We all know that meditation brings amazing benefits. Meditation helps reduce stress levels. Enhances healthy sleep. Lowers blood pressure. Eases inflammation. The list goes on and on. But did you know that not every person experiences meditation in the same way? It could easily be that the way you’re trying to meditate rubs up against your innate personality type. If you switched the type of meditation you practice, it could become far easier and more effective.
How to determine your ideal meditation type.
First, you need to determine which personality type matches your inner being. This is part of the process of Ayurveda. Ayurveda has been practiced and perfected for thousands of years. In many ways Ayurveda developed systems which current medical science is only now catching up with. One such area is the concept that human bodies are not cookie-cutters of each other. You can’t just expect every person to eat the same food and metabolize it in the same manner. Our bodies have fundamental differences. What one person can digest easily, another person could have reactions to.
Those same concepts apply to how we focus and handle stress.
It’s important to determine which general type of person you are. In Ayurveda these are called doshas. There are many other sub-aspects to a person, but for now we will simplify to make this easier.
The three doshas are:
Vata – this dosha relates to air and space. Someone who tends toward the vata dosha is generally full of energy. Their mind bounces around and they like to be on the go. One aspect of a vata dosha could lead to nervous anxiety about issues, as the mind keeps spinning. A vata person would tend to have challenges meditating because their mind is leaping from place to place. There are so many things to think about – so many other things to be doing.
Pitta – this dosha relates to water and fire. A person with a tendency toward the pitta dosha can often have strong emotions which can sometimes overflow. A pitta person feels passionately about things which can be a good thing – it can also make life challenging. In meditation, those emotions can be given the opportunity to bubble up without restraint, taking over the meditation process with unresolved issues.
Kapha – this dosha relates to earth and water. This is generally a quieter, more subdued dosha. But as with the others, it is one thing to be in balance with a trait and another to tend more strongly toward it. A person who moves too deep into kapha can become stagnant and stuck. They can lose forward momentum on their dreams because they have settled into a rut. In meditation, someone tending strongly toward kapha might fall asleep. They might lose focus of their topic and not draw advantage from the meditation time.
If you haven’t determined your dosha balance before, now is a great time to look into that. Note that your primary dosha can change as you age – as you transition from a fiery teenager to a calm middle-ager or as you transition from a stuck-in-a-rut office worker to a full-of-energy owner of your own business. It’s worth it to review your dosha situation regularly.
Meditation for Vata Dosha
A key challenge for those tending toward vata is managing their “monkey mind”. This is the term used in meditation for a mind which leaps from place to place, rarely staying still. It can be a challenge for most peoples’ minds. For those tending toward vata, the problem can become quite unruly.
A solution to wrangle in the monkey mind is to provide an atmosphere as free of distraction as possible. Create a safe haven for your meditation. Have it be as free from distraction as possible. If you can, face yourself toward a blank wall or other simple scene. Sit in a comfortable position, one as free of ache as possible. If that means cushions or blankets, use them. White noise is best, but if you must use music, use something without words. You want as few things as possible to distract you. Keep the room slightly cool.
Focus on your breath. In, out. In, out. When you get distracted by other thoughts or smells or sounds, draw yourself back to your breath. It is that practice of returning to your breath which is key here. You are training your brain how to deal with distraction.
Meditation for Pitta Dosha
With a pitta dosha tendency, it is often strong emotions or passions which boil beneath the surface. It can take effort to keep those under control. The process of meditation eases the controlling thoughts, meaning those emotions now can have a likelihood to erupt and flow strongly. If you are frustrated with your finances, then a quiet meditation period could suddenly be where all those emotions bubble and boil out of you. They are finally given the “space” to be heard.
A solution to manage these strong emotions is meditate on a specific mantra that provides support. One such option is the loving-kindness meditation, or “metta” meditation. In this meditation you recite to yourself a series of phrases focused on bringing calm, health, happiness, and safety to yourself. You then move on to offer those positive experiences to someone you care about. You move out to offer them to others in our world.
By focusing on the concept of bringing peace and joy to each person in our world, it can help to offer a counter-point to strong emotions. It reminds us that every person is worthy of peace. Every person is a traveler challenged by what life is about. It draws the mind away from the one specific situation and to view life in a larger manner.
Meditation for Kapha Dosha
Those with a tendency toward kapha dosha can become stuck in a pattern. It can be challenging for them to look for new ways to try things. Maybe they have tried them in the past and been hurt by the experience. Maybe they simply don’t have the energy any more to make this attempt. There are a variety of ways in which kapha dosha can become predominant.
A solution with kapha dosha is to get into motion, even a little bit. If at all possible, do a walking meditation. This could just be a circle around your living room. If you are bed-ridden, it could be a meditation which involves gently tensing and then releasing muscles in your body, starting at the toes and working your way up to your head.
If you have the ability, try the walking meditation in a park you’ve never visited before. Draw in the experiences around you without judgment. Just see them for what they are. Breathe in. See. Listen. Smell.
Every one of us has a tendency toward a dosha – sometimes a strong tendency, sometimes a faint one. Those tendencies can sway over time as our life experiences change and our worlds grow. By adjusting your daily meditation practice to support the way your mind and body are currently aligned, you give yourself the best possible chance of bettering your health, your spirit, and your openness to everything life has to offer.