We have all heard of meditation: the mindful art of developing another level of self, or searching meaningfully for cognitive enlightenment that reflects profound truths about nature and our existence.
The term ‘meditation’ often evokes concepts of buddha, nirvana, or spiritually committed individuals who go about their day chanting ‘ommmm.’ But there’s more to meditation than this: and it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
What is meditation?
Meditation is not about transforming your inner consciousness into a deity or becoming a guru on peace and zen. Meditation is all about working on training your mind to become more aware and more accepting of the world around you, and about the things you cannot control.
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It is about acknowledging your thoughts and feelings about everything – without judgement, without anxiety, without any positive or negative emotion in fact. Meditation is just about being: and being OK with that.
You may be wondering how and where you will find enough resources to begin meditating? Look no further.
In this post, we discuss the different ways you can meditate – notably, how you can self-meditate anytime, anywhere and in very many ways.
In a fast-paced world where time is scarce but online resources plentiful, we have compiled a list of the top meditations that will benefit your health and well-being.
What is guided meditation?
Guided meditation means that the skill of meditating is practiced with the guidance of an instructor, teacher or meditation guru. The leader tends to accommodate the one who is meditating by guiding their thoughts with a soothing voice, repetition of mantras, and even music.
Guided meditation often starts with the guide or instructor asking you to sit or even lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begins with a process like a body/ sensation awareness, or listening to the details in the surroundings behind you.
Once you have slipped into a state of relaxation and calm, your mind is more receptive to the positive imagery or sounds someone else is placing in the mind.
This is because although the mind is attempting to focus, sometimes it’s easy to wander off and get lost in your own thoughts. Having someone to pull you back to reality and give you grounding is part of what meditation is about.
It’s not to say that meditation is about nurturing your relationship with whoever is guiding you – it is about you using their skill and positive influence to get your mind to where it needs to be.
Another benefit of guided meditation is that the instructor or guide places positive thoughts in your mind and thought process, leaving you without doubts about what to do or where to focus your energy. It is generally just easier to follow an example, especially if you are a beginner.
Even the most experienced meditators still use guided meditations as it offers structure and often comforts when venturing into the realm of consciousness for experimentation.
Meditation has not only been proven to help promote a positive mental attitude but studies also reveal that meditation helps reduce stress and anxiety, blood pressure, cortisol levels, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, and even stopping smoking.
A list of guided talking meditations
A great place to start on your guided meditation journey is with the simplest. Below we have listed the top audio meditations that are available for free online. Some vary in length, and some require different settings and positions. Our top eight guided meditations include:
- Mindfulness Meditation: this will help you to become wholly present in the moment when you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Buddhist Meditation: here you will gain an insight into the classic and ancient art of Buddhist Meditation
- Short Meditation: this 15-minute video is great for a work break meditation session or just before you go to bed
- Medium-length Meditation: this is longer but still a wonderfully condensed guided meditation – perfect for a lunch break
- Long Meditation: this hour-long guided meditation will help restore your energy and give you a much-needed break from life’s stresses
- Meditation for Sleep: drift off into a peaceful sleep with this eight-hour guided meditation, helpful for those struggling with insomnia or sleep-related anxiety
- Walking Meditation: if you need to get out of the house, this guided walking meditation will help you restore your perspective on the world
- Chakra-balancing Meditation: chakra rebalancing relates to transferring the wheels of energy in your body. This is a highly recommended guided meditation for those in need of a full and profound spiritual cleanse
Often, the impact music has on our subconscious can be extremely uplifting and also offers us a sense of structure with its rhythmic nature. If you want to take some time out of your day to listen to some music: then trying music meditation could be even more beneficial for your mind and soul.
A variety of different instruments have different effects on the mind, and it is an avenue worth exploring to see what works for you. Some of the best music meditations include:
- Flute Music Meditation: this is a morning meditation offering pure positive vibes with its light flight melodies
- Guitar Music Meditation: this lilting guitar meditation music is ideal stress relief, and can be used in the background of any meditation – especially chakra-balancing
- Beta Wave Meditation Music: this background meditation music is intended to awake the consciousness into a heightened state of awareness, reasoning, and logical thinking. Beta brainwaves are associated with cognitive excitement and mental energy
- Instrumental Meditation Music: there is a wealth of high-quality instrumental repertoires online which can be used in any meditation setting. It is also a good idea to search for an instrumental version of your favourite movie playlist or classical symphony movement, as it is easier to focus on meditation practices with wordless music
Natural Sound Meditations
Research proves that listening to natural sounds, such as breeze in the trees or the crashing of waves, does actually calm our stress and anxieties. This is due to the associations between the sounds of our environment and the ‘fight or flight’ response wired in our brains.
Natural sounds, associated with walking in the forest or on a beach, make our brains act in the same way as they do when we are in states of calm and relaxation.
Listening to natural sounds while meditating has also been proven to reduce the heart rate. Here are some of the top ‘green environment’ meditation resources we have found for you:
- Ocean Waves Meditation Music: eight hours of relaxing and soothing water-based meditation music perfect for a night time sleep or a long workday
- Waterfall in Rainforest Meditation Music: studies have shown that the rhythms in natural water are good for mental health
- Chirping Birds Meditation Music: research has also shown  that listening to the natural sound of birdsong calms our central nervous system and relaxes the mind and body
- Wind Sound Meditation Music: this lulling background noise is ideal for those who have trouble sleeping, or those wanting to meditate for a longer period of time
Useful Meditation Apps
Technology has many benefits in this day and age – and mindfulness and meditation are some of the million aspects to benefit from digital developments.
There are hundreds of useful mental health apps out there, ranging from ones that focus solely on reducing stress and anxiety to ones that increase mindfulness, to ones that increase productivity and structure.
Research has shown that those who use such apps do have an improved psychological and emotional state of mind. Below we have listed some meditation-based apps that can be used from your mobile or desktop, any time of day or night. These are:
- Meditation Oasis: this was intended for people with illnesses and their loved ones: but during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s now free to everyone
- Calm: a leading app for anxiety and stress reduction, meditation, and improved sleep
- Headspace: This is one of the best apps for meditating, mini-meditations, emergency meditations, and children’s meditations
- Insight Timer: allows you to choose from a variety of meditation experts and allows you to choose your own style
- Aura: find daily meditations, motivational talks, walking meditation, sleeping meditations and much more
- Meditation Minis: guided meditations in bitesize chunks of ten minutes or less – even one breath brings more meditative states into your life
- Insight Timer: ideal for those struggling with sleep anxieties
- Stop Breathe Think: great meditations based on how you feel at that exact moment
- Ten Percent: this guided meditation is aimed at sharpening your brain to help you focus
Podcasts for Meditation
If you are reluctant to download an app which takes space on your phone, you could consider downloading one podcast at a time.
A podcast is a short audio file based on a certain topic, and the meditation-based ones often offer very useful tips on mantras, inspirational talks, guidance on thought processing and even the transferring of energy.
The podcasts include:
- The One Mind Podcast: is a perfect choice for beginners from a mindfulness guru and yoga teacher
- The Mindful Minute Podcast: this is another good starting point for those new to meditation as it runs you through the basics of the art
- The Daily Meditation Podcast: ideal for busy people, this 8-minute podcast gives you all the meditation you need in a daily dose
- The Roaming Yogis Meditation Podcast: not only does this help with meditation but with yoga, developing patience and self-worth
Keith stopped using drugs and drinking alcohol more than 10 years ago. He now spends a lot of time writing and editing content for this website. His mission is to assist people who are also looking to embrace addiction recovery. Keith believes a key way to accomplish this goal is through his writing.