Different Types of meditation

Different types of Meditation – Active or Passive?

Posted: 24th April 2020 by Emma Wall

Yin Meditation or Yang Meditation? What’s the best type of meditation for me?

Most people, when thinking of meditation, imagine a Buddha-like figure sat serenely meditating in Locust pose and don’t realise that there are different types of Meditation. Meditation for beginners usually focuses on the flow of the breath as a way to calm and centre the busy mind. But this is just one of many different types of meditation that you can use and meditation postures you can take. It’s important to realise that there are two quite different forms of meditation. And finding what the best meditation style is for you can greatly impact your meditation experience.

Active Yang styles of meditation 

Out of the different types of meditation, this is probably the most practised forms of meditation in The West and is how most people get into meditation. This form of meditation involves using an anchor to calm your constantly chattering mind. Meditative anchors include focusing on the breath, a mantra, an image, a body scan or meditating on a flickering candle. The idea is that every time the mind wanders to stories about the present, memories from the past or fantasies about the future, then you can reconnect with the present moment via your chosen meditative anchor.

In yang styles of meditation, the meditator follows a set of predetermined rules to help guide them through the experience. Using visualisations is another popular meditation technique that guided meditation experiences will draw on.

When should I meditate with an active type of meditation?

These active types of mediation are best for if you’re feeling ungrounded and want to find some balance in a busy mind. In Yang styles of meditation, you actively participate in discouraging thoughts, which allows you to wake up to the present moment experience. This is also the best type of meditation if you want to strengthen cognitive functions such as concentration and the ability to stay calm.

Learn how to make prepare yourself for sitting in meditation with Shoelace pose.

Passive Yin styles of meditation

Another type of meditation available to us works with the opposing energies of the more active meditation styles. The less popular meditation approach of Yin meditation is often viewed as contradictory to the objectives of meditation in our society. In this type of meditation practice, the meditator remains open and receptive throughout and doesn’t try to filter their experience in any way. They don’t guide their meditation with a set of rules leading them towards any particular objective but instead allow their natural experience to unfold.

In this type of meditation, the practitioner allows their mind to acknowledge any thoughts or sensations that may arise. They do not try to suppress or control any sensations, whether good or bad. The time spent in meditation is seen as an opportunity to play your mental edge and to quietly listen to anything that may be arising. 

For further explorations of how to use passive meditation in your Yin yoga practice, check out the inspiring new book from Flow Publications: In My Element

Using a meditation perch instead of an anchor

The talented yoga teacher and Chinese Medicine practitioner, Josh Summers, refers to using a perch in Yin meditation styles. In the more passive Yin meditation styles, we give ourselves permission to fly and traverse our internal landscape. However, we can always return to a perch when we need grounding back into our meditation or we’ve surpassed our comfortable mental edge. Like our meditation anchors, a perch involves us focusing on something such as our breath or the feeling of our hands in our lap. But in Yin mediation, there is no need to stay with this focus for any longer than you need to, and it’s okay to change the focus of your attention every time you revisit it.

When should I meditate with a Yin type of meditation?

This is the best type of meditation to use for building self-awareness and for learning how to let go of control. In more open styles of mediation, we are left free to experience all aspects of our true nature, both good and bad. This is a form of meditation which lets us develop tolerance and compassion through the act of allowance and grants us deep routed wisdom. The insights gained from roaming freely around our internal landscapes this way often come to light once we’ve left the meditation behind. 

To learn about the power of the breath in meditative practices click here.

What is the best type of meditation for me?

Out of the different types of Meditation, what the best type of meditation for you will be, depends on many factors. You may respond better to more active types of mediation in the morning when your mind is busier and needs centring. Or you may prefer to use a passive mediation style to quietly search for some insights after a troublesome night’s sleep. There is no steadfast rule as to which type of meditation to use when.

The different styles of meditation exist as a wonderful toolkit to mix and match according to our needs on any given day. No two days are the same, as neither are no two mediation experiences. You may even find yourself starting with one way of meditating and then naturally drifting over to another. And that’s fine too! Just ask yourself before you start your mediation what you’re looking for from your practice and then tailor your type of meditation practice that day to those objectives.

Read all about the Yin and Yang of exercising.

Different Types of Meditation - Passive Yin style of Meditation and Active Yang style of Meditation

Explore passive meditation techniques, Yin Yoga, Pranayama and much more: In My ElementIn My Element