GUIDED MEDITATIONS & BODY SCANS
This part of the website contains guided mindfulness meditations and body scans of various lengths, which you can use according to the time that you have available. Check out our Getting Started page if you are new to mindfulness and meditation. When it comes to time, more is not always better... The most important piece is consistency: If you only have 5-10 minutes a day, meditation can still have a significant impact. Making a commitment to practice with a small group of like-minded peers can add extra motivation... Consider signing up for one of our workshops!
Mindfulness of the Breath
As the name implies, mindfulness of the breath uses breathing as an object of concentration. As our Getting Started page indicates, it does not require any special manipulation of the breath. Here are some general pointers:
- Find a comfortable, upright sitting position. Close your eyes, or relax your gaze and let it rest on a spot in front of you
- Let your breath be as it is, and cover it with your attention. Notice it with curiosity and openness, moment by moment.
- You will find that your attention frequently wanders, and it is common for meditators of different experience levels to get swept up by thoughts or feelings. When you notice that your attention has drifted, notice what hooked it and gently bring your attention back to the breath.
- Do this as many times as it takes... Each time this happens, you are practicing mindfulness! No need to get ensnared by judgment or self-criticism about yourself or your ability to meditate. If judgment or self-criticism arise, notice these for the ephemeral thoughts that they are and bring your attention back to the breath. Let thoughts arise, change, and pass away as they will.
It is important to remember that the goal is not to stop the river of internal experiences that is made up of our various thoughts, feelings, and sensations. If our internal experiences can be said to be a river, then mindfulness meditation can be said to be the process of sitting on the riverbank and watching these experiences float on by, rather than getting swept up in the current.
Mindfulness meditation is the never-ending process of training the mind to notice everything that registers in the space of consciousness, moment by moment, without clinging, grasping, controlling, avoiding, or trying to change anything. It can seem counter-intuitive or paradoxical to those of us who are accustomed to "strong-arming" our thoughts, emotions, and sensations into submission, but let practice and experience be your guide. Mindfulness meditation is like riding a bike... You can read all of the explanations in the world, but you will not truly understand what it is like until you give it a try. Below are three practices of varying length...
9 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation (best place to begin)
5 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation
15 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation
The body scan is a way of mindfully tuning in and opening up to sensations in our bodies. When we find ourselves distracted, lost in thought, or overwhelmed by emotion, the body scan can be an effective way of anchoring our awareness and focusing our attention by turning to different parts of our bodies. The following article discusses body scans in greater detail, and we have included two body scans of varying lengths.
The Body Scan Practice
Mindful The body scan is a component of mindfulness meditation. Have you tried it? Read more about the body scan practice.
5 Minute Body Scan
10 Minute Body Scan
Guided imagery is a means to calm yourself and influence your mood by using thoughts and visualization in an intentional way. It is important to use all of your senses when visualizing, as this involves more parts of the brain and strengthens one's emotional response. Try the guided imagery exercise below to experience the power of visualization firsthand...
Additional Guided Meditations, Body Scans, & Other Mindfulness Exercises
Below are links to various reputable sources for additional audio and video exercises, at no cost to users. While one can find endless guided meditation exercises on the internet, it is recommended that beginning practitioners keep it simple and pure: no distracting music, no unrealistic metaphysical claims, and no untenable promises of instant relaxation, enlightenment, or blissful rebirth. It is OK to be a little skeptical... If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!