When one thinks of meditation, we almost always visualize Buddha quietly meditating in the lotus position under a poplar fig tree or protracted by the giant Naga. However, this so-called silent meditation is only one of many different types of effective meditation. Tibetan monks have been meditating in conjunction with an active movement for centuries.
We would like to present an overview of the various meditation types, which are the most effective, and their differences.
Although there are different types of meditation, all of them pursue the same goal: expanding our consciousness on a physical and mental level. In general, all meditation types fall into two categories: Active meditation techniques (with physical exercise) and passive meditation techniques (without extensive physical training). Our following overview will help you find out which type of effective meditation suits you the most, matching your specific needs. It is certainly worth trying several techniques to find your personal favorite. You can practise them at home, in classes or on a tour in Asia, where many techniques originate from.
Passive Meditation Techniques
Passive meditation techniques are mainly concerned with the mental aspect of effective meditation. For this purpose, one usually assumes a comfortable sitting posture (such as the lotus seat) and allows the body to rest without movement. In some cases, one also lies down entirely. Usually, the eyes are kept closed. Depending on the type of meditation, you will try to deal with your thoughts in specific ways.
The most popular meditation technique (especially for beginners) is silent meditation. The practice is quite simple. You try to bring yourself into a state of absolute thoughtlessness. The attention is repeatedly directed to the emptiness or nothingness. This technique aims to let the thought patterns, which are stressed by everyday life, come to rest. For reaching the state of thoughtlessness or silence, the meditator always directs his attention to the relaxed mental mood and tries to strengthen it in the course of the effective meditation.
This effective meditation technique is mainly chosen by beginners who want to reduce their stress in everyday life. The idea behind it is that it helps people (who feel crushed by their thoughts) to find a balance and thus counteract their stress. Silent meditation can also be used in between daily activities. Therefore, it is suitable for everyone who is not necessarily interested in deep spirituality but would like to support their stressful and mentally exhausting everyday life with the help of meditation.
Mindfulness effective meditation
Mindfulness meditation is not about controlling one’s thoughts but about changing into an observer position. The aim is to be mindful of what is happening in the body and mind in the present moment. The goal is to fully perceive and unconditionally accept thoughts, emotions, and physical phenomena in the present moment.
In doing so, one focuses the attention on all sensory perceptions and feelings that one carries within oneself. This trains the non-judgmental and unintentional awareness in the here and now. The identification as thought, sensation, feeling, or as the body begins to dissolve. It is not uncommon to experience a deep connection with nature, and ego-consciousness is overcome through this effective meditation technique. This is called kensho or satori in Zen.
In mindfulness meditation, one can use ambient sounds for meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is an ancient technique that is still practised today in Buddhism (mainly by monks). In Zen Buddhism, zazen is the common effective meditation practice and a special form of mindfulness meditation. It also found its way to the Western world and became known here for its effects in psychological fields of application.
The regular practice of mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on people with ADHD. To treat trauma, depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health problems, mindfulness meditation has proven to be very helpful.
Another technique is concentration meditation. During meditation, one concentrates on something specific, such as one’s breath, a thought, a mantra, or a fixed point in space. The concentrated focus stops the everyday flow of thoughts and leads to a deep calming of the mind. Concentration is specially trained here. Therefore people with concentration difficulties can achieve good benefits from this technique.
Through the continuous return of thoughts on the object of concentration (which can be a candle, a point in space, a picture, etc.) develops over time the ability to hold his concentration for a long time.
Children, teenagers, and young adults can improve their academic performance with concentration meditation. Athletes can benefit from this effective meditation’s effects by learning to recall their absolute performance in a controlled manner. Improved concentration is beneficial in our everyday life, so it is worthwhile to explore this type of meditation.
Bodyscan is a deep relaxation technique and a particular form of mindfulness meditation. The main focus is on experiencing the entire body. The technique is usually practiced while lying down on the ground. The meditator begins with mindful awareness of all bodily impressions in the toes’ tips and works his way bit by bit to the feet, calves, legs, hips, abdomen, and finally, the rest of the body. This technique aims to focus the full attention on the body and perceive impressions to which one has not paid attention before.
Bodyscan helps to bring you into deep relaxation and is therefore ideal for anyone who wants to counteract stress.
Guided Meditation / Fantasy Journey / Dream Journey
One of the most pleasant forms of passive effective meditation is guided meditation, fantasy, or dream travel. In this case, one usually lies down or sits comfortably. You listen either to an audio instruction or to a meditation leader. The meditation guide’s voice leads the meditator and tries to achieve specific goals or certain benefits of the meditation.
For example, the meditation guide can trigger specific effects in a deep trance, such as boosting self-awareness, stimulating self-confidence, igniting self-love, activating self-healing powers, helping to stop smoking, etc. The areas of application are very individual. The prerequisite is that the meditation leader has extensive knowledge in the field of effective meditation, hypnosis, and psychology, which he can combine with a pleasant voice to create effective instruction.
This type of meditation is suitable for beginners. Children can benefit from this type of meditation, too, as they often have difficulties following conventional meditation types. This form of effective meditation is used to induce deep states of relaxation and to leave everyday stress behind.
Active mediation techniques
The active meditation techniques differ from the passive ones. Here movement is integrated. In the active meditation techniques, physical activity becomes part of the meditation. Especially for people who sit a lot in their everyday life, the active effective meditation techniques can combine two effects: training for both body and mind. Movement is always associated with activity in the brain. While the mind is busy with the physical exercises, thoughts can come to rest and help the mind to open up to deep experiences and insights.
Walking meditation is done by many people intuitively. Walking is popular as a way to clear the mind and escape from stress. Walking meditation is a more concentrated form of walking. It releases energy blockages and increases your overall mindfulness. It focuses your thoughts entirely on the physical movement and all the mental processes that come with it, allowing you to learn to fix the thoughts on only one thing. Your thoughts remain focused and do not digress, increasing the ability to concentrate while the body and mind remain relaxed.
This efective meditation technique can be integrated into your everyday life. Every walk can be transformed into a meditation that has a positive effect without investing additional time. There is no time limit for this kind of meditation. It can be practiced for 2 minutes or even 2 hours. Usually, a duration of about 15 minutes is recommended.
Walking meditation can be practiced anywhere, whether in a park or along a busy street. You focus your attention entirely on the movement of your body. Each step is perceived with complete awareness: The process of how the leg is lifted, how the hip swings the leg forward when the leg comes back up, and the step changes to the other leg. Additionally, you can combine walking harmoniously with your breathing for an even more extensive effect.
Vipassana meditation is as old as Buddhism itself, having been handed down by the founder of Buddhism Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). It is also known as insight meditation or active mindfulness meditation. The goal of Vipassana meditation is to overcome the suffering (dukkha) caused by not seeing (avijjâ) and delusion (kilesa). At the same time, this is a significant core aspect of the Buddhist faith: the liberation of life in Nirvana. There is no requirement to subscribe to the Buddhist belief to practice this type of effective meditation. Also, non-Buddhists practice this technique.
Vipassana means “clear vision” or “seeing things as they really are.” Insight meditation helps with self-transformation through self-observation. This means experiencing the mind-body connection through mindfulness during one’s daily life. This is to become absolutely aware of one’s bodily processes that influence the conditioning of the mind. The common origin of body and mind shall be found by dissolving mental impurities and bringing the physical processes into a healthy balance. The technique aims to perceive the world as it is.
All the processes of everyday life are experienced with fully extended awareness. The attempt is made to extend mindfulness to the maximum in every activity. Through regular practice, the world is perceived as it is. All physical and mental processes are entirely accepted and embraced. The universal laws of life are understood. The practitioner is freed from the cycle of suffering and is in a state of enlightenment.
This effective meditation technique is only suitable for people who are ready to change their life and everyday habits completely and fundamentally restructure their way of living and thinking. Often such a spiritual change is difficult to reconcile with the average daily life. For this reason, Vipassana meditation is practiced in block sessions, some of which can last several weeks, to experience the positive changes and subsequently integrate them into your daily life.
Strictly speaking, yoga is not simply a effective meditation technique. Yoga is also much more than a physical workout, as offered in gyms in Western countries. Yoga is Indian philosophy. The physical movement and also meditative effects are only a small part of a large field of knowledge.
In Yoga, there is an excellent potential for the development of consciousness, which is also the goal of practicing yoga. Also, the differentiated western yoga practices have an extremely effective meditative effect. Body and mind are united in the exercises and lead to physical and mental balance. Physical effort is a sportive activity and can be very exhausting. With Yoga, you have the possibility to experience equally positive effects for body and mind.
You can study the spiritual teachings of yoga more deeply over the years and come closer to the state of enlightenment (Samadhi). Today, yoga is still traditionally practiced by the yogis or yoginis in India. The teaching has spread in all its variations all over the globe. Yoga is suitable for everyone who is looking for sportive activity, and at the same time wants to develop spiritually to enrich one’s everyday life by the positive effects of the philosophical teaching.
Tai Chi and Qigong
Taijiquan and Chigong is originally a martial arts technique from ancient China that is still practiced today as a popular sport. Over the years, it has lost its actual martial arts aspect in most practicing circles and now serves more as a meditative gymnastics that connects body and mind.
Tai-chi and qigong are prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diseases to stabilize the body’s energy balance. The flow of energy is called chi and is directed through the body by movements. The chi is supposed to flow through the body and multiply there.
The best way to learn the practice is to attend a club or martial arts school, where this martial art is practiced with people in a group and taught by an experienced teacher. With a little experience, one can also practice this technique alone.
Practitioners report the strong meditative effects they feel during the technique.
Conclusion about the most effective meditation
There are choices of different meditation techniques to suit everyone. To find the most suitable meditation technique for you, it is worth trying several of them. Success will not come immediately, which means you will have to try and practice regularly to achieve the results you wish to obtain. However, all of these meditation techniques will be helpful to support you in your daily life by finding time to disconnect from your environment for a while and indulge in a break to regain mental and physical power for your wellbeing.