I have heard that there is insight meditation (mostly as part of practicing Buddhism) and Samantha (which involves Buddhism, but really just as a tool in the beginning of a meditation).

This question springs from a question below and reading this answer about (Samantha) Anapanasati: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/9185/8475

Ultimately, I believe that the answers about meditation for this question are inadequate. I may be alone here, but the current answers do not specify a practical technique for meditation (assuming that mindfulness is a subcomponent). Categorizing the different types of meditation may help in for these underlying reasons:

Lastly, I intent to make a venn diagram showing the similarities and such... Here are related questions:

  • I don't understand your question. The answers you've already linked pretty much answer that there is samatha and vipassana and explain what they are. Sep 11, 2016 at 20:14
  • I am asking for any more broad categories. I may have said the brunt of them. For example, Vipassana is under the category of insight meditation. But what about "inner fire" meditation? I don't know! I assume this kind is also another type of insight meditation, but there could be more broad categories.
    – adamaero
    Sep 11, 2016 at 20:25
  • 1
    @OidaOudenEidos I think the question is, are there other categories apart from these two? What about Anussati for example: is that Samatha, Vipasanna, or something else? Or is Metta Bhavana another category? How about Zen? Chanting/mantras? Etc.? And where does TM fit among these categories?
    – ChrisW
    Sep 11, 2016 at 20:27
  • @AdamUraynar Ok, I understand what was meant by 'broad category' Sep 13, 2016 at 12:52

2 Answers 2



Reflective meditation

  1. There are a series of meditations that can put you in the right frame of mind. The guardian meditations are one tool to reduce the power of the hindrances.

    • Buddhanussati (reflection on the qualities of the Buddha) The first guardian meditation is recollection of the Buddha, keeping in mind his Awakening. It is the reflection on the nine supreme qualities of the Buddha.
    • Metta (Loving Kindness Meditation) The second guardian meditation is goodwill. If one is friendly to oneself, that person will not harm himself/herself. If a person is friendly to others, that person would not harm others’ lives. Therefore, the friendship that brings good to oneself and others is called Mettā.
    • Asubha (Meditation on loathsomeness) The third guardian meditation - Here one reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.'

    • Maranasati (Meditation on the recollection of death) The fourth guardian meditation - “Mindfulness of death, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit, culminating in the deathless, having the deathless as its consummation.” – Anguttara Nikaya 8.7

  2. There are 10 Anussati meditations - 8 reflections and 2 on mindfulness. Anussati means repeated reflection or constant awareness or mindfulness on some object.

    • Dhammanussati (reflection on the qualities of the Dhamma) . The second of the 10 is Reflecting on the virtues of the Dhamma (Dhammanussati). It is the reflection on the six supreme qualities of the Teaching of the Buddha.

    • Sanghanussati (reflection on the qualities of the Sangha) The third of the 10 is the Sangha is the third of the Three Jewels in Buddhism. It is the reflection on the supreme qualities of the ideal community of Noble Ones (ariya-sangha) — those monks, nuns, laywomen, and laymen who, throughout history, have by their own diligent efforts successfully carried out the Buddha's instructions and gained at least a glimpse of the supreme happiness of nibbana.

    • Silanussati (meditation about virtue) The fourth of the 10 is is the recollection of one's own moral virtue.

    • Devatanussati (meditation about heavenly beings) This is the fifth of the 10 is this. We should cultivate the Sēkha Bala Dhamma – Saddhā (faith), Sīla (virtue), Sutha (Dhamma knowledge), Thyāga (generosity), and Paññā (wisdom of the Dhamma) – at this present time. These are qualities that are found in the Devas. If you develop them, then there is divinity within you.

    • Chaganussati (meditation about generosity) The sixth of the 10 is Chaganussati. - Reflecting on Giving (dana) is one of the integral parts of the practice of Dhamma. When practiced in itself, it is a basis of merit or wholesome kamma, but only when combined with morality, concentration and insight, will it lead to liberation from samsara, the cycle of repeated existence. So it is of the recollection of one's own generosity.

    • Reflecting on the peace in Nibbana (Upasamanussati) The 'recollection of the peace of Nibbana', is the last of the 10 recollections anussati.


  • Karuna (Compassion meditation) The way to cultivate Karunā meditation - the second of Four Divine Abodes… May I be free of bodily pains… May I be free of mental pains… May I be physically healthy… May I be mentally healthy… May I live well and happy… I and … (Karunhā meditation can be cultivated in Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti and Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti methods similar to the Mettā and Mudita meditations.)

  • Mudita ( Altruistic-joy meditation) Loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity are known as “the Four Divine Abodes (satara brahma viharanha)”. The third of the group is the cultivation of Muditā to get rid of discontent about wholesome actions… The happiness we feel about others’ progress/wellbeing is Muditā. One can thrive with money, lands, vehicles, and so on by earnest and righteous livelihoods. If we can be happy by seeing such development of others without getting angry about it, it is Muditā. The Buddha preached to cultivate Muditā to get rid of discontent (aratiya) about wholesome actions.

  • Upekkha (Equanimity meditation) This is the last of the four. We do this in order to not get upset from the eight vicissitudes of life. One who practices equanimity will not mourn when sufferings, troubles find that person. He will not get excited when pleasure, happiness find him. He/she will feel all with an indifferent mentality. What we all have to face is the eight vicissitudes of life (ata lō dahama). One shall cultivate equanimity in order to not to worry or sorrow from the eight vicissitudes of life.


  • Nava Sivatika (Nine cemetery contemplations) The last exercise in mindfulness of the body is a series of "cemetery meditations," contemplations of the body's disintegration after death, which may be performed either imaginatively, with the aid of pictures, or through direct confrontation with a corpse. By any of these means one obtains a clear mental image of a decomposing body, then applies the process to one's own body, considering: "This body, now so full of life, has the same nature and is subject to the same fate. It cannot escape death, cannot escape disintegration, but must eventually die and decompose."


  • Cittanupassana (Contemplation of the mind) Cittanupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on thoughts or mental processes, such as thoughts associated with the passions or dissociated from the passions.


  • Dhammanupassana (Contemplation of mental objects or thoughts) Dhammanupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on phenomena such as nivarana (hindrances), etc.


  • Kayanupassana (Contemplation of the body) This is the first of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Buddha's advice is to look at the body, as it is, neither getting attached nor developing aversion towards it. The Buddha's advice is to observe and analyze it without being biased by any views or prejudices and to develop mindfulness. Within the first major section on mindfulness of body there are five meditation methods.
    (1) mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati)
    (2) Satisampajaññya (awareness) meditation in Satara Satipatthana
    (3) mindfulness of postures (iriyapatha)
    (4) refelection on internal and external impurities and other vital parts (kunapa)
    (5) analysis of four elements (dathu)
    (6) reflection on nine stages of a dead body (nava seevaththika)


  • Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) The Buddha explained to Venerable Ananda, “This one factor is Anapanasati, which when developed and pursued brings the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Cattaro Satipatthana) to completion. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, when developed and pursued bring the Seven Factors of Enlightenment to completion. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment, when developed and pursued bring Clear Knowing and Release to completion.” in the Ananda Sutta.

  • Iriya patha (Meditation on postures of the body)** The postures of the body can be good subjects leading to the proper establishment of concentration. Here one attempts to be mindful of walking, standing, sitting, lying, bending, stretching, eating, drinking, chewing, savouring, defecating and urinating.


Dhathu Manasikara (analysis of four elements) It is the meditation of the four physical elements (dhatu) of nature: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind (pathavi, apo, tejo, and vayo) as Elements of solidity, fluidity, heat and motion.


  • sati sampajanna

The Pali word for alertness is sampajañña. It doesn’t mean being choicelessly aware of the present, or comprehending the present. Sampajañña means being aware of what you’re doing in the movements of the body, the movements in the mind. This is why mindfulness and alertness should always be paired.

  • 1
    I guess many of these are one 'broad category', i.e. they are "anussati" meditations on various objects (Buddha, Dharma, etc.). And maybe the four brahmavihara meditations also all belong to one category, i.e. they're all "bhavana" meditations?
    – ChrisW
    Sep 12, 2016 at 10:10
  • Yes, @ChrisW, so far I’ve touched on those two broad categories. Then there is ‘Ahare Patikkula Saññā’ (perceiving the impurity of material food), ‘Sabba Loke Anabhirata Saññā’ (not taking delight in worlds), ‘Sabba Sankharesu Anicca Saññā’ (impermanence of all aggregates), Panca Nivarana ((Meditation on five hinderances), Panca Upadanaskanda (Meditation on five groups of clinging), Walking Meditation, etc. to name a few other types that I have not touched on yet.. Sep 12, 2016 at 11:30
  • Thank you. The question is especially asking for "broad categories", so try to identify the broad categories). I think the OP is trying to get an overview or 'big picture', or to read of ways to categorize them.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 12, 2016 at 12:01
  • Also I think you're copy-and-pasting definitions. You should reference (e.g. hyperlink to) the sources you copy from, and/or use quote formatting, when you do that.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 12, 2016 at 12:04
  • Thanks, @Adam Uraynar.. I greatly appreciate your help on this. I do not think that I can find the time to edit my own. I agree with ChrisW. I have 'clipped copied' from my own personal notes from my past readings. Finding the source for these is going to be too time consuming, and I'd rather delete this post than going through that trouble. Then it is again Supreme Buddha's Word that we are all sharing, and no one else have any right to any authorship. To protect the integrity of authorship every writer should quote the scriptures. ie. Sutta-Vinaya. Sep 12, 2016 at 13:17

The link referred to uses the ideas of the monk Yuttadhammo as a guide. Yuttadhammo is connected to a certain idiosyncratic Burmese meditation tradition that appears to misapprehend Anapanasati.

The very fact that the Pali scriptures report Anapanasati is 'The Tathagata's Dwelling' (SN 54.11) shows believing Anapanasati to be only 'samatha' is an error.

If anyone, bhikkhus, speaking rightly could say of anything: "It is a noble dwelling, a divine dwelling, the Tathagata's dwelling", it is of concentration by mindfulness with breathing that one could rightly say this.

SN 54.11 (no direct link)

Anapanasati, when performed correctly, develops both samatha (tranquility) & insight (vipassana) together. In the majority of discourses in the Pali suttas, Anapanasati is recommended as a complete system of meditation, where samatha (tranquility) & insight (vipassana) are developed in tandem.

There cannot really be different kinds of meditation, when meditation is practised correctly & successfully. The reason for this is because when attention & concentration are properly developed, insight will naturally occur as an automatic result. But if concentration is practised incorrectly, such as by suppressing & forcing the mind, insight will not occur and the samatha that occurs will be unclear & drowsy.

Similarly, if the Burmese 'insight' techniques can be practised successfully, true insight will lead to the mind's hindrances/defilements/thoughts stopping, which will result in the mind automatically developing concentration.

This is why the Dhammapada states there can be no concentration without insight & no insight without concentration.

372. There is no meditative concentration for him who lacks insight and no insight for him who lacks meditative concentration. He in whom are found both meditative concentration and insight, indeed, is close to Nibbana

The meditation methods developed in Burma, which Yuttadhammo teaches, appear to have been developed to avoid the lethargy of mind that occurs from when samatha meditation is developed improperly, which is extremely common. It is probably a fact that most people do not practise Anapanasati in an ideal manner, which results in misunderstandings about Anapanasati.

The very fact that most translators translate 'Anapanasati' as 'Mindfulness Of Breathing' demonstrates an inherent misunderstanding of what 'Anapanasati' is (since the translation should be 'Mindfulness With/When/While Breathing').

The so-called 'Insight' techniques taught by Yuttadhammo are designed to keep the mind open, awake & alert; to avoid the lethargy of wrong anapanasati practise.

While this may seem to be a very positive thing, the best thing is to correct one's misunderstandings of Anapanasati rather than preach misunderstandings about Anapanasati.

Ultimately, we must choose the technique that is best for us. For those unable to practise Anapanasati as instructed in the suttas (which is based on the practise of 'letting go' called 'vossagga'), the Burmese 'insight' methods of Mahasi Sayadaw that Yuttadhammo teaches may be a better option if they wish to develop alertness & attention.

...a monk develops mindfulness as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment (vossagga).

He develops analysis of dhammas (insight) as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment (vossagga).

Anapanasati Sutta


And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go (vossagga), attains concentration, attains singleness of mind.

SN 48.10

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