Like exercise, a nutritious diet, quality sleep, and a creative outlet, meditation is a form of self-care for the mind and body that can improve your quality of life when practiced regularly. Ultimately, meditation is about paying attention: to your surroundings, your thoughts, your feelings, and the sensations your mind and body respond to. But where to begin? There are many different types of meditation, and some are completely different from each other. Many people think meditation is a religious practice, and while it can be, it doesn’t need to be. Here are 13 types of meditation to know about so you can get started, including the ideal types of meditation for beginners.

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13 Types of Meditation

meditation on a mountain sunrise
Meditation is, fundamentally, the act of paying attention to the present.

From quiet types of meditation that ground and calm you to more physical, active, and creative forms of meditation, here are 13 different types of meditation to know about.

1. Guided Meditation

Best For: Beginners

Not a type of meditation per se, guided meditation is simply any of the other types of meditation that are guided by an instructor, companion, or anyone else who knows what they’re doing—even an app or an audio clip! 

Unless you want to try a completely silent form of meditation, guided meditation is an ideal type of meditation for beginners because you will be given prompts for how to sit or move, and the types of thoughts you should be encouraging or letting go of. If you’re completely new to meditation, guided meditation is a good way to get things started.

2. Mindfulness Meditation

Best For: Reducing stress, busy people

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on what is happening or being felt right now. A lot of stress can be generated by reflecting on the past or worrying about the future, but mindfulness trains you to let these go. There are different ways of practicing mindfulness, but mindfulness meditation typically involves deep breathing. A comfortable place to sit and five minutes to focus the mind and body is all you need for mindfulness meditation.

3. Vipassana

Best For: Spiritual seekers

Sometimes called insight meditation, Vipassana is an ancient Indian form of meditation that focuses on the connection between mind and body. It’s connected with Buddhism and the Buddha himself, who was born in modern-day Nepal. In this regard, Vipassana is often considered a form of Buddhist meditation, but anyone can practice the techniques. Vipassana retreat centers operate around the world and typically offer courses that run for 10 days.

4. Loving Kindness Meditation

Best For: Developing compassion and kindness

Another form of Buddhist meditation, loving kindness meditation (or maitri) is the practice of focusing loving and kind thoughts toward yourself and others while meditating. It’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds, because many people are quite resistant to self-love and compassion in particular. But, with practice, loving kindness meditation can help increase your capacity for forgiveness, connection with others, and self-acceptance.

5. Zen Meditation

Best For: Stress management and fighting overwhelm

Zen meditation is a form of Buddhist meditation originating in Japan. Its goal is to regulate your attention and where it is directed. Zen meditation involves sitting in a cross-legged (or lotus) position, with a straight back, and taking deep breaths. It doesn’t require focusing on a particular object (as some other types of meditation mentioned below do) but rather on the self, the thoughts, and physical feelings.

6. Mantra Meditation

Best For: Improving concentration

A mantra is a word or a phrase that is repeated throughout meditation. While the word itself is Sanskrit, your mantra doesn’t have to be: an English word or phrase works just as well. A traditional Sanskrit mantra is om mani padme hum, meaning “the jewel is in the lotus,” but you can chant something that’s meaningful to you, such as “I have compassion for myself and others.” 

Chanting a mantra can help you focus on being mentally and physically present while meditating, as your focus turns toward the repetition and is less likely to jump around to other thoughts and feelings.

7. Transcendental Meditation

Best For: Improved awareness, stress relief

Transcendental meditation is a specific type of silent mantra meditation developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. Like other forms of meditation, transcendental meditation aims to improve awareness and reduce stress through the repetition of silent mantras to yourself while seated with your eyes closed. Transcendental meditation is taught through one-on-one instructors, programs, and courses affiliated with the official Transcendental Meditation movement.

8. Sound Bath Meditation

Best For: Improving concentration

Like repeating a mantra, being surrounded by sounds and vibrations can help focus the mind during meditation. You’re less likely to be distracted by thoughts of what’s for dinner or taking your cat to the vet if your attention is focused on a particular sound. Gongs, singing bowls, percussion, and other instruments are used to make long vibrating or humming sounds. You can create these sounds yourself if you have the instruments, or join a guided group meditation. 

Don’t just put the radio on, though: The point here is not to listen to music with a rhythm and melody while meditating!

9. Visualization Meditation

Best For: Achieving success

In visualization meditation, practitioners envision and focus on an object, person, idea, or affirmation. You can visualize anything you like, as long as it’s positive. Like types of meditation that include a mantra, the purpose of the visualization is to remove other distractions from your mind. But it’s also a way of directing your energy toward outcomes you desire. 

For instance, athletes often practice visualization meditation as a way of focusing on success, with the goal of achieving what they’ve visualized. As well as being well worth a shot, this form of meditation can also put you in a positive frame of mind, even if you don’t quite get the object of your desire right away. 

10. Yoga Meditation

Best For: Physical conditioning

There are many different types of yoga, and while some types are more meditative than others, all traditional forms of yoga emphasize the connection between the breath, the mind, and the body. Yoga involves a series of asana, or physical poses, that are performed in unison with the breath. Regular practitioners of yoga can perform asana sequences while letting go of other thoughts and concerns, therefore practicing a form of meditation. Some common types of yoga meditation include ashtanga yoga and vinyasa yoga. 

11. Movement Meditation

Best For: Restless bodies

Many types of meditation require sitting still, which can be a real challenge for some people. If you can’t or won’t sit still for long but still want to try meditating, movement meditation might be for you. 

Also sometimes called dynamic meditation, this form of meditation can be done while walking calmly or standing and moving your limbs. You focus on the movements of your body and the feelings generated rather than the outcomes or direction of that movement. Yoga can be a form of movement meditation.

12. Qigong Meditation

Best For: Relieving physical pain, physical conditioning

Qigong is an ancient Chinese form of meditation that, somewhat like yoga or tai chi, combines gentle physical movement, controlled breathing, and focusing the mind. Although scientific studies are limited and you should always consult a medical professional before starting a new form of exercise if you have health conditions, practitioners of qigong meditation believe it can help relieve some chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure, back pain, fatigue, and more. 

Qigong can be practiced actively or passively: Active qigong involves more physical movement, while passive qigong involves stillness and controlled breathing.

13. Art Meditation

Best For: Creative, artistic people

While art meditation may not be the first form of meditation that comes to mind, anyone who has engaged in and been absorbed by an artistic practice will know that creating something can really clear the mind. Doodling and abstract art, in particular, can help you de-stress, especially when you’re focused more on the process than the outcome. Art therapy is a recognized form of therapy and is connected to art meditation, demonstrating a scientific basis for how and why art can improve one’s mental health. 

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Written by:

Elen Turner