When it comes to the scientific benefits of meditation, there are countless articles and sources of information. All such articles are about meditation, but they use it as an umbrella term for all the different types that exist. Out of these, guided meditation is the most common.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the proven benefits of guided meditation, talk about how you can meditate, and even share a timeline for when you can expect to notice changes & improvements in your daily life.
What is a guided meditation?
During a guided meditation session, an experienced meditation instructor guides you through with his voice. Their voice is usually calming, instructive, and helps your mind learn what to do and how to be mindful.
Step by step, your guide will walk you through the meditation. There are a variety of ways to practice. Sessions can be in real life, through an app like ours, or even a youtube video. It can be in group form or even one-on-one.
More often than not, our minds wander during meditations. Therefore, having a voice speaking directly to you can be of tremendous help in becoming relaxed, and letting go of your thoughts.
If you’re new to medtitation, you’ll usually have a much more fruitful meditation session with the help of someone to guide your thoughts. This isn’t to say that guided sessions don’t offer benefits for seasoned meditators, read on to see why.
Roughly, we can divide guided meditations into four points of focus. Meditative sessions are usually a combination of these, or sometimes, just focused around one. These focus points are:
Mindfulness is about helping you identify thoughts, and allowing them to pass through without a reaction from your mind. Guided mindfulness meditation trains the mind to focus on the here and now, staying in the present
2. Physical focus
As the name suggests, your guide will ask you to focus on something material around you. This object can be the in-breath, different body parts (aka a body scan meditation), or the movement of the belly as you breathe in and out.
A guided visualization meditation uses one’s ability to imagine. Your guide can, for instance, ask you to imagine a warm, comfortable place. You might be asked to imagine a scenery, imagine a certain emotion, or even a certain feeling like being relaxed, tense, or having a heavy feeling in the body. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run amok!
Moving while meditating is the essence of yoga. Focusing on different postures and linking them to the breath has a calming effect on the mind, and helps practitioners to strengthen both their physical and mental abilities. You can practice yoga alone, but often you practice with the guidance of a teacher, making this a form of guided meditation.
Picking a method
With its growing popularity, there are new ways to meditate every-other-day. I see this all the time. It can seem like we’re always on the hunt for the next magical fix to feel good and become the best version of ourselves. This is true for life and one’s meditation practice.
The truth is, although there is no right or wrong way to practice, certain meditations work better than others, and you will notice benefits with some, but not others. The key thing is to meditate regularly. And for you to practice regularly, it is essential to pick a type of meditation that you like.
A few trial and error runs may be necessary for you to find the right type. In the end, you should practice the kind of meditation you feel most comfortable with, and feel compelled to come back to.
If you feel lost, try our meditation app for help and guidance. We have over 15 different meditation themes in there.
Why a guided meditation might work for you
Guided meditation is a great way to start your practice, as it is an effortless way to meditate.
You will have someone experienced tell you what to do, and you won’t need any prior knowledge. All that you need is a quiet spot to practice. You can easily practice from the comfort of your own home.
Even those of us who are more experienced with meditation can benefit from a guided meditation every now and then. We’re creatures of habit, so your own practice may be focused on your comfort zone. But switching things up now and then allows you to explore the mind. Trying a guided meditation may give you new insights to deepen and advance your meditation practice.
Guided meditation can also help you get into an extended, deeper meditative state. Start your meditation with a guide, and from that guided meditation, continue your personal practice once finished. Although many sessions end with bringing back movement into the body, you can always skip this part and remain mindful for as long as you like.
Benefits of guided meditation
The facts are clear as day: meditation can be extremely beneficial to our overall mental health with:
- Reduced stress levels
- Increased work satisfaction
- Reduced burnout
- Higher quality sleep
Meditating with the help of a guide can add to your benefits:
- If you’re a beginner, guided meditation is a less intimidating and more efficient way to start
- If your mind wanders off or if you have ADHD, meditation is an approachable way to maintain a practice
- Focusing on your guide’s voice can be beneficial to stop your mind from racing
- If you’re someone who has meditated for a long time, a guide provides inspiration and a different perspective/insight. Instead of your own monkey mind speaking, you can get wiser by listening to instructions from a guide.
Who will benefit from guided meditation?
The majority of us can benefit from a guided meditation experience. If you recognize yourself in any of the following below, give guided meditation a try:
You are new to meditation
Instead of trying to figure it out all on your own, your guide will welcome you to the process of meditation so as to make it a very calming experience. If you haven’t tried meditation before, guided meditation can be your first step towards a regular practice.
You are an experienced meditation practitioner looking for inspiration
Although sticking to a method that works is certainly encouraged, there is no harm in trying something different. We change over time, and something that previously worked for you may stop working at some other point. It doesn’t hurt to keep trying new things either!
You suffer from anxiety and tension
We all experience stress in some form, but once it becomes a constant struggle in our lives, it is time to act. Meditation is known to reduce stress levels and can make your mind less anxious. A guided meditation will take minimal effort to start, making it a helpful way to manage an anxiety attack.
You suffer from burnout and stress
Releasing tension is important in this day and age, as we are expected to always be on. Not to mention, bottling up one’s negative emotions and stresses can lead to severe health problems. Creating some mindful movement in your body helps with relief. Scheduling a yoga class after a busy week is an excellent way to relax.
When will the benefits kick in?
Those of us eager to experience the benefits quickly, are most likely the ones needing meditation the most. Once you realize that meditation is not something you have to do every day, but rather something that helps you become a better you, the benefits become most noticeable.
But, as with anything in life, the first step is to get started.
The short term benefits you will notice once you get the hang of a practice that suits your needs, are first and foremost the feeling that relaxation comes more naturally. Research has found a physical state of relaxation among participants that practice meditation (1). Paired with less stress, your mind is much more likely to calm down. Various other studies have proven the short-term effects of meditation (2).
Lastly, the quality of your sleep will drastically improve, which naturally leads to more energy throughout the day. Another study found that participants had less insomnia and slept much better after only six weeks of practicing meditation (3).
With regular practice of meditation, long term benefits kick in. Avid meditators have a deeper sense of empathy towards other living beings. Throughout five studies, researchers found mindfulness practitioners being more forgiving towards themselves and others (4). On top of that, it is proven that confidence and self-esteem grow with regular practice (5). Paired with a deeper sense of patience, this can eventually lead to a profound sense of wholeness.
Meditation holds many benefits, and all of the ones I spoke about are backed by scientific evidence.
Having a regular practice can lead to a number of health improving traits, with the cherry on top being a profound sense of wholeness. Guided meditation is a great way to start or to deepen your practice.
If guided meditation and its benefits sparked your interest, but you’re still not sure which type will suit you best, you may find a grounding meditation helpful to start with:
The Deep Meditate app has numerous guided meditations available for free. Browsing through the library is another way to find the meditation that fits your intentions.
- Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies. (2006) Psychological Bulletin.
- Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation.(2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
- Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances. (2015) JAMA Intern Med.
- Is mindfulness associated with interpersonal forgiveness? (2019) PubMed.
- School-based Meditation Practices for Adolescents: A Resource for Strengthening Self-Regulation, Emotional Coping, and Self-Esteem. (2009) Children & Schools.