How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique for Your Lifestyle

By Jane Bertin. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique for Your Lifestyle

Meditation has been a part of Eastern cultures for millennia - it plays a big part in Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism, for instance - and lately it has become a widespread practice in the West as well. The health benefits of meditation both for the body and the mind are well-known and scientifically proved.

There are many different kinds of meditation techniques, and they're usually grouped into Transcendental, Open Monitoring and Focused Attention. We recommend trying different techniques and doing some research to know how comfortable you will be with their exercises and specific vocabulary.

In this OneHowTo guide we'll help you discover how to choose the right meditation technique for you and your lifestyle.

You may also be interested in: Should You Pay for Transcendental Meditation?

What is the best meditation technique for relaxed lifestyles?

If your lifestyle is quite relaxed, that is, if you have time and space to enjoy meditation thoroughly, you will benefit from slow-progress but deeply useful mediation techniques. This applies especially if you work from home, since you'll be able to make up your own schedule.

We recommend taking the time to set up a particular meditation space or altar. This simply means to choose a cushion and some objects that relax and ground you, whatever they are; even if it's called an altar, they don't have to be religious.

The best meditation techniques for a relaxed lifestyle are those based in focused attention. These methods involve focusing on a single object; your attention will sharpen, while distractions will be washed away. This object can be your breath, but also an image (real or visualized), a mantra, or a sound. Some focused attention meditation techniques include:

  • Trataka: Also called "gazing meditation", since you'll be focusing on an image, often a candle flame.
  • Zazen: From Zen Buddhism, this technique will have you sitting down and looking downwards. Simply focus on your breath, counting backwards and starting again.
  • Zhuanqi: A Taoist technique in which you focus on softening your breath gradually.

If you have time on your hands to work on it, Vipassana might be the right meditation technique for you. This open monitoring method from the Buddhist tradition is all about expanding your focus. You start by focusing on your breath, and then you move on to a deeper insight on your inner experiences and get to know how you work.

Do you have a garden or a quiet park nearby? You will enjoy walking meditation. Simply walk very slowly, focusing on your breath, for at least 15 minutes. Be aware of your body and focus on the process of walking, not on your destination. This is a very good choice if you get restless or sleepy with sitting meditation techniques.

How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique for Your Lifestyle - What is the best meditation technique for relaxed lifestyles?

What is the best meditation technique for busy lifestyles?

If, on the other hand, you have a very busy and hectic life, you might benefit from 15-20 minute meditation sessions daily. This will let you take a very short but effective break and go back to being productive less stressed, sharper and more focused.

  • Transcendental meditation: Popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - you might know him from that picture with the Beatles -, this technique is taught by licensed teachers, so you can't do it at home.
  • Automatic self-transcending meditation (AST): It doesn't require any specific training. Focus on repeating a soothing mantra and let everything else become effortless. Your oxygen and blood flow will increase, and you'll eventually feel quieter and more alert.

If you have a hectic mind, constantly jumping from one thought to another, you will benefit from open monitoring meditation methods:

  • Shikantaza: A Zen Buddhist technique in which you sit and let all thoughts pass by.
  • Mantra meditation: A mantra is a syllable or sound without meaning like "om" or "rama" - not an affirmation, as many people believe - that is used to focus the mind. Sit down with a straight back and your eyes closed, repeating the mantra in your mind. You can whisper it if you want, and synchronize it with your breathing. You can count repetitions with beads.

Many people do not have the time to go to a meditation coach or to research methods and exercises. This is why we recommend guided meditation: Simply go to Youtube or download a meditation podcast and follow their instructions whenever and wherever you want.

What is the best meditation technique to work on...

If you have a specific target, focused attention meditation will be your best ally. Since focused attention techniques work on your frontal lobe, they develop executive functions and sharpen your mind to be more creative and imaginative.

Metta or Loving kindness meditation works on your compassion, empathy and self-love. Sit with your eyes closed and focus on finding warm, loving feelings deep within yourself. Start by directing those thoughts and wishes of happiness to yourself - you can use an affirmation or mantra - and progressively work outwards. Metta meditation is very useful for people with anger problems or low self-esteem.

What is the best meditation technique for your health?

If you want to work on your mental, spiritual or physical health, open monitoring meditation techniques will be the best for you. In these kind of practices, you register everything you experience without clinging to the thought, judging it or rejecting it. All external inputs have equal value; you simply recognize what they are ("a sound", "a thought") and let them go without exploring them.

  • Mindfulness: This technique was developed from Vipassana. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment; how you breathe, for instance. Mindfulness is useful to learn why and how you do daily behaviors and habits. It's especially recommended for beginners. This is how to do it, and here you can learn how it affects your body.
  • Taoist meditation: Searches harmony with nature while generating and circulating energy. There are many different exercises; some of them are about becoming empty of all thoughts and inputs, while some are about visualizing the inner workings of your body. Taoist meditation can be a bit difficult for beginners.
  • Vedic meditation: Uses mantras to create different sound vibrations that mimic the energy of life and the universe. Practitioners believe that specific sounds can balance your body and mind; there is a mantra for each chakra. It is thus related to yoga meditation, and it's often done while sitting or lying down.
  • Self-enquiry or Atma vichara: This technique is all about finding your sense of self (ego) not through language or rationality.
  • Qigong or Chi kung: Often used to train in martial arts. This technique can be done while still or by moving slowly, so it's good for restless or active people. Through movement, your inner focus becomes sharper.
How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique for Your Lifestyle - What is the best meditation technique for your health?

This has been our guide on how to choose the right meditation technique for you and your lifestyle. What kind of meditation technique do you use? How did you choose it? Tell us all about it in the comments section!

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Choose the Right Meditation Technique for Your Lifestyle, we recommend you visit our Healthy living category.

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1 comment
This was a very thorough and helpful article - thanks. I sure could have used this many years back when I was exploring the best meditation technique for me...I tried many style and eventually found that TM or transcendental meditation was the one that really lit me up. It was so was like my whole body just wanted to sit and meditate - this was not the case with others I had tried. I do believe it is important to find the one the clicks with you. I know having a regular meditation practice sure has improved my life - better health, stress levels, relationships, etc.
Jane Bertin (oneHOWTO editor)
Thank you! So glad to hear that you've found the right technique for you. :)

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