Transition from guided to unguided meditation?

The world is riddled with guided meditations like never before. So many websites, apps, and programs offer guided meditations. While guided meditations certainly have their place in helping us relax and focus, is there a time when it can be limiting when it comes to awakening our inner teacher?

We all start with guided meditations and are wonderful. However, meditation is a never-ending journey. So what is the next step in going into an unguided meditation practice? Here we unpack this question a bit.

When we use techniques to get into the “state” of meditation, we connect with the part of us that is eternal and not manifested and without form. Some traditions refer to this as “being”. In our culture and in our schools we are not really taught how to connect to our being, although of course it is always with us. Through certain pranayama and meditation techniques, we can begin to tune into this eternal aspect of ourselves where we find peace, bliss, divine love, and pure awareness or consciousness awareness.

Guided meditations give us a nice starting point in the realm of meditation. Here we learn techniques, begin to relax, become more self-conscious and gain first insights into the experience of silent points in meditation. Since someone is leading you and holding space for you, it’s easier to get involved.

When you have that voice to listen to you often feel like you can hold your attention a little longer than if you were alone. This can be very helpful to enter into relaxation states and to get into the present moment.

However, meditation is a never-ending journey, there are so many layers. The guide is wonderful to help you relax and prepare for deeper meditation states. However, once you’ve meditated for a while and really want to explore your inner space, guided meditations can often only get you that far. I believe this is because you can rely on a voice leading something outside of you instead of surrendering to the divine aspect of you and letting that divine energy guide you into deep meditation.

  • The Spiritual Gym – In the beginning, unguided meditations can take more practice, especially when it comes to sharpening your attention and staying present in the now. However, like everything, it only takes practice. I often refer to attention like building muscle, increasing presence skills, like going to the spiritual gym. After a while, you can sit in meditation and no longer need the guided meditation training wheels. They know the techniques that will work for you and put you in the meditative state. Like everything we do a lot, we begin to build muscle memory and can often connect in shorter periods of time.
  • Walking with Your Natural Flow of Energy – An unguided exercise allows you to let go of a technique once you feel connected and become aware of when you let yourself go and come back. Another aspect is to adjust to which energies are alive for you and to draw you into your inner space. When your heart energy is alive, but you are in a guided meditation in which you are asked to focus on the third eye, you can act against the natural flow of energy that is supposed to help you connect.
  • Deeper States of Surrender and Silence – By staying with yourself from moment to moment, you can adjust to this divine energy and become more sensitive to your inner space, get into a deep state of surrender and stillness and let yourself be guided by the meditation energy. In the deepest states of meditation, we focus only on what is happening in the inner space – sometimes referred to as “subjective awareness”. In this state, everything outside of you is either a distraction or you are so deep in meditation that you are not aware of it.

When you have learned the art of unguided meditation you really focus on the divine energy to guide you and once we learn how to do this in meditation we can trust how we use that energy in life can flow. 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 delve deeper into the experience.

If you’ve meditated for a while and want to go deeper, perhaps you should consider an unguided practice. In one of my courses Addicted to being I am sharing some pointers that can be really helpful in awakening your inner teacher if you are interested in exploring further down this path.

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Belinda Matwali is a spiritual nutritionist who provides space for others to feel more nourished by their own inner light through meditation and meditative life. After traveling the world for 10 years and learning from various masters and teachers, she has created various courses on meditation including “Addicted to Being”, “Ecstasy”, “Individuality and Creativity” and “Intimacy Beyond Words” . An avid music fan and creator of electronic music meditations, she lives between London and Ibiza.

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