Is Guided Meditation Really Meditation?

 

We think that guided meditation—the soft and pleasant “voice over” recordings designed to take you through the periods of silence– truncates the benefits of mindfulness breathing, and that the concept is really an oxymoron. Why?

Meditation is About Letting Go

For us, meditation is about surrendering. When you are listening to a calming voice, it is pleasurable, but you are still actively engaged in the listening process. We want you to fully release, props included. Do you meditate by looking at a candle’s flame or by counting your breaths? Do you use prayer beads or other accouterments? Sitting upright on a pillow, or in a chair, are popular ways to begin, but in the end, we would like to see you let go of all outer props—including background music–and just be. You need not even sit. Feel free to lie down on your bed, or melt into your favorite living room chair. Then close your eyes and notice your breaths.

Without Reliance on Props, You Can Access Your Inner Self Anytime

It is often a challenge to find silence in your day to attempt something like this. It is much easier to plug in your headphones and tune out the world, but when you truly connect with your inner self—without a voice guiding you to relax and without New Age music or prayer beads—you will find a recognizable and essential piece of you. It feels safe, familiar, desirable, peaceful, and joyous. We could say when you are there, you will know it, but that place of which we write is so simple, you could easily question your arrival even if you are already there. Of course, we know you have experienced moments of it throughout your life, but without deliberate and continuous effort, you will not reap the additional benefits that these prolonged visits provide.

It is important to remember that you can access your inner self at any moment. Knowing that it is there allows for an easier connection, but it often takes a few minutes of silence to reach that place. This is the self-knowledge that we have been writing about all along. Knowing who you are at a deep level is not only comforting, it is the only way to get centered, and centering allows you to go through life with less stress.

The Real Purpose of Meditation

We cannot describe exactly what you will find once you get there because it is something that has to be experienced. When you go within, in silence—without someone telling you what to do, how to think, or how to feel—you will find the solace you need to more easily connect with source energy.

How to Meditate

It is likely that you have heard a lot about meditation but the truth is that meditation—as we see it—is very simple. Get quiet. Choose a place where you will not be disturbed. Wear comfortable clothing.  Relax. Sit or recline in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

Notice that you are breathing. Just focus on your breath. Feel your breath. One way that meditation is taught is to count breaths, but that is up to you. Experience the stillness. Notice that you are breathing.

Is that all there is to it? That’s just the start. The journey is internal. It is a good idea to approach your period of silence with a question in mind. Don’t force an answer. Don’t even think about the question. Don’t even try to clear your mind. Bring no expectations to the session. Just be.

Many people say that they cannot stop the running commentary in their minds long enough to meditate, but that is not true. There are no prizes for stopping the most thoughts. Simply be. As thoughts come in, acknowledge them,  pay attention to your breathing, and let the thoughts vanish by themselves. They will eventually. If you are too tense to be still, maybe you need to do something active first. Run or walk it off and take a shower.  Then try again.

Time of day does not matter, but as the day unfolds, your energy level will fade and meditation may be easier.  Early morning, before the rush of the day enters, is also a good time.

Many different teachers have different goals and practices for meditation. For us, meditation is about connecting with the self at a deeper level.

Meditation is an individual experience. You can meditate in the same room as someone else, but ultimately you are alone with yourself once you close your eyes, and perhaps that is what makes the experience extraordinary. It takes a bit of practice to connect with your inner world, but once you do, you will have greater clarity about your life, and you will probably become more intuitive. If you rely on that intuition, you will be following the only guidance you will ever need.  And once you know how to connect, you will be able to do it anytime and anywhere.

Making Space in that Cluttered Head of Yours

Your mind is really a concept. After all, where does it exist? You cannot point it out in a chart. You may have learned about it in Anatomy and Physiology class…well, no, you didn’t, because the mind is nowhere to be found. It is conceptual. So if the mind is not real, what is all that mental clutter you carry around, and what effect does it have on you?

It is often the case that mind clutter makes it so we can’t think. It stifles us. We look at the stack of bills, the unfinished projects, the list of things to do, and instead of making progress, what do we do? Often, we procrastinate. Sometimes, we just sit and do nothing. We deny our problems. We substitute positive action with things that seem to put our minds at ease: alcohol, Xanax, chocolate, a movie, a shopping trip. You get the picture. Situations become larger than life so we try to avoid thinking about them. But the thoughts return. They take over so we can no longer think clearly. This is why making space in your mind can help.

Practice making space in your mind by eliminating less useful thoughts. This leaves room for more relevant, productive thoughts. Doing so leads you to raise your awareness and make conscious decisions to create new productive patterns. Rather than ruminate over things you haven’t done, you can start that new project or engage in a hobby without that mental clutter. This is something that can lead to greater satisfaction.

Mental filing is just one method of creating space. If you find yourself in a place where your thoughts have stopped jumping around, and you have filed the worries and are ready to dust the crevices of your mind to create more space, there are other methods: mindfulness breathing and meditation are excellent ways to create room in your mind. When you create space, you allow new things to come into your experience, and that is when life gets really really fun.