They say meditation can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing and increase the overall quality of your life. What used to elicit a dismissive eye roll from most people who saw meditation as a weird hobby is now practiced by millions. From improved improve focus and productivity, to alleviating the symptoms of mental illness, there are different types of meditation for everyone.
Three different types of meditation
I tried 3 different types of meditation, each with a different objective, but all of which highlight the importance of practicing in a quiet, comfortable space, and can bring you peace and calmness.
The Fabulous Daily Motivator app will assist you during this journey using baby steps and scientific methods.
Launched in 2014, the app was developed on principals of behavioral economics at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, overseen by behavior change scientist and New York Times best-selling author Dan Ariely. It’s presently used by millions of people, with over 175,000 enthusiastic reviews on Apple Store and Google Play.
In fewer than 15 minutes and using the science of behavior change, Fabulous starts small and help you build lasting habits to achieve your goals.
The purpose of concentration meditation is to develop single-minded attention. So often we’re doing one thing while thinking of 10 other things; planning our future instead of living in the present. You should practice concentration if you have trouble focusing on one thing for an extended period of time.
The object of your focus can be physical, like a candle or a plant, or it can be some kind of mantra that you repeat to yourself. Though professionals recommend meditating in a quiet space, as your concentration abilities become more disciplined, you’ll find you’re able to focus even with distractions around you.
Open Awareness Meditation
Open awareness meditation is intended to increase your awareness of your surroundings. Instead of focusing on a single thing, you will focus on your senses: your physical sensations, the sounds and smells around you, and your surroundings. The practitioner is encouraged to observe everything but to actively and consciously be aware of the things they’re observing.
Guided meditation involves the practitioner meditating according to the guidance of a teacher. The teacher will often encourage the practitioner to visualize a specific mental imagery or to mentally recreate sensory perceptions.
I myself am not a regular yoga or meditation practitioner, and while I do make a conscious effort to be present, I don’t practice meditation on a regular basis—or ever. With an increasingly busy schedule, and having experienced firsthand the benefits of using the Fabulous app to build other healthy habits in my life, I tried meditating every day this week.
Given that it was my first time meditating in nearly a year, I wanted to start slowly. I used the five-minute Breather feature, which is ideal for first-timers because it only requires five minutes of focus. A soothing voice guides you through the process of focusing on your breathing and tuning out the sounds and other distractions around you.
I focused for about 30 seconds before my mind started to wander. About three minutes in, I found myself dozing off but managed to make it through the entire 5 minutes.
If you find you have trouble focusing (even during a five-minute meditation), try sitting somewhere comfortable—you might think the only way to meditate Is sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, but if you’re not comfortable, chances are you probably won’t be able to focus for long.
I decided to challenge myself on Tuesday by trying the ten-minute Gateway to Presence. This time I managed to focus for five full minutes before being distracted by the sounds of rush hour traffic outside.
Gateway to Presence is a form of guided meditation, which really helped me maintain focus. I focused on the words that were being spoken as opposed to my surroundings, and was also able to focus on my work for longer periods of time during the day. I got more done than usual, and despite having worked in a coffee shop, I found it easier to drown out the noise.
Similar to the Gateway to Presence feature, the Bells Only Meditation feature is great for anyone who has trouble focusing for extended periods of time. If you notice every small sound and movement, the consistent but relaxing ringing of a bell is really helpful at bringing your focus back to your breathing when you find mind drifting.
Once again, I did the ten-minute Gateway to Presence option. This time, I was able to focus on my breathing and the guiding voice for the entire ten minutes. I also started to notice a pattern this week: I slept more deeply and woke up naturally at 7:30 every morning feeling refreshed.
On my fifth day, I wanted to challenge myself again, so I practiced concentration meditation on my own for the full 12 minutes that Fabulous recommends. Although I kept getting distracted and checking my phone to see how much time was left, I noticed I had significantly improved since Monday.
The type of meditation you decide to try is entirely dependent on your goals. Are you looking to improve your focus? Are you looking to increase your motivation and self-esteem? Or are you looking to improve your overall outlook on life? Knowing your objective will help you to approach meditation more purposefully, and ultimately, there’s no doubt that whichever type you choose will positively impact your mental wellbeing.