What is Guided Meditation?
By RJ Lisander RYT-200, Yoga Therapist
I had grand plans to make this blog a place to unveil my personal experiences with meditation, and to garner so much excitement around meditation that you would have no choice but to make coming to one of the Sunday evening Guided Meditation sessions, (5:30 pm – 6:15pm at Empower Personalized Fitness – Durham) your life priority. But, then it occurred to me that each meditation experience is different and unique and to share my experience might set-up an expectation of meditation that is not one that will be common to all or applicable to an individual. So, instead, I will leave my personal meditation experiences and revelations to the pages of my journal and will share here a pitch for meditation that is more universal and scientifically proven. So, here we go …
Guided meditation, also known as yoga nidra, is a practice of meditation that in which the participant follows verbal instructions that will teach them how to relax the body, clear the mind, and to focus on breath, personal awareness and attention on the self. What the practitioner explores in the meditation is theirs to choose based on their level of interest, intention and needs. No matter what, guided meditation promises to help the body heal and feel revitalized and regenerated with very little effort. It really is as simple as finding a comfortable reclined or seated position, listening and letting go.
A number of universities and medical centers including Stanford University, Walter Reed Medical Center, Ohio State University, and the Medical College of Ohio have conducted studies that have revealed that the regular practice of guided meditation offers a viable means of prevention and the reversal of numerous ailments and diseases. Such conditions include:
- high blood pressure
- addiction, aggression, ADD, ADHD
- digestive conditions
- heart disease
- chronic pain
- multiple sclerosis
- pre/post surgical conditions
- and a number of psychological challenges specific to geriatrics, anxiety and depression, and PTSD, among others
Guided meditation, when practiced regularly, can help:
- lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- strengthen the immune system
- defend against infectious disease
- increase the flow of blood to the heart
- balance the autonomic nervous system (bringing one out of the fight or flight state of being)
- relieve pain
- reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications
- balance and strengthen the endocrine system
- revitalize and recharge vital energy
- stabilize the mind and emotions
- enhance creativity
- open the heart to compassion
- activate our body’s ability to heal and improves overall health
So, if all that you are doing is listening, how does all of this occur? The real answer is, I don’t know. After countless hours of meditation, training and leading meditations, I still cannot answer that. I know, simply, that it works. The meditation is broken into segments that systematically take the practitioner to a deeper state of relaxation. Starting with the physical body, muscular tensions are released through a body scan, also called a rotation of consciousness. Then the breath body is relaxed through a series of breathing exercises. This is usually followed by a practice that incorporates sense awareness through instruction allowing the practitioner to become aware of opposite feelings in the body (heaviness, lightness, etc.). This allows the sensory system of the body to register correct responses allowing for a sense of control. Typically, a guided journey is initiated at this stage of relaxation. This stage takes the a means of travel to a place or space that uses all of the senses to guide the practitioner to a safe, internal place of healing. The practice is then completed by retracing the steps.
Once a practitioner learns to let go and trust the flow of the guided meditation the true power of the practice begins to take hold. The practitioner begins to feel the calm that is natural to their person. And, this calm allows the individual to want to fill more of their being with this sense of peace. Come to think of it … this is how guided meditation works. The more internal peace one finds, the more one realizes the benefits, as unique as they may be to each individual, and the more practice one requires to feel complete, whole and at peace.
I hope you will take 45-minutes from your busy Sundays to join me on this journey. Guided Meditation will begin Sunday, October 13th, 2013 from 5:30pm – 6:15pm at Empower Personalized Fitness – Durham. I truly do look forward to sharing a practice that will not only make you feel better but that will transform you!
– RJ Lisander
IYT Professional Yoga Therapist Manual, Joseph and Lillian LaPage
Yoga Nidra, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Bihaar School of Yoga
Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga, Richard Miller
Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra the Antidote to Modern Life, Jennifer Reis,