By Sophia Godkin PhD
As unpredictable as life can sometimes feel and as laden with uncertainty and unanswered questions that it can sometimes appear to be, there is one thing I know for sure: It is our mind that governs our experience of life – how deep, how wondrous, how logical, how heartfelt, how tumultuous, how loving and how positive it is. And there’s no doubt (the research is abundant!) that meditation equips us with awareness, helps ease our mind of the constant clutter of thoughts, and teaches us to direct our mind to the present moment, a powerful gateway to the joy and wonder that are inherently present in life.
Notably, our minds come in many different shapes and sizes. How wonderful, then, that meditation comes in many shapes and sizes too. In fact, anything we do can become a meditation if done with ease and focus. And just as a size 7 shoe is unlikely to fit a size 10 foot, a meditation that works well for one mind is unlikely to fit another mind just as well. So if you’ve ever had a hard time meditating or just felt a resounding “this isn’t for me”, I urge you to try again – this time, in a way that is made for you and that resonates with the natural tendencies of your mind.
Below, I share ideas grounded in the modern evolution of our ancient scientific understanding of mind-body typology. If you don’t yet know your mind-body type, head on over here to find out, then come back to this article to uncover the perfect meditation for you – the kind that your mind will love, that you will therefore come back to time and time again, and that will reap immense benefits for you in how you experience life every day.
Ectomorphs (crusaders and sensors), here is the perfect meditation for your naturally active mind.
If you are an ectomorph, you have a naturally overactive mind, making meditation a must-have in your toolkit of success. With a very active mind, you can get lost easily in your thoughts. The best meditation for you, therefore, is not one that directs you to absolve all thoughts but rather one that gives you a concrete point of focus and concentration. A mantra meditation (focusing on some word or phrase of meaning), or visualization (focusing on some imagined picture or scenario), can be great for the ectomorph mind. Sound meditation can also take your mind to a more still, and less active, place. Put on some headphones and try this or any number of 432 Hz sound meditations.
As an ectomorph, it is good for you to work with, not against, your naturally active mental energy, letting it flow as it wishes rather than trying to suppress it. You need to have enough energy to concentrate so when you’re lacking energy, try deepening your breath to invite in more prana (life force energy) during your meditation practice. Know too that meditation can work wonders for not only your mind, but that it helps also to create sound sleep, give you smooth digestion, and strengthen your immune system.
Of all the emotional experiences available to us as humans, fear and anxiety will be most common for you as an ectomorph. During meditation, it is therefore helpful to direct your mind back to your inherent fearlessness, peace, trust, and protection. Focusing within on universal truths (eg There is no dream that is too big to achieve) and laws (eg As above, so below; as below, so above) and on your stable inner nature – rather than the changes and disturbances of the external world – will help you maintain a calm, content mind capable of achieving all your goals and dreams.
Mesomorphs (connectors and activators), mindfulness meditation was made for you.
Because you have a strong ability to focus your attention and can do so more easily than your ectomorph and endomorph counterparts, vipassana (mindfulness) meditation and mantra meditation are great ways to help you focus your mental energy in a positive way. Because your mesomorphic personality lends itself to holding tight to opinions and judgments, meditation can especially be a great time to leave behind the limitations of the critical mind, and to experience your Higher Self beyond it.
As a mesomorph, the sways of emotion for you tend to be expressed as anger, frustration, and aggression. In fact, many of life’s circumstances can become conquests and challenges for you. It is therefore important that you be mindful not to make meditation into a similarly competitive, goal-oriented activity, thereby negating the whole purpose of it. During meditation, concentrate on releasing stress and tension, foregoing the desire to control and strive, and opening your mind and heart to what’s possible. Because you have a notable capacity to experience anger, guided meditations focusing on love and compassion are great, especially those that invite you to visualize giving, asking for, and receiving forgiveness.
Most important of all in your meditation practice is emphasizing your body as a vehicle for anything that your mind yearns to achieve. As a mesomorph, you tend to be an active, somatically-focused being so combining meditation with movement can be a great way to settle your mind. In fact, movement can naturally become a meditation for you. So take your mind for a walk and focus on the feeling of your feet as you do so, or lie down and follow – with your attention – the sensations in your body from your head to your toes. Chanting, as a form of self-expression, is another wonderful modality to try!
Endomorphs (guardians and diplomats), allow yourself to be held in the loving embrace of meditation.
As an Endomorph, you are far more inclined to adopt a meditation practice if it is done in a group and you are far more likely to maintain it if you approach it with some discipline and structure. So find a group meditation class and perhaps invite a friend, partner, or child to come along with you. Because you have a propensity for lethargy and can fall asleep during meditation, more active meditations, such as those infused with periods of breathwork (pranayama) are great for you. Walking meditation is also a great option to sustain your wakeful attention while simultaneously enhancing your circulation.
Meditation teaches the principle of non-attachment: being with each moment as it arises rather than clinging —whether to relationships, jobs, or material things— in hopes that they will last forever. Because you are not drawn to change and can become possessive and attached to people, emotions, circumstances and things, meditation can be a wonderful way to release these attachments and to help you move forward, inviting yourself to change along with a life that is always changing with or without you. You may also choose to recite an affirmation of freedom, independence, and non-attachment (eg “I deeply appreciate my life and the people and things within it while they are present, knowing they can change or cease to be at any time”) to help ease yourself into this understanding that all of life is impermanent and eventually gives way to something else.
Above all, know that you can support your naturally loving and caring nature during meditation by focusing your attention on love for all beings and for the divine (like in loving-kindness meditation), in whatever form it may come for you. And if you’d like to explore something very special to you as an endomorph, try the Hugging meditation created by Thich Nhat Hanh with a child (whether your own or the child of someone you know and love), a friend, or even a tree. First, recognize each other’s presence with a simple bow towards one another. Next, take three full, conscious breaths to welcome yourself into the present moment. Next, open your arms widely and hug, holding each other in a warm embrace for three in-breaths and out-breaths. While hugging, become aware that you and the other person are sharing a present moment together and invite yourself to feel the joy and gratitude that this togetherness brings. Complete the meditation by releasing and bowing to each other to show gratitude for the blessed time you spent together.
As you venture into the depths of meditation on your life’s journey, keep in mind that each of these descriptions is a constellation of tendencies meant to help you get to know yourself better. You are and always will remain an individual with unique preferences and proclivities. Be mindful of your individuality as you journey to explore your mind and the practices that help it be calm, content, and in harmony with your body and soul as you journey about this wonderful experience we call life. And know that the more you understand the ways that your unique mind and body work, the more you can find those ways of being, living (and meditating!) that feel good, that have positive, lasting effects on your life, and that make you eternally happy to be alive.