Guided vs Unguided Meditation

When starting your meditation practice, it’s important to know the difference between guided vs. unguided meditation.  

Guided meditation is a form of meditation in which we meditate in response to the guidance of a meditation facilitator, either in person or via audio or video recording.

Unguided meditation is a self-directed form of meditation in which we meditate in silence or by listening to meditation music, without any words or instructions.

When to engage in guided vs. unguided meditation is entirely up to our personal preference.  However, unguided meditation is typically a solo activity, while guided meditation can be done alone or in a group!

The Benefits of Guided Meditation vs. Unguided Meditation

The health benefits of guided meditation & unguided meditation are largely the same.  Some of these benefits include increases in heart rate variability (HRV), stress reduction, increase of the brain’s grey matter & much more.  However, while the health benefits are widely known & virtually identical, the unique benefits of these two types of meditation are found in their different applications.

Hand holding a compass to guide the way

Advantages of Guided Meditation

We can think of guided meditation an experience led by a tour guide.  From this perspective, the tour guide facilitates the meditation by providing instruction on what to focus on (e.g. the sensation of the breath) or by utilizing guided imagery (e.g. a healing ball of light) to enhance the experience. Because this form of meditation is led by a trained professional, guided meditations can be focused to help people overcome specific challenges.  For example, we could listen to a guided meditation for sleep to help calm our body & mind before bed. In person, a meditation facilitator could lead a group guided meditation class to teach people the fundamentals of meditating or to take them on a journey with guided imagery.

Advantages of Unguided Meditation

Unguided meditation can be thought of as an individually directed experience, led solely by the meditator.  In an unguided meditation, the meditator is the one who decides what to focus on & what to visualize.  Because this form of meditation is led by the individual, unguided meditation can be utilized at any time for any purpose.  We might make unguided meditation a part of our morning routine to quiet our minds before starting their day. Unguided meditations could also be used to help us contemplate or visualize a goal we wish to achieve.  Without having to rely on the instruction of another, unguided meditation gives us the freedom to experience the benefits of meditation whenever & wherever we please.

Person at end of a dock doing an unguided meditation

The Guided Meditation Framework™ Method of Guided vs. Unguided Meditation

In The Guided Meditation Framework™, we teach our facilitators how to integrate guided meditation & unguided meditation into the same meditation experience, because facilitating a transformative inner experience requires aspects of both types of meditation.

The guided portion of a meditation is undoubtedly critical.  Careful instruction from a well-trained facilitator ensures that we can shift our physiology from a cognitive to a meditative state.  And targeted inquiry & guided imagery help to create a focused, imagination activating environment, enabling deep goal-oriented contemplation.

However, it is the unguided portion of a meditation which is the most important.  During the moments in which the facilitator isn’t guiding the experience, we have the ability to explore our own creativity, discover our own insights & connect with our inner wisdom.  

In The Guided Meditation Framework™, our students learn the crucial art of balance between guidance & silence, because we understand that the most valuable part of a meditation is found in the moments of silent reflection.

Become a Spiritual Tour Guide with The Guided Meditation Framework™

With the frenetic pace of modern life, it’s easy to get swept away by the incessant tides of stimulation.  The more outwardly distracted our society becomes the more ambivalent we become about such foundational questions, such as: what purpose do I wish to serve?

What we need (now more than ever) are ways to strike a balance between what the world wants of us & what our soul demands of us.  Our society needs to relearn the art of meditative contemplation to create space between an encroaching outer world & the kingdom of our own thoughts, our own passions & our own decisions.

At The Guided Meditation Framework™, we are training coaches, therapists, practitioners, yoga teachers, counselors & many more to help our society recommit to ourselves through guided meditation.  In our 6-week online training & group coaching program, we teach personal development industry professionals (or anyone who wants to learn) how to lead insight-provoking immersive experiences in both 1-on-1 & group capacities.

Heather Hayward’s unique method draws on her over 30 years of professional experience leading outcome-oriented guided meditations, designed to help people find clarity & peace, and take action toward achieving their goals.

If you would like to become a meditation facilitator & start guiding people back to what matters, apply for a FREE strategy session with Heather Hayward today