and been meditating for over a year, and never knew that guided meditations ‘aren’t real’. I love them for the great peace they leave me every time, but I’ll definitely start doing different yoga based meditations.

    Thank you so much for the post! 🙂

  6. Truly a wonderful post I must say. I really appreciate your kind efforts.
    Can we really use any sought of Affirmations as/in Meditation?
    Also, is there a posture for Affirmations Meditation?
    Please suggest.
    Thanks & Stay Blessed ?

  7. I’m doing the meditation from last months and it helps me a lot. I was looking for some meditation techniques and after reading this I’m feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Namaste Paul, this is a fantastic article. I am impressed by the way you provided many techniques, for so many different inclinations that we have.

  9. Hi Paul,
    I am interested in Open Monitoring and Effortless meditations.
    Would you be so kind to reply me if I find more information about those 2 meditations in your book or everything you have written about them it is on this web page?

  10. Excellent and very useful techniques. Thanks!
    As others said, this post is not just for beginners at all. There is always something new to be learned or remembered, or a new perspective to consider.
    Cheers,

  11. Hello Paul! I am new to meditation. I am reading in chunks your article 31 meditation techniques free guide which I find it very valuable and engaging. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the world!!! ?

  12. Hi paul, since last 6 months i am doing Dynamic Meditation. Its great. I can feel changes in my life. I have decided to continue dynamic for next few years. Thanks for sharing such great post.

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