Meditation is often relaxing, distressing, and reinvigorating. The only problem? Meditation is also very hard to do, especially alone or as a beginner. Fortunately, you don’t have to begin your meditation journey by yourself. Instead, you can pursue guided meditation and learn how to relax your mind and imagine pleasing scenarios under the guidance of an experienced instructor. Not sure what guided meditation is or whether it’s right for you? Let’s answer both of these questions and more now.
What Is Guided Meditation?
Put simply, guided meditation is any mind-body meditative experience where at least one other individual guides you in your thoughts and sensations. For example, with standard or self-guided meditation, you decide:
- The tone of the meditation
- The kind of music you will listen to, if any
- What you will think about
Guided meditation has you work with a teacher or other experienced meditation instructor. They break down the meditation process step-by-step by telling you what you’ll do and reminding you when it’s time to “surface” from the meditative mindset. Here’s an example of what might happen during a guided meditation session:
- You enter a classroom with a guided meditation instructor and several other students
- You all sit down on yoga mats or cushions
- The guided meditation instructor then plays calming music and describes how you all begin to relax and allow your thoughts to wander
- As the meditation progresses, the instructor provides you with relaxing or scenic imagery and visuals, describing natural environments or activities, etc.
- When the session has come to an end, the meditation instructor reminds you to reawaken and gently guide you back into a more alert state of mind
Guided meditation is any meditation where you follow the guidance of another person. Guided meditation can be practiced in a classroom with other people meditating, with you and one other instructor, or even at home by yourself if you watch a guided meditation video hosted by someone else.
What Are the Main Types of Guided Meditation?
Technically, there are two distinct types of guided meditation.
The first is guided meditation for stress reduction. This is perfect for helping to relieve stress and burn away cortisol: a well-known stress hormone. Guided meditation for stress reduction often focuses on relaxing the mind and body beyond simply distressing from a day at work.
This guided meditation may include a few yoga poses to help work out muscle tension or kinks. However, expect this type of guided meditation to include breathing exercises, which can help to dispel some of the stress you may feel built up in your body.
The second type is called guided relaxation meditation. This is a more generalized and gentle type of guided meditation. It focuses more on overall wellness and relaxation rather than alleviating lots of stress. It can still be very beneficial and enjoyable, of course.
What Are the Benefits of Guided Meditation?
No matter what type of guided meditation you choose to pursue or enjoy, you may experience several important benefits.
Mental Health Support
Firstly, guided meditation may lead to significant mental health improvements. Note that this is also true for any other meditation you undertake.
Guided meditation benefits from the expertise and decision-making of knowledgeable instructors. For example, if you join a guided meditation class as a beginner, the instructor can:
- Set the music and tone so it will be most beneficial for you and the rest of the class
- Ask you about what you want out of the experience
- Ensure that the meditation goes according to your expectations
Guided meditation may help support your emotional wellness because the experience can be curated and improved compared to standalone meditation by yourself. The emotional and mental benefits of guided meditation may include:
- Improved ability to focus at work
- Fewer mood swings or irritability
- Better memory
- An easier time handling stress
Meditation is particularly helpful if you want to improve your mental health due to a rough time at work or due to other chronic stressful situations, like health issues, family troubles, etc.
Easier for Beginners
As touched on above, guided meditation is frequently seen as easier for beginners to practice. Make no mistake, meditation is a deeply spiritual art, and is personal to everybody. However, it can also be very difficult to learn how to do it by yourself, especially if you don’t have any experience.
With the right instructor, guided meditation can open your mind to all meditative techniques. The right instructor can even teach you how to practice good meditation at home if you can’t make a class or if you need to practice meditation more frequently than the class allows. More importantly than anything, guided meditation allows you to ask questions of instructors so that you fully understand what the class is meant to achieve, how it works, and what you are supposed to do.
Support for Sleep
In addition to those benefits, guided meditation may seriously lead to better sleep. That’s an important thing, given that many Americans don’t get enough restful sleep each night. Guided meditation may help you sleep because it alleviates stress and calms your mind, particularly if you meditate in the evening after work. Better sleep then leads to ancillary health and wellness benefits such as:
- Better cognition, such as improved memory and a better ability to focus
- Less daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- More energy overall, especially when doing hard tasks
- A more stable mood and fewer mood swings
Better sleep can’t be understated as a massive improvement in your life. If you get enough sleep, many other elements of your life will fall into place or seem more manageable compared to when you don’t get enough sleep. That said, be sure to try guided meditation only when it’s not too close to bed if you get energized from socializing. If you attend an evening class, for instance, you might ramp yourself back up to a high energy level an hour or so before bed: never a good idea if you want to be rested the next day!
Helpful if Practicing Alone
Lastly, guided spiritual meditation could be beneficial if you find it tough to meditate alone. For many people, activities like yoga and meditation are social at their cores. With guided meditation, you can meditate with a class of people around your same skill level, including skeptics! On top of that, guided meditation allows you to socialize with your class members. However, you can also enjoy guided meditation through videoconferencing software like Zoom. In this way, you are meditating alone, but you can still benefit from the one-on-one attention or extra questions that a guided meditation class affords.
Is Guided Meditation Right for You?
That depends on your preferences, your meditation experience, and what you hope to get out of each session! Generally, guided meditation is excellent if you are new to meditation in general. Even for experts, meditation can be difficult to start or maintain, particularly over long sessions. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to marshal our thoughts into the relaxed state required for a deep meditative experience. In addition, guided meditation can be beneficial if you have difficulty letting your thoughts wander. In most of our lives, we are accustomed to thinking about specific things or focusing our thoughts on specific objectives. Meditation frequently requires you to abandon these instincts in favor of allowing your mind to unwind.
Furthermore, guided meditation might be ideal if you prefer to meditate in a group environment. If meditation by yourself is simply too lonely or distracting, guided meditation with a class and instructor could be the perfect relaxing social experience you need.
In the end, guided meditation is just one way to practice meditative efforts. Over time, you may find that you don’t need the guidance of an experienced meditation instructor to calm your mind and re-center yourself in the universe. Or maybe you’ll always enjoy guided meditation for the social aspect. In either case, guided meditation can be beneficial in more ways than one.
Combine guided meditation with healthy recipes or other wellness tutorials from 1AND1. With all these steps, you’ll be well on your way to holistic wellness in no time!
1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep | CDC Online Newsroom.
What is guided meditation? | Mindworks.org