How to Pick a Meditation Practice


Meditation is a practice and skill that has been around for thousands of years. Over this time it has developed in many ways across different cultures, as part of religions and schools of thought. How to choose what type to try can be overwhelming.

Here is a simple approach to choosing your meditation practice.  

What motivates you to meditate?

Your intention will help select practices that might be more accessible to your motivation and mindset. Begin with - why have you come to meditation? Here are some suggestions:

  • You desire specific mental, psychological or emotional benefits that meditation may support.

  • You ‘seek’ something more spiritual, self-development and inquiry of who you are and why you are here.

  • Mixture of the above or neither.  

When you know the intention you can measure if the practice is taking you towards your desired outcome or not. Combine your intention, with extra benefits and your learning style to find the most suited meditation practice for you.  

Benefits Approach to Choosing a Meditation Practice

There are research studies that focus on specific practices, for example Transcendental Meditation, Metta and mindfulness. Each mediation style triggers different brain wave states to a varying extent and duration that result in slightly different effects. If you select a meditation practice that is scientifically proven to produce results similar to your intention then you should be more motivated to stick to your meditation practice.  

Meditation is brain training and just like muscles, knowing brain waves is like knowing muscles to train in the body. Here is a starter approach to what brain waves benefit what function in the mind and mood.

The following brain wave states support specific benefits:

  1. Low beta waves (12-15Hz) = Improved focus, memory and performance. Required for processing information and linear thinking. The low frequency or “sensorimotor rhythm frequency (SMR)” is required to process conscious thinking states. High beta waves (12-40Hz) are the ‘stress’ brain of high alert that shuts down memory, objective evaluation, rational reasoning and decision making.

  2. Alpha waves (8-12Hz) = Calmer and balanced reactions. This wave brings all the brain wave states together so that the brain works harmoniously from the subconscious, unconscious and conscious mind. It is considered a ‘bridge’ and vital for the associative mind in full healthy function of all the brain waves.   

  3. Theta waves (4-8Hz) = Healing or self-realisation experiences. Naturally this state occurs during REM in sleep (dream state). This is the same brain wave state as hypnosis, healers, trance and healing states, healers and people in highly creative states where powerful emotional and thinking shifts can be made for daily living.

  4. Delta waves (0-4Hz) =  More rested and improved sleep.  This supports deep sleep and is important for the connection to the ‘non-local’ mind or to something larger. This frequency is often seen on EEGs when there is a healing state or sense greater connectedness and less sense of self. Healers and intuitives often have more delta waves active in their brain.

  5. Gamma waves (40-100Hz) = ‘Flow state’ or heightened awareness and a greater sense of connection with the universe.  Studies on Tibetan Buddhist monks asked to meditate on compassion showed flares of gamma waves in the brain that demonstrated moments of a sense of interconnectedness for all life and an ability to flow in a ‘bliss’ state.

Below are some ideas of the benefit, brain wave to improve function and meditation practices that have been studied to have a benefit or show this brain wave state. This might be a helpful place to start your meditation practice.  


Benefit Sought: Improved focus, performance and memory

Brain wave balanced: SMR

Meditation practice(s): Zen meditation, Breath focused meditation, Transcendental meditation (TM), Mantra, Mindfulness, Vipassana, Body scans, Trataka (candle gazing)

Benefit Sought: More calm and present to the moment

Brain wave balanced: SMR/ Alpha

Meditation practice(s): Visualisation, Mindfulness, Transcendental meditation (TM), Buddhist , Tantra, Qi Gong, Sufism, Mantra, Body scans, Kriya

Benefit Sought: Anxiety and stress (reduces blood pressure)

Brain wave balanced: Theta

Meditation practice(s): Transcendental meditation (TM), Mantra, Metta

Benefit Sought: More rested and better sleep

Brain wave balanced: Delta

Meditation practice(s): Vedanta (distinguish ego and non-self-mind), Yoga nidra

Benefit Sought: Low mood or depression

Brain wave balanced: Theta

Meditation practice(s): Transcendental meditation (TM), Mantra, Metta

Benefit Sought: Relaxed yet alert state of mind

Brain wave balanced: Alpha

Meditation practice(s): Visualisation, Transcendental meditation (TM), Kriya


Benefit Sought: Sense of unity with others and self or oneness

Brain wave balanced: Delta, Theta

Meditation practice(s): Vedanta, Yoga nidra

Benefit Sought: Awakening

Brain wave balanced: Gamma

Meditation practice(s): Compassion, Metta (loving kindness) Tibetan Buddhism (enlightened state of mind)

Benefit Sought: Mystical or spiritual experience e.g. journey of peace, detachment, oneness, Divine gifts to integration of it all

Brain wave balanced: Alpha flares to connect to Delta dominant for then all 3 theta, delta and alpha for healing ‘bliss’ to occur

Meditation practice(s): Visualisation journey, Yoga nidra, Shamanic journey

Benefit Sought: Flow state

Brain wave balanced: Gamma

Meditation practice(s): “Mind Gym” for US Navy SEALs, Compassion, Metta, Tibetan Buddhism

Benefit Sought: Healing or forgiveness

Brain wave balanced: Theta

Meditation practice(s): Transcendental meditation (TM), Yoga nidra, Mantra

Type of Learner

The way that you learn will direct a starting point and gentler entry point for an initial meditation practice. In Tai Chi they talk of the ‘monkey mind’ being given a banana to focus, so beginners often start with a focus type meditation practice. However, there is no rule about where to begin with a meditation practice except that it is the one that you can find the comfortable seat to begin the inner journey.


Learning Type: Visual

Meditation focus: Imagery and visual, Gazing with soft focus

Meditation Types: Yoga nidra, Reiki, Trataka (candle gazing), Shamanic journey, Visualisation

Learning Type: Visual

Meditation focus: Imagery and visual, Gazing with soft focus

Meditation Types: Yoga nidra, Reiki, Trataka (candle gazing), Shamanic journey, Visualisation, Qi Gong

Breath with visualisation

Learning Type: Auditory

Meditation focus: Listening to voice, Sounds

Meditation Types: Transcendental Meditation, Yoga Nidra, Mantras, Gong bath/ Tibetan singing bowls/ sound baths, Binaural beats

Learning Type: Logic and evidence-based

Meditation focus: Mindfulness

Meditation Types: Mindfulness on breath, Counting meditation, Vipassana, Breathing

Learning Type: Kinaesthetic

Meditation focus:

Meditation Types: Felt-sense, Yoga Nidra, Body scans, Walking, Dancing or movement

Learning Type: Emotive/ Social

Meditation focus:

Meditation Types: Compassion, Metta (loving kindness), Vipassana

When you combine these two approaches with your intention to select a meditation practice, you will find a couple that might suit you. For example,

  1. Intention = your intention is to be clearer and more less reactive emotionally

  2. benefit = to be more calm and present in life

  3. Learning type = logical

  4. Result = mindfulness meditation practice on the breath

Enjoy trying out different meditation types and discover the wealth of benefits, fun and connection meditation can bring you.


Final Tips for All Meditation Practices

A little and often is the best way whatever your practice.

Persistent and consistent practice is important.

Be comfortable when you do your practice.

Relinquish expectations and just experience each practice.

There is no race, no map, no prize and no achievement in meditation. Just your own self-discovery.


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Nid loves all her incarnations as an energy healer and coach, massage therapist, teacher of mind-body movement through yoga and Pilates, and blog writer. She is a passionate messenger on how to find your truth and live in alignment with your soul. Her work attracts people going through major life changes, long-term pain or health issues to discover how to live life with joy in mind, body, and spirit. She can be found working on retreats and online worldwide at

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