So you’re forgiven if you rolled your eyes when you saw the title of this post.
But you’re still reading so something has obviously sparked your interest.
Maybe you’re intrigued because there’s so much “hype” surrounding meditation and you’re wondering what’s the big deal and if it’s worth trying.
Perhaps you want to start a regular meditation practice but have no idea how to start meditating.
Or maybe you’ve been desperately trying to meditate regularly but have failed miserably so far.
Wherever you’re at, I can relate.
I still consider myself a complete beginner when it comes to meditation, despite trying it for the first time, at least eight years ago.
I’ve only been meditating regularly since the start of this year. And by regularly, I don’t even mean daily – that’s something I’m still working on – but several mornings each week I’ll set aside at least 5 minutes to meditate.
Not all guided meditations are the same
But not just any guided meditation for beginners, a guided meditation that works for you.
I say this because initially, I thought guided meditations didn’t work for me.
I’m not great at visualisation. So, I would always find myself getting hung up on not being able to follow the person leading the guided meditation.
Here’s an example of how I initially experienced guided meditation:
Person leading meditation: Visualise yourself as a tree. Take a deep breath in…. and slowly release that breath… As you breathe out, sink your feet firmly into the ground. Feel yourself becoming one with the earth and imagine your toes are the roots of the tree…
Me (my mind): What type of tree? How tall is the tree? Where is this tree supposed to be? Are there birds in the tree? Wait, I still can’t see a damn tree so how the hell am I supposed to see my toes as roots of a tree… Argh! I’m over this! I hate meditation!
This is literally what would happen for me during a guided meditation.
Totally not relaxing!
I’d be put off for a few months, try again and then have a similar experience.
But after a while, I discovered that there are many different types of guided meditation.
And not all guided meditations use visualisation in the same way.
Once I found a guided meditation that worked for me, I began to enjoy meditating.
3 considerations when choosing a guided meditation
1. The type of meditation
As I said, guided meditations that focused heavily on visualisation left me feeling frustrated and far from relaxed. So now I tend to use guided meditations that focus on breathing and counting breaths.
I am now able to listen to meditations that include visualisation but they have to be short.
And it took me a while to do even just a few minutes without feeling frustrated.
2. The voice of the person guiding the meditation
This makes a huge difference for me but I didn’t realise how important it was when I first began meditating.
Some voices really grate on me.
So now, rather than get 2 minutes into a guided meditation and find myself feeling annoyed, I skip a little way in to get a feel for the voice of the person leading the meditation.
3. The length of the meditation
Many people think that meditation is not for them because they cannot “silence the mind”.
The voice in my head literally does not shut up.
It’s always thinking about one thing or another. Something I need to do or something I’ve forgotten to do.
And I know that this is the case for many people and that I’m not alone.
Some guided meditations are long.
I mean, I do look forward to the day when I can sit for an hour in meditation. But right now, that seems impossible!
But the point is when you’re just starting out, do not attempt to sit for an hour in meditation.
Maybe your mind is less occupied than mine, but I would still recommend starting with shorter guided meditations.
Once you have established a daily or at least regular practice, you can begin trying longer meditations.
There are many ways to meditate. The most important thing is to experiment.
Try different types of guided meditations to see what works best for you.
Below is a selection of the best guided meditation resources to help you get started.
Guided meditation for beginners: 21 apps, podcasts and websites
Guided meditation for beginners: Apps
Meditation is considered a great way to detach from our ever-connected world.
Ironically, however, having a meditation app on your phone can increase the chances of you developing a meditation practice as a beginner.
Here are 4 apps I have personally tried and recommend:
- Buddhify is an award-winning app that is described as “the mindfulness app for modern life”.
It is available on iOS and Android but you can also listen to five of their short guided meditations on Soundcloud.
I haven’t used the app but I regularly use the meditations available on Soundcloud.
- Calm is a meditation app that has a free 7-day series to help you learn the basics of mindful meditation.
Once you have completed the 7-day series, there are two more guided meditations you can access for free.
The app is available on iOS and Android but can also be accessed via the website.
The 7-day series really helped me to get establish a daily practice and I regularly use the two free guided meditations.
- Headspace is a meditation app that has a free 10-day series that helps you to practice the basics of meditation and mindfulness.
To access the rest of the app, which includes 100s of hours of meditation, you need a paid subscription. It is available on iOS, Android and via Amazon.
I did the 10-day series a few years back and I did like it. I’m just not committed enough to meditation to justify paying for a monthly subscription, especially when there are so many free alternatives.
- 10% Happier offers a free 7-day introduction to meditation available on iOS or via the website.
It combines video lessons and guided audio meditations to teach the essentials and walk you through the practice.
I really like this introduction series as it’s straightforward and relatable aka beginners friendly, especially if you’re still a little skeptical about meditation.
Guided meditation for beginners: Podcasts
Podcasts have become incredibly popular, with many people tuning into their favourite during the daily commute.
There are several meditation podcasts that, similarly to apps, can help you to establish a daily meditation practice.
- Meditation Oasis is sporadically updated but that’s not important as there are 50+ episodes.
Each varies in length and there are meditations on a huge variety of themes such as grief, loneliness and pregnancy.
- The Daily Meditation Podcast provides daily meditation and each week you’re introduced to a brand new meditation theme.
Each episode varies in length and is more podcast-like with some chat before the actual guided meditation.
- The Meditation Podcast states “Our podcast is unique because we use binaural beats in the audio that actually affect the brain waves, inducing a deep state of relaxation, and a brain pattern similar to REM sleep.”
Because of this, they recommend using headphones when listening to their guided meditations.
This podcast is available via the iTunes library, Soundcloud and the website.
- My Meditation Station hasn’t been updated since 2014 but that’s irrelevant as the guided meditations are timeless.
There are 50 episodes in total. Each varies in length and there are a variety of themes for the meditations.
- Chopra Centre for Wellbeing hasn’t been updated since 2010 but has 20+ guided meditations.
If you’re a little skeptical of meditation or anything remotely “new age” or “woo woo”, this might not be the best place for you to start. It’s very… poetic.
If you drive to work, leave home 10 minutes earlier and listen either before you start your journey, or once you’ve arrived.
Guided meditation for beginners: Websites
- The Chopra Center offers 16 guided meditations on a variety of themes such as gratitude, global peace and creativity.
- Oprah and Deepak Chopra have come together to offer a free 21-day meditation experience but you need to register for access.
Their aim is to make “meditation easy, fun, and inspiring, offering daily guided audio meditations via an online, interactive program.”
- Tara Brach has hundreds of free guided meditations of varying lengths, covering a large number of themes.
- Sip and Om are behind The Daily Meditation Podcast mentioned above but their website arranges the guided meditations into weekly plans for you to follow.
Each week has a different theme and then each day there is a different meditation technique related to that theme. Alternatively, you can pick a theme such as Forgiveness to focus on for a week.
There is also a 7-day How to Meditate series to get you started.
- Yoga Journal has a large collection of meditations that are organised by practice length.
The meditations that are Under 5 Minutes and 5 – 15 Minutes are a great place to start for beginners. Again, there are guided meditations on a variety of themes.
- The Free Mindfulness Project is for anyone who would prefer to download their guided meditation tracks.
It offers a generous number of guided meditations, varying in length and organised by theme.
- Fragrant Heart has a library of guided meditations of varying lengths, organised by theme.
- About Meditation has links to 14 different guided meditation videos, including 4 by Deepak Chopra.
- Frantic World has 7 short guided meditations for mindfulness developed by Oxford University.
Guided meditation for beginners: At your desk
We all have those days when work is really hectic or your boss or colleague really p’s you off!
You know, those moments when you need a “woosah” timeout.
Or maybe grabbing 2 minutes at your desk is the best opportunity you have to add meditation to your day.
The following 2 websites allow you to have a peaceful moment without leaving your desk.
- 5 Minute Meditation is a text-based guided meditation. There is no sound and you follow the instructions on the screen.
- Do Nothing For 2 Minutes is from the makers of the Calm app mentioned above.
It’s literally a scenic photo of the sea that plays the calming sounds of waves whilst counting down for 2 minutes.
Bonus: Keeping the Calm website open in you browser allows you to listen to relaxing nature sounds throughout the day. They have 20+ sounds for you to choose from and stunning images to accompany each soundtrack.
Guided meditation meets your daily needs
Now that I feel more comfortable with meditating, I like to ask myself what I need for the day ahead and then I’ll choose a related guided meditation.
The huge variety of guided meditations available means you can find a meditation based on your daily needs.
For example, if you recognise that you’re holding tension in your body, you can choose the Body Scan meditation in the Calm app.
If I’m feeling stressed and I really don’t feel like meditating, I’ll either do a short meditation that I’m familiar with or the Yoga Nidra meditation on yogajournal.com.
- Aim for a few minutes a day starting with short meditations.
If you’re extremely pushed for time or find you can’t sit for more than a couple of minutes, start with a 2-minute simple meditation.
- Pick a time of the day that suits you best.
Before you shower, before you start your daily commute or just before you go to bed.
You’re more likely to commit to a regular meditation practice if it fits into your day and meets your needs.
- Identify your motivation for meditating.
Do you want to feel more rested at the end of a busy day or do you want to start the day feeling calmer and more grounded?
Or, perhaps you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed or you’re struggling to deal with grief.
Having a clear intention for your meditation practice will help you to stay motivated.
- Try different meditations to find out what style suits you best.
Do you prefer an app, website or podcast?
Do you feel more relaxed with a woman’s voice or a man’s?
What accent do you prefer – American, or perhaps Australian?
You’ll be surprised at what a difference these details can make to your meditation experience.
- Don’t try to meditate in the “right”, “proper” or “perfect” way.
Focus on integrating it as part of your daily routine and remember that it’s called a daily practice for a reason!
- Keep going.
If you miss a day, a week or even a month, remember you can always re-start at any time.
How could a regular meditation practice positively impact your life?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.