2 Core Types of Meditation: Directed and Undirected

If you search the internet for different types of meditation then you will get lists of different ‘types’ of meditation. There’s one problem with these lists though.

They not listing different types of meditation but instead they are listing different meditation practices. There’s a difference because meditation practices fall under a meditation type.

 

Directed Meditation

Meditations that fall under this category are meditations where you are using your mind to heavily direct it. So the majority of meditations fall under this type.

Visualization

Visualization isn’t just seeing things in your mind. It is recreating any form of stimulation from your 5 senses. So this can be sight, sounds, smells, physical sensations, or tastes.

If you are visualizing yourself in a field, you are directing your focus to create or recreate what it feels like to be in an open field. So that would be:

  • Seeing the landscape
  • Hearing the sounds in nature
  • Smelling the air
  • Feeling the breeze against your skin

Here you wouldn’t be able to vividly create this experience without directing your will and focus to visualize it.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an exercise that aims to make you more present in your daily life. To perform the meditation, you bring your attention to one experience and maintain your focus for a set amount of time. So you can focus on:

  • Your Breath
  • Air Filling your lungs
  • Body sensations (how it feels currently)
  • Physical Aches, pains, warmth, coldness

When you do this, you are preventing any thoughts from entering your mind and holding your attention as long as possible.

Notice that the overall goal for all of the above meditations is the same. You are blocking out any thoughts from your mind. In place of stray thoughts, you are maintaining your focus on a specific task.

This is the core technique for performing directed meditations.

 

Undirected

In undirected meditation, you do not bring your attention to any one thing. Instead, you allow yourself to let go. Whatever the goal of the meditation may be.

Mental Release

In this case, there is a lot on your mind. It may be something that is worrying you, stressing you, exciting you or otherwise interrupting the natural flow of things for you.

So what you do is sit or lay down and allow any thoughts to come out about the subject. Don’t consciously bring your attention to any one thought. Just acknowledge it and let it pass.

Then allow the next thought to come through. They may not be slow streams of thoughts but instead erratic, rushing thoughts that seemingly pour out.

Again, let them pass.

The reason that this is undirected is because they come out naturally. You do not have to force them out because they are so strong that they are forcing themselves to the surface.

Image a dam that is holding back large torrents of water that continuously pound it. That dam is going to burst because of the water’s forcefulness.

Emotional Release

Emotional Release is similar to the Mental Release from above except your focus is on emotions that are trying to purge themselves.

So this can be anything from the day’s frustrations to things that are bothering you from the past.

 

A quick search on different types of meditation bring up sites that list anywhere between 5 and 25 different types of meditations. There clearly aren’t that many different types of meditations.

The authors are getting the type of meditation confused with meditation practices. The difference between a type of meditation and a meditation practice is this:

  • The type of meditation is how it is performed
  • The meditation practice is the end goal of the meditation

 

Meditation Practices

Vipassana

Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation practice used for self-discovery. In Buddhism, it is used to live in the current moment and discover the self so they could ultimately eliminate desire and ignorance.

A quote from Buddha when asked about what he gained from meditation:

“Nothing. However, let me tell you what I lost: Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Insecurity, Fear of Old Age and Death.”

Kundalini Meditation

Kundalini Meditation is done during Kundalini Yoga. This form of Yoga works to open up and empower your chakras. The Kundalini itself is represented as an energy serpent at the base of the spine.

So the focus of meditation during Kundalini Yoga is to bring that energy up through all of your chakras.

Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is where you recite a mantra and put your attention into reciting it and enveloping yourself in the experience.

The mantra itself can be anything from a personal phrase or a word in another language. A popular phrase is “I am” and popular Sanskrit mantras are “Aum” and “Satnam”.

With the phrases, you use them to make certain affirmations. So you will find that people who do Lucid Dreaming for example use a mantra as they drift to sleep.

 

Summary

There are two different types of meditation. The way I group these is I separated them based on how you perform the meditations.

First is directed meditation and the second is undirected meditation. The majority of meditations fall under the first type. Because they direct attention to a specific goal.