Guided meditation CDs are very popular today. There are a myriad of different guided meditation CDs available—some focusing on general meditation (enlightenment, relaxation) and others very targeted to specific goals (weight loss, financial stability). You can even get a wide variety of guided meditation MP3s from purelifemeditation.com, iTunes and Amazon.com. Are guided meditation CDs effective? What pros and cons are there to using them?
Guided meditation is when someone else talks you through a meditation session. They may begin by telling you how to sit, how to breathe, and what to focus on. As the session progresses, the guide may walk you through certain images, give you mantras to repeat, and so on. At the end, the guide will show you slowly out of the meditation and have you re-open your eyes. While you can participate in a guided meditation in person with a meditation coach or group, what is most common today seems to be the use of pre-recorded guided meditations.
Some meditation traditionalists feel that guided meditation fails to teach the meditator mental discipline and concentration power. There is no doubt that self-directed meditation does genuinely teach one how to meditate while a guided meditation merely provides the experience of meditation. What is the difference and why does it matter? Like anything else, if you have the ability to reach that deep meditative state on your own, that merely means you have a deeper understanding, awareness, and respect for it. Because meditation is an activity so closely related to mental discipline, it is a particularly valuable skill to have. Research shows that experienced meditators develop better behaviors and healthier feelings than non-meditators—this is because they have actually changed their brain structures through the process of repetitive meditation. None of these benefits have been observed in those who practice only guided meditations.
If the choice is, however, something or nothing, a guided meditation is definitely better than nothing! The truth is that we live in a fast-paced world in which many people seek out meditation solely for relaxation and inner-peace. Not everyone is interested in training their brain or the proper Eastern tradition of meditation—it's just that simple. There are a million different reasons to meditate and types of people doing it. For example, those who are meditating to relieve symptoms of their ADHD may find that guided meditations are the only thing that works for them—period. Those who are too busy and spread thin with a variety of commitments may appreciate that meditation is one of the few things they don't have to “work at” but can just sit down and enjoy. Guided CDs can bring many master teachers right into your home or work. You may never be able to attend a class by Ekhart Tolle but you can listen to his ideas and teachings any day of the week. The possibilities are limitless.
Regardless of your situation, it never hurts to have a few guided meditation CDs handy. You never know when you might want or need a little assistance from such a source to get into your meditation routine.
~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com
photo courtesy of Axel Kramer