I use Meditation and Guided Relaxation to slow down, calm myself and feel more balanced in my life.
I always keep an assortment of guided meditation and relaxation recordings on my computer, smartphone and mp3 player to help me relax when I am stressed and anxious.
At work or home, when I need a break, I put on my headphones, sit back and listen to guided imagery or a meditation. A short time later, I open my eyes feeling like I have had a power nap. I am refreshed and energized, ready to go forward with my day.
When I can't get to sleep, whether at home or when travelling, I listen to a body scan guided visualization or progressive muscle relaxation and am often asleep before the end of the recording.
Deep breathing helps to center myself when I need to reflect or process a difficult issue.
Examples of Guided Meditation and Relaxation
Images of forests, lakes or floating peacefully in the clouds…meeting my inner advisor to work out a problem…going to my safe place when I feel unsafe…or being reminded to breathe – to pay attention to my breathing and how I feel in my body – to be in the present not stuck in the past or anxious about the future.
What are benefits of Meditation and Relaxation?
These articles describe meditation and relaxation, benefits, research and resources:
- "Meditation: An Introduction" by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the United States National Institutes of Health
- "Meditation: A Simple Fast Way to Reduce Stress" by the Mayo Clinic
- "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Zen Meditation for Depression, Anxiety, Pain and Psychological Distress" by William Marchand, MD in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice
Meditation and Relaxation can help in the management and resolution of problems including:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleeping difficulties
I encourage my clients to use these tools in their daily lives.
Clients ask how to find meditation and relaxation resources. I want to share with you what I tell my clients.
Where to Start
In-Person Meditation Classes are a good choice. Having a teacher to guide you and participating in a class with other beginners can help you feel comfortable as you learn new skills.
We are fortunate in our area to have quality meditation classes available through health care clinics, yoga centers and health clubs.
However, In-Person classes are not available in all communities and class schedules can conflict with family and work schedules. They can also be expensive and not covered by insurance.
Commercially Sold Meditation CD's, MP3's and Videos are good options both if you can't get to a class and also to reinforce what you are learning in class.
For example, Jon Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness and companion CD Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series are components of his research validated Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program which is well respected worldwide.
But, you have to invest money in these not knowing about their value and benefit to you.
How to explore Guided Meditation and Relaxation without making a financial commitment and add variety to the meditation resources you already own without extra cost
I have found quality free Guided Meditation and Relaxation resources online.
In the Apple iTunes Store these include guided meditation and relaxation podcasts (mostly audio with some video), iTunes University selections, books, iPhone, iPod and iPad apps.
Through searching the internet, I have found free sources of guided meditation and relaxation recordings.
Podcasts and recordings include beginning and advanced mindfulness meditation instruction, body scans, passive and progressive muscle relaxation exercises and guided imagery.
You can check out the options without having to commit financially. Also you are less likely to get bored using the same tapes repeatedly.
Here is something interesting that I discovered. People have very different reactions to the same guided meditation or relaxation recording. I do too. The voice on the recording can feel calming or as irritating as nails on a chalkboard. The music or nature sounds can feel soothing or distracting and intrusive. Pacing may feel just right or much too fast or slow. Accents can be pleasant and exotic or difficult to understand.
Explore and find what works for you.
As usual when accessing anything on the Internet and before trying any of these resources, I encourage you to evaluate the appropriateness of their use for you and consult with your health care professionals.
I am not endorsing any particular programs or recordings.
Take these steps to access free guided meditation and relaxation digital recorded podcasts and other resources in the iTunes Store
- Go to the Apple iTunes Store.
- If you do not know how to access iTunes, view this Apple video tutorial How To Download and Install iTunes on Macs or PCs.
- In the Search Store window at the top of the iTunes Store, type in the search term Free Meditation
- Look through the large list of free meditation podcasts (mostly audio with some video), iTunes University selections, books, iPhone, iPod and iPad apps.
- For more information about iTunes podcasts and iTunes U, view these free Apple iTunes Store video tutorials Get Free Podcasts and Learn With iTunes U.
- Explore. Click around. Read reviews remembering that your reaction might be different from those of the reviewers.
- Listen to the podcasts and view them online.
- Download free individual meditations so you can listen later on your computer, mp3 player, smart phone, etc or burn to a CD.
- Subscribe free to channels and get free updates. You can always unsubscribe later if you change your mind.
Here are links to some free downloadable iTunes Guided Meditation and Relaxation Podcast channels
This is not a complete list and they are in no particular order. Check them out and see which ones you find helpful.
- Meditation Oasis by Mary and Richard Maddox
- Mindfulness Meditations by UCLA
- The Meditation Podcast by Jesse and Jeane Stern
- Meditation Station by Stin
- The Chopra Center for Wellbeing by The Chopra Center
- Learn To Meditate – Meditation Podcast by Meditation Society of Australia
- The Meditation for Health Podcast by Dr Robert Puff
- Wellness Workbook Guided Relaxation Exercises by Talaria, Inc
- Moodstreams Guided Meditations and Blog by Paul Nguyen
- DrMiller.com: Guided Imagery, Meditation, & Self Hypnosis by Emmett Miller, MD
Here are some links to free downloadable Guided Meditation and Relaxation recordings on the Internet that are not in iTunes
Again this is just a sample of the options available online.
- "Relaxation Exercises" from University Health Services of the University of Wisconsin – Madison
- "Guided Relaxation CD" from the Student Wellness Centre of McMaster University
- "Guided Imagery Programs" by Health Journeys from the Kaiser Permanente Healthy Living To Go Audio Library
- "Listen To Guided Relaxation Exercises" by University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) MHealthy
- "Mindfulness Resources" by the Center For Mindfulness of the UC San Diego Health System
- "Guided Meditations" by Tara Brach, Psychologist, Author and Meditation Teacher
Check out the free Breathe2Relax Smart Phone App that I wrote about in my blog post PTSD? "There's An App For That".
Also, don't forget your local library for free resources.
Remember – It takes repeated practice to build the foundation of experience and skills to be able to focus, tune in and calm yourself that are involved in doing meditation and guided relaxation.
You will likely feel distracted at first and find it difficult to concentrate. You may get frustrated. Stay with your daily practice for at least a few months before deciding meditation and guided imagery are not helpful for you.
Before you give up…try an in-person class or teacher. The benefits can be so great for you that it is worthwhile to find a way to learn these skills.
Of course, please be careful not to use these meditation and relaxation recordings while driving a car or operating heavy machinery!
Have fun. Experiment. Learn. Relax.
Shari Cohn, LCSW, CSAT is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing
Sex Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy and Psychotherapy
to the Madison, Wisconsin area for over twenty years.
Shari specializes in counseling sex and porn addicts, partners of sex addicts,
abuse and trauma survivors, ptsd and sexual problems.
"Reclaiming Sexuality…Reclaiming Your Life…One Step At A Time"
Call Shari at 608-237-8000 x 109 for a Free Initial Phone Consult