To some, meditation may be nothing more than a stress-reliever. To you, guided meditation is a chance to escape reality, bring forth your thoughts, beliefs and feelings hidden deep within your subconscious, exercise the brain and revitalize and rejuvenate your life. Meditating isn’t something you just do; it’s something you believe it, something you breathe, eat and sleep…
…Or maybe you just aren’t there yet and are still wondering why everyone is jumping on the guided meditation bandwagon. Either way, whether you’re curious about meditation or completely skeptical, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get down to the basics and benefits of guided meditation and how to start guided meditation today.
What is Guided Meditation
Before we go any further, you must know what guided meditation is – no, it’s not just closing your eyes and chanting some saying while following verbal cues from a relaxation soundtrack. Close, but not quite.
Guided meditation is closing your eyes and repeating an intention while following verbal cues from an instructor (whether digital or in person), but it’s more so about focusing on a thought, emotion, body part, chakra, intention, goal, or situation. It’s about directing your attention away from your surroundings, so you can quiet your mind and listen to the things your mind, body and spirit are trying to tell you; things that can’t be heard over the buzz of your iPhone, beeping notifications on your tablet; stressful thoughts and busy lifestyle.
In fact, that’s meditation – all types of meditation – in a nutshell mala bead. What separates guided meditation from regular meditation is that you’re instructed on what to do, such as where to focus your attention, when to inhale and exhale, etc. It’s an amazing practice for beginners or for anyone who simply has a difficult time quieting their mind.
Benefits of Guided Meditation
Now that we have spiked your interest, you’re likely wondering what the benefits of guided meditation are. To be honest, we’d be here all day if we went through all of them. So, we decided to narrow in on some of our favourites below:
- Rewire your brain through the process of neuroplasticity
- Train your brain to start thinking more positively
- Decrease stress and tension in your mind, body and spirit
- Achieve clarity and guidance
- Train your brain to handle stress in a better, more positive manner
- Alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improve sleep quality and fall asleep faster
- Reduce headaches, body aches, pains and other discomforts
- Increase clarity, communication and decision-making
- Promote happiness, calmness, peace, tranquility, compassion and positivity
- Improve focus, memory and mental performance
Steps on How to Practice Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is as simple as closing your eyes and focusing your attention, but it’s also significantly more complex than that. You’ll be amazed at just how noisy your mind, body and spirit are; noise that you didn’t even know was disrupting you until now.
We mentioned this because diving into that deep realm of relaxation does take regular practice. Sure, you might get it on the first try, but most don’t. It takes some time. So, don’t be hard on yourself. Keep going through these steps each practice until you have it down pat. Here’s how to practice guided meditation:
Choose your guide
The first step is a no-brainer – choose how you’d like to be instructed. You can listen to audio files online, follow a Youtube video, download a meditation app, read instructions online about how to do different types of guided meditation, pick up a guided meditation book, attend a meditation class – the choice is yours.
Find a quiet space
Now that you know how you will be doing guided meditation, it’s time to find a quiet space. This can be anywhere; anywhere that you find is calming and distraction-free. Perhaps it’s a corner in your bedroom with big fluffy pillows, under a large oak tree in the local park with a mandala mat or out in your backyard.
Relax your mind, body and spirit
Take a deep breath, and let go of any tension you feel in your mind, body and spirit. Your guided meditation will also walk you through this step more thoroughly, but it’s always good to enter your practice with a head-start. So, relax your eyebrows, jaw, eyes, forehead, chest, belly, neck, etc. You can even give yourself a little shake before you start.
Listen to the instructions
The whole point of guided meditation is that it guides you through the process. If you have selected a good guide to follow, they’ll tell you when to close your eyes, if at all; whether or not you should be wearing headphones; how you should be sitting; where to direct your attention, etc.
Focus on your senses
If your guided meditation doesn’t instruct you on where to focus your attention, focus on your senses. Pay attention to the sensations you’re feeling in your body; the sounds you’re hearing in the distance; the texture of your clothing, etc. Don’t just think about these things; truly focus on them.
Breathe with intention
Again, your guided meditation should tell you exactly how you should be breathing. However, don’t forget to check in on your breath and body throughout the practice, just to make sure they’re both in sync with one another.
Tips for Success When Practicing Guided Meditation
Guided meditation sounds easy – and it is, but it also requires your time, dedication, attention and understanding. Yes, you will become distracted; yes, you’ll forget to practice, and yes, you’ll underestimate proper posture. Forgive yourself. Guided meditation is about the details but more importantly, it’s about doing your best and forbidding any judgement. Here are some helpful tips for guided meditation that’ll help you begin this new, mindful journey:
- Make it a habit by practicing daily – consistency is key
- Try to practice at the same time, in the same place every day
- Create a zen den that allows you to feel safe, calm and focused
- Strive to improve your posture each practice – sit upright, tall and balanced
- Don’t forget to breathe deeply – oxygen plays a huge role
- Forgive yourself when you become frustrated, distracted or forgetful
Now that you know the basics and benefits of guided meditation, as well as the steps on how to practice guided meditation, it’s time to grab some mindfulness gear to perfect your practice. Head on over to Mala Prayer, pick up a mandala mat for your DIY zen den and some mala beads for your mindfulness, and you’re ready to see what all the rage is about.