Choose The Perfect Meditation That's Right For You!

Updated: Sep 7

Most would agree that meditation provides much needed benefits for us in an increasingly fast-paced world such as increased focus, calm, and clarity. But sticking with a meditation practice can be a challenge. So how do you make it a constant in in your daily routine? Finding the type of meditation that’s right for you is an important first step. Whether you see yourself sitting serenely in a quiet, Zen-like space, or moving your body in the outdoors, there is a style of meditation for everyone.


Explore These Popular (and a few unique) Styles To Find Your Perfect Fit


7 people enjoying a multi-generational, multi-gender meditation class
Practice a loving-kindness meditation with like-minded yogi's

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For the Outdoor/Fitness Enthusiast

A walking meditation might be just the ticket if the great outdoors is your happy place. The beauty of a walking meditation is that it gets you outside in the fresh air, gets your body moving if the thought of sitting still makes you cringe, and can be done anywhere. It’s also an approachable meditation for beginners.

Zen Master and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches a simple approach to walking meditation[1]: be present in every step, take two or three steps for each in-breath and each out-breath, and recite a short verse in each breath if you choose.

Some example verses from Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice center, Plum Village, include:

  • “I have arrived” on the inhale and “I am home” on the exhale

  • “In the here” on the inhale and “In the now” on the exhale

  • “I am solid” on the inhale and “I am free” on the exhale

singing bowl with candles and incense are tools to help meditations
Singing bowl with candles and incense

For the Language Lover/Conversationalist

Try a mantra meditation[2]. Sacred Sanskrit words, sounds, or phrases, also known as Mantras, are believed to have an individual and unique vibration as well as spiritual and psychological power. They are typically used to keep the mind focused during meditation. You can repeat your mantra aloud and then internally for several minutes, or try the more traditional 108 repetitions — using the beads in a mala necklace to keep count. Some well-known mantras include:

  • Om (A-U-M)

  • So-ham (so hum)

  • om namah shivaya (Aum Num-ha Shi-why)

  • om mani padme hum (ohm mah nee pahd may hum)

“Om”[3] is perhaps the most popular and important of these mantras, as it is said to be the first, original vibration that represents the sound of the universe.

For the Music Lover

For those uncomfortable with silent meditation practices, music can provide a more familiar

Black man centered while listening to his music meditation
man listening to music meditations

first step into a meditation practice. Playing a song on repeat[4] during meditation, for example, can give you a similar experience to a mantra meditation. Noted American author, entrepreneur, and podcaster, Tim Ferriss, explains, “[Music] can act as an external mantra that focuses present-state awareness for both training and nonathletic work.”

Similarly, the practice of Nada yoga[5], or the yoga of sound, helps you reach a higher state of consciousness through music and sounds. By listening to and first focusing on calming external sounds, such as nature-inspired or instrumental sounds, you can quiet the mind and begin to hear and focus on your own internal sounds.

For the Philanthropist

The soothing compassion of a loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, is a beneficial practice to work with if you need a boost of positivity and connection. It’s also a great meditation for beginners. In her Real Happiness Meditation Challenge, world-renowned teacher of Buddhist meditation practices, Sharon Salzburg, describes loving-kindness meditation as, “a profound recognition that our lives have something to do with one another, that everyone counts, everyone matters.”

Young adults finishing a morning mindfulness meditation class
Young adults finishing a morning mindfulness meditation class

This simple meditation is performed by sitting comfortably and taking a deep breath before repeating phrases of well wishes first to yourself and then progressively outward to others. At the 2015 Menla “Real Love Annual Meditation + Yoga Retreat,” Salzburg describes the phrases as the “conduit for paying attention differently.” Example phrases include:

  • May (I) (you) (all beings) feel protected and safe

  • May (I) (you) (all beings) be peaceful and happy, at ease in body and mind

  • May (I) (you) (all beings) be free of suffering

  • May (I) (you) (all beings) be filled with lovingkindness

For the Meditation Newbie

Not sure what to do during meditation? Let someone else help you! Guided meditation either in person with a teacher or through apps might be your perfect fit. Some popular app choices to help you become familiar with the process and guide you through targeted meditation sessions include:

  • Calm by Calm.com

  • Headspace by Headspace Inc.

  • Insight Timer by Insight Network Inc.


For the Artist/Creative

Practicing a visualization meditation can speak to your inner artist/creative. This could include imagining an object and all its features, or a single color that is chosen for its meaning[6] or that appears naturally to you.

To take your color meditation further, try a chakra meditation by visualizing the colors of the seven energy centers, or chakras, where they are located in the body:

chakra meditation visualized by their colors evoke energy centers, or chakras, located in the body
chakra meditation visualized by their colors evoke energy centers, or chakras, located in the body
  1. Root chakra, base of the spine: red

  2. Sacral chakra, below the navel: orange

  3. Solar plexus chakra, stomach area: yellow

  4. Heart chakra, center of the chest: green

  5. Throat chakra, base of the throat: blue

  6. Third eye chakra, just above the area between the eyes: indigo

  7. Crown chakra, top of the head: violet

For the Student/Observer

Mindfulness meditation is a highly popular form of meditation that comes in various forms and is a core component of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR). Mindfulness expert and founder of the MBSR program, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. This meditation allows our thoughts to be present. Observe them with objectivity and compassion, rather than try to silence them or alter them.


In its simplest form, a mindfulness meditation could include sitting comfortably and bringing awareness to breath and bodily sensations like the gentle heat produced where the breath touches the skin below your nose.

Or, you can go further with a body scan meditation, a popular technique in the MBSR program. Lying flat on your back:

  • Check in with the body to feel the connection between it and the mat/floor.

  • Scan individual parts of the body starting at one foot and allowing each one to fade from awareness as you move to the next. The goal is to simply notice how each part is feeling, not to judge what you find.

  • Connect all parts of the body together such as feeling the fingers connected to the hands and the hands to the arms, and even the temperature of the skin.

Establishing The Right Meditation Style Early Will Help You In The Long-Run

Finding the right style of meditation for you may take some time and experimentation, but when you do, you’ll find it easier to stay committed to your practice. No matter which style(s) fit you, taking time for relaxation and calming of the mind can benefit every area of your life.


[1] "Walking Meditation," Plum Village, January 28, 2014, accessed April 04, 2019, https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/walking-meditation/.

[2] Julie Lynch et al., "Mantra Meditation for Mental Health in the General Population: A Systematic Review," European Journal of Integrative Medicine 23 (October 2018): 101-108, doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2018.09.010.

[3] Ajay Anil Gurjar and Siddharth A. Ladhake, "Time-Frequency Analysis of Chanting Sanskrit Divine Sound “OM” Mantra," IJCSNS International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security 8, no. 8 (August 2008): 170-175, http://paper.ijcsns.org/07_book/200808/20080825.pdf.

[4] Tim Ferriss, "Question Everything You Know About Fitness," Outside Magazine, October 2016, , September 19, 2016, accessed March 29, 2019, https://www.outsideonline.com/2113776/question-everything-tim-ferriss-fitness?utm_content=buffereddd5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

[5] Kamakhya Kumar, "Practice of Nada Yoga to Reduce Stress," Nature and Wealth 8, no. 2, January 2009, accessed April 8, 2019, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215534097_Practice_of_Nada_Yoga_to_Reduce_Stress.

[6] Olivia Briggs, "What Colors Mean in Other Cultures," SmarterTravel, January 22, 2016, https://www.smartertravel.com/what-colors-mean-in-other-cultures/.


Bibliography

Gurjar, Ajay Anil, and Siddharth A. Ladhake. "Time-Frequency Analysis of Chanting Sanskrit Divine Sound “OM” Mantra." IJCSNS International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security 8, no. 8 (August 2008): 170-75. http://paper.ijcsns.org/07_book/200808/20080825.pdf.

Briggs, Olivia. "What Colors Mean in Other Cultures." SmarterTravel. January 22, 2016. https://www.smartertravel.com/what-colors-mean-in-other-cultures/.

Ferriss, Tim. "Question Everything You Know About Fitness." Outside Magazine, October 2016. September 19, 2016. Accessed March 29, 2019. https://www.outsideonline.com/2113776/question-everything-tim-ferriss-fitness?utm_content=buffereddd5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

Kumar, Kamakhya. "Practice of Nada Yoga to Reduce Stress." Nature and Wealth 8, no. 2. January 2009. Accessed April 8, 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215534097_Practice_of_Nada_Yoga_to_Reduce_Stress.

Lynch, Julie, Lucia Prihodova, Pádraic J. Dunne, Áine Carroll, Cathal Walsh, Geraldine Mcmahon, and Barry White. "Mantra Meditation for Mental Health in the General Population: A Systematic Review." European Journal of Integrative Medicine 23 (October 2018): 101-08. doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2018.09.010.

"Walking Meditation." Plum Village. January 28, 2014. Accessed April 04, 2019. https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/walking-meditation/.