Have you tried to meditate but struggled to focus as your thoughts went wild?

Or maybe you’ve tried one meditation style and are curious about others.


There are many different styles of meditation.  Discovering which is your preferred style helps you to make meditation a regular part of your day, because it’s no longer a challenge for you.

With the growing interest in the benefits of meditation more and more people are turning to this practice.  And along with the surge in popularity there’s an ever increasing variety of meditation styles emerging.

The question is no longer “does meditation work?” but rather “what style of meditation is best for me?”

Meditation has many benefits and has been proven to reduce chronic pain, reduce blood pressure, lower the heart rate and reduces stress hormones such as cortisol. It can also decrease anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness and decrease aggressive and violent feelings. Regular meditation improves focus and concentration, increases compassion and strengthens your memory. It also increases creativity and learning. And it does all this because it changes the way the brain works.



Meditation For Stress


As the stressors in people’s lives which cause them to feel overwhelmed and burnt out continue to multiply, the incidence of related mental and general health issues also continues to grow.  In 2018 13% or 3.2 million Australians had an anxiety-related condition and 10% had depression or feelings of depression.¹  Scientific research continues to show the many ways stress impacts our health.  It also shows that meditation, when practiced regularly, can significantly reduce the impact of stress on our health and well-being.

When it comes to stress there are many relaxation techniques that provide an immediate tool to manage and let go of stress when it occurs.  But meditation provides mush more.  The difference between relaxation techniques and meditation is that meditation changes the structure of your brain, and over time the way in which you respond to stress.



Meditation For The Mind


The brain is capable of being trained and physically modified to enhance performance and well-being. Research has shown that long-time meditation practitioners showed brain activation on a scale equivalent to the way tennis or golf practice enhances performance. These same practitioners were able to undergo feats of pain endurance due to the way their brain was rewired after years of meditating. Their pain intensity rating didn’t change but their anxiety and distress was significantly reduced.

Meditation is a wonderful tool to focus the mind.

Regular meditation can create a sense of altered consciousness and produce more of the ‘feel-good’ chemicals needed for health and well-being.

Commitment to the meditation practice you choose is the key to reaping the full benefits meditation has to offer. Finding the right style of meditation for you will help consolidate your commitment to your practice.



Your Best Meditation Style


You don’t need any special skills to meditate.

But before reading on ask yourself these few questions to help identify your best personal style.

  • Are you trying to focus your mind or to empty it?
  • Do you want to address a specific problem with meditation?
  • Do you find it difficult to sit still?
  • Is it easier to focus / release thoughts when you are sitting still or when you are active?
  • Are sounds distracting or calming?
  • Would you prefer to meditate alone or in a group?
  • How much time are you able to commit each day?


What Style Of Meditation Is Best For You?




12 Styles Of Meditation


Different styles of meditation produce different physiological and psychological effects although all help to reduce the impact of stress in some way.


Mindfulness Meditation

Arising from Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation teaches that thoughts do not need to be controlled.  It encourages you to switch to becoming the observer of thoughts instead of the thinker of thoughts. Mindfulness means being completely present and aware of each moment. It teaches us to accept everything without judgment.

Observing your breath is an important component of this style of meditation.

Mindfulness creates a more stable and balanced mode of awareness, improves mental health and increases brain processing power.  It can also be effective for treating bouts of depression.

Mindfulness can be used throughout every day to reduce stress and achieve inner peace.


Mantra Meditation

This is great meditation style if you find silence distracting, or you’re easily distracted by a constant flow of thoughts.

Thousands of years old, this meditation style involves simply chanting or mentally saying a mantra word.  The repetition of the mantra focuses your thought activity and allows your mind to relax.

This style is done with the eyes closed as the mantra is repeated slowly and silently.  If the mind wanders it is gently brought back to the mantra.

One of the oldest mantras commonly recommended is ‘so haum’ (pronounced hum) meaning ‘I am’.  Another is the mystical Sanskrit word ‘Om’, said to be the sound of creation and the origin of all sound.

However, any word that carries meaning for you is suitable.  These could be words like peace, amen, god, shalom (meaning peace).  The power of a mantra is not in the meaning of the word but comes from the vibratory impact of the sound produced when it is spoken verbally or mentally, or even whispered.

Mantra meditation helps you to enter a place of stillness as you improve your focus.


Ho’oponopono (Hawaiian) Mantra

This is a beautiful variation on a mantra meditation to help you forgive, whether that is another or yourself.

Ho’oponopono means “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you”

As with other mantras the power is not in the actual words but in the vibratory effects of the sound they produce when spoken verbally or mentally.

This is a seated closed eye meditation of twenty to thirty minutes. You begin by observing your breath and then introduce a mantra. As thoughts drift into your mind you bring your focus back to the mantra.



Transcendental Meditation (TM)

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mantra-based meditation style founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and having over five million students worldwide.

It is based on the person repeating a unique mantra given to them and based on their time of birth and gender. However, there is no evidence to show these individualised mantras have any benefit over the more generalised mantras that are commonly used.

Research shows TM can reduce hypertension.

This style may suite you if you want a very structured meditation and are willing to pay the expensive prices. It requires practice in a seated position with closed eyes while silently repeating your mantra twice each day.



Focus Meditation

This is a good style for beginners whose minds wander easily and who need to improve their focus. It provides a great introduction to meditation if you have not tried before.

Focusing on the breath and its flow through your body is one form of this style that is often the very first step in learning to meditate. It helps stop distractions and to bring clarity to your mind.

This style includes visualisation where you focus on a mental image. Visualisations commonly take the form of a ‘story’ or journey in which you, through your imagination, actively participate.  This story helps you stay focused in the meditation without random thoughts intruding.

Focus meditations often concentrate on the senses.  They may ask you to focus on an object such as a flower or a candle. Sometimes this style will take you through all five of your senses as you engage with your surroundings using each sense in turn.

Sensory based focus meditations are a good way to ground yourself.



Binaural Sounds

Binaural sounds claim to balance the two hemispheres of the brain for the purpose of increasing a person’s tolerance to stress.  They can often help immensely during times of great stress when nothing else works.

This style can be good for people who are challenged by even the idea of meditating because with this style you only need to sit and listen, nothing more.

Binaural beats includes different sounds for specific goals including better sleep, focus and clarity and pain relief.

You must wear stereo headphones for the binaural beats to work.  Different frequencies of sound are played into each ear at the same time. The brain then processes these two sounds into a single frequency which corresponds to the same frequency produced by the brain during meditation.  If you listen without earphones your brain cannot process the individual sounds as one.

Binaural sounds meditations can be done at any time provided you have the recording and earphones.  They are frequently and effectively used to help get to sleep.

While they can be very effective there are a few disadvantages with this style.

  • Binaural requires your time commitment as you’re advised to listen for half an hour a day for two months.
  • The sounds can make some people feel sick although they may tolerate them better over time.  I found I could only listen to some frequencies as the others caused problems.
  • And unfortunately, you don’t get that great sense of relaxation during or after the meditation.

However, for those who find this is their best personal style, the benefits are huge, especially with sleep.



Visspassana (pronounced vishparshna)

This is a style for experienced meditators who wish to explore more deeply within.

Meaning ‘to see things as they really are’ Visspassana is said to help the practitioner let go of suffering.  By focusing on the connection between mind and body it brings about self-transformation through self-observation.

Visspassana is learned through ten-day silent residential retreats which are held worldwide. They allow the student to be free of distractions so they can observe the reality within.  This is helped by strict enforcement of the ‘no communication at all’ rule during the retreat.

Most Visspassana charge only a nominal fee or accept a donation.



Gratitude meditation

Gratitude meditation is one of the easiest forms of meditation to practice.

It simply involves meditating on what you are grateful for in your life and letting the feelings of appreciation that arise permeate your consciousness.

It creates a greater sense of well-being and improves mental health.

Gratitude can be practiced at any time through the day.



Moving Meditation

This style will suit you if you find it nearly impossible to sit still.  Or if you have a sedentary occupation all day you may find peace through movement more easily than through stillness.

There are many styles of movement that fit into this category, including hatha yoga.

Perhaps one of the best-known forms is the Walking Meditation, introduced by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. In a walking meditation you bring your complete focus to each step as you move very slowly and deliberately.  Mantras such as peace, joy or thank you are often incorporated.  This is best done in a quiet place outdoors, with the eyes open.  Focusing on the chosen mantra word and on where you place each step helps you maintain focus and not be distracted by anything around you.

This can be done for half an hour once or twice a day or done as a mini meditation as you walk to your car.

Moving Meditation can also take the form of dance.  In this style of dance movement you release the mind and body to find its own rhythm and harmony.  Yoga and Qi Gong can also offer a form of movement meditation when they are of a type that becomes a vehicle for taking you outside your thoughts and surroundings completely.

Moving meditations can help take you out of your thoughts as you become more aware of your body.

It has been said that moving meditations are good for women as they bring in the Yang, masculine, energy, and still meditation help men as they bring the Yin, feminine, energy.



Loving Kindness Meditation

This is an excellent meditation for anyone wanting to boost their compassion, connection and forgiveness.

It is generally a Buddhist practice that focuses loving energy on yourself and others. There are five stages to this meditation. You start by sending loving kindness to yourself and end with sending it to all people and all things.

You can incorporate affirmations in this meditation.

Here you imagine yourself with inner peace and absolute wellness and through the meditation you extend these feelings to others.  This leaves you with a wonderful sense of wellbeing and love to yourself and all other living things.



Spiritual Decision Meditation

This is a form of silent meditation and ideal if you thrive in silence.  It allows you to reach a deep state of reflection and contemplation and can lead to altered states of consciousness.

In this style you silently ask a personal question on which you seek guidance.  Then you embrace silence and allow your mind to wander, while knowing that guidance will emerge from your inner wisdom.  It is similar to contemplative prayer, but you don’t pray to anyone.

Your answer may come through any medium during the meditation or often, at a later time.

Spiritual meditation helps lower high blood pressure and prevent heart disease.



Nine Round Breathing Meditation

This is a Tibetan Buddhist style which uses an alternate nostril breathing technique. It is excellent for calming and centering when you are feeling stressed.

It focuses on a specific breathing technique where you breathe through first one nostril and then the other.  As you breathe you visualise light entering the body.

There is a structure to the process involving nine steps.

This meditation helps clear your mind, release confusion and fear, and grounds you so you can make sound choices without panic or anxiety.



Possible Effects


Meditation is a wonderful way to develop inner growth, reduce the effects of stress, and a means to positively rewire the circuitry of your brain.

It is a tool to focus the mind which may take you to an altered state of consciousness. In this state you produce more of the ‘feel-good’ chemicals required for health and well-being.  Meditation helps people become the observer rather than being embroiled in challenging emotions, helping them release negative thoughts and emotions.

For most people it creates feelings of calmness, peace, relaxation, clarity, focus and a sense of well-being.

However, some people who have experienced trauma or who suffer from mental health issues may find challenging and painful issues arise through meditation which they are not yet ready to confront.

If you have experienced challenges with a style of meditation, try another form until you find one that suits you. If you continue to struggle, contact a meditation teacher for guidance and assistance.


If you’re interested in discovering more about these and other styles of meditation, ask me about my Meditation Masterclass Groups.


What Style Of Meditation Is Best For You?


  1. Australian Bureau Of Statistics, Mental Health 2017-2018