Guided meditation

Written by Emily Whitton
Emily Whitton
Therapy Directory Content Team

Last updated 13th October 2023 | Next update due 12th October 2026

If you’re looking to get started with meditation to reap its wellness benefits, you may wish to follow the direction of a teacher. Here, we’ll explore what guided meditation is and what you can expect.

What is guided meditation?

Guided meditation is a type of meditation which is led by a teacher. This can be in person, online or via audio. This differs from unguided meditation where you take yourself through your own meditations and are not directed by an instructor.

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What is meditation? 

Meditation is a body-mind practice that involves building a sense of awareness of your body and thoughts. It’s about gaining a healthy perspective. So, rather than trying to ignore your thoughts and feelings, you acknowledge that they are there and sit with them for a short while. This can help you better understand how you’re feeling.

Guided imagery vs meditation

Guided imagery or visualisation is a type of meditation whereby the individual imagines peaceful images, such as a meadow, to invoke feelings of relaxation. Sometimes, the term ‘guided imagery’ may be used interchangeably with ‘guided meditation’. However, it is thought that there is a slight difference between the two.

Guided imagery uses all our senses to work with our inner voice, whereas meditation focuses on a specific activity. For example, focusing on the breath or movement to reduce stress. 

Benefits of meditation 

Meditation has many benefits. Whilst some are backed by science, others require more research. Here are some examples of how meditation can be useful:

  • Helps achieve a sense of calm and balance.
  • Helps you to relax.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and worries. 
  • Increases self-awareness (helping you become more in tune with your body).
  • Increases creativity.
  • Promotes better quality sleep.
  • Helps manage pain. 
  • Improves concentration, focus and attention. 

Ultimately, meditation is thought to be a great way to maintain emotional and physical health and well-being.

Meditation is a therapeutic process through which we develop our power of observation and perception, bringing together scattered and disparate aspects of ourselves in order to understand ourselves better.

How can I benefit from a meditative practice?

How can I benefit from guided meditation?

As well as the above benefits, guided meditation can be particularly useful if you are new to the practice. Working with an expert allows you to understand the basics of meditation so that you can go on to try it on yourself. 

A core part of meditation is about being in the present moment and not allowing the mind to wander. Meditation can be hard to master at first, as we’re training our minds that are usually busied away to be grounded in the present. 

Meditation requires practice to be able to be with our thoughts free from distraction. Following the guidance of a teacher will prevent any distractions from entering the mind, so you can be fully immersed in the experience. 

How does guided meditation work? 

Studies suggest that meditation can alter the structures of the brain. A study published by Psychiatry Research revealed that meditation increased the density of grey matter in the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that forms memories. It also decreases the volume of the amygdala, which is responsible for emotions like anxiety and stress. 

Meditation is also thought to thicken the pre-frontal cortex. This area of the brain manages self-awareness, concentration and decision-making.

What to expect in a guided meditation session

How you experience guided meditation will vary depending on how you’ve chosen to practise it. Attending an in-person class will offer a different experience from doing it at home. 

Generally, sessions will begin with an explanation of how meditation works, what you can expect and how your brain might behave. During that time, you’ll likely be starting to calm your body down, focusing on breathing. 

Once you’re comfortable and ready to begin the meditation, you’ll be walked through the exercises step-by-step. Meditation can be done sitting or lying down. If you meditate at home, we recommend finding a suitable, quiet spot where you feel relaxed. Wearing loose-fitting clothing will also help you feel as comfortable as possible. 

Chanting can sometimes form a part of meditation, but this will often be at the preference of the teacher. We always recommend reaching out to a professional before committing to a session so that you can find out exactly what they offer. 

Guided meditation sessions are usually in the region of 30 minutes long. However, the time you meditate can last up to an hour. Generally, it’s recommended to meditate for a minimum of 10 minutes to see the benefits.

Join Happiful’s Senior Membership Services Executive, Hannah, as she guides you through a meditation for complete relaxation. 

How can I practise guided meditation? 

As mentioned, there are a number of ways that guided meditation can be practised:

  • In-person. If you’re looking for a social experience, in-person meditation classes are a popular choice. If you’re looking to spend time away from your usual busy life, you may also be interested in a meditative retreat. These often include an overnight stay but can be one day long. Retreats are a great way to deepen your understanding of meditation. Browse our events to see those near you.
  • Online. If you are unable to attend a class or would prefer to be in the comfort of your own home, many teachers also lead meditations online.
  • Videos. There are many videos available online that you can follow along with. This is a great way to dip your toe into the world of meditation if you’re unsure whether it’s right for you.
  • Audio. Podcasts are becoming a popular way to practise guided meditation at home whilst having the direction of a teacher.
  • Apps. Guided meditation apps allow us to integrate meditation into our day-to-day lives or when we just feel like taking 15 minutes out. The added benefit of meditative apps is the ability to have access to them at any time, whether at home or on the go. Try apps like Headspace or Calm.

Looking to give guided meditation a try? Connect with a professional on Therapy Directory to find out more and book a session.

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