What Type of Meditation Is Best for You?



As citizens of the 21st century, we face many problems that come with an industrialized and globalized world. We’re confronting climate change and poverty in the midst of plenty; wars and political instability are driving millions of people to leave their homes and seek refuge. At the same time, we’re witnessing increases in stress-related diseases, depression, and narcissism. Skillful solutions to these problems will require new forms of global cooperation, mutual understanding, and compassion across nationalities and cultures.

I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but a psychologist and neuroscientist. So research on how to train helpful mental and social capacities is my way to contribute to a more healthy, communal, and cooperative civilization.

For the past five years, that research has taken the form of the ReSource Project, one of the longest and most comprehensive studies on the effects of meditation-based mental training to date. Lots of research treats the concept of meditation as a single practice, when in fact meditation encompasses a diversity of mental practices that train different skills and different parts of the brain. Our goal was to study the specific effects of some major types of mental practices and distinguish their effects on well-being, the brain, behavior, and health—and, in particular, discover which practices could help build a more compassionate and interconnected world.

Our findings are still emerging, as my team and I continue to analyze a multitude of data. The results so far have been mostly encouraging, sometimes surprising, and crucial to understand for meditation practitioners and teachers.