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Meditation : Different Techniques and How to Get Started

When picturing meditation, many people imagine a religious person sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting OM with an empty mind. This is not wrong, but not at all necessary. There are many different ways to meditate and best way to start is to lose all preconceived expectations.

How to build a new habit?

Most difficult thing about meditation is how to make it a habit instead of just trying it once or twice. Lasting change doesn't happen overnight and we need to slowly build up a routine that suits our life the best. We can’t meditate once and expect our life to change completely.

Think about it just like brushing your teeth: You need to keep doing it daily to keep your them clean and healthy. Our mind is the same - it also needs it's daily maintenance! We can still keep going even if our teeth fall out, but once our mind stops working, we are pretty helpless. Just keep the incredible benefits of meditation in your mind and you will stay motivated.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to meditating so the best way is to try few different techniques and see what works best for you. This also will change over time. You might be attracted to guided meditations and visualisation at first and then moved towards more traditional meditations.

There are also many active meditations such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation, that you can start with if you have troubles sitting still. These practises naturally prepare your body for meditation and I highly recommend them even as an addition to your meditation practise.

Whatever technique you might choose, any of the ones below or something else, I recommend starting with 5 minutes per day and slowly lengthening the time up to 20 minutes per day (and of course longer if you want). Keep practising daily, and commit for at least 30 days.



Same time at same place every day is usually the best way to start a routine.

You can meditate right away when you wake up in the morning, just set your alarm a bit earlier, or any time during the day. Just set off some time to do nothing and stick to it.

It's best to choose a location at your home where you can be undisturbed. You can lighten up the space with anything that makes you relax. I like to meditate on my yoga mat close to the window, surrounded by plants, candles, and essential oils, creating a nice little daily ritual.


Cross-legged is probably the most common meditation position, although it can be tricky for those who haven't practised yoga before. You can place a cushion or a folded blanket under your sit-bones so your hips are higher than your knees, which might make it more comfortable. If you choose to sit cross-legged, try to keep you spine long all the way from the bottom of your spine to the top of the head, chest open, and keep your gaze forward. You can lay your hands on your knees palms facing up if that feels comfortable to you and if you like, you can bring your index finger and your thumb together into a Gyana Mudra.

If you can't sit comfortably cross-legged, please don't. You can achieve the the same benefits of sitting on a chair legs uncrossed, feet on the floor, and your arms and hands resting either on the legs or in the lap. Try to avoid leaning into the back of the chair and keep the spine long.

If seated meditation is not an option because of an injury or other physical pain, you can also meditate laying down on the ground in Savasana. (Lay down on your back with legs apart, let your feet fall on their sides, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up. Relax your whole body, especially your face and tongue where we often hold on tension without noticing)


First you need to decide the type of meditation you want to try and then if its guided or unguided. Normally it's easier to get started with a guided meditation.

Here are few apps that offer many guided meditations for beginners. You also search from youtube with the name of the technique that you want to try and you will find plenty of guided meditations.

1. Calm (7 day free trial, then $79.99/year )

2. Headspace ($13 monthly with a 7 day free trial)

3. Omvana ($9.99 monthly with free trial)

4. Ananda (Free) Meditations Based on the Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda

5. Smiling Mind (Free) Includes Only Mindfulness Techniques

6. Insight Timer (Free) Over 45,000 free guided meditations

Once you have decided the type of meditation, first slow down your breath taking deep inhales, deep exhales and then let it flow naturally. Let go of all expectations and don't judge your experience. Just exist. You can’t fail no matter what happens.


Meditation techniques are often described as calming or insight meditation. The calming meditation is to cultivate a quieter, more peaceful state of mind and improved concentration often done by focusing on a particular object — the breath, a mantra, a visualisation, a physical object — and always returning back to that object whenever you get distracted or notice your mind starting to wander.

Insight meditation on the other hand is setting an intention to transform the mind by developing qualities such as wisdom and compassion. Insight meditation involves focusing on the breath and being aware of and noting all the physical and mental sensations that arise.

As you can see some of the practises are very similar and some are completely different.

Best way is to try many different ones and see what works best for you. I've listed the ones best for beginners in the top and added one of my favourite guided meditations that I like to do in the end.

Mindfulness meditation

An adaptation from the traditional buddhist meditations. It observes wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises and lovingly send them away. Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. This way we learn more about our thought patterns, tendencies, and conditioning. Over time, you can become more aware of our tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant.

Body scan

Sync your body and mind by performing a mental scan, from the top of the head to the end of your toes. Scan your whole body slowly starting from the feet, slowly moving over your body, bringing attention to any discomfort, sensations, tensions, or aches that exist.


This technique invites you to ask yourself a question: perhaps to cultivate gratitude by asking “What are you most grateful for?” Be aware of the feelings, not the thoughts, that arise when you focus on the question. Let your heart fill with joy and gratitude.


Picture something in your mind with all your senses and focus on it. It can be just an object like an apple that you are picturing in your mind or even a "happy place" or a dream scenario. What does the object look like? Smell like? Feel like? Taste like? Sound like? This type of meditation is very efficient when manifesting things that we want in our lives.

Loving kindness Meditation

This practice also comes from the Buddhist traditions, especially the Theravada and Tibetan lineages. Focusing on the image of different people and directing positive energy and goodwill first to ourselves, and then, as a ripple effect, to others, which helps us let go of unhappy feelings we may be experiencing. This meditation is easiest to learn by doing a guided meditation at first and is a wonderful way to cultivate compassion.

Concentration Meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, as a beginner you might meditate for only a few minutes and then slowly lengthen the practise. In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Many of the techniques mentioned below are examples of this technique.

Third Eye Meditation

Focusing the attention on the point between the eyebrows, our third eye. The attention is constantly redirected to this point. The goal of this meditation is awakening the third eye chakra and opening yourself up to the possibilities of greater feeling and understanding.

Gazing Meditation (Trataka)

Fixing the gaze on an external object, typically a candle, image or a symbol. It is done with eyes open, and then with eyes closed, to train both the concentration and visualization powers of the mind. After closing the eyes, you should still keep the image of the object in your “mind’s eye”.

Mantra meditation

A mantra is a syllable or word, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind.

Most common of all mantra meditations is OM, but it is just one of many that can be used.

The practitioner then repeats the chosen mantra in his mind, over and over again during the whole session.

Zen (Zazen) Breathing meditation

This ancient Buddhist tradition involves sitting upright and following the breath, particularly the way it moves in and out of the belly, and letting the mind “just be.” Its aim is to foster a sense of presence and alertness.

Zen (Zazen) Shikantaza (“just sitting”) meditation

Practitioners 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.

Kriya Yoga

Set of energization, breathing, and meditation exercises taught by Paramahamsa Yogananda. This is more suited for those who are seeking the spiritual aspects of meditation.

The free Ananda Meditation app mentioned above includes is the easiest way to learn these exercises.

Sound Meditation (Nada Yoga)

Focusing on sound. Starts with meditation on “external sounds”, such as calming ambient music (you can find plenty of examples in youtube), where you focus the attention on just hearing. Over time the practice evolves to hearing the “internal sounds” of the body and mind. The ultimate goal is to hear the “Ultimate Sound” (para nada), which is a sound without vibration, and that manifests as “OM”.

Mantra meditation

A mantra is a syllable or word, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing your mind.

Most common of all mantra meditations is OM, but it is just one of many that can be used.

The practitioner then repeats the chosen mantra in his mind, over and over again during the whole session.

Chakra meditation

This meditation technique is designed to keep the energy centers of our body (chakras) open, aligned and balanced. I prefer doing guided Chakra Meditations, and I would advice to try this technique with only a certified teacher at first.

Vipassana meditation

This tradition invites you to use your concentration to intensely examine certain aspects of your existence with the intention of eventual transformation. This technique is best explored by doing a donation based 10-day silent retreat in any Vipassana Meditation Centers around the world.

Transcendental Meditation (TM)

Transcendental Meditation is a specific form of Mantra Meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955 who was the meditation teacher of the Beatles and other celebrities. This meditation type is not taught freely and can be only learned from a registered teacher. TM technique has a bit of questionable reputation, but doing your own research and forming your own opinion is the best way to find out if it works for you.

Mixed Techniques

Some Guided Meditations use many different techniques in one meditation. I like to do this 6 phase meditation which combines many techniques such as gratitude, forgiveness, and visualising a beautiful future, all in this one meditation. It's a slightly longer meditation, but also suitable for beginners.

To be able to access the teachings of some traditions, you must be initiated to that certain tradition and therefore the practises are not suggested to be tried unless with a master or experienced teacher.

The amount of different techniques might be overwhelming but I recommend just trying a couple that feel most appealing to you and keep trying until you find the technique that suits you the best. Don't get fixated on the results or judging your experience. All that matters is that you show up to practise every day at least for 5 minutes.

If you are experiencing difficulty in your practise, read Why is Meditating Difficult to overcome the obstacles.

Read also: 20 Incredible Benefits of Meditation