The Benefits of Guided Meditation
3 min read
When you think of meditation, you may initially picture someone sitting quietly and emptying their mind. But there is much more to meditation than just sitting in silence. Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, but the benefits of meditation are still relevant today.
Meditation may just seem like doing absolutely nothing, but it’s actually much harder than it appears. If you are having trouble meditating on your own or need assistance, you can have someone guide you through meditation in a process called guided meditation. Read on to find out more about what meditation is and what the benefits of guided meditation are.
What is meditation?
Although meditation was originally used to help people deepen their understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life, it is more commonly used to reduce stress and relax in this day and age.1 Meditation has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.2 What’s great about meditation is that it’s free, it doesn’t require any tools or equipment, and is not a huge time commitment. You can start off with 10 minutes of meditation a day or two five-minute intervals to de-stress and relax.3
Guided meditation is a helpful technique to use if you are unsure how to properly meditate or want to mentally place yourself elsewhere by reimagining a more relaxing setting. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, guided meditation is a method where you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.1 Finding the ideal place to meditate is key because you want to be able to feel relaxed. During guided meditation, you must make sure to utilize every sense to reimagine your setting. A teacher or a guide can lead you with cues to help you create an experience using all of your senses.4
Health benefits from guided meditation
Guided meditation is aimed at helping you relax, but there are many health benefits that can also come from practicing it. Meditation can help you calm down and get through the day, and it may also help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.1 Listed below are a number of health conditions that can be helped through guided meditation.
It’s no surprise that guided meditation can provide stress relief. This benefit is important, since too much stress can have a negative impact on your health. Stress quickens your heart rate and breathing and increases your blood pressure, and chronic stress can lead to headaches, anxiety, depression, and even heart disease.3 By reimagining a relaxing place or situation through guided meditation, you can alleviate feelings of stress.
Anxiety and depression
Stress relief from guided meditation can help with feelings of anxiety and depression. Studies show that meditation is helpful for relieving anxiety and depression, and meditation is actually about as effective as an antidepressant for treating depression.3 While meditation shouldn’t be a replacement for standard medications, it can still be helpful to try it for relieving anxiety and depression symptoms.
Guided meditation can go as far as to relieve physical pain. Some studies suggest that meditation activates certain areas of the brain in response to pain.2 Another study showed that people who practiced any form of meditation had greater improvement with back pain at 26 and 52 weeks compared to those who had usual care.2
Irritable bowel syndrome
Another surprising benefit of guided meditation is that it can also reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. One study with a group of 75 women who practiced meditation for eight weeks showed that the severity of their IBS symptoms was reduced.2
Guided meditation can also help those who are looking to quit smoking or want to curb any consistent cravings. Mindful attention can reduce the craving to smoke, and can also reduce activity in a craving-related region of the brain.2 The next time you are resisting the urge for a cigarette or another habit you are trying to break, it may help to try guided meditation for a couple of minutes.
Getting into the habit of meditating
Get into the habit of including guided meditation into your daily routine to give yourself some moments of relaxation every day. Start off by setting aside a place to meditate, sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with your back straight, and breathe slowly and deeply.3 Try to stay focused on the place or thing that makes you feel relaxed while using all of your senses. If your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation, or movement you’re focusing on.1 Allow your body and mind to recuperate by incorporating a few minutes of guided meditation into your day.
- Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858 Accessed 7/13/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
- Meditation: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth Accessed 7/13/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
- What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health- Accessed 7/13/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
- Meditation. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17906-meditation Accessed 7/13/2021. See source doc for referenced text.