Inner Reflections
July 13, 2020

The Four Types Of Meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Modern research is showing the powerful benefits of meditation, such as increased grey matter in the brain, a boosted immune system, and in some cases, deeper restoration than sleep.

Different cultures have developed unique and special meditations — therefore there are a variety of different ways to meditate. One framework breaks down the many different types of meditations into four distinct categories: Devotional, Contemplation, Concentration, and Heart State.

1) Devotional Meditation

Devotional Meditation includes prayer. Any time that you pray, that you pray to God, or you pray to the divine, or you pray to the source of all of creation, that is a form of meditation. You may find that prayer is your most powerful way to meditate. 

Some people say, prayer is when we talk to God and meditation is when we listen to God. 

Prayer Meditation is us speaking or calling out to our Higher Power. And meditation, even though it’s in the same ballpark, is more of when we listen to what God or the universe or source has to say back to us.

Another type of Devotional Meditation is what’s called Bhakti. And Bhakti, which has nothing to do with physical yoga, is a type of yoga that is actually the most popular style of yoga in all of India. Bhakti means devotion and in India, they often relate to their higher power through music, song, poetry, and dance which are all also different types of meditation. 

2) Contemplation Meditation

The second type of meditation is what we call Contemplation Meditation.

Contemplation Meditation includes a form or meditation technique called Passage Meditation. During this type of meditation, you choose a passage from a scripture or a spiritual poem and repeat it. 

Another form of Contemplation Meditation is what we call Intention Meditation where you reflect on what your intention is. Yet another form of Contemplation Meditation is a Vow where we meditate on a vow, which is often connected to our intention. 

As you can imagine, these meditations are great to start your day off with since they can be rich with intention, meaning and fulfillment and set a bright tone for the day.

3) Concentration Meditation

Concentration Meditations include Visualization. This includes mental rehearsing which athletes are known to do and also something like visualizing the Chakras, where we move through all energy centers just visualizing a color or connecting to a certain energy or quality. 

Another type of Concentration Meditation is Repetition. In India, this is referred to as Japa. You can repeat a mantra. You could repeat a word. You could repeat an affirmation. It can be any type of repetition.

This is really what Transcendental Meditation and Vedic-style Meditation is all about, where they work with a sacred sound or a mantra. A mantra means to reinforce the mind. 

Other types of Focus or Concentration Meditation are all the Mindfulness Meditations as well. We can meditate on the breath. We can meditate on sensation. We can meditate on thoughts. We can meditate on feelings. We can meditate on sounds. All work as anchors to bring us back to the present moment. 

4) Heart State Meditation

This includes meditating on an emotional quality, like Gratitude. You can also meditate on something called Loving-Kindness, or in the mindfulness tradition, what we call Metta Meditation.

You can meditate on Joy. And you can also meditate on something like Forgiveness. Forgiveness meditation allows us to really deal with the unfinished business of the heart, to look at the traumas that we carry, to look at guilt or shame.

Regardless of the type of meditation, all of these practices allow us to access a deeper dimension that, again, is beyond what the eyes can see and beyond what the senses can report. 

If you don’t have one already, start a daily meditation practice, even if it’s for 5 minutes. The most important thing is to be consistent and prioritizing the time to go within.

Below are some recommended guided meditation practices to get you started: