Guided meditations for depression

Top 3 beginner meditations for depression

Flow Neuroscience

June 8, 2022

This article focuses on the practical use of meditation for depression, specifically on how to manage negative thoughts and strong feelings when depressed. Below, you’ll find a few of the most important insights from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and the last two sections offer you the top 3 meditation exercises for managing depressive symptoms.

If you’re new to meditation, the science-based article How to use mindfulness for depression in 5 simple steps will give you a quick introduction to mindfulness meditation and tell you how meditation for depression can be so beneficial for the brain.

Meditation for depressive thoughts

Thoughts sometimes attack us automatically, they just pop up out of nowhere. When going through depression, such automatic thoughts tend to be negative, sad and critical. Sometimes, particularly nasty thoughts have a huge effect on how we feel. And when we have really strong emotions in our bodies, it changes the way we think. In mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, we call this negative thought spirals – when a thought activates an emotion, which then activates even more thoughts and this activates stronger emotions.

With the help of mindfulness meditation for depression, we become more aware of thoughts and feelings and it becomes easier to stop negative thought spirals at an early stage. Before we move on to talk about how to handle these negative thought spirals, let’s clarify the difference between thoughts and feelings. It’s more difficult than you might think.

Thoughts sometimes attack us automatically, they just pop up out of nowhere. When going through depression, such automatic thoughts tend to be negative, sad and critical. Sometimes, particularly nasty thoughts have a huge effect on how we feel. And when we have really strong emotions in our bodies, it changes the way we think.

In mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, we call this negative thought spirals – when a thought activates an emotion, which then activates even more thoughts and this activates stronger emotions. With the help of mindfulness meditation for depression, we become more aware of thoughts and feelings and it becomes easier to stop negative thought spirals at an early stage. Before we move on to talk about how to handle these negative thought spirals, let’s clarify the difference between thoughts and feelings. It’s more difficult than you might think.

Separate thoughts from feelings. When managing depression through meditation it’s important to separate thoughts from feelings. So, do you know the difference between a thought and a feeling?

A feeling can usually be described using only one word, for example, “happiness”, “anger” or “sadness”. And if you use several words to describe your inner world, it’s usually a thought, for example “this is unfair”, “I feel so stupid” or “something is wrong”.

A feeling can usually be described using only one word, for example, “happiness”, “anger” or “sadness”. And if you use several words to describe your inner world, it’s usually a thought, for example “this is unfair”, “I feel so stupid” or “something is wrong”

You may wonder why it’s important to know this. Well, the short answer is that feelings give us direct contact with the present moment, whereas thoughts can take place anywhere in time. Your thoughts can be in the future, as when you are worrying about what may happen or thinking about the to-do-list, or in the past, as when you are remembering that embarrassing situation seven years ago. In contrast, your feelings live in the body and the body is always in the present. Your body can’t run to the future or go back in time. This means that your body is an expressway to the present moment, which is exactly where we want to be when meditating.

  • Thoughts: Can take place in the past, present or the future. Usually consist of more than one word.
  • Feelings: Are placed in the body and the body is always in the present moment. Can be described using only one word.  

Quick tip: One of the most effective ways to shut up negative thoughts is to focus on the feeling in your body. For example, instead of thinking “oh my God, this is so scary, what am I going to do, I’ll never make it” and creating scenarios in your head, redirect your attention to your body and notice what feeling is present. Feel the fear and watch it eventually leave. (More on this under the headline Meditation for depressive feelings.)

Managing negative thought spirals. When using meditation for depression, you will practice how to pay attention to thoughts and feelings without getting drawn into them or presume that all your thoughts are 100% true. Below, you’ll see two videos explaining how to notice thoughts and feelings and how to watch them leave. The first video shows how a negative thought can turn into a depressive spiral. The second video shows how a person can stop this spiral at an early stage, using mindfulness techniques.

Remember, it takes practice to do what Ethan does in the videos. That’s why it’s important to meditate for 10-30 minutes every day (Read more about this in How to use mindfulness for depression in 5 simple steps). The next section digs deeper into the process of making negative thoughts gain less control over you with the help of meditation. It also tells you what not to do.

The impossible task of erasing negative thoughts

In a moment, you will get the opportunity to explore two meditation exercises that will help you manage depressive thoughts. In preparation for that, let’s focus on what NOT to do. Don't try to erase your thoughts. It is tempting, but please try not to. Mindfulness meditators realised long ago that it’s impossible to erase negative thoughts. Usually, we can distract ourselves for a moment, but often that makes the thoughts come back with an even higher intensity. This audio recording (1 min) illustrates my point quite effectively:

Did you, at any point, think about a white bear? Most people do of course. When we decide to not think about something, the mind constantly has to remind itself about what is forbidden to think about, and the thoughts keep returning. So, if we can’t force negative thoughts to go away, how do we handle them?

Well, the mindful way to do it is to become the Observer. This is a part of ourselves that can observe thoughts and feelings without getting drawn into them. Some mindfulness meditators talk about a “beginner’s mind”. It’s when we observe thoughts and feelings from a curious perspective, just watching them come and go.

You can achieve this state of mind by imagining that you’re a small child, observing something for the first time. A small child explores the world without thinking about how things are supposed to be because it’s never seen them before.

So, when using meditation for depression, we’ll try to curiously and almost naively experience the body. Without judging. In time, you will be able to observe thoughts and feelings without getting drawn into them. You can think of this as looking at the rain through a window, instead of getting soaked outside. But you can’t stop the rain from falling, and you can’t choose what thoughts automatically pop into your head. 

Here come our first two meditations for depression!

Meditation #1 – Body scan

Let’s practice the Observer’s perspective right away with the first of 3 meditation exercises for depression. It’s 5 minutes:

Quick body scan for beginners

Meditation #2 – Leaves on a stream

If you are troubled (or tortured) by negative thoughts going round like a broken record, I recommend you to use this next meditation exercise as often as possible. This well-known meditation for depression helps you to get some distance from negative thoughts, the ones that just pop into your head. It will also help you realise that a thought is “just a thought”, not necessarily 100% true. Here it comes (5 mins):

Manage negative thoughts with this meditation exercise

Quick tip: If negative or stressful thoughts keep you up at night, you can use Leaves on a Stream  before going to bed. 

Now, let’s focus our attention on how to manage depressive feelings with meditation. The next section includes the third meditation for depression.

Meditation for depressive feelings

An important part of meditation practice is to learn how to explore your feelings without being completely overwhelmed by them. When using meditation for depression, this becomes extra challenging because depression usually comes with strong and painful emotions. Sometimes we’d rather avoid painful feelings than explore them. Here are a few examples:

  • Whenever Sebastian gets an uncomfortable sensation in his stomach, he starts cleaning, doing the dishes and other chores to distract himself.
  • Whenever Olivia feels lonely, she starts drinking.
  • Whenever John feels anxious, he starts obsessing over his relationships.

Now, ask yourself this question:

  • What behaviours do I use to distract myself from painful feelings?

Becoming more aware of these behaviours is the first step towards exploring your feelings. If you don’t know when you’re running, it’s very difficult to stop.

It’s easy to understand why we want to do something else instead of feeling sad, hurt or angry, especially if we’ve experienced a lot of negative feelings earlier in life. So, why is running from our emotions such a big problem? Well, a tricky thing about feelings is that ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. They don’t just disappear. Instead, they build up. And when we repeatedly avoid feelings, it gets scarier and scarier to feel anything at all, as if every emotion is a threat. With time, distracting yourself from emotions makes it more difficult to feel positive feelings too.

The good news is that humans are designed to feel and we are fully capable of managing painful feelings. Actually, the biggest problem tends to be our negative interpretations of the painful feelings, that is, our thoughts. Our thoughts can make the pain grow stronger and last longer, for example by saying “I will always feel this way”, “this is horrible”, “it will never get better”. Our fantasies about how uncomfortable it would be to feel fear, sadness or anger are often much worse than the actual experience.

Maybe you’ve noticed that horror-movie makers never let you see the ghost or the monster in the first scene of the film? You get to see a shadow or hear scary noises, not knowing where they come from. This is because our fantasies about the scary monster are much, much worse than the monster itself. At the end of the movie when you finally get to see it, you get used to it quickly. Similarly, we can handle strong emotions when we stare them in the face and don’t listen to the thoughts or fantasies trying to convince us that “it will always be this bad”. 

Meditation #3 – Explore feelings

This next meditation for depression (5 min) will help you practice this skill, to feel your feelings instead of distracting yourself from them. If you’re new to meditation, be kind to yourself and try not to push yourself too hard. Place yourself comfortably and press play when you’re ready.

Manage strong emotions with this meditation exercise

Nice work. You’re on your way to becoming an experienced meditator and helping your mind gain more focus, manage strong emotions and protect you from depression.

Meditation app for depression

Don’t know how to start meditating regularly? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that. If you want more helpful tips and tricks for beginning your meditation practice, you’ll find everything you need in Flow Neuroscience’s depression app. It’s 100% free and shows you how to make regular meditation a part of your depression treatment. It includes a complete meditation module with both theory and meditation exercises for beginners.

Good luck and thank you for your attention!

How It Works and Types to Try

Meditation is often celebrated for its positive effects on well-being. But can it play a role in easing symptoms of depression?

Although people have been practicing meditation for thousands of years, it has recently gained more mainstream popularity as a way to reduce symptoms of stress, enhance focus, and boost productivity, among other benefits.

Some people have also turned to meditation for managing mental health conditions — such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression — with the aim of “retraining” the mind and subduing unhelpful thoughts and difficult emotions.

Because meditation is something anyone can do, anywhere and at any time, it certainly seems worth considering. But can it really have an impact on depression?

If you live with depression, you may experience a range of signs and symptoms, from deep feelings of loneliness and worthlessness to trouble sleeping, eating, and socializing. Meditation is believed to help support you through some of these effects.

“At its core, it’s a way of training your attention so that, instead of finding yourself lost in difficult thoughts and feelings, you can gain new perspective and insight,” says Laura Coleman, meditation expert and founder of Be. Modern Meditation.

“As you train your ability to stay in the present moment, without judging it and getting caught up in your mind, the symptoms of depression become more manageable,” she continues. “[It] wakes up your awareness to the full range of your experience, rather than focusing on the negative.”

The benefits of meditation extend further than just helping you become more “in tune” with your thoughts. Research indicates that meditation can have a positive physical influence on the mind and body — including in some areas involved with depression.

It may reduce inflammation

In recent years, scientists have associated depression with inflammation in the brain and body. The relationship is cyclical: Higher inflammation is linked to worsened depressive symptoms, while depressive symptoms (such as stress and poor sleep) are believed to increase inflammation.

Research indicates that meditation can help lower inflammation.

In a 2017 analysis of 18 studies, the authors concluded that meditation and similar mind-body techniques, like yoga, may significantly reduce inflammation. The authors note, though, that more studies are needed that account for lifestyle factors such as sleep, diet, and exercise.

A 2019 study on 79 males found that those who engaged in regular yoga-meditation had notably lower inflammation and stress levels than age-matched controls. But this study had a small sample size, so again, more research is needed to support these results.

It could alter the brain’s shape and size

Scans have shown that people with depression often experience changes in the structure of key parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus (memory), thalamus (sleep and wakefulness), and amygdala (fear).

Some research suggests that regular meditation could change the brain too.

A 2020 study of 27 meditation newcomers found the amount of gray matter — brain tissue that processes and passes on signals — had increased in several areas after just 7 weeks of practice.

Meanwhile, research from 2014 found that 8 weeks of mindfulness training led to greater cortical thickness (thinner measures are related to cognitive impairment).

It helps stimulate the vagus nerve

Running between the brain to the abdomen, the vagus nerve plays a part in everything from heart rate and inflammation to fear and mood — and low activity within it has been linked with depression.

Research suggests that meditation can play a role in activating this nerve, which in turn can lead to improved mood and an enhanced sense of relaxation.

Seeking professional help

Although studies and anecdotal accounts suggest that meditation can be beneficial in helping relieve symptoms of depression, it’s important to remember that this practice isn’t an alternative to professional treatment approaches such as medication and talk therapy.

You might want to use meditation as a helpful complement to other forms of treatment, but the extent of its impact on depression is still relatively unknown, so it’s not recommended for use as the primary or sole method.

You can speak with your primary care physician or a talk with a therapist about the best approaches to help manage symptoms of depression.

Variety is the spice of life, so you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s more than one approach to meditation, and a number of these approaches have been shown to benefit people experiencing depression.

Mindfulness meditation

Perhaps the most recognized and commonly practiced variety, this “is particularly effective in easing depression symptoms,” says Coleman.

Why? “It has a focus on your here-and-now experience with a quality of curious awareness,” she explains. “This helps you to notice patterns of rumination and overthinking. You can then make a choice about how to respond, rather than being consumed by it.”

Breathing meditation

Focusing on your breath can help steer your brain away from negative thoughts, improve oxygen intake, and lower cortisol levels.

A 2017 study found that individuals with major depressive disorder who engaged in this form of meditation for 2 months saw a significant decrease in symptoms.

Loving-kindness meditation

Perhaps the most heartwarming of all meditations, this requires you to focus on happy, loving thoughts about yourself and others.

“Just like mindfulness meditation, it trains your brain to respond differently to the stressors of depression,” Coleman explains. “But it also cultivates increased feelings of connection with others that can help combat the isolation of depression.”

Body scan meditation

Whether you want to move from your head down or from your toes up, this approach involves slowly bringing awareness to each body part — noticing any sensations and then consciously easing the muscles into relaxation.

A 2016 study of U.S. veterans found that body scan meditation in combination with mindfulness was particularly effective in reducing symptoms of depression.

Walking meditation

Walking isn’t just good for your physical health — it’s great for your mental well-being too. And you can combine it with meditation for a double whammy of goodness. This approach is exactly as it sounds: recognizing and appreciating the smells, sights, and sounds of everything around you.

A small 2014 study of older adults with depression found that symptoms significantly decreased among those who walked mindfully but did not decrease in those who simply went for a walk.

Thanks to its increased popularity, there’s no shortage of great resources offering all kinds of meditations.


  • Headspace offers a wide range of guided sessions, which can be particularly helpful if you’re new to the practice. The app has meditations to aid in specific areas, such as sadness, sleep, anxiety, and loneliness.
  • Calm provides a variety of guided sessions with topics including easing depression, mindful walking, loving kindness, and self-esteem.
  • Breathly is free to download and use. It’s simple in design and content, offering brief explanations of different breathing meditation techniques and a timer function, so you can engage in meditations without being distracted by counting.


  • The Mindful Movement offers hundreds of free videos covering positivity, calmness, reducing anxiety, and everything in between.
  • Goodful has a partially guided 10-minute meditation for depression.
  • Mindful Peace provides a 20-minute depression-specific practice.


  • “Mindfulness Meditations for Depression“
  • “The Mindful Way Through Depression“

Meditation in a variety of forms can be a great support in helping ease symptoms of depression. It’s worth considering as a complementary approach to professional treatments.

If you’re a beginner or overwhelmed with thoughts, the prospect of meditating can be daunting. Try to be patient and avoid putting pressure on yourself. You might also need to try a few techniques before you find one that resonates and feels comfortable.

However, research suggests that some people experience adverse side effects from meditation, such as increased anxiety, so if engaging in the practice makes your symptoms worse, it’s best to discontinue and speak with a healthcare professional if you’re concerned.

Remember: Meditation is meant to be a positive experience. So try to take your time, be kind to your mind, and enjoy the calm.

when and who should not meditate

We are accustomed to considering meditation as an absolutely useful technique that helps maintain mental health and is suitable for everyone.

Its side effects are rarely talked about - and yet they can be very unpleasant and even dangerous. We will tell you in which cases meditation is not suitable or will require special care.

Depression and anxiety

If you have experienced or are experiencing depression, be careful with meditation. Studies show that sometimes meditation increases anxiety, triggers anxiety attacks and symptoms of depression. In some cases, people who have not experienced these states before experience them for the first time during meditation. nine0007

Why this happens is not entirely clear. Perhaps the point is the specific reaction of the brain to an attempt to calm thoughts and interact with them differently than a person is used to. Also, if depression and anxiety are accompanied by intrusive thoughts, you may be paying more attention to them than usual while meditating, and thus reinforce them.

However, this does not mean that when you are depressed and anxious, you cannot meditate at all. As researchers have repeatedly noted, meditation is good for reducing stress and feeling calmer, and therefore maintaining mental health. You can avoid negative side effects if you use this practice as an addition to the main treatment for depression and anxiety and report your condition to your doctor in time. And if it turns out that meditation is still not the best choice, try other techniques. nine0007


In 2017, scientists from Brown and California Universities found that meditation can reduce motivation. This manifests itself mainly in those who, even before the start of practice, had problems with productivity. And this effect does not only affect work: the study noted that people lost interest in activities that they loved before.

There is a version that problems with motivation appear due to a misunderstanding of non-attachment. In the context of meditation, non-attachment is acceptance of the variability of life. We are aware that any events and emotions that excite us now will gradually transform into something new or cease to matter. Understanding this, we feel calmer, we can move away from our experiences and make more informed decisions. But sometimes detachment is interpreted as a detachment from everything that happens, a complete absence of desires and emotions. In striving for such a state, a person loses the motivation to do anything. nine0007

Traumatic memories

Meditation involves becoming more familiar with yourself and your emotions. In general, this is a useful experience, however, sometimes the practice can cause a flood of negative emotions, which are very difficult to cope with. Researchers note that if we suppress experiences for a long time, meditation awakens them. They manifest themselves in the form of panic, anxiety, depression and other similar sensations.

Another problem may arise for those who have experienced psychological trauma. In an attempt to protect us from strong negative emotions, our brain blocks or distorts traumatic memories. Scientists have found that meditation, on the contrary, can pull them into the light. This leads to retraumatization - re-experiencing the trauma. It is very difficult to cope with such an experience on your own, especially if it is unexpected. nine0007

Other conditions and risks

Sometimes meditation has physical side effects. It can cause headache, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, increased sensitivity to light and sound. It was noted that meditation provokes convulsions and epileptic seizures. At the same time, other studies show that this practice improves the quality of life of people with epilepsy and helps fight stress.

Also, sometimes meditation causes panic attacks and makes you lose touch with reality. Some adherents of this practice noted that it became more difficult for them to communicate with other people, they felt uncomfortable in society. nine0007

How to reduce risks

Despite the potential problems, there are many benefits to meditation. It helps to reduce stress, improves concentration, increases self-esteem, allows you to better understand yourself. In order not to abandon this practice and make it safer, use our tips.

Consult a specialist

If you have or have had mental health problems, do not meditate at your own risk. Talk to your doctor or at least a psychologist about this. Contact a specialist even if you have diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, epilepsy or convulsions. nine0007

Choose the right technique

Meditation techniques are many and their side effects also vary. It is not necessary to sit in the lotus position and concentrate on breathing. You can meditate while walking, focusing on each step, or while standing, transferring attention from one part of the body to another. And if you don't like any of the options, try developing mindfulness first.

Make meditation manageable

Some of the side effects of meditation are that it is very difficult at first to calm your thoughts and get in touch with your emotions. To make this process easier, meditate with a teacher for the first time. His voice will direct your attention and you will not lose concentration. And if you can’t find a teacher, use special meditation apps. nine0007

Find the right teacher

Since meditation is so popular and seemingly simple, courses appear almost every day. To understand where it is better to study, collect as much information and feedback about the teacher as possible. Find out what practices he adheres to, whether he knows about the side effects of meditation, whether he knows how to cope with them and whether he can help you, for example, with a panic attack.

Do not overdo it

It seems that it is difficult: you sit by yourself, watch your breath, enjoy the calm. Why not sit like this for a couple of hours at once? Unfortunately or fortunately, this is not a very good idea (of course, if you are not a Buddhist monk). To see if meditation is right for you, start with 5 minutes a day. If everything goes well, you can gradually increase this time to 10 minutes and beyond. So you can notice side effects in time and interrupt the practice before they become critical. nine0007

how she can help you

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19 percent of the population suffers from anxiety disorders. However, others struggle daily with generalized anxiety and excessive stress.

How can guided meditation help you? Anxiety can be pervasive, affecting every area of ​​your life, from romantic relationships and friendships to work and home life. nine0007

If left untreated, stress can even cause physical symptoms, often affecting cardiovascular health in the first place. Since cardiovascular disease is "the leading cause of death for men and women," it is essential that something be done to combat any cause of cardiovascular stress, if not through meditation, then through the health system.

Login: Meditation - specifically guided meditation, a form of meditation led by another person, preferably a trained and experienced instructor, to help you achieve mindfulness and relaxation based on stress reduction. nine0007

Can guided meditation help with anxiety?

Definitely. In fact, one of the main reasons to start any meditation practice is to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. These are just some of the benefits of meditation. Guided meditation is the perfect place to start, as it places the responsibility of organizing and planning a meditation session on the person who has learned and practices the method.

However, before moving on, let's give a general definition of anxiety. nine0007

What is anxiety?

We all have moments of extreme stress when our worries and fears seem to take over. It can be defined as anxiety, "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, anxious thoughts, and physical changes such as increased blood pressure." Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are more chronic. In an anxiety disorder, the anxiety attacks you experience are intense and constant. You may experience anxiety about everyday events that don't normally cause stress to other people. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder may experience anxiety leaving the house to get mail or having a short face-to-face interaction with someone at the grocery store. nine0007

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Symptoms associated with anxiety and anxiety disorders include:

  • Feeling of immediate panic and/or despair

  • Sweating

  • Feeling very tired or weak

  • nine0089


  • Increased heart rate

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Extreme desire to avoid any physical sensation that causes undue anxiety, stress or anxiety

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of avoidance and stress

  • Tension headaches

  • High blood pressure

What is guided meditation?

Before we define guided meditation, let's define meditation.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that aims to train the mind, ultimately creating increased levels of calmness, focus, spiritual enlightenment and awareness. The practice of meditation has its origins in the Buddhist religion, but today it is practiced in many religions as well as in secular life. You don't have to be affiliated with Buddhism or any other religion to practice meditation. nine0007

Formally, meditation usually involves sitting in a still position (often cross-legged or kneeling on a meditation cushion) and focusing the mind on the breath or on a particular thought or visualization. Each meditation session lasts a certain amount of time. Monks who meditate for most of their day can meditate for hours. For other practitioners, the meditation usually lasts from five minutes to half an hour.

What is guided meditation? nine0005

Guided meditation differs from other types of meditation only in that it is led by an experienced instructor. In other words, in some traditional meditation methods, practitioners simply sit in silence for a certain period of time. The teacher can only give instructions at the beginning and at the end of the session. But in the case of guided meditation, the instructor will guide the individual or group by pointing out the steps to be taken throughout the meditation.

A meditation instructor might, for example, tell his students how to sit, how to adjust their eyes, how to breathe, and what to think or visualize throughout the session. At the end of the class, he will lead his students out of meditation. nine0007

Guided meditations, especially those taught by Anahana meditation instructors at home, are great for beginners who may need help getting started in their own practice. Guided meditation can be done in a group or class, or one-on-one with a teacher. If a teacher is not available, a recorded meditation text can sometimes be used. The benefits of mindfulness meditation are endless!

How does guided meditation help with anxiety? nine0005

Guided meditation helps meditation in many ways. Here are just four of the anxiety-reducing benefits you can expect from guided meditation:

This will help you focus on the present moment.

Concentration on the present is something that should not be done during meditation. This is the unchanging goal of all meditation - not to dwell on the past or the future, but to focus on the present moment. After all, this is the only moment that you really own. nine0007

This is called the practice of mindfulness or mindfulness.

Of course, mindfulness practice helps reduce anxiety, because most anxiety comes from worrying about the past or worrying about the future. For example, you might be worried about a fight with your partner that happened in the morning, or you might be worried about a presentation that you have to give at the end of the day.

We all know that worry doesn't change anything and can even be harmful. Therefore, improving your focus on the present moment helps dissipate anxiety, making you less stressed, less anxious, and with more inner peace. nine0007

It helps you breathe better.

Guided meditation includes deep breathing as a standard feature. In fact, slow, even, deep breathing is the hallmark of almost all types of meditation. This is one of the reasons why meditation is so helpful in combating anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.

And yet, believe it or not, most people breathe incorrectly. From shallow, short breaths to "shoulder" breathing (not drawing air from the bottom of our lungs), most of us tend to make the same "breathing mistakes" that we've been doing for years without even realizing it. nine0007

The good news is that you can start practicing "Better Breathing" at any time, and guided meditation is a great way to do that. Breathing exercises and deep breathing meditations can transform your life in ways you cannot imagine, especially when practiced along with other mental and physical exercises such as yoga and mindfulness.

Helps you sleep better.

Worry breeds bad sleep, which breeds more anxiety, which breeds bad sleep... and so on and so forth. nine0007

Every person should aim to improve their sleep, as it is known to be a remedy for many mental stresses and physical illnesses. Fortunately, guided meditation is extremely helpful for improving sleep. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials of the effects of mindfulness meditation (a form of guided meditation) on sleep, researchers found evidence that "mindfulness meditation interventions significantly improved sleep quality compared to non-specific active controls." nine0007

The specific ways in which meditation helps improve sleep range from the practice's ability to calm restless, anxious thoughts to its effect on deep breathing, an important element for better sleep.

This will help you let go of thoughts that cause anxiety and stress.

Anxiety is caused both by "phantom anxieties" and by real and practical life events. "Phantom anxiety" includes things like thinking about someone giving you an indecent look when it probably wasn't, or wondering if something uncertain in the future will go well. There is practically nothing you can do about these experiences or emotions. nine0007

But real life anxieties are also real. For example, thinking about an upcoming medical test you're waiting for the results of can be truly daunting. Luckily, mindfulness meditation (focusing on the present moment) has been found to help reduce anxiety-producing thoughts, even real ones. A recent study by the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark proved this. The study involved random healthy subjects who underwent a certain number of mindfulness meditation trainings daily. The other group underwent control tests. nine0007

At the end of the study period, all participants underwent psychological experiments that examined their reactions to "conditioned fear responses". Those who completed the mindfulness meditation course were found to have significantly calmer arousal responses to conditioned fear responses. In essence, the results showed that meditation can help people forget about (and react to) their fears less.

Try Guided Meditation

Guided meditation should ideally be done in real time under the guidance of an instructor. However, if you're just getting started with meditation, you might be interested in trying out a trial meditation on your own. As a last resort, it is perfectly acceptable to record yourself reading a guided meditation text, so that you can then play it back and give yourself instructions during practice. nine0007

In this regard, below is a short guided meditation for anxiety that you can try. Record yourself reading these words and listen to them as you wish to calm your fears, anxieties, worries, and any negative emotions.

When speaking the words of guided meditation, try to use a soft, slow, soothing voice. Leave small gaps of time between each section of the text.

[ Leave about 30 seconds at the beginning of the recording to allow yourself to move from the playback device to a position on the floor, in a chair, or on a cushion. ] nine0219

"Let's get started.

Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, on a cushion or in a chair. Concentrate the spine as if from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head and towards the ceiling.

Gently close your eyes. Let your hands lie at your sides or on your knees. Pay attention to your body. Feel how your muscles become relaxed and free. Scan your body from head to toe, looking for places where you feel tension. Tighten these areas even more for a moment, and then release the tension as you exhale."

[Leave for one or two minutes to become fully aware of the body.]

"Now let's turn your attention to the breath. Begin with three full, deep breaths.

First exhale all the breath, trying to exhale even the air in the lowest part of the lungs. Now inhale deeply, expanding your lungs. Notice and feel your belly move outward as it fills with air. At the same time, your shoulders should not rise when you draw in air. Count to five: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Hold the air in your lungs for a count of three: One, two, three.

Now exhale the air, feeling the belly decrease in size as the air leaves the lungs and mouth. Exhale for a count of five: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Repeat this process by inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Hold the air: One, two, three.

And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.

Do this one last time, inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Hold the air: One, two, three.

And let go: One, two, three, four, five.

Continue to breathe normally as you feel comfortable.

Now let's do a little visualization.

Imagine that you are sitting on a beach. You are exactly where you are now, sitting on the sand of a beautiful ocean landscape and facing the water. There is no one around. The sun warms and pleasantly warms your skin, and you feel a cool breeze blowing on you in soft gusts. Behind you, the wind gently rustles the palms. You hear the waves crashing on the sand of the beach. There are no other sounds. Enjoy a few minutes of relaxation here while still breathing normally. Just watch."

[Leave for two to three minutes].

"You are still on the beach, you hear the sound of the waves and the breeze, you feel the sun and the wind on your skin. Start concentrating on your breath. Take a deep breath, inhaling: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Hold the air: One, two, three.

And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.

And one more, inhaling: One, two, three, four, five.

nine0006 Hold the air: One, two, three.

And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.

And the last inhalation and exhalation, starting from the inhalation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Hold the air: One, two, three.

And let the air out: One, two, three, four, five.

Now smoothly return to normal breathing. It's time to leave your warm spot on the beach. Watch the ocean waves and warm sand melt into your mind. Slowly open your eyes and look around."

Guided Anxiety Meditation: Frequently Asked Questions

Can meditation reduce anxiety?

Yes, although we are discussing guided meditation here, in principle any form of meditation can help relieve anxiety. In fact, this is one of the main reasons for starting the practice. In general, meditation will help you focus more on the present, increase self-awareness, reduce negative thoughts and emotions, and build a set of skills that will help you better deal with stress and anxiety in everyday life. nine0007

How to overcome anxiety during meditation?

Although meditation is designed to deal with anxiety and stress, it is ironic that meditation often causes anxiety. It doesn't happen to everyone, but if it has happened to you, here are a few things you can do.

First of all, consider changing the guided meditations you listen to. If you are working with a meditation teacher, ask them if they have other guided meditations you can try. Some meditations are specifically designed to overcome anxiety. Second, remember that sometimes it's important to let go of the anxious thoughts and just keep practicing until the anxiety associated with meditation disappears. Most people will feel that this happens naturally if they continue the practice for some time. nine0007

Can meditation help with obsessive thoughts?

Yes, if you are looking for ways to deal with anxiety, meditation is one of the best ways to reduce intrusive thoughts - along with meditation and yoga. Today, more than ever, people are struggling with thinking too much. Moreover, intrusive thoughts often occur at night when you are trying to doze off, which inevitably causes a lot of additional problems.

Meditation helps to cope with overthinking by helping to calm the mind and body and generally think more slowly. During meditation, you notice every thought, feeling, emotion, and many physical sensations. It's not something we do regularly, so slowing down in this way makes it less likely that you'll keep thinking in a fast paced and obsessive manner. nine0007

How long should I meditate for anxiety?

Ideally, meditation for anxiety should be practiced at least once a day for 10-20 minutes. But that might be where you need to get to. If you've never meditated before, start with just a few minutes a day. Even 3-5 minutes of daily meditation practice can make a big difference in your daily life in general and in dealing with anxiety in particular.

Can meditation help with panic attacks? nine0003

Yes. Panic attacks are often the result of fight-or-flight thinking, and meditation is the perfect solution to combat this extreme thought process that often causes excessive anxiety.

Those who suffer from panic disorder (frequent attacks and time spent in excessive stress and worrying about the future or the past) will find that meditation is the ideal remedy for dealing with anxiety in this way.

While you should always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment plan, you can start meditation for anxiety relief right now - on your own, in a group, or with a personal meditation teacher. It has virtually no negative side effects, and the results for people with panic disorder are amazing.

What are the best guided meditations for anxiety relief?

There are many varieties of guided meditation. While it's always possible to record yourself reading a guided meditation and play it back when you're ready to meditate, it's best to get guidance from a teacher. nine0007

Your teacher will not only be a strong, soothing presence during your meditation session, but will be able to select guided meditation that best suits your state in life and on your path of meditation and healing.

How often should I use meditation to help manage my anxiety?

You should use meditation to relieve anxiety as often as you need to. It is best to start with once a day for a few minutes. Try to pick a time of day when you have the least amount of things to do. Maybe early in the morning or right before bed. nine0007

In the early days of your practice, it may be a good idea to vary the way you meditate. This will help you find the practice that works best for you. Try different types of meditation. For example, you can start with one-on-one practice with a teacher or with your own recorded voice. You can then move on to meditation in a small or large group. You may even find that this practice improves your life so much that you want to become a meditation and wellness teacher! nine0007

Should I sign up for meditation programs or courses?

Certainly. A program, course, or online challenge can be helpful to support your practice and help you develop meditation skills and habits that you can apply to your daily life outside of the program. There are hundreds of options to choose from, ranging from mindfulness meditation to mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation, self-compassion meditation, or simple wellbeing meditation.

Learn more