In this highly active world full of busy people who barely have time for themselves, to relax and recharge, meditation is becoming an easy yet effective way to relieve ourselves of the mental and physical weariness and connect with our inner peace and harmony.
And while many people rarely have time to invest in learning how to meditate properly to get the benefits the practice is known for, guided meditation is proving to be a good alternative for people with busy schedules. It helps them have the same meditative experience as the people who have learned to meditate, without investing a lot of mental effort into it in terms of cramming the procedure to making it work.
Guided meditation helps the meditator, whether a beginner or experienced, to get to focus and know how to go about the whole meditation session the right way without having to create extra time to learn and master about it outside of the meditation session.
What is Guided Meditation?
Guided meditation is a type of meditation where the meditator receives guidance through their meditation session from a guide. The guide could be an instructor, who is physically present or not. Meditation scripts, apps, videos and audios are also used for guided meditation.
It is always recommended for beginners to have a teacher or an instructor when they are starting out with meditation as it goes a long way in helping the meditator not only experience the practice of meditation the right way but also get to understand what is happening.
You don’t necessarily have to know to meditate to practice guided meditation. All you have to do is get fairly comfortable on a chair, meditation cushion or a bench, listen to the guide and mentally follow through the instructions you are given.
It is a step by step walkthrough of how you should meditate to avoid the guesswork there is in trying to do it on your own. It saves you the time of trial and error and most importantly, helps you maximize on your experience during the session.
The guide first helps you relax your mind and body before you are taken through the journey of your mind via meditation to help you achieve a specific goal.
How Does Guided Meditation Work?
Guided meditation tries to follow the same principles as traditional meditation.
Generally, when you get started with it, you will be walked through some basics of the practice by the instructor. You will be told the benefits of the type of meditation exercise you are about to get into, how it works, what you should expect from your mind during the sessions, the things you will experience in your body and how to handle them as well as how you can blend the exercises in with your normal daily activities to make the most of the meditation exercise.
Going through the basics of the style of meditation you are to use helps you get acquainted with the theory and practical aspects of it which help you understand it better and see how it all works out to bring you the kind of benefits you are looking for in it.
Also, knowing what you are going to experience during meditation before you actually do it allows you to get prepared mentally so that you are not caught by surprise and get confused on what you should do next.
Knowing how to handle different experiences as you meditate is essential because it gives you a good flow with the practice and makes for a smooth experience full of benefits.
Forms of meditation like mindfulness meditation can be a little overwhelming for a beginner as it requires you to know to that your mind is going to wander and the best way to control that is by redirecting your focus to your breath.
Without this prior knowledge, it can be hard to remain mindful during the practice which will make you lose out on the benefits and make you feel like a failure as you may find yourself having wandered away throughout the whole meditation session, which brings a guilty feeling to people afterwards.
It is also quite essential to learn how to integrate the meditation exercises you get from guided meditation as well as any form of meditation, into your daily life. Ideally, meditation is meant to help you learn to be relaxed, calm and alert.
It gives platform to build these qualities among others, so that you can apply them into your life. Most guided meditations will offer techniques you can use to build the benefits you are after, into your life on the long term.
Everyone would love to be always calm, relaxed and wakeful. The good thing is, with the techniques and strategies offered by the guide or the instructor, you will be able to make this happen.
Forms of Guided Meditation and The Resources Used
You may find many guided meditation resources for many types of meditation on various platforms out there. These guides help people get started with those meditation types on the right footing so that they are able to get a good foundation to help them meditate without guidance later on when they want to do it all by themselves.
Although, it is always important to note that there are certain styles of meditation like transcendental meditation and Vipassana meditation that should be learned from certified and experienced teachers, one on one. You may find standard guided meditation resources on them on many video and audio platforms like YouTube but they don’t offer the full version of that actual style.
Transcendental meditation, for instance, requires that you use a mantra (a word or a sound) that is unique to you. And you can only get a good one under the guidance of a professional transcendental meditation teacher who will help you find one based on the way you are and they have known you.
So getting proper face to face guidance from the transcendental meditation teachers is a necessity for you.
With every type of meditation you choose to work with, it is always advisable to get guided meditation resources on it from credible and approved sources by the experts of that particular type of meditation.
Other than the guided meditation for various meditation styles, there are also specific forms of guided meditation that have been created to help with varying health benefits. They include:
1. Guided relaxation and sleep meditation – This is a type of guided meditation that is aimed at helping you relax and increase the quality of your sleep. They use soothing sounds like ocean waves, soothing winds and even a waterfall and slow music to help you picture yourself in a very relaxed environment which lets you unwind and feel more relaxed. They can even help you drift into sleep and remain asleep for long.
2. Guided stress reduction meditation – This is a type of guided meditation that introduces stress reduction practices to people who are struggling with stress. It involves courses that train meditators to gently reduce stress in their lives. One of the best courses on this area is the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program by Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder and executive director of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This is a popular course that has worked for thousands of people in all areas of life including people in prisons, in the business world and even patients under health care.
There are also guided meditations for anxiety, moods, depression, gratitude, forgiveness, emotional mastery, breaking bad habits and more.
When it comes to resources for guided meditation, there are a number of formats you can work with.
* Podcasts – You can check out guided meditation podcasts on iTunes and similar programs,
* Meditation apps – You can find guided meditation apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer.
* Online music services – Many music services that come with a subscription package have lots of guided meditation resources to choose from. Apple Music and Spotify are a good place to start.
* Video based websites – YouTube, among other video based websites have a wide range of guided meditations you can use. But be careful with what you work with. Ensure you are working with a valuable and credible resource that offers quality guided meditation for what you want.
* Meditation Centers and Yoga studios – You can also join thousands of other people for meditation in centers that offer the kind of meditation you desire and you will be guided one on one by a meditation teacher. You can look for a center or studio that is within your locality.
* Websites – A quick google search can reveal a good deal of websites that are based on the type of meditation you wish to get started with and you will find guided meditation sessions there for you to make use of.
How is Guided Meditation Different (Guided meditation vs unguided meditation)
Guided meditation provides you with guidance on how you should do your meditation. It is like traveling to a place you have never been to before and having a person who’s been there long enough to show you the way. Firstly, they’ll show you the places where you can have the most fun at affordable prices.
They even offer you accommodation and protection while you are there. Guided meditation is more like that. You not only get to be guided, but you also feel a sense of confidence, encouragement and support as you use it.
Many beginners in meditation prefer working with guided meditation for a good while before they can consider going for the unguided meditation (where you do it alone, without help). It helps set the pace for unguided meditation by allowing the learner to build the skill of meditation correctly before they start “fending for themselves”.
There are people who prefer starting out with guided meditation and a few weeks to months down the road, they switch to unguided meditation. Also, there are those who choose to stick with guided meditation through to the end. There are a number of people who also choose unguided meditation right off the bat and choose to be working with it.
Ultimately, it depends on you as a person and your preference. If you feel guided meditation is a good fit for you, go for it! If unguided is your thing, by all means work with it! If you prefer starting with one and then changing to the other, or a bit of both, it is all up to you.
Benefits of Guided Meditation
The benefits of guided meditation varies from one person to another based on the form of it they choose and the goal they wish to achieve. People have different needs and expectations and they can go with guided meditation to help with:
1. Improving the quality of sleep
2. Reducing stress, anxiety and depression
3. Increasing relaxation
4. Increasing mindfulness and awareness
5. Improving gratitude
6. Becoming more positive
7. Becoming more compassionate and understanding
8. Improving their well-being
How to Do Guided Meditation
Generally, guided meditation has different aspects and approach but there is a pretty common format that runs across all of them. That is:
1. Getting you to relax – The guide helps you become comfortable, both physically and mentally. You may be asked to sit comfortably or even lie down. You will then be walked through a series of relaxing exercises and visualizations that will dissolve the mental weight you may be feeling at that moment. This will make you feel more relaxed, calm and have a better clarity of mind. Some guides may also include relaxation music or sounds to enhance a deeper state of relaxation.
2. Guiding you through the meditation session – Once you are relaxed, the guide may then take you through a meditation journey through visualization or help you through a certain state you are trying to work on like forgiveness, gratitude, positive thinking, confidence or any other. For the mental journey, the guide may decide to help you explore deep areas of your mind by painting a situation for you that has a deep positive impact on your mind.
There are guides that have nature sounds mixed with the visualizations to enhance the mood and make the journey seem more real. Nature sounds like wind can be added when you are told that you are walking in a windy place or waterfall sounds when you are being taken through a journey and you get to a waterfall.
These kinds of additional effects involve your senses and make you more drawn and immersed into the session.
3. Bringing you back to your normal state of awareness – After taking the long but relaxing and refreshing mental journey, the guide will help you come back to your normal state of consciousness and awareness slowly by slowly so that you remain peaceful, calm and energized.
In essence, guided meditation is able to help you lead your imagination and focus which allows you to have an experience of all your senses and get to feel how other people, who meditate on their own, feel.
And the good thing is, you get to have the same effects you would if you meditated without guidance but with the extra benefits.
Guided meditation shows your mind how to reduce the constant chatter and be quieter as well as more wakeful, among other advantages.
Creating time to get involved in guided meditation every day goes a long way in improving your health. It will even help you become more productive at work.