Meditation is one of those things that most people want to do, in theory. But life gets busy and it’s easy for a mindful practice to be one of the first things to fall by the wayside.
Meditation isn’t going to burn off all those calories from your pizza binge, clean your pad, or write that brief for you, after all. Not to mention, the actual practice can feel incredibly intimidating. How does one sit still and clear their mind without getting distracted by everyday thoughts and concerns?
Types of Meditation
Once you’ve committed to the idea of exploring meditation, note that there are four basic types.
1. Guided Meditation
“First, there’s guided where you’re usually led by someone to visualize imagery, light, sight, sounds, or even scent,” said Serena Poon, Wellness Coach and Founder of Just Add Water.
2. Mantra Meditation
Then there is the mantra. “Mantras are calming words or sounds that not only help with meditation, but they also have layers of meaning for you to examine as you meditate,” explains Poon. “Some people find that simply repeating mantras can help ignore distracting thoughts.”
3. Mindful Meditation
Poon also singles out mindful meditation, she said: “When we practice mindfulness, we practice living in the moment.”
Unlike other types of meditation where we try to block out external distractions, mindful meditation encourages us to be more aware of our surroundings, our senses, and our actions.
4. Journaling Meditation
Finally, there’s journaling. “I recommend mindful journaling to all of my clients,” Poon said. “There are so many different ways, but for beginners who are short on time, start by mentally listing things you’re grateful for or things that you love about yourself.”
How To Find The Right Meditation Type For You
Finding the meditation type that best suits you will take time and practice.
“It should be comfortable, easy to do, and produce real results — and not just in the long term, but also within the first week or so of learning,” said Robert Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation and author of “Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation.”
“If one type doesn’t work for you, keep looking! The need for resilience is too great to just quit all meditations because one type didn’t work.”
Meditation Apps and Essentials
The hardest part of any form of mediation is often simply starting, which is where apps come in. Not only do apps allow you to get into a meditative state from pretty much anywhere, but many of them will also help guide you through the process.
“My favorite app would have to be ‘Insight Timer’. I always describe it to people as the YouTube of meditation apps because it literally has something for everyone — every type of practice, every type of guide,” Tygielski said.
“It’s perfect for beginners and advanced meditators alike. If you don't know what type of meditation practice you connect best with, the app allows you to start and stop several different types of practices until you find the right one. Also, many other apps only feature one or a few guides. With Insight Timer, there are thousands of guides. Finally, my favorite feature is the fact that you can search by what ails you with terms such as insomnia, anxiety, or lack of focus.”
Another popular one is ‘Simple Habit’. “I really feel like there is something for everyone [on Simple Habit] and it gives one a chance to explore different styles,” said Agro.
“I also like Calm — it even has a ‘Kids Meditation’ section — and Headspace. I like what [Headspace] is doing with their eye-open mindfulness exercises; I don’t think meditation is just about quiet and stillness. We need to be able to take our practice out into the real world and apply it.”
The idea of being able to practice anywhere ties into another nice thing about meditation — you don’t need to buy any products to try it out. That being said, depending on the style you opt for, accessories can make your practice more enticing.
“If you choose a practice that requires you to sit on the floor in a cross-legged pose, a mat, and a cushion are really helpful. Something like The Walden Kit or Zafu’s Buckwheat filled cushion is great,” said Agro.
“A cushion lifts your hips and rolls them slightly forward. When this happens, your posture supports the natural curve of your lower back and sitting in this form becomes more comfortable, which enables you to focus on your meditation.”
If you want to take your seated meditation practice with you, Agro also recommends Mobile Meditator’s inflatable meditation cushion.
Zen Alarm Clock
In addition to a cushion, Agro suggests a timer so you don’t have to wonder how long you’ve been sitting. “Time is fluid in meditation. Sometimes it feels like forever and sometimes like a split second.”
You can use your phone, but if you want something special she suggests the Zen alarm clock, which offers a gentler way to wake up. “You’ll notice, that most accessories, regardless of style, are really about removing the things that could bother you while you are practicing — noise, discomfort, distraction.”