There are many different types of meditation you can learn and practice. In this article, we’ll review the general basic types of meditation. I’ll also talk about Flow Meditation, what we offer at Sura Flow.
If you’re someone who is just starting meditation, the one pressing question we receive most often is:
What is meditation?
According to Merriam Webster, meditation is a practice used to engage in contemplation, or reflection. It can also mean engaging in mental exercise, such as concentrating on your breathing. You can also meditate by repeating a mantra, or affirmation for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
Some of the different types of meditation practices reviewed in this article include:
- Awareness Meditation
- Focus Meditation
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Flow Meditation (Practiced at Sura Flow)
Many people often wonder if meditation is a spiritual or religious practice, and how it’s associated with Buddhism or yoga. While meditation has its roots in Buddhism and ancient Hindu traditions, there are many ways to practice meditation outside of these realms.
People come to meditation for many different reasons. Some people simply want to experience a state of peace and calm or less stress. Someone else may be interested in raising their consciousness or becoming self-realized so they can find their true purpose.
So as you can see, the practice of meditation can serve a number of positive benefits and help you in many ways.
History of the Practice and Basic Meditation Types
Meditation dates back to 1500 BC, from ancient Hindu traditions, and also back to Taoists China and Buddhist India so it’s a pretty old practice.
There are hundreds if not thousands of types of meditations that exist today. Some of these include:
- Zen meditation
- Qigong meditation
- Contemplative prayer or centering prayer meditation
- Metta meditation, which is the practice of compassion
There are two basic types of meditation. If you were to take all the many forms of meditations around the world and throughout history, you could generally group them into one of these two basic types of meditation:
Awareness Meditation and Focus Meditation.
- Awareness Meditation has no applied or directed technique.
- Focus Meditation involves concentrating your attention and focusing your attention.
In an awareness meditation, you sit in silence and become aware of everything that’s arising. You become aware of your thoughts, your emotions, and your energy sensations. You allow all to arise in your awareness without judgment.
In a focus meditation, you concentrate and focus your attention. These two practices are like the Yin and Yang, with the Yin being no applied practice, and the Yang being an applied practice of your mind.
Awareness Meditation Practice
Awareness meditation involves simply being aware of everything that’s coming through moment to moment in your meditation. To put this in a simpler way, imagine yourself staring into a big, blue open sky. In the sky are beautiful white clouds. These clouds represent your thoughts.
With an awareness practice, you don’t necessarily push the clouds away. You don’t cling to those thoughts either. You don’t get wrapped up within them.
You simply practice watching them float and drift by. You watch your thoughts and watch your breath. You become aware of bodily sensations and what you think about those sensations.
You become aware of your emotions, and your feelings, and you let it all come up and bubble to the surface while being a neutral, compassionate observer.
Through this contemplative practice, you start to become more and more aware of the nature of your thoughts in your mind. You become more empowered to shift those thoughts and unconscious stories that you run on a day-to-day basis.
Focused Meditation Practice
The other main type of meditation is focus meditation. This is essentially the Yang meditation where you’re directing the mind. You can focus on your breath, or focus on something in your internal or external environment.
Internal focus might involve focusing on a word or a mantra like Om, peace or calm. External focus might involve focusing on a candle flame or a flower. It involves focusing on something with all of your energy.
The aim of a focus meditation practice is to focus so intently that you become fully absorbed with what you’re focusing on.
A focus meditation gives your mind something to do. So when your mind is completely engaged and focused in the present moment, there is a shift that happens. This shift allows you to be completely present in the moment and to connect with your Higher Self.
This is a wonderful practice because it is quite clearing and centering.
This meditation may also be considered an easier meditation because there’s something for your mind to do. You can also count your breaths backward from 10 to 1. Starting with a simple task like counting is a great way to work your way up to an awareness meditation practice, which may be a little more challenging.
Mindfulness Meditation Practice
Mindfulness is also a very popular practice and it offers a great balance between focus and awareness.
Mindfulness is an awareness of being in the present moment, and being conscious of what you’re doing or engaging in, in the present moment.
It involves being aware of your thoughts, your feelings, and sensations and being aware of everything as you’re engaging in what you’re doing.
For example, you can wash dishes mindfully by gently focusing on the activity with 100% of your awareness. You might notice the warm water on your skin or simply pay attention to how you are standing or how the bubbles in the water feel.
Visualization is another very popular practice. You can use this type of practice to visualize better health, gain a sense of relaxation, to promote healing, or to enhance performance, as an artist or an athlete.
As you visualize yourself out in nature, you could start to visualize the beach, and the warm sand, the water of the ocean, or the salt against your skin. As you picture these things it really helps you to relax, and calm down.
Flow Meditation Practice
At Sura Flow, we practice flow meditation. Flow meditation has to do with your state of being and achieving a state of flow, through relaxation, and also through the awareness of energy or chi.
Everything is energy. Your energy could be stuck or it could be moving. Your energy might also feel chaotic or scattered.
Once you have more of awareness of your energy, and have a greater understanding of the consciousness of the energy that you are in, you can receive more from your meditation practice.
This state of enhanced awareness gives you the ability to tune in, and to listen, and to create consciously, with your thoughts or your energy, and your feelings.
FLOW meditation is a form of creative meditation. It’s a softer practice that allows you to bring in some of the more feminine yin aspects that help to nurture you through a sense of gentleness and compassion.
Different Ways to Meditate
- Traditional Lotus Pose
- Sitting Upright
- Lying Down
- While Engaged in Any Activity
It’s also important to keep in mind that there are many ways you can meditate.
You can meditate while sitting in the traditional Lotus Pose, you can meditate lying down, or meditate while sitting up straight with a flat back.
Some people also enjoy a walking meditation where you walk with 100% of your focus on your immediate environment. You can also do this while standing, dancing or while engaged in any contemplative activity.
It’s really more about learning how to bring that moment-to-moment awareness of your breath, of yourself, of your body, and your connection to others as well as your environment. You are learning how to raise your awareness through spiritual practice.
People come to meditation for a lot of different reasons. Some people come to simply release stress, but meditation can also help heal conditions such as PTSD. Meditation can do much more than help you feel relaxed because it can also help you tap into those higher levels of creativity, and receive those innovative ideas.
Setting an Intention
Within any meditation practice, you can also create or set an intention. An intention may be thought of as a way of listening or prayer, a way of connecting to your higher self, or simply a way to become more receptive and open to higher guidance, intuition, and imagination.
There are different schools of thought as to whether setting an intention is needed.
Setting an intention can help you be more present and help you live in a state of oneness. It can also help you think about why you’re drawn to meditation, and help inform you of how your practice can serve you best.
An intention for meditation could be anything. Some people say that you shouldn’t have a goal in meditation, but that is a personal choice.
Personally, I like the idea of setting an intention, even if it’s to become more aware of yourself and why you’re sitting on the cushion. When you have a purpose, and a higher intention, it gives you the energy to cultivate that discipline and to show up every day for yourself, and for your practice.
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, and the different techniques and types of meditation, you’re welcome to come to our homepage at Suraflow.org.
On our homepage, we also have a meditation toolkit, where you can also download a free ebook of meditation and a video guided meditation.
Thanks so much for taking the time to learn more about meditation.
The more you learn, the more you can share your knowledge about meditation. We also teach people how to share meditation by offering training to leadership, coaches, and to meditation coaches. We invite you to learn more by reading about our Certified Meditation Coach & Teacher Training, “LIBERATE”.
Lots of love.