How to Get Started With Guided Meditation

Guided meditation can help you learn the practice.

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Despite the benefits of meditation, many people feel overwhelmed at the thought of learning how to meditate. Guided meditation makes it easier to get started because it takes a lot of the mental legwork away from the novice.

Guided meditation allows you to be guided by someone else. A guide may help you drum up some specific mental imagery or they may walk you through a series of breathing exercises or mantras to help you practice meditating.

Whether you find guided meditation in the form of a podcast, video, or even an in-studio class, a guide can help you meditate in a step-by-step format. Then, you can concentrate on relaxing and meditating, rather than worry about your technique or your form.

How to Find a Guide

Although the digital world makes it difficult to disconnect, it does have its perks—it’s easier than ever to find a guided meditation on demand. To find the right meditation guide for you, browse through some of these options:

  • Online music services: Subscription to a streaming music service, such as Spotify or Apple Music, will give you access to hundreds of guided meditation sessions that range in length and feeling.
  • Podcasts: Whether you want to learn more about meditation or simply find a 15-minute guide, a number of podcasts provide learning and practice opportunities.
  • Mindfulness websites: A little search engine research will bring up a significant amount of websites that offer free guided meditations in both audio and visual formats.
  • Apps: A 2018 study published in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice found that apps can be helpful for mental health. The researchers caution users that the most popular apps may not necessarily provide the most benefit, however. So while it’s likely that guided meditation apps can help you reap the benefits of meditation, don’t assume the most popular ones are the most beneficial. It may take some trial and error and a bit of research on your part to find the one that works best for you.
  • YouTube and other video websites: If you would like a visual on how others practice guided meditation, you might enjoy a video demonstration. Guided meditation videos on YouTube and other video websites might help you get started.
  • Yoga studios: If you would like to try guided meditation surrounded by other people, look into yoga studios, which may have classes dedicated solely to the practice.

Set Aside Time to Meditate

It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing it “later”—but “later” never actually comes. If you’re interested in making guided meditation a regular part of your routine, rather than a one-time thing to de-stress, it’s important to set aside time to meditate.

Many people find that either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening are viable times to engage in a guided meditation. These are often the quietest times of the day when the kids are asleep, dinner and dishes are both complete, and work is still put away.

One perk to doing it in the morning is that it starts the day off on the right foot and means you don’t have to try to find time to fit it in between errands, meetings, and chores. On the other hand, meditating right before bed can get you into a state of relaxation that’s ideal for sound sleep.

It’s important to set time aside specifically to engage in guided meditation. Listening to a recorded session in your earbuds while you rush through your day won’t induce relaxation.

When you get started, consider a shorter session to get the hang of the process. Once you’re in the know, guided meditation can last several hours, if you’d like.

How to Get the Most out of It

Once you've decided to start a meditation session, start by turning your phone on silent or airplane mode. Take a break from being connected for five to 10 minutes during this time. Allow yourself to be free from distractions to reap the most benefits of guided meditation.

From there, simply sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. It could be on your bed (if you’re not at risk of falling asleep), in a cushy chair, or on a cushion that’s been set up in the corner of your favorite room of the house. Close your eyes, breathe naturally, and let the guide take it from there.

In order to make meditation a regular practice, you might find you need to put meditation time into your schedule. Make it a regular habit to meditate at a certain time of day and you'll likely find that you'll commit to it more regularly. 

Remember that meditation takes practice. No one is necessarily good at it at first. It takes practice and dedication to really reap the benefits.

The Process of Meditating

Meditation novices often find the process of meditating to be almost mentally uncomfortable at first. Your mind is bound to wander at the beginning, even when you have a guide.

It’s natural to get lost in your thoughts, and it’s not necessarily the goal of meditation to stop thinking entirely or to empty the mind fully. It’s about paying closer attention to your body

When this happens, take a pause to consider what you were thinking about and why it was distracting you. Then, let it go and return your awareness back to your breath and how your body reacts to each inhale and exhale.

As you continue your practice, keeping your mind centered will become easier. Remember, there’s no “wrong” way to practice meditation, even when it’s guided. It’s supposed to be about what feels good to you.

When the guided portion of your meditation ends, don’t jump back into the hectic pace of your daily life. Allow yourself to end the meditation slowly and remain present in the moment.

Gradually become reawakened to the world around you and slowly open your eyes. Return to daily life with renewed invigoration and a clear mind.

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Article Sources

  • Lumma A-L, Kok BE, Singer T. Corrigendum to “Is meditation always relaxing? Investigating heart rate, heart rate variability, experienced effort and likeability during training of three types of meditation” International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2015;117:126-130. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.017.

  • Neary M, Schueller SM. State of the Field of Mental Health Apps. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. March 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2018.01.002.