Meditation has been around for centuries and most people are familiar with the associated benefits of a regular practice.
Despite discovering the positive impact of meditation 15+ years ago, I still meditate inconsistently.
Over the years I’ve tried many things to maintain a regular meditation practice and I have found that guided meditation works best for me.
However, not just any guided meditation.
Initially, I thought this type of meditation 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:
The person guiding the 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.
Here are 3 key points I consider 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.
I also enjoy guided meditations that include affirmations.
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 almost always thinking about something I need to do or something I’ve forgotten to do.
I know that this is also the case for others.
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!
When you’re 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.
Meditation does not have to be time-consuming or “woo woo” and there is no “perfect” way to do it.
- 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 – British, American, or perhaps Caribbean?
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.