Mindful Mondays: Calming vs Insight Meditation

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Written by Trisha Bhullar

There’s a huge range of meditation techniques — from Chakra meditation to sound bath meditation. With so many forms to choose from, how do you begin the process of picking and choosing the best type of meditation for you? This article covers the range of meditation forms available, by looking at the umbrella categories of calming vs insight meditation.

Calming vs Insight Meditation: two categories of meditation forms

In general, meditation techniques may be classified into calming and insight meditation. Calming meditation refers to exercises that promote tranquillity, relaxation and a peaceful state of mind. Insight meditation, on the other hand, involves using meditation as a medium to gain wisdom, new understandings and well, insights. Although there are plenty of meditation forms that combine both calming and insight meditation, we can generally learn about meditation techniques by exploring each of these categories.

Calming meditation

As mentioned, calming meditation may be used to cultivate a peaceful state of mind. Besides this, some forms of calming meditation have the added bonus of improving concentration and clarity. Most calming meditation exercises involve focusing on your breath, a mantra, an object or visualization in order to train your focus. Ultimately, calming meditation has the overall benefit of alleviating conditions like stress, anxiety, OCD and depression. Some common forms of calming meditation are walking meditation, sound bath meditation and yoga meditation.

Insight meditation

Insight meditation is largely practised for the aim of transformation. This means transforming your mood, attitude or level of wisdom through meditation techniques. Instead of focusing on external influence, insight meditation channels your energy to your inner influences. For example, this means reflecting on your thoughts and emotions. The most famous type of insight meditation is Vipassana.

In Vipassana meditation, you channel all your energy towards observing, understanding and acknowledging your thoughts. In turn, this process improves your focus and helps you better understand yourself. It takes a lot of time and effort to master this craft. Patience is definitely a skill that will come in useful with insight meditation.

How to better practice meditation

Although each of these techniques has their own forms and practises, they both require an immense amount of skill to successfully practice. Moreover, they both require high levels of concentration and discipline. Sounds daunting? Don’t fret! Here are some quick and easy tips to help you get started.

  1. Get in the mood. Meditation requires discipline and focus, which may be a difficult task for newbies. As a result, you should immerse yourself in an environment that will help you get into this mood. For example, you may want to create a designated meditation space at home. This space could have music, special lighting, vividly-coloured carpets or even crystals. Whatever it is, this space should help you feel focused and comfortable.
  2. Use mindfulness tools. Use a mindfulness tool like a Timeqube to help you keep track of time in a stress-free, distraction-free environment.
  3. Practice. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Set aside just 5 minutes every day for meditation and you’ll see yourself getting better in no time.