Meditation is more than just a matter of sitting down, closing the eyes and trying to make the mind go blank.

This is often what people think of when they imagine meditating. That or visions of monks in a faraway monastery, chanting for hours while in a blissful state of enlightenment. Thankfully these are just examples of what meditation might look like, but not a prescription for how it has to work.

There is more than one way to meditate.

In fact, there are so many ways to meditate it is likely there is something for everyone.

Meditation can help you relax and bring peace to your mind. Learn more at

The Conditions for Meditation

Setting aside for a moment all the different techniques and ideas about meditation, it can be simplified down to four elements (1):

  • A quiet location
  • A comfortable posture
  • Focused attention
  • An attitude of openness

As discussed before meditation is a state that can arise when we create the right conditions and engage in consistent practice. These four elements are all that are needed to set the stage, and they can be achieved in a variety of ways.

Meditation can help you relax and bring peace to your mind. Learn more at

Meditation Techniques

Each of the following meditation techniques uses the four conditions for meditation in its own way.

Visualization Meditation

This method uses the power of imagery to focus the mind and allow for meditation. The goal is to imagine a scene or situation with as much detail as possible, engaging all five senses. Using an app is an easy way to access this type of meditation.

Visualization meditation

Walking Meditation

For someone who struggles to sit still or be comfortable in a seated posture for a length of time, walking meditation is a great choice.

In this method it is as easy as taking a walk, but the intention is to bring mindfulness to every step. The place of focus is the movement of the body. It can even be as detailed as concentrating on the sensation in the sole of the foot with each step.

A walking meditation is different from just going on a walk, but it can be incorporated into one. Perhaps the first 5 or 10 minutes of a walk can be meditatively focused and then the rest can be done as usual. In meditation there are few rules and plenty of room to practice and find what works best for the individual.

Walking meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

This is one of the most popular types of meditation and often what people imagine when they think of meditating. (2)

In mindfulness meditation, thoughts and emotions are observed as they arise. The intention is to notice, without judgement or commentary, and without latching on to the thought.

Mindfulness meditation strengthens what is often called the “inner witness.” (3) This is the true self that is often obscured by the constant flow of thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to experience the self as the one who watches the thoughts. This allows the meditator to untangle themselves from their thoughts and emotions and experience stillness and peace.

Mindfulness meditation

Mantra Meditation

A mantra is a word or phrase that holds meaning for the meditator. It is said (either out loud or most often silently) in repetition as a point of focus. If someone is prone to letting their mind wander off during meditation, this can be a tangible aid to hone concentration.

A mantra can be something chosen by the meditator or there are some traditional mantras that can be used such as So Ham (I am) or Om. The key is to choose something meaningful that is easy to repeat and creates a sense of peace and connectedness.

Mantra meditation

Body-focused Meditation

This can also be thought of as a body scan meditation. In this technique the attention is slowly moved from one part of the body to the next, often starting at the toes and moving upward.

The intention is to focus on the sensation in each area of the body and also to invite relaxation. As with mindfulness meditation, it is important to not latch on to any particular sensation but instead to notice, accept it, and then move on. This can be especially useful in managing chronic pain as it provides the opportunity to acknowledge the area that is experiencing pain and then move past it to experience the pain free parts of the body. (4)

Body focused meditation

Breath-focused Meditation

Using the breath as a point of focus can be a soothing way to invite a meditative state. Breath focused meditation techniques have been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. (5) For most people, connecting with their inhales and exhales is an easy way to calm the body and mind.

When meditating on breathing, one technique is to say “inhale” and “exhale” silently with each breath. This is a blend of a breath and mantra meditation that will aid concentration in the beginning.

Breath-focused meditation

Meditation Can Be for Everyone

It is not uncommon to hear people say they tried meditation and it didn’t work for them. This often means they tried to sit and be quiet, but it was unfamiliar and difficult. This is where many people stop.

Meditation does not have to be like that. There are a wide variety of techniques, in addition to what is described here. If one technique does not work, it is worthwhile to try another.

Having the ability to quiet the mind and focus is an important skill for overall health. It is unlikely to come easily at first. This is not a natural part of daily life. In order to reap the benefits of meditation, practice and persistence are essential.

There is a payoff on the other side of the initial challenge, and it is worth the time it takes to find a meditation technique that works for you.