what is guided meditation

What is Guided Meditation?

When some people think of meditation, they picture someone sitting silently with their eyes closed.

But in reality, meditation takes many forms. It can be quiet, or it can be guided by a calming voice. Similarly, it can be done in a seated position, but it can also be done while walking, eating, commuting, and more.

Because of its versatility and proven benefits, guided meditation is perfect for both beginners and seasoned meditators alike—and we’re going to dive into the what, where, how, and why in this comprehensive guide to guided meditation. 

The Basics of Guided Meditation

So, what exactly is guided meditation? 

At its core, guided meditation is where an experienced practitioner or teacher verbally guides you through a meditation session. This external direction can take a lot of forms—from in-person classes and one-on-one sessions to audio recordings and online videos. 

Unlike silent meditation, guided meditation offers a structured approach, making it accessible and appealing to those who may find the void of silence daunting or who benefit from targeted topics and skills.

In guided meditation, the guide leads the practitioner through a specific meditation skill or skills, from breathing exercises to visualizations to body scans and more. The guide's voice and instructions provide a focal point, centering the practitioner's attention on the present moment and the specific objectives of the meditation.

4 Common Types of Guided Meditation

Guided meditation can incorporate various skills, thematic elements, and practices. Here are four common types you may encounter:


This form of guided meditation invites you to picture peaceful scenes or positive outcomes that stimulate your senses and emotions. Visual imagery can vary from a serene beach or forest to envisioning the resolution of personal challenges. It's a powerful tool for manifesting goals and reducing anxiety through focused mental activity.

Body Scan

With this technique, you systematically direct your attention to different parts of your body, focusing on how they feel and consciously releasing tension. The body scan is great for relaxing physically and strengthening the mind-body connection.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

This practice is centered around the cultivation of love and compassion. The guide prompts you to direct kind wishes toward yourself, loved ones, acquaintances, and even those you perceive as adversaries. This form of meditation can be emotionally enriching, and it contributes to a more positive outlook on life.

Thematic Meditations

Guided meditations can also come with specific goals in mind, aligning with areas where you may seek personal improvement. Themes could range from anxiety and stress reduction to improved sleep to increased focus. This tailored approach helps guide your mind toward desired outcomes and personal reflection.

Benefits of Guided Meditation

The guided approach to meditation offers several benefits that make it an attractive choice for practitioners at any level. Here are some of the many benefits that guided meditation can provide:

Stress Relief and Relaxation

By leading you through calming experiences and breathing exercises, guided meditation can significantly reduce stress levels. The structured format encourages the release of tension and the fostering of a tranquil state of mind.

Improved Focus and Clarity

The guiding voice in a meditation session helps maintain focus. As distractions are filtered out and the mind is encouraged to focus on just one thing, practitioners can increase their concentration and mental clarity.

Enhanced Emotional Well-Being and Resilience

Regular guided meditation practice can bolster emotional health by fostering acceptance and a non-judgmental perspective. Guided meditation also cultivates resilience, helping you bounce back from challenges with greater ease.

Accessibility for Beginners

The structured format of guided meditation is particularly beneficial for those new to meditation. It provides a clear path for them to follow, easing the transition to more independent practice over time.

How Does Guided Meditation Work?

Now that you know about the basics of guided meditation, you might be wondering: How does it work? 

Guided meditations often incorporate soothing background music and voices intentionally designed to induce calm and focus. And while the benefits of meditation can be felt in just a couple of minutes, or even after one deep breath, consistency is what will really allow you to get the most out of the practice.

You can read more about how to build a sustainable meditation practice here.

Choosing the Right Guided Meditation for You

Selecting the right guided meditation for you is key to reaping its full benefits. Because when it comes to meditation, nothing is one-size-fits-all.

Here are some factors to consider when curating your practice:

Personal Preferences

Explore various forms and styles of guided meditation to see what resonates with you. Voice timbre, pace, and thematic content can all influence your experience, so it's important to find a guide and format that you find comfortable and engaging.

Practical Considerations

The length of the meditation, the time of day you meditate, and the setting can all impact your practice. Consider these practical aspects to ensure that your meditation sessions fit seamlessly into your life.

Access to Resources

There's no shortage of guided meditation resources, from apps to online platforms. Quality varies, but with a little research, you can find high-value content that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Getting Started with Guided Meditation

To establish a consistent and sustainable guided meditation practice, it's essential to start with the basics and gradually build from there.

Laying a Good Foundation

Create a calming environment for your meditation practice. This could involve selecting a quiet, comfortable space and, if you like, lighting candles or burning incense to enhance the atmosphere. (But that is certainly not necessary!)

Setting Intentions

Define why you are meditating. This could be a desire to reduce stress, improve sleep, or foster self-compassion. Setting clear intentions can give your practice direction and purpose.

Frequency and Duration

Start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase as you become more comfortable. Consistency is key, so aim to meditate daily, even if it's just for a few minutes.

Try One of Our Expert-Led Guided Meditations Today

Whether you're a meditation novice or seeking to invigorate your existing meditation practice, guided meditation is a versatile and rewarding approach to inner peace and personal growth. 

And it's never been easier to give it a try. That's because the award-winning Balance meditation app is completely free for the entire first year. It's also the only personalized meditation app available, bringing you the benefit of a personal coach with the convenience of an app.

So download Balance today, claim for your free year, and enjoy the benefits of guided meditation!

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