Meditating on your own requires some effort, while guided meditations literally walk you through a meditation and help you find a calm and peaceful state—one step at a time. With guided meditation, you don’t need to know how to meditate. All that’s required is that you listen, and you’ll move effortlessly into the renewing waters of your subconscious mind.
How does guided meditation work? Guided meditation is a state of relaxed concentration led by a meditation teacher. Guided meditation can be as short as a few minutes or as long as several hours. The purpose is to allow a guide using relaxation techniques to achieve mental, emotional, physical healing, and stress relief in the process.
Not every guided meditation is created equal, but there are common characteristics in almost all sessions or recordings. Firstly, the guide will help you relax by deepening your breathing and releasing tension in specific muscle groups.
There may be a grounding moment, where the guide asks you to visualize your bones and feet growing roots into the ground. You will be asked to be in the present moment by actively listening to your breath or heartbeat. The guide may have you visualize a healing light filling your body and dispelling any illness or negative energy.
If you want the type of meditation where an expert (live person or recording) guides you throughout the session then go for guided meditation.
Here are some techniques that you can try if you are a beginner:
1.) Make it a point to make meditation a part of your schedule no matter how busy you are. Meditation is not something that you just randomly do if you want to reap its full benefits. Setting 10 minutes aside from your daily schedule shouldn’t be so difficult. Allocate a space in your home or office where you can sit peacefully at the same time each day. This space should be free of clutter.
2.) Defocus your eyes by looking at 2 areas ahead of you to each side. Listen to the guided meditation recording as it tells you what to do to clear your mind. Take 5 deep breaths- inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. On the 5th exhalation, close your eyes. Take a minute to settle into your body and focus on your posture. Feel the sensations where your body touches the chair and the weight of your hands resting on your legs. Open up your senses by noticing anything you can smell, hear or taste. Observe any discomfort and other sensations you are feeling at the moment.
3.) As you listen to the guide, focus gently on your thoughts and underlying mood. Now pause for half a minute and ask yourself why you are sitting here today. Recognize your expectations or desires and slowly let them go. Go on by telling yourself that there is nothing you are supposed to do right now and your only job is to sit throughout the session. Allow everything to unfold in its own time.
4.) Once you’ve let go of your desires, focus on your breathing. Observe the rising and falling sensation of your breathing patterns and notice where the sensations occur. Notice the quality of each breath. Now start counting your breaths silently- 1 as you breathe in, 2 as you breathe out and so on (up to 10) then start again at 1. While doing this, it’s important not to let your mind wander to other things.
5.) Before you finish the session, notice every sensation you feel. Slowly open your eyes and plan what you are going to do next like get ready for work or make a cup of tea. If you find yourself being stressed out during the day, just try to remember what it felt like when you were in a peaceful state of mind.
Dealing with Distractions During Guided Meditation
Distraction is the biggest problem most people have when it comes to meditation. You can only be in the meditative state if you have focused on your object of meditation. However, distractions are unavoidable. It can certainly be quite a challenge to meditate if you live with your family, especially when you have your children.
Distractions may be external, meaning they come from your environment. However, they can be internal, too, and they come in the form of worries and stray thoughts.
Ways to Deal with External Distractions
External distractions are actually easier to deal with than internal distractions. All you need to do is make your environment conducive to meditation. Here are ways of dealing with external distractions:
Create a sacred space. It is always good to have a place in your home or elsewhere reserved for meditation such as a meditation room because that place will serve as an anchor for meditation. Once you sit down to meditate, your mind will automatically get into meditation mode. Make sure that the place is clean and uncluttered. Clutter can be a distraction to make sure that only the things that you need for meditation are there in your sacred space.
Your sacred space should be in the part of your house where you are least likely going to be distracted. You should also tell your family to respect this sacred space by not bringing any clutter there and by keeping it clean. Talk to Your Family. You do not want anybody barging in while you are meditating. You also do not want anybody to knock on the door. If you do not talk to your family about what you are doing, they would have no way of knowing that you are not to be disturbed at a specific time of the day.
You also have to make them understand that while what you are doing might seem weird to them, it is important for your health and well-being. Some of your family members may resent not being able to reach out to you at a particular time. Some might think you are being selfish. Let them know that you are taking care of yourself so that you can better take care of them.
Meditate at a specific time of the day or night. If you have a set schedule for meditation, you know exactly what you need to do at that specific time. You do not need to think about other things like household chores or any other tasks. Plus, it will be easier to tell your family not to disturb you while meditating. For instance, if you meditate at six o’clock every morning, they will know when not to bother you.
Unhook your phone and turn off your cell phone. The time you invest in guided meditation is your gift to yourself. Do not let anyone rob you of that gift, albeit unknowingly, by calling you on the phone at the time you should not be disturbed. Your meditation session should not also be interrupted by text messages. There is no place for rings and/or beeps in your inner universe.
What About Stray Thoughts? Guided meditation is easier than meditating all by yourself. When your ears are involved and you are following instructions from a guide, you are less likely to get distracted. However, stray thoughts do come and sometimes they can be annoying.
Here are some good ways to deal with internal distractions:
Before you meditate, write a to-do list. Some of the distractions that occur during meditation have something to do with thinking about the tasks that you need do during the day. If this often happens to you, grab a notepad and a pen and list down all the things you need to do during the day. Then, toss the note where you are unlikely to see it make sure that you forget about your to-do list while meditating.
When intruding thoughts come, just calm down. Acknowledge those thoughts, gently nudge them, and simply return to the audio. Do not allow yourself to get upset or else you will find it difficult to get into a meditative state.
Try to be aware of all the sounds that are in your guided meditation recording. This will help you to focus and be more present while you are having your guided meditation session. When you focus wholly on the present, there will be no room for worry because worry is of the future.
While you are meditating, you will always be distracted. Again, distractions are inevitable, but they can be minimized and managed. Sometimes, there are distractions that you cannot get rid of, but you can always change your attitudes toward them.
For instance, if your kids are often rambunctious and you can hear them while you are meditating, there is no point in getting upset and yelling at them. Instead, you can simply accept them as part of your environment and go on with your guided meditation session. When distraction comes, relax. Do not struggle. It will just go away or your mind will simply adjust to it.
What is Guided Meditation Imagery?
Guided meditation imagery allows you to enter into a deep state of relaxation through a series of vivid visualizations (video or audio script). These visualizations are meant to give you positive changes in both your mind and body. This type of meditation is often used for stress relief, healing and personal development.
Guided meditation imagery encourages you to deal with whatever issues you are going through in a calming way. Because of the premise of the guide, you will essentially experience an induced dreaming or daydreaming. Your subconscious is actually expressing itself while you are awake. Unlike traditional meditation which focuses on the mind, imagery aims to engage your imagination and subconscious. If you do regular sessions of meditation imagery, you will enhance the flow of positive energy in your life.
The visuals are supposed to help you find a deeper spiritual connection so you can unleash your full potential and achieve whatever goals you may have. They are also a means for your mind to communicate and connect deeply with your body. Whenever you think of an unpleasant event, do you notice how your body reacts negatively to that specific idea? The opposite happens when you imagine fond memories- you feel more positive.
The mind is such a powerful tool and every person has the ability to conjure images in their heads. We often daydream about our life aspirations but the thing is, these mental wanderings are not as powerful and focused as meditation imagery. This is due to the fact that our regular mental activity is fairly undirected. Many of us do not really focus on one idea long enough. With imagery, you take the natural process of visualization further through the images towards your goals.
During your session, it’s important not to allow yourself to be stressed about something because this will attract negative energy. Let the meditation take over and once you are able to do this, your mind and body will follow through. Every set of imagery has a wide variety of scripts so it’s hard to predict where your mind will take you during a session.
Your guide may ask you if there is a particular image that helps you relax- it could be the beach or rainforest. They will then lead you through a number of prompts that will help you visualize the environment you want to be in. Guided meditation imagery will put your mind in a calm state and this can have a huge impact on your body.
What’s great about this type of meditation is that it has no possible damaging effects since you are only using your mind and imagination in a creative way. If you are stressed about work, family life or your relationships, guided meditation imagery can definitely help.
Using Guided Meditation to Help Reduce Anxiety in Children
Adults are not the only one who experience anxiety attacks. In fact, anxiety among children is more common than you think. Trying to calm an anxious child can be one of the most difficult things to do as a parent. You may blame your parenting skills whenever your child has bouts of panic attacks but you have to realize that this will not help the situation.
Anxiety happens and the way your child’s brain reacts to a perceived threat has a lot to do with their behavior. One of the best things you can do for your child is to engage them in a guided meditation.
Read the tips below to help you get started:
1.) Before you start lecturing your child about the importance of being calm, make sure you practice what you preach. You need to have a deeper understanding of what meditation means and what it entails for both you and your child. Simply put, you have to learn and practice it before you can successfully teach it.
2.) Start with baby steps so you won’t end up overwhelming each other. Children have a very short attention span so don’t expect them to sit still for 20 minutes straight. Start with a session as short as 3 or 5 minutes and observe how well your child is taking everything in. Be patient and in a couple of days or weeks, they will be able to settle for longer periods of time.
3.) Your guided meditation sessions need to be set on a specific time every morning or evening. You should do it before you and your child proceed with your usual activities (early in the morning) or once the chaos in the house has died down (before bedtime). Make it a point to stick to your schedule even if you are very busy. Consider meditation as something you have to do no matter what like cooking or brushing your teeth.
4.) Make every session enjoyable for you and your child so you’ll both look forward to it every day. Do whatever it is that will make the experience fun and relaxing. Play calming music or light some aromatherapy candles if that helps. Allow your child to pick out items that they think will help them relax. As much as possible, make them feel involved in building your refuge from the chaotic outside world.
5.) You can’t force your child to engage in meditation especially in the beginning. If you don’t know what else to do, giving them a little incentive won’t hurt. Partnering incentives with concrete goals often results in a favorable outcome. Incentives don’t always have to be material things, they can be something as simple as extra playing time with mom and dad.
Guided meditation is particularly effective because it combines the principles of meditation with external guidance, so we do not have to rely on ourselves or our “skillfulness” at meditation for it to be effective. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to meditate; just follow the instructions of your guide.
Additionally, when we are following the instructions of a meditation guide, we are less likely to lose track of our meditation by “spacing out.” In this way, following a guide helps you learn the meditative process, making guided meditation a particularly valuable tool.
Guided meditation is a simple strategy that can help you obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If you stick with it and are willing to experiment with the different guided meditation methods, you are more likely to discover a guided meditation that’s perfect for you.