If you’re here right now, you are probably aware that meditation has many benefits, but you may be confused about “how” to actually meditate in a way that brings you the inner stillness and peace you are seeking. Well, you’re in the right place! In this article, I’m going to share with you 7 effective meditation techniques. Experiment with all of them or simply choose the one that appeals to you most.
NOTE: These forms of meditation do NOT necessarily require you to set aside time in order to practice them. Most of the following meditation techniques can be practiced even while doing your ordinary daily activities. Many of these forms of meditation can be combined as well. You may receive increased benefits as a result of combining them.
Everything you need to know is explained below.
1. Body Awareness Meditation
This is the form of meditation I started out with many years ago. It is great for beginners because it’s very simple to understand and practice.
Body awareness meditation is exactly what it sounds like. You simply bring awareness to different parts of your body and feel the sensations within them. This naturally quiets your mind and takes you from thinking to feeling.
Try it now. Focus on your left foot. What do you feel? You should feel a subtle energy or tingling sensation within your foot. Now, move to the other foot. Then, try to feel the sensation within both feet simultaneously. Then, move to your hands, legs, arms, torso, and head. Practice feeling each individual body part and then try combining different ones until you can successfully become aware of your entire body all at once.
You’ll find that while you are doing this, you’re not really thinking much. Most of your waking hours, your mind is running on because that is where your attention is. The mind is fueled by attention and this becomes apparent when we practice body awareness meditation. The mind stops when we are no longer feeding it with our own focus and attention.
This form of meditation can be practiced at almost any time, even while working and doing other activities. You will quickly find that life goes on just fine without thoughts. You never really needed them. Phew! What a relief, huh? 😉
2. Guided Sound Meditation
This is another great one for beginners who simply want to experience some of the many benefits of meditation in a short period of time. This technique requires the use of professionally designed brainwave entrainment audios or meditation music. You can get one for free below or search the internet for some.
This form of meditation is probably the simplest of them all. Just listen to the music and your mind will automatically begin to quiet down. The audio can be listened to and combined with one of the other meditation techniques (recommended) or it can be listened to throughout the day and will still provide some benefits.
3. Conscious Breathing Meditation
Another great meditation technique for beginners, this one only requires you to bring conscious attention to the inhale and exhale of your breath. It may be helpful to think of this like the body awareness meditation technique, except that instead of focusing on the sensations in other parts of your body, you simply focus on the sensation of breathing itself.
Try it now. Take a deep breath and try to feel the air passing through your nose and throat. Feel your chest expanding. Then, feel the sensation of release as you exhale.
Repeat this process and you will quickly find that your mind tries to disrupt your focus. This may frustrate you at first, but this is actually a very good thing. Awareness of thoughts is necessary in order for those thoughts to be surrendered in return for inner peace.
If you aren’t aware of thoughts, it doesn’t mean the thoughts aren’t there. It just means you’re disturbed by something and don’t know what’s causing the disturbance! Ignorance (not knowing) is not bliss! Awareness is key.
Conscious breathing makes you aware, and then gradually trains your mind to be quiet. Because this meditation technique automatically makes one aware of thoughts, it is often used in conjunction with the ‘thought awareness’ meditation technique mentioned below.
4. Thought Awareness Meditation
Thoughts are like clouds blocking the sun. We identify with thoughts (the clouds) and forget that we are the silent awareness that underlies those thoughts (the sun).
The key to reaching a state of inner peace is to become aware of the thoughts that go through our mind and then to realize that we are the awareness rather than the thoughts themselves.
You can witness the thoughts but you do not identify them as “me.” You just watch them without getting wrapped up in what they are saying. This separation between “you” and your thoughts is very freeing and just the recognition of it will automatically reduce much of your anxiety and stress.
Most of us know we’re thinking about things throughout the day, but we unconsciously identify ourselves with those thoughts and therefore get completely wrapped up in them.
We are too close to be objective. The space between “I” and “my thoughts” is too small. We need to widen the gap so that we can reside in the stillness rather than the noise.
Thought awareness meditation can be done by simply questioning what you are thinking. Stop yourself throughout the day and ask, “What am I thinking?” and “Who is it that is thinking?” Pondering the questions will automatically help you disidentify from your thoughts and step back into the more peaceful place of pure awareness.
5. Visual Awareness Meditation (Personal Favorite)
This is my favorite of all the meditation techniques as of this moment because this technique makes it immediately obvious that the mind is quick to judge and doesn’t truly appreciate anything for what it is. If you observe things in your environment, you’ll notice that your mind has opinions about almost everything. You see something and then the mind immediately jumps in to make a comment about it…
You look at the wall and your mind says things like, “The wall is white” or “The wall needs to be repainted” or “It would look better a different color.”
You see a person and the mind says, “I wonder why they are in such a rush” or “Should I say hi?” or “Are they judging me?” or “That outfit is so out of style.”
Your mind wants to run your life. It paints everything with the color of its own judgments, labels, and interpretations. We rarely see or appreciate life as it is. Rather, we see through a dark filter of thoughts and feelings. What we call reality is just a projection of ourselves. Whether you see beauty in the world or something less, largely depends on your own habits of perception and interpretation.
The visual awareness meditation technique allows you to temporarily bypass this filter of perception so you can get a taste of what life might be like if you lived purely in the present moment, with no concepts of past or future, no judgments, no opinions, no beliefs, just pure awareness.
Note: I describe this meditation technique and some others in much greater detail in the following article: How to Live in the Present Moment
Try it now. Look at the words on the screen, but try to actually SEE them without interpreting them. See the black color. See the outline of the letters but don’t interpret them as letters or words. Can you do it?
Can you see without the mind jumping in to judge?
Practice this with everything you see over the next few hours. Notice how the mind wants to comment on everything and start catching it before it can. Then, just SEE things for what they are, not for what you think about them.
If you practice this often, you will eventually come to the realization that the mind knows nothing at all. The mind only “knows about” reality but does not actually see reality itself. The true nature of things only shines forth when we start shedding the filter through which we see.
The meditation techniques you are learning here are great ways to do just that.
6. Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is about bringing full conscious attention to each step you take while walking through your day, without anticipation of the next step. Like the body awareness meditation technique, this takes you away from thinking and into feeling or sensing.
Anxiety is the normal state of most people because most of us are living with constant anticipation of what is to come. To relieve stress or eliminate it completely, we must learn how to live in the present moment. Since walking is something we all do a lot of, walking meditation is perfect for training ourselves to live in the present moment more often than not.
When you take your next step, take it consciously. Appreciate that step. Feel that step. Notice your movements. Notice the miracle that you call a body. Find satisfaction and happiness in every step rather than waiting for a future happiness that never comes (because the present moment is all that exists).
There’s so much to life that we miss out on because we’re busy thinking of what is to come. Life really is beautiful when we pay attention to what is right in front of us.
7. Contemplative Meditation *Advanced*
This technique is not really for people who are just using meditation to feel better and relieve stress (although this works for that too). This technique is more for those who are spiritually dedicated and wanting to achieve very advanced states of consciousness rather quickly.
Contemplation, like most of the other techniques, is something that can be practiced almost constantly throughout your days. Unlike the other techniques, however, this form of meditation does not require you to focus on anything in particular, such as your body or your breath or certain objects in the environment.
Contemplation is actually the opposite of “focus.” It requires you to remain as the witness of everything in your field of vision without a focus on anything in particular. You do not focus on objects or even your body or your thoughts. Rather, you widen your visual field so that you are aware of everything all at once. This is hard to explain but is easier in practice.
Try it now. Notice how your mind is focusing on these individual words and how when you are focusing in that way, the rest of the environment around you sort of fades away and disappears. Now, widen your visual field gradually so that you start becoming aware of more than just these words. You can still see the words but now you see them within a larger context. Keep expanding your field of vision until you can see these words while simultaneously being aware of everything around you.
This is sort of like using your “peripheral vision.” But there’s one more step beyond this…
Now, rather than only being aware of everything in your external environment, try to become aware of that AND what is going on within your world of thoughts and feelings. See if you can become aware of literally EVERYTHING, what is around you as well as what is within you.
What I am talking about is not really possible to do with the mind. The mind has the tendency to want to focus on something, but there is a part of you beyond the mind, what you might call the “field of awareness” or “the witness”, and it is that part of you that can remain aware of everything without identifying with or focusing on anything in particular.
As you practice with this, insight and spiritual realization will come. If this technique sounds too complicated, just stick with the other ones mentioned. You’ll do just fine 🙂
Need more ideas? Some more great meditation techniques can be found here.
Questions? Post them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.