Skip to main content

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

Guided Meditation

Guided Meditation

When you are just starting your meditation practice, it can be overwhelming to know exactly where to start. This article provides an in-depth overview of guided and unguided meditations, including descriptions of common meditation techniques, an overview of meditation apps on the market, the mental and physical benefits of meditation, and some insight into what happens in your brain during meditation.

Both beginner and more experienced meditators can benefit from setting meditation goals, exploring different types of guided meditation techniques, and having a better understanding of how meditation can positively affect your brain and overall well-being.

Guided Meditation Guided Meditation

What Is Guided Meditation?


Guided meditations are led by an experienced meditation teacher, either in person, over a live broadcast, or via pre-recorded audio or video. While guided meditations can be utilized by both new and experienced meditators, those new to the meditation practice may find the extra guidance provided by an instructor especially helpful.

It is important to note the difference between meditation and mindfulness. Meditation is a practice (action) that leads to increased mindfulness (result). The more consistent your meditation practice, the more mindful you can become in every aspect of your life, from home to work to relationships.

All guided meditations typically introduce listeners to a meditation technique as well as provide information or instruction on: 

  • How to begin to settle your mind and body for the meditation
  • How to position your body during the meditation
  • How the mind and our thoughts work 
  • How to better relate to and understand your thoughts and emotions
  • How to incorporate meditation techniques into your everyday life 

There are many different types of guided meditations to choose from and your preferences may vary depending on your emotions, the time of day, and your meditation goals. 

Explore Our Guided Meditations >

The Benefits of Guided and Unguided Meditation

Whether you choose to practice guided or unguided meditations, a consistent meditation practice combined with a healthy lifestyle can provide you a wide range of physical and emotional benefits, each of which are backed by scientific studies.

  • Decreased stress: A study published in Psychology, Health & Medicine showed that a consistent meditation practice can help practitioners change their response to stress, recover from stressful situations more easily, and experience less stress in their everyday lives. 
  • Increased happiness: A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that individuals who completed a mind-training practice experienced an increase in positive emotions and their overall well being. (3)
  • Better sleep: A study conducted by Keck Medicine of USC found that a mindfulness meditation program improved sleep and reduced sleep problems more than the effects of a sleep hygiene education program. (4)
  • Improved memory and attention: Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that graduate students who meditated for two weeks experienced improved working memory and focus. (5) A study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience shows that even a brief meditation session positively impacts attention in novice practitioners. (6)
  • Improved test scores: In the same University of California study mentioned above, researchers found that students who meditated for two weeks improved their average verbal test scores on the GRE, a college aptitude test. (5)
  • An increase in overall well being: A study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience concluded that Integrative Body-Mind Training can improve well-being by creating positive changes in emotion, cognition, and behaviour. (7)
  • Positive changes in your brain: After an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program, participants showed positive changes in the areas of the brain associated with attention regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective-taking. These changes are similar to the brain changes experienced by long-term meditators who followed a traditional meditation practice. (8)
  • Performance: Professional athletes, business leaders and artists turn to meditation for that extra edge. Head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson brought in stress expert George Mumford, Mindfulness and Performance Expert to help the team deal with the pressures of success. Furthermore, a study conducted by The University of Toronto found that participants who meditated for up to seven minutes with Muse showed significant putting performance improvements.
  • Reduced inflammation: A study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed that participants who completed an eight-week meditation training showed a smaller inflammatory response on their skin as compared to those who did not complete meditation training. (9)
  • Reduced cravings: A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that overweight participants who meditated for ten minutes a day for one month reduced their craving-related eating by 40 percent. (10)
  • Increased kindness and empathy: Participants who completed an eight-week meditation course showed an increased tendency to “adopt the perspective of others, promote non-judgmental kindness towards oneself, view suffering as a common shared experience, and foster relations to emotions with mindful attention rather than over-identifying with them,” according to the article Promoting Altruism Through Meditation: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. (11)
  • Decreases implicit or unconscious bias: Participants who completed loving-kindness meditations showed a decrease in the implicit or unconscious bias that is responsible for perpetuating harmful stereotypes, according to the study Combating Implicit Bias With Meditation. (12)

A consistent practice is key to experiencing all of the benefits that meditation has to offer. Be sure to build meditation into your daily routine to help make it a healthy habit. 

For more information about how meditation changes your brain, listen to this Untangle interview with neuroscientist Sara Lazar or this one with Muse Co-founder Ariel Garten

When is the Best Time to Meditate?


If you’re just starting your meditation practice or hoping to develop a more consistent practice, it can be helpful to set aside time for meditation in your daily schedule.

While there is no right time to meditate during the day, you may get different benefits depending on what time you complete your meditation session: 

Morning: Meditate in the morning to clear your mind, practice gratitude and mentally prep for the day ahead. If you’d like to try a morning gratitude meditation, listen to this Untangle episode with Muse’s Head of Content, Patricia Karpas.

Afternoon: Meditate in the afternoon to step away from your day-to-day tasks and experience renewed energy and focus for the rest of your day.

After work: Leave work stress behind and seamlessly transition into your evening routine. 

Before bed: Relax and prepare your mind and body for a night of restful sleep. Wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Did you know that Muse has a device specifically designed to help you get a better night’s rest? Get a deeply restorative sleep with the Muse S and Go-To-Sleep Journeys. Meditating before bed will help you learn how to turn off your busy mind and let the world melt away—day or night.

Here are a few tips to help you develop a consistent meditation practice: 

  • Choose a meditation time that works best for your schedule and try to stick to it as best as you can. If you tend to wake up early but are busy during the day, a morning meditation session might be best for you. If you have a packed schedule during the day but have time to relax at night, evening sessions might be more appropriate. 
  • If you plan to meditate during the day, be sure to add a meditation event to your calendar to let coworkers know that you will be busy during that time.
  • Communicate your plans to meditate to your family and friends. Ask them to help hold you accountable and check in on your progress as well as give you some quiet time and space to meditate when scheduled.
  • Add a meditation reminder to your phone or smart speaker. If you get busy during the day, an alarm can help you remember to complete your session.
  • Choose a meditation space that is calm, quiet, and relaxing. Having this space in mind before you start your session can help you easily transition into your practice.
  • If you get too busy and miss a meditation session, try to schedule one for later in the day, if possible. 
  • If you’re not in the mood to meditate or feeling sick, give yourself permission to take the day off from your practice. Pick it up again as soon as possible.  
  • Incorporate an in-person meditation class into your schedule. Scheduling in-person classes can help hold you accountable and introduce you to a local meditation community.
  • Be gentle, curious, and compassionate with yourself! Starting any new habit is hard, so remember to celebrate the little wins and take it slow.

The sooner you can make meditation a healthy habit, the sooner you can start to experience all of the amazing benefits it has to offer. If you have trouble establishing a consistent practice, don’t be discouraged, just start again as soon as possible in order to regain momentum.

Learn More about Meditation

Beginning meditators may be wondering what to expect during their first guided meditation. Guided meditations may include:

If you’d like to learn more about meditation, explore some of these additional articles on the Muse blog: 

 

  1. A low‐dose mindfulness intervention and recovery from work: Effects on psychological detachment, sleep quality, and sleep duration; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/joop.12115
  2. Hwang WJ, Lee TY, Lim KO, et al. The effects of four days of intensive mindfulness meditation training (Templestay program) on resilience to stress: a randomized controlled trial. Psychol Health Med. 2018;23(5):497–504. doi:10.1080/13548506.2017.1363400
  3. Fredrickson, Barbara L et al. “Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources.” Journal of personality and social psychology vol. 95,5 (2008): 1045-1062. doi:10.1037/a0013262
  4. A new sleep study may open your eyes to meditation: https://news.usc.edu/75923/a-sleep-study-may-open-your-eyes-to-meditation/
  5. Study: Meditation Improves Memory, Attention https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/05/study-meditation-improves-memory-attention/275564/
  6. Norris, C. J., Creem, D., Hendler, R., & Kober, H. (2018). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 315. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315
  7. Promoting Psychological Well-Being Through an Evidence-Based Mindfulness Training Program Front. Hum. Neurosci., 10 July 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00237
  8. 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction induces brain changes similar to traditional long-term meditation practice – A systematic review http://www.teradanismanlik.com/resim/upload/141f.pdf
  9. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159112004758
  10. Testing a mobile mindful eating intervention targeting craving-related eating: feasibility and proof of concept https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10865-017-9884-5
  11. Promoting Altruism Through Meditation: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Pilot Study https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/altruism.pdf
  12. Combating Implicit Bias With Meditation https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1149&context=wharton_research_scholars
Sleep Meditation Meditation for Sleep
NEXT Why Muse

Subscribe Now

Sign-up & download the Muse guide to hacking your sleep, Unlocking The Power of Sleep eBook + exclusive promotions & access to all things Muse, meditation, and neuroscience.

au