For the uninitiated, meditation can appear daunting. What if, after all that deep breathing, concentration and crossed legs you still don’t feel the promised effects – or worse, what if you fall asleep? The good news is that there are actually hundreds of ways to meditate, so chances are high that there’s a perfect practice out there for you just waiting to be discovered. Carving out space to stop, breathe and listen to your body will leave you better equipped to tackle those tough days, so we’ve rounded up meditation practices that might suit your personality type.
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For goal-setters: Kundalini
A gentle blend of spiritual and physical practices, this popular technique helps balance energy and reduce stress through a combo of breath work, meditation and chanting. Derived from the Sanskrit word kundal ("coiled energy"), it posits that we all have energy currents gathered at the base of our spine just itching to be released. Through regular practice, one can encourage that pent-up energy to travel up the spine to the crown of the head, leaving us invigorated, focused and ready to tackle any challenge that comes our way.
Kundalini is ideal for:Go-getters and goal-setters who are always on-the-go thanks to their jam-packed work and social calendars. After all, everyone needs a reboot after expending that much energy.
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For type A’s: Breath of fire
Although it's a breathing technique commonly used in Kundalini practices, some choose to experiment with this (sometimes challenging) rhythmic breath work on its own. In this case, be sure to close those lips! That's because, with an equal emphasis on inhaling and exhaling, all the controlled shallow sniffing is done entirely through the nose – which, granted, might prove tricky if you've come down with the common cold. The benefits of Breath of Fire are plentiful, however, and includes pain relief, brain invigoration and an empowering sense of calm.
Breath of fire is ideal for:Competitive, extroverted type A personalities who appreciate a good challenge. Since Breath of Fire is all about control, type A's will likely gravitate to this fiery practice and rise to the occasion.
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For creatives: Guided Imagery
Unlike guided meditation that hones in on your mental state, this versatile practice wants you to incorporate all five senses — via your imagination. Like any mindfulness practice it might feel a little strange at first, but many extol its virtues and welcome the creative angle. Whether you're reconstructing a favourite memory — right down to any smells or sounds associated with that moment – or visualizing a future life to help set priorities, it's similar to daydreaming — so what's not to like?
Guided imagery is ideal for:Open, creative minds who won't shy away from the idea of visualizing all five senses or simply want to spend some quality time considering the future.
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For sensitive souls: Metta/Loving-Kindness
This beauty of a meditation practice is all about self-love, baby – the all-consuming unconditional kind that, in turn, will hopefully help open your heart to loved ones. Sit silently in a comfortable seated position and repeat a variety of positive phrases to yourself (example, "May I be happy") before focusing your mind on those you love and value, extending loving kindness to them. Bask in the wonderful feelings that were generated by this thoughtful, kind practice.
Metta/loving-kindness meditation is ideal for:Warm, sensitive and intuitive personality types who want to work on self-love or struggle with relationships, both familial and romantic.
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For the hyper-organized: Mantra
This Buddhist-inspired structured breath work includes specific words, phrases or sounds repeated over and over again. It requires great focus and deep concentration to clear your mind of all thoughts. The goal is that the constant repetition will free your mind of everything except your chosen word or sound, helping you come out of practice feeling serene and refreshed. If you want something a little more customizable, try the similar Transcendental meditation, which also happens to be popular with celebs such as Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman.
Mantra is ideal for:Meticulous, disciplined personalities who prefer structure and organization in all facets of their lives.
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For anxious minds: Vipassana
Derived from the Buddhist term for "insight," this observation-based mindfulness practice nudges you to be an active observer of your own thoughts. Unlike other meditations that seek to clear your mind from all thoughts and concerns, vipassana gently pushes you to acknowledge any situation for exactly what it is – essentially, it's the type of revelatory clarity we seek throughout our lives. Ultimately, it gives you the chance to think about why you're constantly dwelling on certain people or issues.
Vipassana is ideal for:Those prone to regular bouts of stress and anxiety or who tend to obsess over every situation.
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For athletes and adventurers: Qigong
Does the idea of sitting quietly turn you off the concept of meditation entirely? Well, let's get physical! Rooted in Chinese medicine and martial arts, qigong is a moving meditation that simultaneously zeroes in on breath and posture, allowing the energy to flow freely through the body. The coordinated movements and breath nourishes tissues and organs while calming the mind and providing a sense of tranquility.
Oigong is ideal for:Athletes and gym addicts who love the rush of endorphins that comes with a sweaty workout session or extroverted adventurers looking for something new to try.
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For quirky types: Tapping
Think acupuncture, but with your fingers. Also known as emotional freedom technique (EFT), this unique meditation practice acts as an alternative relief for emotional distress or chronic physical ailments. By gently tapping various trigger points on the face and body you're pinpointing exactly where you carry your emotional or physical baggage. Each time your fingers make contact, replace a negative thought with a positive one for all-natural relief.
Tapping is ideal for:Eccentric and quirky personalities who like to push back against the status quo or those living with emotional or physical ailments that require gentle relief.
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For restlessness: Walking
If the idea of sitting quietly seems dull while qigong practice feels too daunting, a simple walking meditation is a happy middle ground. Strap on a quality pair of shoes and get moving, deliberately focusing your mind on on a series of physical actions you'd typically do without noticing. For example, break down the way you take a basic step forward while out for a walk. Consider how the knee bends, toes curl and ankle rotates. Although it may sound silly, placing all your attention on how everything works not only fosters a respect for the human body, it also provides mental clarity.
Walking as meditation is ideal for:Those who have trouble sitting still or are easily restless or distracted.
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For extroverts: Wim Hof
Named after the eccentric Dutch endurance athlete, this unconventional meditation is all about power breathing combined with extended intervals of holding the breath. Although it sometimes includes slow movements, it's typically done in a seated position. Longtime enthusiasts claim the practice often leaves them feeling like a superhero. Among its many touted health benefits are an increase in willpower, a boost in the immune system and overall mental well-being.
Wim Hof is ideal for:Extroverts and spontaneous adventure-seekers.