I'm not one to take on easily to new things and ideas. I'm a stickler for staying with what I'm used to, and what I know has worked well in the past. So when I got the call from my friend Helen that she was inviting me and two other friends round for the day, I was happy. I was thinking that we would just go by, do some sort of craft work, have lunch, do more arty crafty stuff, chat about our lives and loves, and then go home. After all, that is what I had become used to.
You see, my friend Helen, being an Art teacher who lived alone in what seemed like a mansion, always had friends over. To say she embraced art would be an understatement. Art was her life. She had a massive floor to ceiling book shelf, that was the biggest I had seen in a home, all filled with books about different aspects of art ranging from ceramics to macramé and mosaic and screen printing. If you wanted to find about influential 16th century artists or about modern trendy artists, check with Helen's bookshelf.
So here I was, thinking that we would do some sort of bead work or abstract painting or even decoupage, have our lunch, snacks, and an assortment of juices and hot drinks, and then say our goodbyes. I was so wrong. I was to get some 'devastating' news, and get introduced to a beautiful thing called guided meditation.
My first-hand experience with Guided Meditation
When we got to Helen's house and she burst into tears, I knew something was wrong. Terribly wrong! Helen was one of the sweetest bubbliest people I know. Whatever could have caused her to burst into tears upon seeing us? The fact is, she had been informed a week prior to our arrival, that she had the dreaded big C! She had been diagnosed with cancer and was filled with all the doubts and worries and anxiety that one person could hold in. Needless to say, throughout the day Helen did share her art with us. I can't even remember what new technique we learnt that day, but that's the day we all were introduced to guided meditation. Helen had only learnt about it a few days prior. She was introduced to it by a McMillan nurse and she took the time to share it with us.
I was curious to learn about this guided meditation so the next time I went to visit Helen two weeks later on my own, I asked her to share what it was and how it was helping her. When I sat down with her, she looked me in the eye and explained the absolute dread and fear she was living with daily. She complained of feeling so shocked and hopeless at her diagnosis that found that she was losing sleep.
Although her manager had given her time off work to deal with the treatments and doctors' appointments, wig fittings etc. she had all this time on her hands, but for the life of her, she could not sleep. That's when she said she turned to the guided meditation that the nurse had told her she would find useful. I explained that before she had told me about it, I had never heard of guided meditation.
According to Helen, it was beginning to be a life saver for her. I asked her how so, and she explained that she would need to show me first hand. So she reached for her laptop while we sat in the sofa and told me not to speak, but just listen. All of a sudden, this rather soft, soothing male voice started off by saying "relax". I do remember hearing something about waves, gently crashing along the shore, clear blue skies, and birds flying out of view.
Two hours later when I awoke to Helen's snoring, I realized that we had indeed become so relaxed, that we had fallen asleep. It was a true awakening to the value of this deep type of useful 'art'. I continued to listen, in awe too, that this YouTube recording had been so long, but more than just long, so valuable! What was it that had caused us both to fall asleep? I decided to do some research myself send see what the experts have to say.
Word from the meditation experts
So I turned to the trusted Google to find out as much as I could about guided meditation. Since then, I've found out what the experts say, I've been singing the praises as much as I can. I know now that when I experienced difficulties with sleeping as a result of stress-related issues, I could have tried guided meditation rather than take those nasty sleeping pills which had me not only addicted, but with even nastier side effects. So what did I find out from the experts? I'll share that with you now.
What is Guided Meditation?
First of all, it's exactly what it sounds like: guided meditation simply means meditation with the help of a guide. This guide could be someone else with you, or may even be a recording (as in the case of the one my friend Helen and I were listening to on YouTube.)
According to this quote from Wikipedia, "guided meditation is a process by which one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher, either in person or via a written text, sound recording, video, or audiovisual media comprising music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both."
Further research reveals that for guided meditation to work the participant needs to be able to visualize uses the senses, what is being suggested and explained by the practitioner. The session is meant be therapeutic and said to relieve varying levels of stress.
The participant gets so relaxed with the accompanying sounds and music that guided meditation is sometimes seen as similar to hypnotic procedures. In trained psychology sessions, guided meditation has been known to be quite effective.
Clinicians have reasons to believe that guided meditation sessions are effective in treating issues including asthma, pain management, insomnia, stress, and anxiety. The results are seen as long term and give the chance of the feeling of well-being and may even improve one’s quality of life.
I'm still not one for taking on to new things so easily, but I must say that this idea of guided meditation has turned me into an absolute believer! After all, I've had my own first-hand experience and so has my friend Helen. From all my research too, I've only found positive testimonials.
Personally, it's a godsend, if ever there was one. For someone to be able to convey thoughts and feelings of peace, tranquility and relaxation to the extent that you (the participant) are able to fully internalize the feeling of being transported to a more peaceful place, and fall asleep, is bordering on magical.
Have you ever tried guided meditation? Would you? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
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