Meditation Series: Guided Meditation

8 Apr, 2016

Meditation Series: Guided Meditation

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” -William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)

In this series we have explored various types of meditation. In this seventh and last article on the topic, we will be exploring the practice of guided meditation.

Listening to a guided meditation is a wonderful way to enjoy the benefits of meditation while utilizing visualization to affect both physical and emotional changes. Guided meditations are an easy, structured, and relaxing way to practice, and because of this, many people prefer guided meditations to unguided ones, particularly when they are just starting their practice.

With an infinite number of guided meditations available, perhaps the only challenging thing about guided meditation is choosing the right one for you. There are guided meditations for breathing and relaxation, improvement of memory and performance, weight loss and addiction recovery, learning the practice of mindfulness, dream recall, meeting one’s spirit guide—the list goes on and on. There are simple guided meditations lasting only a few minutes, and very complicated ones that can last up to an hour.

Guided meditations also come in many forms. You can find them in print form in books and articles, on audio CDs and videos, and in video form on the Internet. I find audio versions to be the easiest. Printed meditations can be a great way to give you the general idea of the meditation; however, in order to utilize the meditation one has to memorize it, which requires effort. Guided meditation videos include imagery to occupy the mind; however, I find each individual’s imagination can be infinitely more powerful than any form of external stimuli. Listening to a recorded version allows for an effortless journey that incorporates the powerful force of the imagination.

If you are just beginning a meditation practice I recommend starting with guided meditations for relaxation. I suggest trying several, as different guides appeal to different people. While one person may love the quality of a particular guide’s voice, another person might find it distracting. Once you have become familiar with the practice, have fun exploring and experimenting with various meditations that appeal to you, perhaps finding longer, more in depth meditations as you go.

Look for guided meditations that make use of symbolic images that speak to the subconscious mind. Because the subconscious mind plays an extremely important role in affecting our behavior, this is the key to accessing one’s inner “doors of perception” to achieve emotional and physical change.

In addition, a well-crafted guided meditation will include suggestions and imagery that create an inner experience that demonstrates the changes you are seeking to realize in your outer life. Symbology is the language of the subconscious, and for this reason, the best guided meditations utilize vivid images and symbolism to achieve their goal.

Another important aspect of guided meditation is that it should engage all of your senses. Guided meditations that evoke sight, smell, sound, taste, and feel (texture, for instance) are ideal. Each individual responds differently to sensory stimuli, so a guided meditation that incorporates all of the senses is sure to resonate with all types of meditators.

Ideally you want to stay awake during a guided meditation, although the calming voice and tranquil music used in many can be sleep inducing. Don’t worry if you fall asleep while listening to your meditation. Your subconscious mind is still hearing the messages and you are still receiving the benefits.

As with all forms of meditation, guided meditation includes many healthful benefits. The psychological benefits include increasing intelligence, improving memory, enhancing creativity, improving problem-solving abilities, and decreasing anxiety, while the physical benefits include reduced muscular tension, a strengthened immune system, decreased blood pressure, and reduced levels of stress hormones.

As mentioned in previous articles in this series, the practice of meditation takes time to cultivate; however, when applied daily, the practice becomes less challenging and before long we can become the master our thoughts.

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