A Few Worthwhile Meditative Practices

Oct 01, 2020
A Few Worthwhile Meditative Practices

While the Fall is always great, there's no doubt that being cooped up in the city during the colder months can start to get challenging. Even more so when we are all doing our best to socially distance, and work from home.

Here are a few meditative tricks and practices to help with those moments (just feel the sole of your shoe!).

Researchers generally classify meditation techniques into two different categories: concentrative and non-concentrative. Concentrative techniques involve focusing on a particular object that's generally outside of oneself such as a candle's flame, the sound of an instrument, or a mantra. Non-concentrative meditation, on the other hand, can include a broader focus such as the sounds in your environment, internal body states, and even your own breathing. Note that there can be overlap with these techniques—meditation can be both concentrative and non-concentrative.

There are many different ways to meditate. Think of the following categories of meditation techniques as a jumping-off point to understand the practices and differences among some of the main options, rather than an exhaustive list.

Basic Meditation

This involves sitting in a comfortable position and using the breath as a point of focus. If you find yourself distracted by other thoughts or find your mind wandering, gently redirect your focus back toward your breaths.

Focused Meditation

With focused meditation, you focus on something with intention without engaging your thoughts on it. You can zero in on something visual, like a statue; something auditory, like a metronome or recording of ocean waves; something constant, like your own breathing; or a simple concept, like "unconditional compassion."

Some people find it easier to do this than to focus on nothing, but the idea is the same—staying in the present moment, circumventing the constant stream of commentary from your conscious mind, and allowing yourself to slip into an altered state of consciousness.

Activity-Oriented Meditation

Activity-oriented meditation combines meditation with activities you may already enjoy, or with new activities that help you focus on the present. With this type of meditation, you engage in a repetitive activity or one where you can get "in the zone" and experience "flow." Again, this quiets the mind and allows your brain to shift.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness can be a form of meditation that, like activity-oriented meditation, doesn’t really look like meditation. Mindfulness simply involves staying in the present moment rather than thinking about the future or the past. Again, this can be more difficult than it seems! Focusing on sensations you feel in your body is one way to stay "in the now." Focusing on emotions and where you feel them in your body—not examining why you feel them, but just experiencing them as sensations—is another.

Spiritual Meditation

Though meditation isn't specific to any one religion, it can be a spiritual practice. You can meditate on a singular question until an answer comes, or meditate to clear your mind and accept whatever comes that day. Many people also practice kundalini meditation for mind and body connection.