With So Many Choices, What’s The Best Meditation For Me?
When I first began meditating several years ago, there were choices, but not like today. With meditation and mindfulness becoming so popular, it’s not surprising that narrowing down the best meditation practice for you is challenging and confusing.
Let me give you an example explaining why it’s SO confusing for people who want to try meditation.
The free meditation app, Insight Timer that I share in A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation provides access to 100k (and counting) guided meditations.
100k is a huge number!
It provides a smorgasbord of free choices for every problem or desire.
If you want to deal with anxiety, there’s a meditation. You want to sleep better- there’s a meditation for that. You want to open your chakras- there’s a meditation for that. You want better boundaries- there’s a meditation for that. You want to forgive someone- there’s a meditation for that. You get the idea!
It’s overwhelming for many people who want to establish a practice but don’t know where to begin to “figure it out.” It’s also challenging for those who have been meditating for a while and are feeling like they want to settle into a more structured and intentional approach.
Where do you begin?
Based on years of practice and research I’m going to share my thoughts with the intention of making it clearer and less confusing for you.
The short answer to how to pick the best type of meditation is- it depends on your intentions for wanting to meditate in the first place.
The majority of people want to start a meditation practice for one (or more) of the following reasons:
- People want to be healthier and feel more peaceful to deal with stress and its effect on their physical and emotional health.
- To get to know themselves and answer the “big questions” in life: Who am I? What is my purpose? Is this all there is? What brings a deeper meaning to my life? What do I value?
- To get an edge and be at the top of their game. This is often the motivation for people who want to be more productive, focused, and successful in achieving their goals, whether in sports or business.
- For a spiritual connection and to get in touch with an intelligent universe. This is often associated with the desire to foster qualities like forgiveness, compassion, kindness, intuition, creativity, flow, gratitude, surrender, and interconnectedness.
With those intentions in mind, where should you start?
Before I give my suggestion, I want to stress that just starting with anything is half the battle. You really can’t go wrong with beginning with any one of the 100k guided meditations or any number of programs. ( A young man I’m mentoring just completed the free 40 days Mindfulness Daily series led by Tara Brach & Jack Kornfield. He loved it! At the end of it, he asked me- now what? He felt he needed a structured practice but didn’t know how to set one up on his own. Do I do the 40 days again, or what’s next?)
These are really common questions, especially if you’ve been dabbling and experimenting with different approaches.
Establish a core meditation practice.
This is the reason that I believe all of us who want the benefits of meditation, at some point need to stick with some sort of core practice.
The practice may shift over time, but we need to start somewhere.
In terms of the above intentions, I recommend that people start by learning to deal with stress by regulating their nervous system. There’s a difference between dealing with the effects that chronic stress has on our body, mind, and soul, and the external stressors such as difficult relationships, soul-sapping jobs, financial struggles, and the like. Through meditation, we become more physically resilient and better able to deal with the stressor themselves.
Establishing a core practice helps us calm our minds and be less reactive. Developing the ability to connect with our bodies and begin to notice what we’re feeling and how the external world is impacting us.
After years of practice and researching meditation, mindfulness, psychology, wisdom teachings, mind-body medicine, energy healing and the Enneagram of personality, I developed the “7 Pillars of Awakening” framework to provide a road map for folks seeking inner peace, well-being and authentic happiness.
The seven pillars are captured in the SPARKLE acronym, and the core meditation practice integrates the first three pillars that form the foundation to build upon.
The following three ingredients are integrated into the core meditation practice that I teach and practice daily:
Settle your mind and shift your nervous system from fight-flight-freeze to rest and digest to become more resilient and less reactive.
Practice modern mindfulness to cultivate your ability to focus on the present moment with curiosity and kindness with whatever is arising.
Arm yourself with self-love and compassion to cultivate unconditional love, acceptance, and a deeper connection with others.
Starting here is like building the foundation for a house. You start at the ground level and then move up. Without a solid foundation, the house is unstable.
What I often see, however, are people who want to bypass the foundation and begin on the top floor.
An example of this would be meditating to open your higher spiritual chakras when your physiology is in a state of fight-fight-freeze. As a result, you’re always snapping at your kids or spouse or have stress-related health issues.
So whether you’re a new meditator or are more experienced, it’s helpful and effective to have a core meditation practice that keeps you grounded and calm.
Once you’ve established a core practice that helps you maintain resilience in everyday life, the 100k guided meditations are a great add-on- helping you continue your inner peace journey.
In terms of guided meditations, one question arises in the mind of virtually all meditators at one time or another: What is better, a guided or non-guided meditation practice? You can learn more about that by reading Guided Vs. Non-Guided Meditation: Finding Your Inner Peace.
One final thought is that I’ve never met one person who regretted starting a simple core meditation practice!
Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!