Different types of meditation
Concentration meditation on breathing is a foundation of meditation practice. However, there are a few more techniques or types of meditation you can add to it to make practice your own.
Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson in their amazing book “The Science of Meditation” suggested the following three different types of meditation: attentional (that’s what we suggested as our basic meditation practice), constructive (see our loving-kindness practice) and deconstructive (see our vipassana instructions or tailored practices to help with depression, PTSD and anxiety).
The following tools simply allow you to curiously attend to meditation practice depending on your need at the present moment. For example, for some fidgety types a movement meditation may be needed, for those who are too harsh on themselves – compassionate practice, and so on.
Madonna Gauding in her book “The Meditation Bible” suggested that all techniques could be somehow classified as focusing, thinking, visualizing or experiencing. Clearly, she means our concentration meditation on breathing as a good example of focusing practice, whereas thinking and experiencing are major characteristics of vipassana meditation. You can use a visualizing technique as an additional tool to your own meditation practice.
List of additional meditation techniques
Please have a look at our list of auxiliary meditation techniques and we welcome your feedback. What works for you? How do you combine different elements for yourself?
Body scan – you can incorporate this into your daily practice directly at the beginning of the meditation after you’ve settled your body and mind.
Meditation begins by asking us to rest our minds in our bodies, as we rest our bodies on a cushion. And to pay deliberate attention to, rather than ignore, the shifting sensations of the physical organism.
These sensations can be subtle, but by spending time with them we start to see two important things:
1) the inner experience is changing incessantly;
2) we are driven out of the present moment by our likes and dislikes (taken from “Advice not given” by Dr Mark Epstein).
Noting technique. Every time thoughts and feelings carry you away from breathing, it is beneficial to make a mental note about it. After that, you can non-judgmentally put a mark whether that was a feeling or thinking. Note whether it was positive, negative or neutral.
Movement meditation. You can be mindful not only when waiting and standing, but when walking or extending this practice over a more prolonged time. For that, you need to establish a space outside or a path and make time for an undisturbed waking practice.
Acceptance (of pain) and compassion – it starts from yourself and then extends to your family, friends, acquaintances, people you do not like or indifferent to and then the whole world.
Compassion to yourself is an incredibly valuable skill to train. Many people are resigned to the way they speak to themselves. We can take our stories seriously, but not to take them for granted. “Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.” (Mark Epstein “Advice not given”)
Breathing anchor helps to train compassion
You realize that you are not your thoughts. They come and go and you don’t nee top push yourself for that.
Dr Epstein in the same book agreed with the above. ‘Meditation suggests that we stay with our raw material of a given experience longer than we used to, and question our secondary add-ons. One’s story never changes if it is simply ignored; it just lies in wait, ready to return with the vengeance. You can take responsibility for the way you are talking to yourself, not to give thoughts a free pass. When one learns to observe the addictive and self-perpetuating nature of many of our thoughts, their dominance diminishes. Refreshed by this discovery, the mind senses relief.’
Eating and drinking meditation – being completely present at the moment you need to fully experience the sensations, realise how you like them and simply be.
Yoga meditation – combines still poses and also vinyasa practice when you combine it with mindful movement.
Meditation techniques further develop your meditation practice
As you can see, this short list of additional meditation techniques is nothing extraordinary. Yet it offers you a possibility to approach meditation with a different standpoint or even from a beginner’s view. It’s very valuable as you will develop your practice your own way. It allows you to cultivate your mind how you need it yourself. No-one can do it for you. You will find simplicity and a lot of beauty in this practice and we welcome you to develop it.