I often hear my therapy clients talk about wanting to find more ways to relax, clear intrusive thoughts, and to stay in the present moment. To combat this, I recommend starting with meditation as a great tool for decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, and more. “Guided” meditation is the perfect way for beginners to start meditating with the help of a voice to lead the person through guided imagery. This gives a person the opportunity to focus on the message from the meditation which soothes a wandering mind. Guided meditations can be found on YouTube or various phone apps like Calm.
First, search for the type of meditation and time length that you are interested in. I like to start my therapy clients with a 2 to 5 minute meditation and choosing a category like “stress reduction” that the client can focus on. I like to listen to a 5 minute meditation when I’m feeling overwhelmed during the day and this easily brings me back to the present moment with more focus and vigor for my work. Apps like Fitbit can even track your heartrate during a guided meditation to see how calm and relaxed you are getting! Here are some tips to get you started and to get the most out of guided meditation:
- Do choose the right setting: You are going to want a relaxing atmosphere and to either lay down or sit in a comfortable position. Limit distractions and make sure you are in a safe environment (not driving). There are also walking meditations that you can listen to and enjoy nature!
- Don’t judge your thoughts: Let your thoughts drift by like leaves on a stream. Just label your thoughts as simply “thoughts”. You can even label them specifically like, “Wow, just another anxious thought is going by!”. Pick imagery that works best for you.
- Don’t strive for perfection: Learning how to meditate is a process and takes practice. You are not going to be a “perfect” meditator. Thoughts will creep in and it’s up to you to let them pass by. Make a plan to practice regularly.
- Do choose a category that works for you: YouTube for example has thousands of guided meditations with different categories. Examples include: anxiety, stress, positive energy, sleep, deep relaxation, finding peace, overthinking, fear, and panic. Choose depending on the topic that you’d like to pinpoint and give different categories a try!
- Do incorporate breathing: Deep belly breathes and consistent breathing is important to combine with guided meditation audio and videos. Practice different techniques such as box breathing to get the most out of your time meditating. Box breathing (instructions below) is the perfect way to start! Check out this link for some breathing exercise ideas: https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise
What are your favorite tips for getting the most out of guided meditations? Comment below!