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The world is awash with guided meditations like never before. So many websites, apps, and programs all offer guided meditations. Whilst guided meditations certainly have their place in helping us relax and focus, does there come a time where they can be limiting when it comes to awakening our inner teacher?
Guided meditations are where we all start and are wonderful. However meditation is an infinite journey, so what’s the next step, is it going into a more unguided meditation practice? Here we unpack this question a little bit more.
When we’re using techniques to go into the ‘state’ of meditation we are connecting with the part of us that is eternal and unmanifested and without form. Some traditions refer to this as the “being”. In our culture and schools we’re not really taught how to connect to our being, although of course, it’s always with us. Through certain pranayama and meditation techniques, we can begin to tune into this eternal aspect of us where we find peace, bliss, divine love and pure awareness or Consciousness Awareness.
Guided meditations allow us a beautiful starting point into the realm of meditation. It’s where we learn techniques, start to relax, become more aware of ourselves and get our first glimpses of the experience of still points in meditation. Since someone is guiding you and “holding space” for you, it makes it easier to follow along.
Often, by having that voice to listen to you feel like you can keep your attention a little bit longer than if you were just on your own, and this can be really helpful for entering states of relaxation, and coming into the present moment.
Meditation is an infinite journey though, there are so many layers to it. The guidance is wonderful to help you shift into relaxation and prepare for deeper states of meditation, but then once you’ve been meditating for a while and wanting to really explore your inner space, that guided meditations can often only take you so far. I feel this is because you can become reliant on a voice guiding something outside of you, rather than surrendering to the divine aspect of you and allowing that divine energy to guide you into deep meditation.
- The Spiritual Gym – In the beginning, unguided meditations can take more practice, especially when it comes to honing your attention and staying present in the now. However, like anything it simply requires practice. I often refer to attention like building a muscle, increasing capacity for presence, like going to the spiritual gym. After a while, you can sit in meditation and you don’t need the training wheels of guided meditation anymore, you know the techniques that work for you and get you into the meditative state. Just like anything we do often, we start to build a ‘muscle memory and can often begin to connect in shorter periods of time.
- Going with your natural energy flow – An unguided practice allows you to let go of a technique once you feel connected, and become aware when you’ve drifted and to come back. Another aspect is to tune into what energies are alive for you and drawing you into your inner space. If your heart energy is alive, but you’re in a guided meditation that’s asking you to focus on the third eye, then you can go against the natural energy flow that is trying to help you to connect.
- Deeper states of surrender and stillness – Through staying present with yourself moment to moment, you can then tune into that divine energy and become more sensitive to your inner space, coming into a deep state of surrender and stillness and allowing the meditation energy to guide you. In the deepest states of meditation we are just focused on what is happening in the inner space – sometimes referred to as “subjective awareness” and in this state, anything outside of you is either a distraction or you’re so deep in meditation you’re not aware of it.
When you have learned the art of unguided meditation, you really tune into the divine energy to guide you, and once we learn how to do this, in meditation, we can trust how to flow with this energy in life. I think that’s a really important aspect of meditation. So both guided and unguided practices have their place. The secret is to always stay curious and hungry to go deeper into the experience.
If you’ve been meditating for a while and want to go deeper then perhaps consider an unguided practice. In one of my courses Addicted To Being, I share some pointers that can be really helpful in awakening your inner teacher if you’re interested in exploring this avenue further.
Belinda Matwali is a Spiritual Nutritionist holding space for others to feel more nourished by their own inner light through meditation and meditative living. After 10 years of travelling the world and learning from different Masters and teachers, she’s created several courses on Meditation including, Addicted To Being, Ecstasy, Individuality and Creativity and Intimacy Beyond Words. She’s an avid music fan and the creator of Electronic Music Meditations and lives between London and Ibiza.