Types of Mindfulness Meditation - dummies

Types of Mindfulness Meditation

By Shamash Alidina, Joelle Jane Marshall

One of the areas of common confusion is the difference between mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness meditation is an activity where you make time deliberately and consciously for cultivating mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the act of being consciously aware with mindful attitudes. You can practice mindfulness over any length of time, for the duration of a single breath or for your whole life. You can practice it while waiting in a queue, talking to your partner or walking down the street.

Clinically proven courses usually contain certain common mindfulness meditations such as:

  • Body scan meditation: Often done lying down, but you can use any posture you like. This meditation involves becoming aware of your bodily sensations in a mindful way, step by step. You also begin to discover how easily your attention wanders off to other thoughts and how to be kind to yourself rather than self-critical when this happens.

  • Movement meditation: Usually yoga, t’ai chi, qi gong or another physical mind-body exercise. This type of meditation involves focusing on your bodily sensations, breathing and mindfully watching and perhaps letting go of whatever thoughts and emotions arise as you practice. Slow walking meditation is another possibility that’s sometimes used.

  • Breathing space meditation: A short, roughly three-minute, meditation. Do this practice a few times a day and whenever you experience a highly stressful situation or difficult emotion. The idea is to create a mindful awareness of your experience instead of avoiding it. This approach has been shown scientifically to be much more effective than avoidance.

  • Expanding awareness meditation: Usually called sitting meditation, but it can be practiced in any position. The meditation involves focusing, often in this order, on your breath, body, sounds, thoughts and feelings, and finally developing an open awareness where you’re choicelessly aware of whatever is most predominant in your consciousness.

    You can break down the expanding awareness meditation into separate meditations, each powerful and transformative in themselves:

    • Mindfulness of breath meditation: Focusing your attention on the feeling of your in-breath and out-breath. Each time your mind wanders, bring your attention back non-judgmentally.

    • Mindfulness of body meditation: Feeling the physical sensation in your body from moment to moment. You can also practise this together with the awareness of breathing.

    • Mindfulness of sounds meditation: Being aware of sounds as they arise and pass away. If no ambient sounds exist, you can simply listen to the silence and notice what effect doing so has for you.

    • Mindfulness of thoughts meditation: Being aware of your thoughts arising in your mind and passing away and having a sense of distance between yourself and your thoughts. You allow the thoughts to come and go as they please, without judging or attaching to them.

    • Mindfulness of feelings meditation: Noticing whatever feelings arise for you. In particular, you notice where you feel the emotion in your body and bring a quality of acceptance and curiosity to your emotions.

    • Open awareness meditation: Sometimes called choiceless awareness, because you become aware of whatever’s most predominant in your awareness without choosing. You may be aware of any of the above meditation experiences as well.

Another group of mindfulness meditations are more like visualizations. These meditations slightly expand the definition of mindfulness, which usually involves paying attention to present-moment experiences. However, many people are quite visual and find the meditations valuable. The two main visual meditations included in the audio of this book are:

  • Mountain meditation: This meditation helps you to cultivate stability and groundedness and feel more centred.

  • Lake meditation: This meditation is about exploring the beauty of accepting and allowing experiences to be just as they are.

If you’ve already tried some form of meditation in the past, record your experiences and what you discovered.

Recording My Past Experiences of Meditation
Type of Meditation What Did You Think of the Meditation? How Was Your Experience
of It?

Reflecting on any past meditation experience allows you to see what type of meditations seem to work well for you. If you’ve never practiced meditation, don’t worry. You’re in a good position because you’re starting with a blank slate.