Which Meditation Type is Right for You?

Meditation can have many health benefits when you find the right kind and practice often

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Meditation can take many forms, like prayer, yoga or mantras. It can have many health benefits, but which type of meditation is right for you?

Recent research looked at which styles of meditation people prefer. They found that people liked styles they felt were easy to learn. The easiest place to start looking for meditation help is close to home - like at your church or yoga class.

Finding the right meditation style may help you to practice more often.

"Ask your psychologist about relaxation techniques."

Adam Burke, PhD, of the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University in California, conducted a study with 247 college students.

Every student learned four different types of meditation and practiced each one for a week.

They did two types of open-observing meditation styles – Zen and Vipassana (or Mindfulness).

Zen meditation focuses on clearing the mind, allowing the mind to relax while simply concentrating on breathing.   Vipassana focuses on contemplating self and your path in life.

They also learned two focused attention techniques that are a bit more active – Mantra and Qigong Visualization.

Mantra meditation uses repeating sounds to achieve a meditative state. Qigong Visualizations combines breathing and visualizations.

After four weeks of trying out each type, the students were asked to rate which one they liked the best.

More people rated Vipassana and Mantra as their first choice than the other two types.

The people in the study said that Vipassana and Mantra were easier, more enjoyable, and more calming than the other types.

The author concluded that the results of this study show preference for different types of meditation can vary.

More research is needed to understand how preference might interact with the practice and health benefits of meditation.

The author stated in his abstract, “As the benefits of meditation accrue over time, selecting a method that motivates sustained practice is a critical objective if therapeutic effects are to be achieved.”

dailyRx spoke with Christina Puchalski, MD, a spiritual care specialist, about the results of this study. She said there are many routes to finding the right meditation style. “People align with what they are comfortable with.”

The easiest starting point is to talk to a yoga instructor or religious leader that you already know. They can offer recommendations that fit into the spiritual practices you already have.

For people who want more in-depth guidance, Dr. Puchalski also recommended finding a spiritual director.

Spiritual directors  will help walk you through the path of learning meditation styles and integrating the practice into your life.

Spiritual Directors International (www.sdiworld.org) can help you find a spiritual director in your area.

This study was published in July in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 13, 2012
Last Updated:
November 19, 2012