Regular meditation can come with a host of benefits. But just like certain yoga classes are more appealing than others depending on what you’re looking for in a practice, the same is true of meditation class. Luckily, with guided meditation showing up in everything from podcasts to Fortune 500 companies, you’re sure to find a class that fits your needs.
Different Types of Meditation
Research continues to show that meditation practices can change your brain for the better, increasing focus and memory and even slowing aging. It doesn’t always matter how you get there as long as you get there.
We've rounded up a list of practices, according to Jaime Pfeffer, meditation teacher and author of "Meditation for Moms."
-Mindfulness meditation (being aware). Usually conducted with eyes open and person fully conscious. Quick exercises that last 3-5 minutes.
-Alpha-level meditation (what most people think of when they think of meditating. Usually 20-30 minutes long. Can be silent or guided.
-Trance (similar to hypnosis). Deep level of meditation.
Tips for Choosing a Meditation Class to Fit Your Personality
1. Experiment with different classes.
“Try meditation at least six times before writing it off,” says Pfeffer.
Quite simply, the best way to figure out what meditation is the best fit is by trying all of the different varieties and seeing what feels authentic.
2. Identify your dominant sense.
It’s helpful to identify what sense is dominant when it comes to relaxation, according to Jefferey Martin, founder of the Transformative Technology Lab for Well Being at Sofia University. Does visualization help you to calm down? What about relaxing music or scanning the body for tension. We’re all different, says Martin, and we all respond differently to stimulus. Choose a meditation practice that highlights your dominant sense.
3. Connect with a teacher.
If your teacher doesn’t make you feel at ease and open, that meditation class might not be the right fit. The teacher shouldn’t be rushed or distracted. Sometimes it’s less about the type of meditation that the teacher is teaching and more about the teacher herself, according to Karen Downing, meditation teacher and founder of Your Soul Mission.
4. Utilize YouTube.
YouTube is your best friend when it comes to experimenting with different types of meditation.
“I would recommend trying out a few different YouTube videos,” says Downing. “Try two or three different videos for each style of meditation you are interested in. Even if you don’t connect deeply with the practitioner, you should still be able to determine which style(s) suited you best.”
5. Keep at it.
The benefits of meditation don’t happen overnight. If you’re completely sure you don’t want to try a form of meditation again, that’s one thing, but for the most part, try and stay committed, says Downing.
“If you don’t think a form of meditation is working for you, and you are just starting out, I would recommend that you try it at least five to 10 times before making a decision,” she says. “In the beginning of a new style (especially for those just starting out with meditation), it can be difficult to learn how to shut off your mental chatter, so you need to give it a good go before you decide to give up on it.”
The most important part of choosing a meditation practice is that you do it as often as possible. Try and meditate every day at around the same time so you can get into a routine.
6. Go on retreat.
Once you’ve identified a teacher and a type of meditation, it’s time to dive right in. Meditation retreats are great ways to take your practice to the next level. On retreat, you’re often able to come to a quieter place than you can in daily meditation. Once you get back to your daily practice at home, you can intermix what you’ve learned on retreat. The best part is retreats don’t have to be expensive and some are even free. Meditation centers are sometimes donation-based, for example. Ashrams are also good venues for cultivating a deeper meditation practice because you often meditate three times per day. Ashrams sometimes allow you to work at the facility and take classes for free as well.
7. We all hit plateaus.
Just because you hit a plateau doesn’t mean it’s not working. Some changes are more obvious that others. But in those times when you want to step things up a notch, consider spending time outdoors alone. It’s a great way to ground down and reconnect with yourself.
According to Downing, it’s natural to hit plateaus in your meditation practice every now and again. “I often recommend adding walking meditation, or forest bathing, as a regular part of your meditation routine,” she says. "Together they create a fabulous inspirational flow for my own intuition, insights, priorities, and peace of mind.”
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