Do you feel like mindfulness meditation might just be the kind of meditation style you have been looking for? And you want to enjoy specific benefits from the practice, right?
Well, mindfulness meditation comes in many forms and each form targets certain areas of our lives and brings about a given set of benefits.
Here we are going to look at the different mindfulness meditation forms, what each consists of and how to pick the ideal one for you.
Understanding Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a meditation-based mental training that seeks to help meditators become aware of the present moment. It helps us to have a feel of “the now” and directs our attention to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment.
Mindfulness meditation allows us to quiet our minds and remain fully present, without getting lost in the thoughts of the past that bring regret or even future thoughts that cause anxiety and worry.
The mindfulness that comes from mindfulness meditation has great positive effects on our brains. It helps to increase the size of the gray matter in the brain which is associated with executive functioning. In the long term, this effect helps us to get better at planning, be more emotionally stable and improve our problem-solving skills (1).
On top of that, it also influences our brainwaves by regulating high brainwave frequency to low brainwave frequency which makes for mental clarity and helps us have the mental space to consider the outcome before we react to something.
Moreover, it also shrinks the amygdala in the brain, which is a region of the brain linked to stress and anxiety. A smaller amygdala means less stress and anxiety.
Now mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based techniques come in many variations which are meant to raise our mindfulness levels through different parts of our body and using different approaches.
Let’s take a closer look at each form and how it works.
The Various Kinds of Mindfulness Meditation
1. Visualization – This is a mindfulness technique that involves creating mental images of different things in our brains. It may be physical like a person, or not physical like an attribute such as love. Visualizing non-physical things like various attribute allows us to relax and become calmer and also sharpens our focus.
2. Note-taking – Note-taking, which is also referred to as “noting” or “labeling” is a technique that employs the idea of putting labels on our feelings and thoughts. To make use of this practice, whether during our meditation sessions or as we go about our day, what we need to do is to notice those moments when we lose focus and drift off into other things within us, allowing other thoughts or feelings to get in the way of what we are doing. When we take note of that, we should say in our minds, “That is a feeling” or “That is a thought” and then we should redirect our attention and focus to what it is that we were doing and keep going.
3. Mindful yoga – This is a practice that is based on mind-body awareness which is done before meditation. Here, we are encouraged to bring mindful awareness to the activity, that is the movements and poses, we are doing which help to improve our focus and make it some kind of meditation. It helps to set the pace for sitting meditation.
4. Resting awareness – This practice, just like the name suggests, is based on being aware of ourselves as we rest. When we are taking a break from work or school or any activity we were previously doing, we can use that opportunity to improve our level of mindfulness. What we do here is, simply take a rest, close our eyes and observe our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. These three will come for sure but the idea is not to interfere with them through judging or interpreting them. When we remain aware of them, they come and go on their own.
5. Body scan meditation – This is a practice that involves scanning our bodies from our feet upwards to the top of our heads using our minds. We just close our eyes and begin from our toes. We notice any thoughts, feelings, discomfort, or sensations that come with each part of our body.
6. Reflection – This is a practice that provokes our feelings and sensations and which also helps us be more focused and aware of ourselves. Here, we ask ourselves a question in the second person (you) and then we take note of the feelings and sensations that the question evokes. One important thing to remember is to make sure we ask the question in the second-person perspective (you) since using the first person (me or I) will get the intellectual mind activated and will not bring the results we are looking for.
To make it more practical, we can ask ourselves, “What fascinates you the most about life?” And then we observe how our body reacts.
How to Choose The Right Kind of Mindfulness Meditation For You
Before we know how to choose the best technique, we should first understand the benefits of each. Here are the benefits different forms of mindfulness meditation have been found to have:
Visualization can improve our mental performance in areas such as attention, planning, motor control, memory, and perception. It can also improve our self-confidence, our effectiveness in the activities we visualize before tackling and also boost our motivation (2)(3).
Mindful yoga can help us accept reality and different situations as they come. It also increases our inner strength and resilience, boosts our level of awareness, become more compassionate towards ourselves, and can even help us have a deeper connection with our yoga practice. Moreover, it can regulate our emotions and train us to be less reactive to different situations.
Body scan meditation can improve our sleep, self-awareness, and self-compassion. It can lower stress and anxiety, pain, and cravings that come as we work towards quitting smoking. Body scan meditation makes us self-accepting and be less harsh towards ourselves.
Reflection, on the other hand, can help us improve our understanding of things generally, learning abilities and help us be more grounded emotionally and mentally (4).
Now to know which of the mindfulness meditation forms above is the best one for you, you should consider each of the forms and sees if the benefits you get are what you are actually looking for. It also helps to do some more research on the form you feel might be the best for you so that you know how it generally works, what is expected of you, and anything essential about it you should know, and see if they are all things that sit well with you.
If they are, you have gotten yourself the perfect match!
In summary, mindfulness meditation will help you raise your level of mindfulness which will pave way for different improvements in your life. Based on the benefits we have seen each form of mindfulness meditation has, it is now time for you to consider and determine which one is the perfect fit for you.
After making a choice, we encourage you to get started with it right away. Add it to your daily schedule and make a habit of practicing it regularly. It is advisable to begin doing the practice for a few minutes every day or at least a couple of times per week.
And as you proceed and get comfortable with the practice, you can allocate more time to the practice. Being consistent and patient will help you get to enjoy the benefits you are looking for soon enough.