Different types of meditation

I had promised to discuss the different types of meditation in this post so that you can decide which one to choose to practise regularly. Since there are many different types, I will limit this post to only the most practised ones. I will describe each of them very briefly. This way you will be able to decide which meditation type is closer to your liking and inner temperament.


1) Concentration meditation

During concentration meditation, one needs to train the mind to concentrate and focus on one object or nothingness, and to cut all distractions. It may sound very difficult especially because we have a lot more distractions in our life compared to a monk in Tibet. Distractions like thinking about something we have seen on TV, our everyday problems, work and worries about the future and so on. But, maybe this is exactly why this meditation technique is one of my favourites. Because after a long time of practice you can finally do it and the result feels just amazing. You can actually have a calm and peaceful mind without any distractions or intrusive thoughts. Besides, you can concentrate wherever and whenever you want which is another amazing result of this technique. Studies show that experienced concentrative meditators also have better executive attentional network [1] and a superior performance on tasks requiring sustained attention [2]. Which I think makes sense if you regularly practise to concentrate and focus your attention on one object (it can also be an imaginary object).


2) OM meditation

OM meditation is one of the most famous techniques of the chanting meditation. It involves the chanting of ‘Om’, which is a spiritual and sacred sound in hindi [3]. In OM meditation, the breath and sound are combined together to form a comprehensive meditation technique. However, the ‘Om’ can also be chanted mentally. In a study by Malhotra and colleagues (1995), participants who practised chanting meditation together with hatha yoga (hatha yoga is a general category that includes many yoga techniques), showed significant improvement in the autonomic nervous system balance, respiratory performance, facilitation of melatonin secretion and general well-being [4]. However, it is not possible to distinguish the impact of chanting meditation from the yoga in the latter study. In another study with college students in India, after one month of regular practise of OM meditation, students showed significantly better stress management [5].

To my knowledge, not many studies have been performed  about the impacts of chanting alone on psychological and physical well-being as most studies focused on mindfulness, concentration and transcending meditation.


3) Transcending meditation

Transcending Meditation is a specific form of Mantra Meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955 in India and the West and has become one of the most popular meditation techniques. It uses mantras, but the focus must not lie on the sound of the mantras but on their meaning (transcending the sound). It does help the meditator to reach an extremely calm state. It is usually practised twice a day and for a duration of 20 minutes. This meditation type is different from other techniques in the sense that it must be learnt from a teacher which makes it also more expensive to learn. In a study in elderly, transcending meditation significantly improved cognitive flexibility, systolic blood pressure (this was also shown in younger patients [7]) and behavioral flexibility [6].  In an old study with 1,862 drug addicts, transcending meditation significantly decreased drug abuse in these participants after three months or more of practice [8]. There are many scientific studies about this meditation type showing different kinds of benefits such as stress reduction [9], among many others.


4) Loving-Kindness meditation

In the Loving-kindness meditation, you are instructed to love unconditionally. This love and kindness must not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not. We start the Loving-kindness meditation by first loving ourselves. This loving then extends out to friends, family, other human beings and at the end including all living beings. Forgiveness, acceptance and a non-judgmental way of thinking are the keys to this unconditional pure love. This meditation technique brings with it a warm feeling of care, love and friendship. Loving-Kindness meditation has the potential to be used in psychological interventions. When combined with Compassion meditation (a very similar type of meditation where meditators must feel compassion for others) and Cognitive Behavior therapy it can improve social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and interpersonal stress [10]. This makes sense since in all the mentioned problems other people were involved. When we practise loving them unconditionally, all the other issues will be resolved, at least to a certain degree.


5) Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most practised types of meditation in the west and therefore, there is a large body of evidence about the benefits of this meditation type. It involves guiding one’s attention in a non-judgmental manner and intentionally to the internal and external events taking place in the present moment [11]. Mindfulness meditation was associated with the reduction of an inflammatory biomarker called Interleukin-6 [12], which influences many diseases such as asthma [13], diabetes [14], depression [15], atherosclerosis [16], cancer [17-19], Alzheimer’s Disease [20], rheumatoid arthritis [21] and many more. There are many other subtypes of mindfulness meditation such as walking meditation, mindful eating, body scan meditation and so on. To know more about how to practise mindfulness meditation you can check out  this post.


6) Zen meditation

Zen or seated meditation has its roots in the Chinese Zen Buddhism. It can be practised seated on the floor on a cushion with legs crossed or on a chair. The eyes stay half opened while the person gazes at the floor. This meditation technique has two subtypes. One during which the meditators count the breathing and focus the attention on the movement of the air through the nostrils. During the second type, the meditators must remain as much as possible in the present moment, aware of and observing what passes through their minds and around them, without dwelling on anything in particular. The second subtype is very similar to the mindfulness meditation, with the difference that we don’t have to guide our thoughts and we just must observe very passively whatever passes through our mind and around us. In a study in musicians, Zen meditation (the second type) was found to decrease performance anxiety and in turn improve the musical performance [22].

Although there are many other types of meditation that were not covered in this post, the ones that were discussed are currently the most practised ones, especially in the west.

In the future, I will discuss different types of meditation individually and into more detail and explain to you how each of them are practised.


I hope you liked this post and if you did, don’t forget to share it. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Minds. 🙂

As you probably already know, you can subscribe to our blog to receive the weekly notification about our posts.


With Love,




1) Chan, D., & Woollacott, M. (2007). Effects of level of meditation experience on attentional focus: is the efficiency of executive or orientation networks improved?. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(6), 651-658.

2) Valentine, E. R., & Sweet, P. L. (1999). Meditation and attention: A comparison of the effects of concentrative and mindfulness meditation on sustained attention. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 2(1), 59-70.

3) James Lochtefeld (2002), Om, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N-Z, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931804, page 482.

4) Harinath, K., Malhotra, A. S., Pal, K., Prasad, R., Kumar, R., Kain, T. C., … & Sawhney, R. C. (2004). Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(2), 261-268.

5) Bhatt, S. W. A. D. E. S. H., & Gupta, M. A. N. I. S. H. (2013). Study the Effect of Aum Chanting on Stress Management. Inernational Journal of Creative Research Thoughts, 1(1), 1-2.

6) Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., & Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(6), 950.

7) Blackwell, B., Bloomfield, S., Gartside, P., Robinson, A., Hanenson, I., Magenheim, H., … & Zigler, R. (1976). Transcendental meditation in hypertension: Individual response patterns. The Lancet, 307(7953), 223-226.

8) Benson, H., & Wallace, R. K. (1972). Decreased drug abuse with Transcendental Meditation: A study of 1,862 subjects. In Drug abuse: Proceedings of the international conference (pp. 369-376). Philadelphia: Lee and Febiger.

9) Rainforth, M. V., Schneider, R. H., Nidich, S. I., Gaylord-King, C., Salerno, J. W., & Anderson, J. W. (2007). Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current hypertension reports, 9(6), 520-528.

10) Hofmann, S. G., Grossman, P., & Hinton, D. E. (2011). Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological interventions. Clinical psychology review, 31(7), 1126-1132.

11) Harrington, A., & Dunne, J. D. (2015). When mindfulness is therapy: Ethical qualms, historical perspectives.

12) Creswell, J. D., Taren, A. A., Lindsay, E. K., Greco, C. M., Gianaros, P. J., Fairgrieve, A., … & Ferris, J. L. (2016). Alterations in resting-state functional connectivity link mindfulness meditation with reduced interleukin-6: a randomized controlled trial. Biological psychiatry, 80(1), 53-61.

13) Peters, M. C., McGrath, K. W., Hawkins, G. A., Hastie, A. T., Levy, B. D., Israel, E., … & Johansson, M. W. (2016). Plasma interleukin-6 concentrations, metabolic dysfunction, and asthma severity: a cross-sectional analysis of two cohorts. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 4(7), 574-584.

14) Kristiansen, O. P., & Mandrup-Poulsen, T. (2005). Interleukin-6 and diabetes. Diabetes, 54(suppl 2), S114-S124.

15) Dowlati, Y., Herrmann, N., Swardfager, W., Liu, H., Sham, L., Reim, E. K., & Lanctôt, K. L. (2010). A meta-analysis of cytokines in major depression. Biological psychiatry, 67(5), 446-457.

16) Dubiński, A., & Zdrojewicz, Z. (2007). The role of interleukin-6 in development and progression of atherosclerosis. Polski merkuriusz lekarski: organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego, 22(130), 291-294.

17) Smith, P. C., Hobisch, A., Lin, D. L., Culig, Z., & Keller, E. T. (2001). Interleukin-6 and prostate cancer progression. Cytokine & growth factor reviews, 12(1), 33-40.

18) Anestakis, D., Petanidis, S., Kalyvas, S., Nday, C. M., Tsave, O., Kioseoglou, E., & Salifoglou, A. (2015). Mechanisms and Αpplications of Ιnterleukins in Cancer Immunotherapy. International journal of molecular sciences, 16(1), 1691-1710.

19) Xie, G., Yao, Q., Liu, Y., Du, S., Liu, A., Guo, Z., … & Yuan, Y. (2012). IL-6-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition promotes the generation of breast cancer stem-like cells analogous to mammosphere cultures. International journal of oncology, 40(4), 1171-1179.

20) Swardfager, W., Lanctôt, K., Rothenburg, L., Wong, A., Cappell, J., & Herrmann, N. (2010). A meta-analysis of cytokines in Alzheimer’s disease. Biological psychiatry, 68(10), 930-941.

21) Nishimoto, N. (2006). Interleukin-6 in rheumatoid arthritis. Current opinion in rheumatology, 18(3), 277-281.

22) Lin, P., Chang, J., Zemon, V., & Midlarsky, E. (2008). Silent illumination: a study on Chan (Zen) meditation, anxiety, and musical performance quality. Psychology of Music, 36(2), 139-155.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *