Buddhist meditation is about meditative practices that relate to the philosophy and religion of Buddhism. It includes a variety of techniques that strive for concentration, insight, mindfulness and inner peace. But a lot of people feel that this traditional practice is a bit too hard. If you like to learn but feel unsure of where to start, then you can practice a technique called guided meditation.
What is Guided Meditation?
Guided meditation is a process where one meditates as he/she is guided by a trained expert or teacher. Guidance may come in person or via a written text. It may also come from sound recording, video, or both. This practice is a modern phenomenon. It’s a much easier way to meditate and is based on many Buddhist traditions.
Although guided meditation is modern and new, its principles are rooted in Buddhist traditions like the Mahayana or Theravada. These practices have been secularized and adapted into Western culture and medicine. Many secular Buddhist instructors help with this practice, and they have different voices and styles. Regardless, they all have the same basic approaches.
Guided meditation may be in many forms, but each form helps one develop mindfulness, remove suffering and control thoughts and feelings. It’s a modern way of helping someone know his/her own mental landscape. This modern practice requires a fair amount of alertness, diligence, effort, motivation and posture.
Is It for Me?
In the past, those who were into meditation are the hardcore believers of the practice. These people often have strong ideals and are driven by Buddhist principles. Since it requires a strong will, most of us chose not to be committed to it.
But times change. Our lives are busier. Stressors and distractions are everywhere, and now guided meditation is becoming more relevant. Today, it is often sought as a means to improve oneself, enhance performance and have better health.
It is for these reasons that guided meditation can indeed be an excellent way to introduce you to the practice. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily take your practice to the next level.
Another point is that guided meditation is unique for each person. It’s like cooking with your recipe. It’s a good way to start, and you can eat the food you make like this. But once you learn the main principles and flavors, you can cook your dish. This way, it will have a different, unique taste. It will be tailored for you, and more powerful.
This is great news for those who are seeking some very specific experience or benefit. If you want to improve self-esteem or let go of some tension in your body and mind, then you can find some guided meditation that suits your needs.
The Basics of Guided Meditation
First off, you have to meditate in a comfortable, upright, seated position. Guided meditation comes in the form of audio, video or both. The voice of the teacher illustrates or guides your mind to reach a meditative state. Note that there is usually more silence than voice. Those made by Tara Brach and Thich Nhat Hanh are great examples. These are rooted in authentic Buddhist practices and help deepen the practice.
Guided meditation also makes use of imagery. It helps you imagine and visualize certain objects, entities, sceneries or journeys. These techniques are for healing and relaxation. This practice also makes use of relaxation and body scans. In Yoga, these are called Yoga Nidra. These serve to help you keep calm and relaxed.
Affirmations are also done with guided imagery and relaxation scans. They are done to imprint a message in your mind. Guided meditation also makes use of binaural beats. These beats are used to generate alpha waves (10 Hz), which are associated with initial levels of the process.
The next part of guided meditation is to follow the script. Here’s a great example by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
“Sit comfortably erect, without leaning forward or backward, left or right. Close your eyes and think of good will. Remind yourself that true happiness comes from within, so it is not a selfish desire. If you find and nurture happiness within you, you’re capable of radiating it to other people.
Spread good will to other people: your family, your parents, your very close friends. May they find true happiness, as well. Then spread those thoughts out in broadening circles: people you know well, people you like, people you don’t know so well, people you know and are neutral about, and even people you don’t like. Don’t let there be any limitations on your good will, for if there are, there will be limitations on your mind. Now spread thoughts of goodwill to people you don’t even know. And not just people. All living beings of all kinds in all directions. May they find true happiness, too.”
There’s one thing that can enhance your guided meditation experience: a Buddha bracelet. In ancient times, it is referred to as “mala”. A Buddha bracelet is made of prayer beads that are used by Buddhists for their practice. Prayer beads are divided into consecutive twos and fours. Some malas have a tassel with some talisman. This is for decorative purposes.
The Buddha bracelet is not an ordinary piece of jewelry. It has a very special meaning to its bearer. Wearing it helps you stay positive, no matter what’s happening in your life. It creates a protective layer from negative energies or spirits. A Buddha bracelet also helps boosts your energy and confidence at all times. Buddha taught us that material objects won’t bring happiness and spirituality. But a Buddha bracelet strengthens our spiritual practice and reminds us to develop good traits. It reminds us to be serene, calm, tolerant and compassionate.
Guided meditation is a great way to learn the basics of the Buddhist traditional practice. It allows you to test the waters and see the wonders and benefits of the practice. Once you learn the basics of guided meditation, you can find the meaning of life in a truly unique way.