What are the main differences between meditation and guided meditation?
Or more specifically the difference between more traditional meditation techniques and guided meditations that are actually more guided imagery or guided visualisations.
There seems to be a lot of confusion today around meditation and guided meditation. The term guided meditation is often used so loosely that some people actually think they have learned how to meditate when actually they are using what is more regarded as a guided visualisation.
A simple way to explain the main difference between meditation and most guided meditations today.
Is meditation techniques teach you how to meditate, how to be present, and loosen attachment to your thoughts even help you have more space between your thoughts. Meditation is taught in an upright position so you are sitting or in a meditative pose.
Guided Meditation which is really guided imagery or guided visualisation uses a narrator; teacher or therapist or even audio track to guide you into a journey or story using imagery, sounds, textures, scents, and feelings to help support the listener; client, or student into a safe space. They are usually lying down or relaxing on a large comfortable chair.
This type of guided visualisation uses memory and autosuggestion to help anchor the mind into a story, a fantasy, a dream…So even though the therapist usually guides the client or student into a relaxed or therapeutic state they are in-fact feeding the student or client with thoughts.
More traditional based meditation skills are based on teaching the student or client how to meditate. How to access peace, calm, and tranquillity through presence and awareness. One point of focus is normally used such as present awareness on the breath, using the same mantra over and over again or simply being aware of stillness.
Traditional Meditation teaches us how to detach from our thoughts, our stories, our beliefs. It helps gives us space from the cluttered or monkey mind. Traditional meditation techniques like a simple breath meditation gives clients and students a simple life skill that they can apply to their daily life. Over time the practice of meditation gives one the ability to then meditate, be more present, more way as they go about their daily activities.
Once a student has practiced an effective meditation technique it is much easier for them to access the peace, the stillness that is always there. It may at times appear hidden from our present view but calm and peace are always accessible within us.
Guided meditation also known as guided visualisations are yes sometimes referred to as meditations where you are being guided into the meditation. But I know in the healing industry most use the term guided meditation to describe more a form of relaxation using the senses. This has created a lot of confusion in the holistic and spiritual industry. I have lost count of the number of students and healers who sign up for my Meditation Courses or Relaxation Therapist Training who are then totally surprised when they learn how to meditate, rather than just be passive participants in a guided imagery session.
In my work, I teach relaxation therapy which includes different relaxation techniques, different styles of meditation, traditional and modern meditation, and how to use guided meditation ( guided imagery/visualisation) safely and effectively. As I train therapists to be Certificated- Relaxation Therapists. Now both guided visualization and meditation are highly effective relaxation tools and are used for different reasons.
But in my experience, as a teacher of these skills for over 20 years. I have found more traditional based styles of meditation far more effectively WHY. Because this form of meditation empowers the client or students, it gives the student an EXTREMELY powerful lifelong self-help skill. These tools provide the student with the ability to access peace, stillness in their everyday life, whenever they want or need.