Meditation is a great way to relax and reduce stress or “unplug” from the pace and responsibilities of everyday life. The benefits of a regular meditation practice can include many positive changes such as increased focus, creativity, patience, happiness, and overall life balance.
Meditation is a tradition dating back thousands of years that was developed over time by Buddhists and Hindus in China and India. Today there are many different styles and methods of meditation.
The word meditate comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means to ponder. Some styles of meditation examine the conscious mind, while others simply let thoughts pass through without inspection or judgment. However, the core of many meditation practices includes a method to focus the mind and relax the body.
Because meditation was associated with Eastern spiritual practices, meditation was not embraced by Western religions. Yet some Western religious rituals can be considered meditation, such as prayer.
In the U.S. during the counterculture revolution of the 1960s, Transcendental Meditation and Hatha Yoga were embraced as secular practices. More methods of meditation have made their way into mainstream culture. Today, it is adopted by many as a welcome relaxation method.
The following lists provides a brief overview of some popular styles of meditation today and methods by which you can practice these and other forms of meditation.
Styles of meditation
The following descriptions provide a very brief overview of some of the different styles of meditation you might encounter when exploring resources for a meditation practice.
Chakra meditation is a practice where you focus in turn on your core chakras (energy centers) and use imagery to facilitate the flow of energy through each one.
Guided meditation can be any practice that is done with guidance. Guidance can be provided by an instructor in a group (or private) class or facilitated using a video or audio recording. There are many mediation apps available that provide guided meditation.
Mantra meditation is a practice generally based in Hinduism where you use a word or phrase to focus your attention and suppress distractions (including your own thoughts). Some examples of a mantra include: “om”, “love” “gratitude”, “Expect nothing; appreciate everything” or any other word or phrase that supports the meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice generally based in Buddhism where one focuses on breathing and observing one’s thoughts in the moment.
Qigong (“chee gong”)is based in several Chinese traditions and combines breathing and movement to unblock and circulate energy, known as qi, through the body. There are more than 2,000 movements, but they are relatively easy to learn and practice. Some movements can elicit strong meditative energy.
Prayer and spiritual practices can incorporate formal and informal prayers, beads, sacred readings, spiritual examination, silence or gazing, and other faith-based traditions.
Tai chi is a form of qigong based on martial arts. In the practice of tai chi, you perform a series of movements as a set with a strong focus on form, where qigong repeats movements individually. Qigong is easier to learn, but many people find the challenge and complexity of tai chi form more interesting in practice. As a meditation, the tai chi tends to be less intense than qigong.
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a practice generally based in Hinduism made popular from the 1950s-1970s where a verbal mantra is used to focus attention and quiet the mind. TM mantras are chosen for you by a certified instructor.
Walking meditation can be performed like traditional methods using mantras, breathing, or other focusing techniques. There are many styles, including Zen and labyrinth paths. In contrast to a regular walk, a walking meditation will often not go anywhere, rather in a circle or back and forth along a narrow path.
- Labyrinth walks are a special type of walking meditation that have been used since ancient times and can be found in many cultures. A labyrinth is a single, circuitous path to a center point (unlike a maze with multiple paths and dead ends). Labyrinths are described by how many concentric circuits or paths they contain. Two of most common designs are the Chartres 11-circuit and the Classic-7. Labyrinths can measure from a few inches to hundreds of feet wide. The turns of the labyrinth are thought to balance both sides of the brain. The three stages to a labyrinth walk are releasing on the way in, receiving in the center, and returning the way you came. As with other forms of mediation, use the labyrinth walk in any way that is helpful to you, for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.
Yoga is a practice generally based in Buddhism and Hinduism. Yoga has many variations and not all methods actively use meditation. However, the underlying goal of yoga is focus and concentration, both elements of meditation. Here are some of the more popular forms of yoga:
- Ashtanga yoga uses prescribed sequences of postures performed as a unit. One of the most well-known sequences is the Sun Salutation.
- Hatha yoga focuses on posture and breathing and is often recommended to beginners.
- Hot yoga is performed in a hot, humid room. There are many forms, such as Bikram Yoga and Hot Vinyasa. If you have any health concerns at all, seek the advice or your healthcare provider before practicing this type of yoga.
- Iyengar yoga focuses on posture, breathing, movement, and long poses assisted with props. It’s a good choice if you are injured or injury-prone.
- Vinyasa yoga performs movement in a series like Ashtanga, but also coordinates breathing to the movements. It is considered one of the more advanced forms of yoga.
Zen meditation is a practice generally based in Buddhism and has many forms and traditions.
Methods of Practicing Meditation
Apps and other digital resources
Meditation apps. The following meditation apps get high ratings from users. All offer free versions with several different types of sessions and without requiring a credit card to sign up. All also offer a paid subscription if you find it effective and want more choices. Download these free meditation apps from iTunes for iOS or Google Play for Android smartphones. Some, but not all, have versions for desktop and laptop computers.
- Meditation & Relaxation: Guided Meditation
- Stop, Breathe & Think
Meditation video. Introduction to Insight Meditation is a free, 6-session video series that provides the same teachings offered throughout the year in the introductory classes at Seattle Insight Meditation Society. The series introduces beginners to the practice of Insight Meditation and includes guided meditation instruction.
Meditation podcast. The Meditation Podcast offers free recordings designed to help you overcome challenges ranging from chronic pain to depression to insomnia. These meditation podcasts are unique because they use tones in the audio that affect the brain waves. These tones, called binaural beats, slow the brainwaves, along with music and guided imagery, to produce a deep feeling of peaceful relaxation. The effect is like yoga or a very restful sleep. Listen to a Free Basic Meditation Podcast on Patreon or subscribe to get access to more episodes. Find a few more free episodes on iTunes at The Meditation Podcast on iTunes.
The following list includes labyrinths in Washington State that are open daily to the public during daylight hours. Most are free, except where indicated. Groups should contact the facility before scheduling a trip. For those located at churches, if services are underway (most often on Sunday morning), respect the sacred atmosphere and return after services have concluded.
(Listed alphabetically by city)
- St. Hugh of Lincoln Episcopal Church, 280 E. Wheelwright St, Allyn, WA 98524 (35 miles NW of Tacoma or 20 miles SW of Bremerton or from Seattle via either of these locations). Located behind the church; follow the path from the parking lot.
- Lebanon Park, 105 Lebanon Ave, Arlington, WA 98223 (50 mi. N of Seattle). Located next to the Centennial Trail in downtown Arlington.
- Grace Episcopal Church, 8595 NE Day Rd E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.
- Bethany Lutheran Church, 7968 Finch Road NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.
- Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, 105 Winslow Way W, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. Located on the corner of Winslow Way and Madison Avenue next to the gravel parking lot.
- Bothell United Methodist Church, 18515 92nd Ave. NE, Bothell, WA 98011. Located on west side of the church parking lot.
- HJ Carroll Park, 9884 SR Hwy 19 (Rhody Drive), Chimacum, WA 98325 (50 mi. NW of Seattle via ferry).
- Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church, 25701 14 Pl S, Des Moines, WA 98198.
- St Alban’s Episcopal Church, 21405 82nd Pl W, Edmonds, WA 98026.
- St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church, 15224 52nd Avenue W, Edmonds, WA 98026.
- Wiggums Hollow Park, 2808 10th Street, Everett, WA 98201.
- Fox Island United Church of Christ, 726 6th Avenue, Fox Island, WA 98333 (5 mi. from Gig Harbor).
- St. Anthony Hospital, 11567 Canterwood Boulevard NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98332. Located behind the hospital in the Healing Garden.
- Saint Michael & All Angels, 325 SE Darst St, Issaquah, WA 98027. Located in the ‘back yard’ of the church.
- St. James Episcopal Church, 24447 94th Ave S, Kent, WA 98030. Located in the front lawn.
- Redeemer United Methodist Church, 9900 NE Shorty Campbell Road, Kingston, WA 98346.
- St. John’s Episcopal, 105 State St S, Kirkland, WA 98033. Located in front of the church on State Street.
- Edith Moulton Park, 108th Ave NE & NE 137th St, Kirkland, WA 98034. Follow the southern-most entrance from 108th Ave NE (the access road) to the end of the pavement. The labyrinth is in a clearing just inside the woods, to the northeast.
- Fort Steilacoom Park, 8714 87th Ave SW, Lakewood, Washington 98499. Note that the park is 340 acres and features an expansive trail system, baseball, softball and soccer fields, playground, off-leash dog park, picnic shelters, and restrooms. The labyrinth is located north of and up the hill from Lake Waughop, at the site of the former Western State Hospital’s “Hill Ward”.
- Earth Sanctuary, 2059 Newman Rd, Langley, WA 98260. Cost: $7 per person.
- Saint George Episcopal Church, 24219 Witte Road SE, Maple Valley, WA 98038. Located in the back of the property right off the Lake Wilderness Trail.
- Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 4400 86th Avenue SE Mercer Island, WA 98040.
- Normandy Park United Church of Christ, 19247 1st Ave S, Normandy Park, WA 98148.
- First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1020 Jefferson St, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Located between the church building and the parish hall in the Courtyard of All Souls.
- Poulsbo First Lutheran Church, 18920 4th Avenue NE, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Located on the upper west patio of the Christian Center.
- Cottage Grove Park, 5206 26th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106. Located in the King County Restoration Garden.
- Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109. Located behind the Space Needle at the NE corner of Center House, on the blacktop in front of the Experience Music Project.
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 15 Roy Street, Seattle, WA 98109.
- Denny Park, 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. Located next to the children’s play area.
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 111 NE 80th St., Seattle, WA 98115. Located on the First Avenue side of the church grounds.
- Dr. Rudolf Steiner Bookstore & Children’s Shop, 9727 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.
- St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 6512 12th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117. Located on the north lawn of the church, under the walnut tree, near the children’s playground.
- Silverdale Lutheran Church, 11701 Ridgepoint Dr. NW, Silverdale, WA 98383. Located on south end of the church property.
- Stanwood City Hall Park, 10220 270th St NW, Stanwood, WA 98292.
- Suquamish United Church of Christ, 18732 Division Ave NE, Suquamish, WA 98392. In the Peace Garden.
- Duwamish Park, 11646 42nd Ave S, Tukwila, WA 98168.
- Crestview Park, 16200 42nd Ave S, Tukwila, WA 98188.
- Chambers Creek Regional Park, 6320 Grandview Dr. W, University Place, WA 98467. Located on the grounds around the Environmental Services Building, the walking paths provide citizens an opportunity to view a reclaimed gravel pit. Once a former county road shop, the site now contains two multi-purpose playfields, the Chambers Creek Labyrinth, native plantings, interpretive signage and a stormwater demonstration garden. Access Point to the labyrinth is 64th and Chambers Creek Road.
- Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, 15420 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon, WA 98070. Located on the lawn just north of the Church.
- Wooden Cross Lutheran Church, 17401 198th Avenue NE, Woodinville, WA 98077. Located in a grove of trees, a short walk from the parking lot.
To find another labyrinth anywhere in the world, visit the World Wide Labyrinth Locator.
Upcoming meditation classes and events
(If nothing is listed below, there are no upcoming meditation events in our calendar. We usually update meditation events on a rolling basis throughout the year and regularly occurring classes at the beginning of the year.)