Whether you’re a meditation rookie or a mindfulness master, there are plenty of different meditation styles to try according to your personality type and goals.
Best for: If you’re introverted, calm and cool.
How to: Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a chair, with your back completely straight. Focus on inhaling and exhaling, and the energy of the breath going in and out of your body. Count the breath if that helps you focus.
Tip: If you’re having trouble focusing, try playing background sounds such as a rainforest, the ocean, a running stream of water or temple sounds. You can find heaps of soundtracks online.
Zen level: Intermediate.
Best for: If you get anxious or a meditation beginner.
How to: Intentionally focusing on the present moment by switching off your autopilot. Pay attention to your thoughts, sensations, and emotions but don’t lose yourself in them. As soon as you notice your thoughts wandering off, bring yourself back to the present moment.
Tip: There are plenty of mindfulness apps that offer guided meditations helpful for newbies. Try Headspace or Buddhify.
Zen level: Beginner.
Best for: Those who are creative or extroverted.
How to: Choose one syllable or word without any particular meaning (“OM” is a popular one). With your spine erect and eyes closed, repeat this mantra over and over. You can choose to say it in your mind, whisper it or – if you’re feeling bold – say it loudly. As you repeat the word, it creates a mental vibration that allows your mind to experience deeper levels of awareness.
Tip: Mantra meditation is great for when your mind is racing, as it demands constant attention on the one word which is great for quieting distracting thoughts.
Zen level: Beginner to intermediate.
Best for: If you are open-minded or disciplined.
How to: Made popular by The Beatles, Transcendental Meditation is an elusive practice created by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The how-to details are a bit sketchy as it’s not a freely available practice – classes are only offered by certified Transcendental Meditation teachers and can be expensive. The word on the street: Transcendental Meditation involves using a mantra with your eyes closed for 15 to 20 minutes, twice a day.
Zen level: Training is provided, so Transcendental Meditation should be suitable for all levels of experience as long as you’re committed.
Tip: Because of the secrecy surrounding the practice, it has been criticised as resembling a cult or religion. Proceed with caution and a healthy skepticism if you want to give this one a go.
Best for: Those of you who like to stay active or find they are restless during plain old meditation.
How to: Yoga is about connecting the body and mind through a combination of postures, body movement, breathing and meditative practices. It is often practiced as physical exercise in the West, but it has a strong spiritual core. With origins in India, it is the oldest meditation practice on Earth.
Zen level: All levels. There’s a large variety of yoga disciplines and you can find a style to suit you.
Tip: Yoga is a great practice to help ease into meditation, especially if you’re feeling intimidated. If you can’t physically attend a yoga class then try guided yoga apps: yoga daily or yoga studio. There are also some great guided yoga videos online – we recommend Yoga with Adriene.
Best for: If you are easily distracted, fidgety or spiritually inclined.
How to: Listening intently to music, instruments or sounds brings you into a state of deep, peaceful inner silence. The sound vibrations are said to open and bring awareness to your chakras or energy centres in your body. There are many different sound meditation practices, focusing on chants, vibrations, frequencies, calming sound effects or music.
Tip: Can be a very spiritual experience and you may feel an intense calm.
Zen level: All levels.
NEXT: Discover the benefits of meditation here.