Quiet Sitting: Nine Different Types of Meditation

There are many, many different types of meditation practices. When you google “types of meditation” the results can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure what you’re looking for or what you like. This is a paired down list of popular meditation types. The most popular type of meditation in recent history is mindfulness meditation with it’s many health benefits.

Nine Meditation Types For Beginners

Mindfulness Meditation

Since mindfulness meditation is the most popular meditation practice today I’ve put it in the number one spot. You’ve probably heard of it before, but may not know what it is or how it is different from other meditation practices. Mindfulness meditation is simply paying attention to the present moment and being aware of all the sensations, thoughts, etc. that arise without judgement or attachment. Here is a cool video from Jon Kabat Zinn about how a mindfulness meditation practice lights up different parts of the brain and here is a link to get you started with a mindfulness practice.

 

2. Transcendental Meditationmeditation types beginners

Transcendental meditation doesn’t seem to be as popular today as it was in the past, but there is still a substantial community worldwide. Transcendental meditation was made popular by the Beatles who learned the technique from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental meditation (TM) has it’s roots in religion and involves mantra (sound) repetition for 15-20 minutes twice daily. Transcendental meditation teachers are required to undergo a certified training before they can teach and share the practice and students are initiated into the practice.

Much research has been done on the technique, but the research has been poorly conducted and unfortunately is of little scientific value. But honestly, any form of meditation is likely to create positive changes in your life, so why not try TM.

3. Mantra & Japa

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra and japa meditation involve the repetition of a mantra, sound or divine name. This type of meditation practice is often practiced with a mala. A mala is a necklace, similar to a rosary, with 108 beads on it. The mantra is repeated 108 times either softly spoken or internally repeated. This type of ancient meditation practice is used in many different religious traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

homemade-mala-diy

A handmade green sandalwood meditation mala.

4. Guided Meditation: Chakras, Third Eye, Breath, Journey & More

Guided meditations are wonderful for those who need a bit more guidance and whose minds tend to wander off. Guided meditations can focus on visuals, energetics, sounds, the breath, emotional states and much more. There are many apps you can use on your phone or ipad. Choose your length of practice, the teacher, the focus and get started.

yoga-chakras

5. Trataka Meditation (also spelled tratak)

Trataka is a form of meditation where one focuses the eyes on one point. Very commonly trataka is performed while gazing at a candle flame. Eventually you may want to close the eyes. When the eyes are closed envision the candle flame in all of it’s detail. Hold this vision of the flame as long as you can and when it dissipates you may end your meditation practice. Slowly open your eyes. Don’t look directly at the flame again right after your meditation. You may need eye drops if the eyes feel dry or strained.

6. Focused Attention- Zazen, Breath, Mantra, etc.

In focused attention meditation the mind is focused on one thing; that one thing could be the breath, sensation in the body, a mantra, an object, etc. The attention is held on this one thing. As thoughts come up, and they will, the mind’s focus is guided back to it’s original point of focus.

7. Metta- Loving Kindness

Metta, or loving kindness, meditation is a practice of sending love to oneself, a good friend, a neutral person, a difficult person, all four of them equally and then eventually to the entire universe. This exercise is excellent for cultivating compassion. Here is a Loving Kindness Meditation with Jack Kornfield.

loving-kindness-meditation

Loving kindness meditation is kind of like a hug for the soul.

8. Vipassana

Vipassana often begins with awareness on the breath and then moves to a practice that includes noting external stimuli without becoming attached to the source of the stimuli. An example could be if you hear a motorcycle drive by label it “hearing”, not motorcycle or if you notice a sour taste in your mouth instead of labeling it sour note it as “taste”. Noting the sense that recognized the external stimuli. It is very common to attend vipassana retreats where one has the opportunity to delve deep into a meditation practice.

9. Yoga Nidra

I hesitate to include yoga nidra on this list because I don’t necessarily consider it a meditation practice. Yoga nidra is “yogic sleep” and it is a way to access the unconscious and subconscious mind. It is a guided practice, similar to that of a guided meditation. Yoga nidra induces a state of deep relaxation and yoga nidra has a multitude of benefits. Here are 8 Benefits of Yoga Nidra.

relaxation-meditation-yoga-nidra

Not sure where to start? Google your local community and see what’s available. You might be surprised to find local meditation groups and meditation teachers that would be more than happy to take you under their wing. Another option is to go on a yoga and meditation retreat. On retreat you’ll often go over the basics of meditation and gradually increase time throughout the week and you’ll have an opportunity to talk to others and share experiences.

Good luck on your meditation practice. Feel free to shoot me a private message if you have any questions via our contact form.

Love and Light,

Autumn

Quick Tips for Stress Reduction

yoga-meditation-retreat

Stress is so pervasive in today’s world. Just about every person I meet is struggling with stress and stress management. We have so many demands placed on us daily and in our strive for perfection, for climbing to the top we forget to slow down, to get off of our computers and take time for relaxation. Sometimes as a yoga instructor I feel like I’m expected to be perfect, to have my shit together, when really there are some days where I am literally just hanging on by a thread…. just like everyone else. Sometimes I forget to practice what I preach, so maybe that’s why I am writing this blog post. To remind myself that reducing stress can be utterly simple… it’s just a matter of using the tools we’ve been given.

The physiological signs of stress are the same for everyone: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and constricts peripheral blood vessels. How it outwardly manifests varies from person to person. Some react to stressful situations with an overexcited stress response characterized by being quick to become fired up or by being quick to express agitation or anger. Others may react with an under-excited stress response characterized by depression or by shutting down in stressful situations. Your “typical” stress response will determine what kind of activities you need to truly reduce stress. Those with overexcited stress responses will need activities that are quieter, while those with under-active stress responses will need more stimulating exercises.

Maintained high levels of stress are associated with all sorts of health problems including, but not limited to: obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. High levels of stress may also lead to adrenal fatigue, accelerated aging and premature death. If stress management isn’t part of your daily routine now may be the time to start.

The following is a short list of activities for stress management.

  1. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of the quality of your breath and the texture of your breath. Begin to lengthen your breath. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 and exhale for a count of 4 or 5 and allow the breath to deepen without strain. If you find it hard to focus on your breath place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Witness the breath for 3-5 minutes. Notice how you feel afterward.
  2. Move your body. Go for a walk. Practice a few yoga postures (1/2 sun salutations or more) in which you can connect breath with movement.
  3. Get some fresh air. Eat your lunch outside. Leave your phone in the office. Take a walk around the block. Go for a hike/bike ride before or after work.
  4. De-clutter your workspace. Having a clean workspace means you aren’t wasting time shifting things around on your desk. It also means that those pesky tasks that are piling up won’t be staring you in the face.
  5. On the same note. Get organized… perhaps even hire someone to help you become organized. Time management is a huge part of stress management. You’ll be able to spend more time doing the important tasks and less time doing the menial tasks.
  6. Reach out to a calm friend that is also a good listener and enjoy a little face time…. real face time, not the cell phone version.
  7. Make time for meditation. Any type of meditation. There are plenty of apps that you can use if you’d like a guided meditation. Some option are listed here in my meditation blog post. You don’t need to meditate for 20 minutes or an hour. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. Taking just a few minutes a day for quiet meditation is proven to work wonders.
  8. Yoga nidra is another technique that can be used for stress management. There are many recorded classes on YouTube of varying quality and length, I have a downloadable yoga nidra on offer for those that subscribe to my newsletter. You may also find that some of the local yoga studios and wellness centers offer live guided yoga nidras.
  9. Massage. The power of touch is phenomenal. Whether you visit a professional for a massage or give yourself a 5 minute massage you will feel much more relaxed afterward.
  10. Drop into a yoga class. A good class will include plenty of movement, breath work, meditation and also time for rest.

Resources:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/stress-management-approaches-for-preventing-and-reducing-stress

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

37 Stress Management Tips from the Experts

Autumn Adams
Follow me

Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
Autumn Adams
Follow me

Latest posts by Autumn Adams (see all)

8 Benefits of Yoga Nidra

yoga-nidra-yogic-sleep

If you’ve been practicing yoga for awhile chances are you’ve heard of yoga nidra, but if you’re new to yoga the practice of yoga nidra might be something completely new to you. Yoga nidra is “yogic sleep”. Sounds pretty good, right? You get to lie in Savasana (corpse pose) the whole time while you’re systematically instructed through a deep relaxation exercise that guides you through the koshas and relaxes the body and awakens the unconscious and subconscious mind. Don’t worry. You don’t need to know what the koshas are to practice yoga nidra, but if you do want to learn more take a peek at this blog post I wrote about the koshas.

Yoga nidra has numerous benefits ranging from better sleep to stress reduction and beyond. In this post I will list out some of yoga nidra’s benefits. Also, if you’re interested in a free guided yoga nidra you can practice in the comfort of your own home join my newsletter and you’ll receive a link to the practice.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

  1. Yoga nidra guides the student into the deepest state of sleep where the brain produces delta waves (1-4 hertz), but the student remains conscious throughout.
  2. Yoga nidra can be used to heal from trauma. According to an article in the Boston Globe, “In 2006, the Department of Defense conducted research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the efficacy of yoga nidra on soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. This led to the incorporation of yoga nidra into weekly treatment programs for soldiers in several VA facilities across the country.”
  3. Yoga nidra reduces stress. In the United States there has been a dramatic increase in hospitalizations due to stress in both men and women. Yoga nidra is proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga nidra reduces chronic pain. According to the same Boston Globe article before “the US Army Surgeon General endorsed yoga nidra as an intervention in treating chronic pain”.
  4. According to a recent study, “… patients with menstrual irregularities having psychological problems improved significantly in the areas of their wellbeing, anxiety and depression by learning and applying a program based on Yogic intervention (Yoga Nidra).”
  5. Yoga nidra improves sleep and reduces insomnia. Insomnia and sleep deprivation contribute to mental disorders, stress management (or lack there of), and immune suppression. Yoga nidra trains the mind and body to relax and move more easily into the deeper states of sleep. 45 minutes of yoga nidra is equal to up to 3 hours of sleep!
  6. Yoga nidra may also reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent Huffington Post article, “A recent study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found yoga nidra may reduce the symptoms of diabetes and help control blood glucose levels.”
  7. The work done in yoga nidra with a sankalpa (an intention or positive affirmation) can facilitate life altering changes in one’s thought patterns, relationships and achievements.

Autumn teaches yoga nidra at Midtown Juniper Yoga in Bend, Oregon and on all of her retreats. Don’t forget, you can listen to a free guided yoga nidra by joining the Ambuja Yoga Newsletter. Hope to see you on your mat soon!

Love and Light,

Autumn

Autumn Adams
Follow me

Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
Autumn Adams
Follow me

Latest posts by Autumn Adams (see all)

What Are The Koshas?

The pancha maya koshas are the five sheaths of human existence according to Vedantic philosophy and the ancient Tantric Yoga text the Taittiriya Upanishad. You can think of the five koshas as layers of an onion and at its center is Atman, the true self. Working our way through the layers we begin with the gross (physical body) then move through the subtle body toward the self.

pancha-maya-koshas-infographic

 

The five koshas are:

1. Annamaya kosha (the physical body)
2. Pranamaya kosha (the energy or vital body)
3. Manomaya kosha (the mental body)
4. Vijnanamaya kosha (the wisdom body)
5. Anandamaya kosha (the bliss body)

Unlike the layers of an onion that can be completely peeled away from one another the koshas are intertwined, inseparable with each kosha influencing the state of the others. We will begin our exploration of the koshas with Annamaya Kosha, the food/physical body, and continue from there to Anandamaya kosha, the bliss body. We can look at these sheaths, improve our awareness and explore our inner landscape as we begin to answer life’s big questions like, “Who am I?” or “What is the meaning of life?” We also work with the sheaths in yoga nidra, working through the layers methodically and patiently in hopes that we will one day be fully aware of our true self.

Annamaya Kosha (the physical body or food body)

yoga-class-outside

 

The physical body is just that, physical. It’s made by the food and water we consume. When we are not in tune with our physical body, annamaya kosha, we may experience a sense of being ungrounded or unstable, we may lack appropriate proprioception and bump into things. Also, when we are not clued into our body and the needs of our body we may not be aware of how the food we are consuming is effecting our body and therefore every other aspect of our lives (remember all of the koshas are intertwined).

When we are attuned to our physical body we may experience a sense of balance and ease. Because our body is functioning more smoothly, it’s happier (and therefore not a distraction) so we can begin to focus on the other koshas. The physical body or the Annamaya kosha is the realm of the unconscious mind.

A simple exercise that you can practice to begin bringing more awareness to annamaya kosha is to find a comfortable seat or perhaps lie down on your yoga mat and bring one hand to your chest. Bring all of your awareness to the hand on the chest, becoming aware of your heart beat in the chest and in the hand. Be aware of where the hand meets the chest and become aware of any sensation that arises, the sensation of touch, heat, movement, etc. As you begin to feel more comfortable with this exercise you can begin to shift your awareness to other parts of your body. For example, your feet meeting the Earth, your liver, stomach, lungs, mouth/jaw and the muscles of your back. Be specific and stay with it for at least three to five minutes. Feel free to journal about your experience afterward.

Pranamaya Kosha (the energetic body or vital body)

main

Each of us has an energetic signature and it is contained within the pranamaya kosha, our energetic body. Pranamaya kosha is the vital force (prana, energy) that animates our physical body, annamaya kosha. We consume prana via our breath, the food we eat and the sun. This life force is carried throughout the body via channels called nadis (the most important nadis being sushumna, ida and pingala) and controlled via the chakras (energy centers). When we work with pranamaya kosha and the prana vayus we affect all six chakras. The pranamaya kosha is the realm of the subconscious mind.

To work with pranamaya kosha begin to incorporate more pranayama (breathing exercises), bandhas (energetic locks), and pratyahara (sense withdrawal) into your practice. Practicing these methods will teach you how to increase prana and channel prana through the body. As you begin to work with prana you may notice heat, a sense of calm, a vibration, or many other sensations. Experience each sensation fully. Once you feel connected to the pranamaya kosha you may desire to work deeper into the koshas.

Manomaya Kosha (the mental body)

quiet-contemplation

Manomaya Kosha, the mental body, creates meaning out of the world around us. It is the portion of our being where thinking, daydreaming and fantasizing reside. It is also where the beliefs, emotions and opinions from our culture and community reside. It is the repository for our unconscious mind. This kosha guides our emotional responses and is also home to the jnanendriyas (organs of knowledge, ie. our sense organs). Manomaya kosha is also the home of Ahamkara, the ego.

Manomaya kosha is the abode of our samskaras. Samskaras are the grooves of our mind, they are set paths and they are created by repetitive thought patterns. “I’m worthy/not worthy.” “I’m too fat/skinny.” “I choose love/fear.” These are thought patterns that occur often without us even acknowledging them. These samskaras color and shape all of our experiences.

A wonderful exercise to begin to work with these thought patterns and change your samskaras is one that Byron Katie teaches. Byron says to ask ourselves, “What would I be without this thought?” This is an excellent opportunity for self reflection, growth and journaling. I encourage you to keep a journal or small notepad with you at all times, so you can really see how often you experience these thought patterns. This is where big change can happen. This is the realm of the conscious mind.

Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom Body)

Meditating with Mala Beads

Vijnanamaya kosha is the home of Buddhi, higher knowledge, intellect, intuition, judgement and discrimination. Ahamkara appears in vijnanamaya kosha, but as a higher knowledge of self. Our human qualities like gentleness, serenity, humility, non-attachment and bliss are also apparent in Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnanamaya kosha is the realm of the superconscious mind. To reach Buddhi and Vijnanamaya kosha a regular meditation practice is recommended. A regular meditation practice allows one to cultivate the power and knowledge gained by being the witness and the observer.

Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Body)

journaling

Anandamaya kosha is the innermost of the koshas and therefore the closest to Atman. The bliss in anandamaya kosha, is more than just an emotional state. Ananda (bliss) is peace, joy and love achieved through contact with the Atman (ultimate consciousness) and is a direct experience of the divine. By not identifying with the lower koshas we gain access to the higher koshas of vijnanamaya and anandamaya, where we may eventually move into that bliss state.

Interested in working with your koshas more? Join me for an upcoming Yoga Nidra class or on retreat where we will have the opportunity to practice yoga nidra multiple times.

Love and Light,

Autumn

Autumn Adams
Follow me

Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
Autumn Adams
Follow me

Latest posts by Autumn Adams (see all)