Meditation is so accessible these days. I feel like there is this aura around it that makes people feel it can’t be done by an untrained person, or that it should be left for monks and yogis who dedicate their lives to the art, but that’s not true to me! To me, meditation is a frame of mind, one that can be achieved by anyone at any time. All it takes it a little practice, patience, and perseverance.
With that in mind, here are my personal top 5 guided meditations:
1) Meditation for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Bexlife, Rebekah Borucki
This video was the first thing that brought me into the world of meditation. I was going through a really tough time, feeling anxious to the point where I was mulling around the house trying desperately to figure out what I could do to get some relief. Talking, getting emotional, and keeping busy weren’t helping. I sat on the floor in my den and searched through what felt like 100 videos until I found this one.
I credit this video for putting me on the right path towards feeling better. Bexlife (or Rebekah Borucki) felt so relatable to me: it felt like a friend was talking, and the content hit home. “Anxiety about anxiety” is a concept I had never considered before, but I really think there’s something to it.
Sometimes moments of anxiety come up for no reason. What worries me (and sometimes triggers more anxiety) is when I can’t shake those residual feelings once the anxious moment passes. I go out and about, head to work, see friends, do whatever, all with the fear of the anxiety not going away and the insecure thoughts of it flaring up out of nowhere. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.
This video talks about being mindful and present, being aware of yourself and reframing your thoughts to help ease the anxiety (as many meditations do, including a few others from this list.) What I find unique about it is that it encourages you to allow your thoughts to flow, rather than think about nothing. It starts to give you tools on how to let the thoughts pass through rather than getting stuck in your head.
It gives you permission to feel anxious, which in and of itself, can help alleviate the tension, or relieve that “anxiety about anxiety.” Think about when you’re not feeling well: allowing yourself to say “If I still don’t feel well tonight, I’ll give myself a sick day tomorrow and stay home from work” can sometimes give you enough relief to make you feel good enough to save the sick day. Giving yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling, or think whatever you’re thinking, can somehow be the first step towards doing better.
2) “Anxiety, Depression, Worrying, Overthinking, Stress”
Power Thoughts Meditation Club
It took me a minute to come around to this video, but now it’s one that I use often- especially when I’m trying to sleep. I find the narrators voice to be pretty soothing, and the concept and imagery captivating.
Let me start by saying this: at first, I thought this video was whack. The instructor opens up with talking about a tree and it’s pattern of growth, which felt so cliché to me when I first heard it. For whatever reason I kept listening, and I’m happy I did.
There is a lot of vivid imagery embedded within this video, and is very much a guided meditation. It focuses on something specific and provides a substantial amount of structure in order to keep your mind on a certain path. At the same time, this video offers you the opportunity to creatively fill the gaps with whatever images come to mind. It doesn’t tell you what to think, but rather gives you parameters within which to think.
I think that degree of focus can be particularly helpful in times when your thoughts are running so rampant that you need some outside force to step in a tame them. For me, I can understand the images that the narrator is presenting and am able to create my own world within those images. Each time I listen through the video, I go back to the same “crystal room,” and I think that’s part of the point. This video helps you create a safe mental space that you can visit whenever you need to, one that is protected, safe, and free from debris of any kind.
Sometimes it can feel like we don’t have a protected, safe and cleared out space in the real world, so having a place to go in your mind can be pretty special.
3) “Stop Negative Thinking Now”
Bexlife & Grace Smith
How many of your thoughts throughout a day are negative?
Do you find that you have consistent patterns of critical, self-deprecating thoughts running through your head?
If so, check out this video, another one by Bexlife with collaborator Grace Smith. It’s nice and short, and presented in a really simple way- imagining your thoughts as objects in your head, then utilizing your mental power to remove them and replace them with positivity. The visualizations that Grace uses to guide listeners through the process can be really helpful. If you’re turning negative thoughts into actual objects, it might feel a lot easier to remove them, as opposed to trying to remove an intangible object like a thought.
I like to listen to this meditation on days where I get to work early and have a few minutes to collect myself in the car. No, it doesn’t totally transform my day into sunshine and rainbows, but it does allow me to take a moment to reconfigure some things that may be going awry in my head. Nobody wants “little monsters” running around their head anyway, right?
4) “The Five Minute Miracle”
Daily Guided Meditation
Another shorty, another goodie! This video focuses on the power of the imagination, and how it can be used just as easily for your benefit as for your demise.
The mind is a powerful thing!
Having an imagination is one of the wonderful parts of being a human, in that our brains allow us to create new worlds, new ideas, and new realities. But, if you allow your imagination to take over in a negative way, the consequences can outweigh the benefits.
“The Five Minute Miracle” can sort of go hand in hand with the “Stop Negative Thinking Now” video; they both focus on reframing your thoughts so that they can be put to good use, and that you can start to break the cycle of negative thinking that might be going on for you. It’s all about mindful awareness, and putting in the work to retrain your brain towards positivity.
5) Guided Mindfulness Meditation on the Present
This is the newest addition to my meditation playlist! Some forms of meditation aim to stop negative thoughts in its tracks, but not this one. The point of this meditation is not to stop your thoughts, but rather “gently shift your focus back to peace and presence.”
The narrator uses the term “silent watcher” to indicate the perspective you are encouraged to take throughout this meditation, which includes paying attention to both internal and external stimuli. It focuses on awareness (like many others), but specifically that of your senses, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Awareness in all of these areas can help you feel more grounded and better able to stay in the present moment, which is an element to meditation as a whole.
In an effort to center and calm your mind, sometimes the best (and easiest) place to start is with your body. Thoughts can be fleeting and hard to grasp, while body sensations are more easily recognizable. Grounding yourself in your body can help you feel better apt to ground yourself in your mind.
In all honesty, I don’t always come out of meditations with a perfectly positive attitude and a totally clear mind. I think that practicing meditation with that expectation will likely leave you disappointed.
Meditation is not a magical pill that makes everything better. But, even if meditating doesn’t completely transform your mindset, taking the time out for yourself to practice in the first place is, in and of itself, a positive step. Harnessing your mental energy, whether it be for one minute, five minutes or thirty minutes, can help you to maintain a sense of control and fortitude for whatever may be on the horizon.
What would you want to get out of meditation?
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