What’s the Best Meditation Style for Your Personality Type?

Photo: Stocksy/Jojo Jovanovic

Everyone has their own fitness personality: Some people can’t get enough of SoulCycle, while others see tapping it back to a Katy Perry song as their idea of hell. Some are die-hard downward doggers, while others think yoga class is an hour-long nap. Workouts are not one-size-fits-all—and, as it turns out, neither are meditation practices.

“Saying you can't meditate is like going to the gym once, not [seeing results] immediately, and deciding working out isn’t for you,” says Lodro Rinzler, Chief Spiritual Officer of New York City's MNDFL. Your exercise options aren't limited to the treadmill and elliptical, but it might take some trial and error before you find the best style for you.

"There are more ways to meditate than there are to make an egg."

Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of the Los Angeles-based meditation studio Unplug, is calling BS on anyone who claims they’re "too social," "too talkative," or "too distracted" to be alone with their thoughts. "If you can breathe, you can meditate," she insists. “Meditation is something that most people don’t realize they’re doing, all the time.” (Like, maybe, during your manicure.)

Every meditation practice is based on four main steps: focus, let go, think, repeat. But within this template, there are a seemingly endless number of methods that you can use to get your Zen on. "There are more ways to meditate than there are to make an egg,” Yalof Schwartz says, quoting a friend. "It's kind of like a food court: Some days I'm interested in Chinese [cuisine], other days I'm interested in Italian or Japanese. I want to try it all, and it keeps me interested."

To get you started, Yalof Schwartz breaks down the ideal meditation to try, according to your personality.

To get you started, Yalof Schwartz breaks down the ideal meditation to try, according to your personality.

Meditation for your personality
Graphics by Abby Maker for Well+Good

If you have an open personality, try: guided imagery

People with open personalities enjoy new experiences, which means they’re probably the first ones to jump at the chance to try a virtual reality spin class or do sun salutations with farm animals.

"For people who are really open, I think it’s fun to try a guided imagery class where you look at your future self or your ideal life, or meet your inner child,” says Yalof Schwartz. An open person’s insightful, imaginative vibes make them the perfect candidate for visualization, mainly because you never know what they’ll come up with.

Meditation for your personality

If you have a conscientious personality, try: a mantra

Conscientious personalities are the ones who always remember to bring a water bottle to spin class (and arrive 10 minutes early). "I think a mantra is a great way for them to start, because they can be kind of predictable and disciplined,” says Yalof Schwartz.

Her personal favorite mantras to use are “ah” when you inhale and “hum” when you exhale, or thinking “let” (inhale) “go” (exhale).  

Meditation for your personality

If you have an extroverted personality, try: breathwork

You can spot your extroverted friends from across the room—they're the ones chatting it up in the juice bar after a workout class. They're also most often the people who claim to be unable to meditate because they get their energy from interacting with others. “For someone who's more extroverted, I think breathwork is a fun meditation to do,” says Yalof Schwartz. “[You practice] a more energized breath, and you feel like it’s much more active." She notes they also usually play music during these classes (although dance parties are not encouraged).

While it’s still technically a solo activity, Yalof Schwartz refers to breathwork as being “very social with yourself.” You spend the session breathing heavily and listening to music, so by the time the practice is over, you’re exhausted to the point where there’s nothing you can do but just be.

Meditation for your personality

If you have an agreeable personality, try: loving-kindness

Friendly, cooperative, and compassionate, agreeable people are the ones willing to move their mats over to make room for you on the floor. "I think mindfulness would be great for them, specifically a type called loving-kindness, which is a practice where you show love to yourself and others,” says Yalof Schwartz.

Here’s how it works: First, you silently ask yourself questions like, “May I be happy?” “May I be well?” Then you think about another person and ask about their wellness and happiness. Agreeable people tend to be kind and sympathetic, so considering others during their practice may help them focus…as long as they don’t forget to think about themselves, too.

Meditation for your personality

If you have a neurotic personality, try: tapping

People who score high on the neuroticism scale may not be the most open to meditation—but they could also have the most to gain from it. Yalof Schwartz recommends a practice called tapping, which she describes as “hypnosis without closing your eyes and acupuncture without the needles.”

“You tap these points [on your face and body], and what you’re doing is you’re changing your neuro path,” she says. As you make contact, you replace negative thoughts or behaviors with positive ones. Yalof Schwartz says she once used tapping to stop eating sugary carbohydrates for eight days. How's that for results?

Once you've found the meditation style you vibe with, find out how mastering it can help you succeed at work. Or take your mindfulness on the road with this walking meditation.

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