There are so many different styles of meditation. From mindfulness to transcendental, there was no shortage of options for people who want to get their zen on. But if you were still left scratching your head as to which style is right for you, we’ve got good news. There’s now a scientific-based approach to figuring out your ideal meditation type. New research published in Science Advances has revealed that practising a form of meditation tailored to the character traits you want to focus on is crucial for getting the most out of your practice. The study showed that the various types of meditation affect your brain in different ways — leading to different behavioural changes.
The participants in the study were asked to take a mental health questionnaire and were put in various groups accordingly: the presence group, the affect group and the perspective group. Here’s how to pick the right meditation type for you, based on the results of the study.
You’re easily distracted
If you found your mind wandering while reading the intro for this story, breathing-based meditation may be your best bet. Participants in the ‘presence’ group were given breathing exercise and body scans, where they were instructed to notice the sensations they felt in every body part. Researchers found that the group had much longer attention spans after the study. “These practices require a deliberate focus of attention on certain aspects of present moment-to-moment experience, monitoring of distractions and reorienting toward the object of attention in the meditation, be it the breath, a sound or a visual object,” the study said.
You struggle in relationships
If you’re unlucky in love, you may want to give ‘Loving-Kindness’ meditation a go. Participants in this group were instructed to imagine things that give you that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling (like cute puppies and babies) during meditation. They were also encouraged to think about warm, comforting places and repeat phrases like ‘May you be happy’ and ‘May you be safe.’
“The typical instruction for the Loving-Kindness meditation was to start with imagining oneself and then a benefactor, where these feelings might arise naturally, and then to extend feelings of loving-kindness and good wishes to self and then the benefactor,” the study read.
After the study, the group’s participants were found to have a heightened awareness of emotion regulation and empathy—traits that serve you well in relationships. The study also concluded that doing this kind of meditation can make you a better conversationalist, so it’s a great one to do beforenetworking events.
Can’t stop eye-rolling every time the girl who sits next to you at work opens her mouth? You might want to give reflection-based meditation practices a go, Judge Judy! Sessions in this group focused on teaching participants that there’s a difference between understanding others’ motives and approving of their behaviour.
“Participants were instructed to just observe the coming and going of thoughts without getting involved in them,” the study said. They were also asked to think about their lives from the perspective of someone they don’t get along with. The people in this group experienced changes in their ability to monitor whether or not their opinions were necessary, as well as their need to express themselves. So basically, they learned that if they don’t have anything nice to say, they shouldn’t say anything at all!