Guided meditation is simply meditation with the help of a guide. It is especially good for beginners in meditation, as the narrator guides you through the process, giving you directions on how to relax your mind and body and helping you to focus your thoughts on specific images and feelings.
This type is usually used for meditating with the purpose of dealing with specific physical or mental issue, so popular guided meditations are, for example: dealing with different kinds of phobias or addictions, pain and stress relief, lowering cholesterol or dealing with Diabetes, and a whole range of manifestation-related meditations meant to enhance manifestation mindset (we also have a separate article dedicated to using meditation for manifesting).
Guided meditation combines two powerful mental techniques: meditation and creative visualization, to bring about the change in the way we think about certain things in life.
The Meditative Part of Guided Meditation
Meditative techniques are used to relax and calm our mind and body. In a normal, everyday mode, our brain and body are exposed to thousands sensations and thoughts that we react to, consciously or unconsciously. Meditation helps us to slow them down and to listen to them as if they were happening to someone else – in other words, to be an impartial observer of our own experience.
This alone is a huge benefit of meditation – that’s why it’s so popular and effective tool for stress relief. But in guided meditation, these relaxation techniques have one more goal: as we explained in the article about meditation in general, it’s been scientifically proven that these techniques help us achieve the so called Theta and Alpha states of mind.
Our brainwaves, electrical activity in our brains which can be measured, are constantly active, even during sleep and there are 4 basic patterns of these waves: Alpha, Beta, Delta and Theta. While Beta state is a state of our normal waking consciousness and Delta brain waves are related to deep sleep and unconsciousness, Alpha state is associated with relaxation, focus and wakefulness, and Theta is a brain state of REM sleep (dreams), hypnosis, lucid dreaming, and the barely conscious state just before sleeping and just after waking.
Alpha and Theta stages are connected to creativity, visualization, memory and profound learning.
Being able to willingly produce Alpha and Theta brain waves / states gives us the ability to learn at a faster and deeper level than normally, to access and influence the powerful subconscious part of ourselves that is normally inaccessible to our waking minds.
Thus what we “learn” while in meditative state, after we repeat it several times, stays stored deep in our subconscious, creating the new neural pathways and re-wiring the old ones.
The Visualization Part
We have been talking a lot about the power of creative visualization. Our mind struggles to accept the concepts that are different from what it has learnt so far: if you’re afraid of spiders, for example, all the reasoning in the world can’t persuade you to take a little domestic spider in your hand – your mind refuses to accept that it’s harmless because your fear is stronger.
Fears are just a form of belief that’s been learned over the years and stored in your unconscious, where you can’t reach it. But if you could bring yourself to realistically imagine that you’re holding a spider in your hand, especially if you could do it in a relaxed state of mind where you know nothing bad can happen, you could pretty soon discover that your real fear of spiders has gone – or at leas diminished a lot.
The trick is in the way our mind works: it is incapable of making a distinction between a real image and an imagined one, as long as you manage to make the imagined image seem real.
So, the more times you try to visualize yourself holding that spider, the better you get in making your mind believe it, and the pathways in your mind that believe that you’re capable of holding the spider and that there’s no reason to fear it get stronger and stronger, eventually forming a new belief that will bypass the old one.
So, How and Why Does Guided Meditation Work?
In a nutshell, meditation combined with visualizing makes you able to relatively quickly learn new thinking patterns: meditation helps you get in the state in which you learn new things more easily and adopt them on a more profound level, all while relaxing your mind and making you feel calm. From that state, every new image and suggestion that you give to your mind will be accepted as something you already know how to do even when you’re not meditating – that’s why after a while the effects that guided meditation have to your brain become permanent.
The guidance part is there to help all of us who experience real trouble focusing on something, or sticking to the image we’re using to create a new belief. In the example with the spider, a person who is too afraid of spiders would probably start visualizing, but then they couldn’t go through with it even though they know it’s all in their head – their mind could backfire on them and create, for example, the image of a monster-spider instead of a harmless domestic insect.
When someone else guides you through the imagery, they won’t drift, they will stick to depicting the scene and they will do it in a way that will make you feel comfortable, in a surrounding that you know is safe and relaxing.
So it’s not just the image that gets installed in your mind, it’s the feeling of overall peace and relaxation related to the issue you’re trying to fix. Thanks to the meditative part of it, the feeling of peace and calm will pour into your everyday life, and not stay related only to the issue or situation that you’re visualizing.
There are many ways in which you can experience guided meditation: there are audio recordings that you can try (we can recommend you to try a free guided meditation called “Deep Calm” over at GuidedMind.com), or you can write your own script and follow it if you’re already more skilled in meditation and visualization.
In any case, this is one of the best techniques for achieving a specific purpose, such as deep relaxation, behavior modification, or releasing negative emotions and self-limiting beliefs – if you haven’t yet, be sure to try it!
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