When starting a meditation practice, the first question to ask is if you want it to be guided or unguided. The preference is going to differ from person to person, but before deciding what best suits you, it's worth exploring what each option involves.
(Just want to meditate? Click the play button below for a mini-guided meditation, or keep scrolling to try your first full Headspace meditation.)
What is Guided Meditation?
Guided meditation describes a type of meditation led by a teacher, in person or via audio or video.
When starting out, having an expert lead you through the basic steps of your meditation practice is recommended. Whatever skill we are learning in life, having an experienced teacher we can trust and relate to is important. But when it comes to exploring the intricacies and subtleties of the mind, it is not just important but essential.
It’s always a good idea to first understand what we’re trying to achieve through meditation before we embark on what is a journey of a lifetime. In a traditional meditation, meditation students are first taught how to view the contents of the mind and how best to approach the different exercises, to know how to get the best from their practice. Next, they are taught how to practice meditation, to become more proficient. Then comes the integration — learning how to fold the calm and clarity developed during meditation into everyday life.
In a guided meditation, a narrator or teacher explains the dynamics of the mind and how it’s likely to behave during meditation. (This is the approach.) The teacher may also explain meditation techniques. (This is the practice.) Finally, the teacher may explain how to take these techniques into everyday life. (This is the integration.)