Meditation is the art of centering, calming and relaxing the body and mind. Among other things, meditation is practiced in order to achieve a peaceful and contented state of being.

Meditation looks pretty easy when you look at how people meditate on television or in films. In reality, a lot of discipline is needed in the art and practice of meditation.

If you are a beginner, it is good to get acquainted with some of the different types of meditation that people practice. Each type of meditation requires its own kind of discipline, and provides its own kinds of benefits.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is fundamental to all forms of meditation. Anyone who wants to master the art of meditation starts with Mindfulness. Mindfulness should be practiced first before proceeding to other types of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is also commonly seen in film and television. The meditator sits on the floor with legs crossed, hands folded, and eyes closed. Being in a quiet and peaceful place is important to avoid distractions.

In Mindfulness meditation, the goal is to keep the mind calm and focus on the present moment, being aware of the rhythm of your breathing, and relaxing your inner thoughts and emotions. Try doing this for 15 minutes. The challenge here is to not get distracted by outside elements such as sudden noise, itchy skin and restlessness.

If you’d like to give this type of meditation a try, just follow these simple step-by-step mindfulness meditation instructions.

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is similar to Mindfulness, in that both involve focusing your attention and staying tuned in to the present moment. Unlike mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation adds a “mantra” to the equation. A mantra is a phrase that you can repeat to yourself, either in your head or out loud, that can help keep your mind concentrated and present.

Some people use mantras that are meaningful, such as: “May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be protected from dangers. May my mind be free from hatred.” Other types of mantra meditation involve repeating meaningless words or syllables, like “lam.” In this case, instead of focusing on the meaning, the meditator simply focuses on the sound.  Either way, a mantra can help to focus the mind, and bring about a deeply concentrated state of meditation.

Some people use strings of prayer beads (called “japa malas” in Sanskrit) to help keep count of mantra repetitions. If you’d like to try it for yourself, here’s a simple tutorial for japa meditation.

Energizing Meditation

The purpose of the Energizing Meditation is to bring more energy into the body. This type of meditation is generally practiced in the early morning or late afternoon, because it can help you become more alert and active – which is useful if you need a little push in productivity. Although the body is energized and active, an Energizing Meditation can still keep you calm and focused throughout.

Energizing meditations usually involve controlling the breath (making it faster, slower, deeper, or shallower) — a practice called “pranayama” or “breath control.” Generally, faster, deeper breathing brings more energy into the body. Ujjayi Pranayama (or “Breath of Victory”) is one type of breathing exercise that can help energize the body and mind. You can read more about Ujjayi, and other forms of breath-control meditation, in this pranayama tutorial.

Goal-Focused Meditation

Goal-focused meditation tends to vary depending on your own goals and purpose. Some people use goal-focused meditation to become more kind, compassionate and consciously aware of their environment and surroundings. Goal-focused meditation is also used to achieve self-improvement, and a sense or vision of a higher self.

“Metta” or “Loving-Kindness” Meditation is one type of goal-focused meditation. In Metta Meditation, the goal is to develop one’s own capacity for empathy, compassion, love, and kindness. If you’re interested in practicing this for yourself, check out this Guide to Metta Meditation.