Guided Meditation: Benefits and Techniques

Over the past decade, scientific research on an ancient method of mindfulness has been given more attention. This practice of meditation has become known for its powerful benefits when it comes to stress relief and creating a positive mindset. But do the benefits stop there? Scientific studies are suggesting it goes much deeper than just being in a good mood.

Key takeaways:
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    Stress affects your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. Chronic stress can also cause headaches, anxiety, sadness, and even heart disease. You can reduce emotions of tension by using guided meditation to reimagine a tranquil setting or circumstance.
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    There are definite advantages to meditation for general well being. These advantages—which include lowering blood pressure and relieving stress and anxiety—advantage sleep. You may significantly affect your sleep quality and enhance your general health with consistent meditation practice and a healthy lifestyle.
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    Aiming to improve awareness, concentrate attention, and alter consciousness, meditation is an age-old discipline. It incorporates a variety of methods and exercises, both mental and physical, to focus, clear the mind, and use visualization.
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    Meditations that are guided by sleep are important for mindfulness-based stress reduction. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can help people with insomnia sleep better by reducing their worry, stress, and ruminating thoughts.
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    The advantages of meditation are largely linked to mental well-being, but the practice also has physical effects. Additionally, it has favorable effects on hormones and brain chemistry, which improve physical health and facilitate sleep.

Meditation can be intimidating and very foreign to some people. That is why guided meditations are recommended especially if you’re new to the practice. Guided meditation is when an expert guides you through a meditation that often focuses on the breath and becoming aware of your subconscious mind. Most guided meditations have some sort of goal behind them whether it be just to relax or something as big as changing an aspect of your life.

What are some benefits of a guided meditation?

Research has been conducted through electroencephalographic (EEG) devices; which is a non-invasive device that tracks synchronous behavior between neurons in the brain during meditation. The findings have shown positive and almost immediate health benefits regarding stress disorders.

As humans, we think roughly 70,000 thoughts per day, and 90% of those thoughts are said to come from the day before or stem from past experiences. Guided meditation can break that cycle and bring energy and concentration to the person you want to become. Meaning you are consciously rewiring those neurons not to feel that anxiety, depression, PTSD, and stress.

Those same thoughts you continue to think day after day lead to the same experiences, which leads to the same feelings, and only deepens your neurocircuitry, biology, neurochemistry, neurohormones, and even gene expression depending on the thoughts and feelings you are embodying.

Using guided meditation as a tool can help break limiting beliefs you might be holding onto which might be influencing your future. This continual practice brings the autonomic nervous system back into coherence pulling the body out of survival mode. When the brain moves from beta waves (waking state) to alpha (light meditative state) or theta waves (no barrier between conscious and subconscious mind) the autonomic nervous system begins to regulate itself. This directly affects stress since it is an autonomic dysregulation; resulting in a feeling of euphoria, energy, freedom, and bliss.

In one study, a controlled trial was conducted on patients following abdominal surgery. The study measured the effects of guided imagery meditations and the improvement of their quality of sleep, ameliorating anxiety, and relieving pain after a laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery. The study showed significant beneficial differences in the control groups further suggesting it could potentially be promoted to clinical practice. In another study at a meditation retreat, they found downregulation of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) pathway resulting in lower inflammation. Showing tangible evidence of the healing effects the mind has over the body.

With the brain working in a more coherent state during these guided meditations, it oscillates and synchronizes neurons producing a feeling of wholeness. With continual practice, your brain starts to regulate your genes which results in a biological upgrade.

How to begin?

1. Location

Having a set location for your meditation with minimal distractions helps you overcome your environment. Make sure it is a secluded spot that you can return to daily that you start to associate with your practice. It should start to represent growth, a place to tame the ego, overcome the old self, and create the new.

2. Prevent distractions

Take the steps to eliminate sensory stimuli that force your mind to separate itself from the external world. This means turning off your computer, or phone, and removing any aromas that might drift into your mind during the meditation. Make yourself a comfortable temperature, use the restroom, and remove jewelry or your watch. I typically wear headphones and a blindfold. It’s hard enough to keep your mind from wandering so make sure your environment is not contributing to that.

3. When to meditate

The morning and evening time are the best times to meditate. The brain goes through different changes depending on the time of day. The morning and evening make it easier to slip into alpha and theta brainwaves. It is recommended, when first starting, to only pick one time to meditate and gradually work up to twice a day if desired.

4. How long?

Any amount of meditation is helpful to the mind and body, but if you are looking for tangible changes it’s best to work up to 40-60 minute sessions. If you are constantly looking at the clock your meditative state has already been broken. Start small with five or ten minutes and increase in increments. Your mind will begin to overcome the body’s desire to get up with practice.

5. Mastering the ego

This might be one of the hardest parts of meditation. As I said in the beginning, our minds think roughly 70,000 thoughts daily. Those thoughts are accustomed to circulating constantly in our minds and will not stop willingly. If you find your mind starting to wander it is your job to bring it back to the present moment and drop into meditation.

6. Mastering the body

The body can be just as difficult to tame as the mind. Our body holds habits and the easiest way to see these habits are by attempting to keep the body still for an extended period. If you find yourself in meditation thinking about getting up to check your phone or thinking about a place you have to go to later that day, and you choose to stay in your meditation, you become that much more in control over your body. With enough practice, your body will be retrained to listen to your mind and it will become easier with each session.

So be kind to your body, your mind, and yourself, and surrender to what is. A beautiful practice will unfold with a little patience and some gentle guidance.

It's time to consult your doctor if you try meditation and other sleep-improvement techniques but are still unable to overcome your insomnia or experience daytime fatigue. They can uncover underlying disorders causing sleeplessness or rule out any more ailments. They will also offer treatment alternatives and professional advise.

Guided sleep meditation has several advantages. Start a meditation practice if you have trouble falling asleep and have tried other solutions without success. You won't regret it, and the benefits extend beyond just better sleep. You can enter a deep level of relaxation and tranquillity by concentrating on a soothing image. When you next need to unwind and relax, give it a try. You might be shocked by how useful it can be.

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