If you’ve ever felt like you can’t slow your mind down, your thoughts are racing after a long day at work, or your stress levels are simply too high, guided meditation might be the perfect practice for you! Guided meditation is when a meditation practitioner talks viewers through every step of the meditation process. Using meditation techniques practitioners guide viewers through the process of slowly clearing their minds, and through a series of steps that bring calm and relaxation.
Guided Meditation for Calm and Relaxation
Meditation is a practice that has been used for centuries. There are many different varieties of meditation, but the main goal no matter what style you select is simply to observe. When you’re meditating it’s an opportunity to take a moment out of the hustle and bustle of your usual day-to-day routine and observe your own thoughts, notice your breath, experience the sensations of the world around you. It’s an effective technique that provides both short and long term benefits.
By taking time to slow down and tune in more deeply with yourself, many meditation practitioners will feel calm and peaceful afterwards. A regular meditation practice can bring meditators a better connection to their emotions and more awareness of their bodies. Those who meditate consistently will also often find that they enjoy a decrease in anxiety, less stress, and sometimes better sleep and general health. However, with the goal being to simply observe how you feel, it’s completely normal if you don’t feel peaceful after meditation! Sometimes emotions or thoughts that have been suppressed will begin to arise during meditation, as we allow them space to surface. That’s why it can be helpful to have a guide as you begin your meditation journey. Your guided meditation practitioner can help you to enter your meditation without any expectations of having a specific experience.
Creating a Routine
Meditation can be a difficult practice to begin, but like any wellness habit, once it’s part of your daily routine you’ll start to see a wealth of benefits! And once you experience the benefits you’ll be hooked. It can be hard to take time for yourself in the midst of a busy workday. However, prioritizing your self-care can make a huge difference in your mindset. Even as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day is powerful for managing stress. Meditation works best when it’s a daily habit. Just like brushing your teeth, while it’s great to do it today, it’s the cumulative effect that really adds up!
An online guided meditation is a great way to begin to incorporate more mindfulness and focus into your life. By taking time each day to be present with your feelings, thoughts and emotions, you’re asking your mind to come into the current moment. This idea is really at the core of a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness means being completely engaged in whatever activity you’re doing in a given moment. This can help you to free yourself from distractions and judgement, so that you can just focus on the moment at hand. Meditation is like boot camp for mindfulness — when we meditate we build our mindfulness muscles. And when our ability to be mindful gets stronger, we’re able to apply that mindfulness outside of our meditation practice more easily.
How long should you meditate?
How long you meditate is up to you! If you’re just starting your meditation practice, even 5 minutes may feel like a long time. You can begin with as little as you need to — even one minute will still be beneficial. Consistency is the most important aspect of building your meditation practice. So pick an amount of time you can stick to, even when life gets hectic. As you start to feel comfortable meditating for that short amount of time, you may want to lengthen your practice a little more. Keep increasing your time as much as feels right to you, so that you can keep a consistent, daily practice.
By taking a few moments to be present each day, your ability to tap into mindfulness will grow, leading to a more engaged, present life! Sounds pretty great, right? Let us show you how to get started with our free 10-minute guided meditation.
Step by Step 10-Minute Guided Meditation
1. Create your meditation space
Having a space that you return to each time you practice can help with creating a routine that you’ll stick to. Make your guided meditation space inviting and cozy — perhaps try burning a candle or incense, and piling up comfortable cushions. It can also be helpful to find a clock for your space that you can refer to for your meditation timing. Ideally you’ll meditate somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted. But if pets, kids, or any other distractions come into your meditation practice, that’s okay! Remember, it’s all about observing the present moment.
Choosing a time to meditate each day is similarly helpful in developing a habit around your meditation practice! Any time of day that fits in your schedule is a perfect time to meditate. Many people like to practice meditation first thing in the morning, before their mind is filled with other thoughts. Others like to practice as a mid-day mindfulness break, or use it as a way to wind down their minds before sleep. Try out a few different times, and find what works best for you!
2. Find your meditation posture
For a seated meditation, you’ll want to have a nice long spine with the top of your head lifting up towards the sky. Your hands can rest on your legs, so that your elbows relax down below your shoulders. You should also feel relaxed in your shoulders, without any tension in the neck. To help with this, let your chin tuck very gently in towards your chest. Your hips should also be relaxed, whether you’re sitting cross legged or up on a chair with your hips and knees both at around 90 degrees. If you feel tension in your hips, you may want to sit up on a few cushions, to get a bit more comfortable.
No matter how comfortable you may be at the beginning of your guided meditation practice, you may find that by the end you are achy or ready to move. That’s okay — in fact it’s perfectly normal, as long as you don’t feel any sharp pain. If sitting on the earth is challenging for you, you might try meditating while lying on the ground! This can be a very peaceful and grounding practice.
3. Breathe deeply
There are many different types of meditation, but one of the easiest to start with is a simple breath observing meditation. So now that you’re in a comfortable seat, you’ll start to breathe a little bit more deeply, in and out through the nose. Let your eyes focus on the middle distance, with a gentle gaze out towards the horizon. Slowly allow your eyes to start to lose focus, let your eyelids get heavy, and start to blink them closed.
- With the eyes closed, begin to observe your breath. Notice how it feels at the start of your meditation. There’s no need to make any changes. Try not to have any judgement about how you’re breathing. Simply feel your breath. Is your breathing shallow, or deep? Is your inhale longer than your exhale?
- Now, take 5 deep, slow breaths, in and out through the nose. Focus on taking the deepest, slowest breaths you’ve taken all day.
- For your next 5 deep, slow breaths, feel your belly rise and fall with each breath. Feel the air filling your lungs on each inhale, expanding your belly. On each exhale feel your breath leaving your abdomen.
- For the next 5 breaths, focus on feeling your chest expand with each inhale, and empty with each exhale. Fill the space between your collarbones with breath, feel your ribs expand and then contract.
- Observe the feeling of the air traveling in, and out of your nostrils for the next 5 breaths. Feel that it’s cooler on the inhale, and warmer on the exhale.
- Then begin to let your breath return to a normal, natural rhythm. Simply observing the breath, and any changes that have happened throughout your practice.
4. Clearing the Mind
The reason why a breathing based meditation practice is a great place to start, is it gives you something to direct your thoughts to. Our minds are usually pretty busy, jumping from worry, to stress, to a mental checklist of what else you need to accomplish. This is bound to happen when you sit down to meditate! In fact, that’s the whole point. By continuously guiding your mind back into the present moment, back to focusing on your breathing, you’re creating a new pathway in your mind. You’re training your brain to be able to draw your focus back into the present. To observe the thoughts, and choose not to think them! This helps you to focus more clearly, on more than just your breathing.
So, as thoughts come up, notice that they surfaced, then turn your attention back to the breath. Even in a short 10-minute guided meditation, you may need to do this time and time again. Each time it happens, try not to judge the thoughts or yourself for getting distracted. This will only lead to more thoughts! Instead, take a deep breath in, and focus on that slow inhalation. Let it go, and feel the air leaving your lungs. Just like that, you’re back in the present moment!
5. Releasing expectations
How do you feel at the end of your 10-minute guided meditation? Maybe you feel more calm, or perhaps you feel stressed still. Maybe today your mind wouldn’t quiet down and all you thought about the entire time was what you need to finish up at work. Or, instead, perhaps not one single thought came up the entire time! No matter how you feel at the end of your practice, try to reserve judgement. The purpose of this daily practice isn’t to suddenly be able to live in the present moment all the time. Instead it’s to actively choose to bring yourself back to presence, over and over again, whatever the present moment looks like.
6. Moving forward
As you move from your meditation into the rest of your day, carry your new awareness with you! We’ve discussed how this mindfulness practice can help you tune into your thoughts and feelings, so continue to observe those sensations throughout your day. Find moments where you can return to that meditative state as often as you can! When you’re driving to work, or when you first sit down at your desk in the morning, perhaps while you’re doing the dishes, or brushing your teeth, can you be fully present in that action? You don’t need to do the full 10-minute guided meditation, but simply taking a moment to notice how you feel, where you are, what you’re doing, and to breathe deeply can have a profound effect on your life.