Guided meditation is a meditation practice led by an experienced teacher. They can be led in person, via a live broadcast, or by means of pre-recorded audio or video. Although guided meditation can be used by anyone, it is more frequently used by those new to meditation. The added assistance and support of a teacher can be helpful when first beginning the practice. It can also be helpful in establishing the habit of meditation.
Guided meditations generally teach participants the basics of meditation techniques. Other sessions offer instruction and insight into how the mind and thoughts work. As you continue the practice, you’ll better understand and relate to your thoughts and emotions and how to use meditation techniques in daily life. Consistent practice will help you learn how to settle the mind and body for meditation (Muse, 2020).
Types of Guided Meditation
There are various types of guided meditation practice and each type has a specific focus or technique. Mantra-guided meditations focus on the repetition of a word, phrase, sentence, or affirmation either to yourself or out loud. This is a means of helping you to find focus, develop calm, and increase positive emotions.
Focused attention guided meditations encourage participants to focus attention on a single object (i.e. sensation, breath, or body part). As you continue the session, if your thoughts wander, your focus should be redirected to the object. This practice helps specifically with the ability to concentrate.
Progressive muscle relaxation guided meditations walk participants through tensing and releasing muscles to achieve a greater level of relaxation. The process often begins with lower extremities, like our feet or toes, and guides the practitioner up the body. You’ll move through the tensing and relaxation of muscles going up the legs and into your trunk. Continue down into your arms, back up into your shoulders, and then to the head and neck to complete the survey of the body.
Emotional release guided meditations help people learn to release negative emotions by locating them in the body, then letting go of the specific tension connected to them. This type of guided meditation is designed to help improve emotional well-being and mood. Additional benefits include the release of stored tension in various parts of the body (Muse, 2020).
Where to Find Guided Meditations and Benefits
Guided meditations can take place via in-person mediation classes (personal or group), or online meditation classes and workshops. You can also access pre-recorded sessions via YouTube, streaming music services, podcasts, and our guided meditations available here.
Research has shown that meditation can offer great benefits for mental and emotional health. The downloadable versions offer the added benefit of being able to be accessed endlessly for more frequent use and implementation. Examples of such meditation apps include Headspace, Muse, Calm, Insight Timer, and Simple Habit among numerous others (Muse, 2020).
Getting Started with Your Guided Meditation Session
A strong guided meditation begins with the right location, the proper posture, and the correct mindset. You should select a space that is quiet (based on your own needs) and free from distractions – again, based on your own needs. Not everyone needs complete silence in order to meditate – don’t add stress by trying to eliminate all sound from your environment. It’s better to try meditation with varying low levels of sound if you don’t have complete control over your meditation environment (for instance, during breaks at work) to discover what works best for you.
Next, a comfortable seated position with a tall upright posture is very helpful for deep breathing. Loose-fitting, less constrictive clothing is another benefit, but one of the great aspects of meditation is that it can be done almost anywhere – even at work if you can get away for just a few minutes. Don’t let clothing be a barrier – you can meditate in a business suit if needed.
Finally, focusing on the present and clearing your mind of all outside or extraneous thoughts are the keys to help you maintain your focus during your meditation practice. Other helpful tips may include keeping your eyes softly closed as a means of maintaining better focus. Squeezing your eyes shut tight may introduce a different set of sensations and alter your focus. You can also use headphones to help reduce or drown out other sounds and empower you to keep your attention solely on meditation (Love Meditating, 2018).
To get the most from guided meditation, it’s helpful to know why you want to meditate, what you’d like to accomplish with the session, and what your expectations are. As emotions arise during the meditation it’s important to identify them, understand what causes them to exist, and allow them to pass away, returning to your focus and purpose.
Next, awareness of your own senses is important for teaching you to focus your concentration more specifically and to be more aware. Being intentional about taking time to relax is important for self-care, and it’s also essential as a means of releasing tension and encouraging calm. Finally, learning to use your body as an anchor to return to when your focus fades is key to being able to continue meditating when distractions creep in.
Based on this information, guided meditation can be practiced and offer benefits for many people. Someone interested in guided meditation should focus on finding the right guide for them and then begin a continual practice until they become more skilled. As with starting any positive habit, a first working period of 21 to 28 days will give you a good start toward establishing a beneficial meditation practice.
Love Meditating. (2018, February 17). How to do guided meditations: A complete guide for beginners. https://lovemeditating.com/how-to-do-guided-meditations-a-complete-guide-for-beginners/
Muse. (2020, September 25). Guided meditation: Techniques, benefits, and what happens in the brain. https://choosemuse.com/guided-meditation-101/