Let students know that for the next week, they will be starting each day with a 5-10 minute guided meditation, followed by a brief conversation. Remind students that it takes a lot of time, effort and energy to train their monkey mind. Hopefully, by doing these simple meditations each morning, you will help students integrate meditation into their everyday life and develop their skills. Encourage students to participate by letting them know that, if they’re diligent about practicing meditation this week, then they might already experience some benefits by the end of the week.
The following guided meditations have been downloaded from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). Recorded by Diana Watson, director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA MARC, these guided meditations are a great introduction to different meditation practices and cover the range of focused-attention, open-awareness, and automatic self-transcending meditation.
The meditations can be completed in any order and have been uploaded to this page based on the duration of practice, starting with the shortest meditation. Since meditation is a skill that is developed over time, and because initial efforts to train the mind can be quite exhausting, it’s best to start with one of the shorter practices.
Before each meditation, get students to check in with themselves. Students should consider how they’re feeling on both a physical and emotional level. Then, ask each student to find a comfortable seated position (either at their desk or on the floor) and wait for the class to settle. Remind students this is an independent and quiet activity. When everyone is ready, start the guided meditation.
Body Scan Meditation:
Working with Difficulties Meditation:
Breath, Body, and Sound Meditation
After each meditation, lead a 5-minute discussion. This discussion can happen organically, or be based on the following prompts:
- Were you able to notice your mind wandering and bring it back to the meditation? If so, how did you bring your mind back? If not, what got in the way?
- How did you feel during the meditation? What physical sensations did you notice? What thoughts were you having?
- Do you feel any different after the meditation? If so, how do you feel different?
- Can you see yourself using this type of meditation in the future? Why or why not?
- What was more challenging about this practice, compared to other meditations this week?
- What was helpful or easier about this practice compared to other meditations this week?
At the end of the week, ask students to reflect on their experience by completing a brief journal entry.
Meditation Reflection worksheet available in download area.
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Simply put, meditation is a pathway to mindfulness. Based on our lesson, you probably recognize that meditation is a practice, or training, for the mind. On the other hand, mindfulness is a state of being. Practicing meditation builds the skills of awareness and focus, necessary for mindfulness.
Should meditation put me to sleep?
No. If you are falling asleep during the meditation practice, start by exploring these sleepy sensations. Are you physically tired (in which case you might benefit more from napping) or is it just a mental dullness? Are you feeling sleepy because you are not fully engaged with the practice and your mind and body are spacing out? If you are truly engaged but continue struggling with sleepiness, try splashing some cold water on your face before meditating next time, or try meditating in a different position (ex. sitting upright or standing).
Can I meditate while I am doing other things like walking my dog?
Yes! The guided meditations that we are doing in class are formal meditation practices that require you to be solely engaged with the meditation. However, you can also practice meditation informally when you are completing simple, repetitive, and/or traditionally mindless tasks like walking your dog, cleaning your room, drawing, or colouring. You can bring presence, awareness, and focus to these activities by applying the same skills that you are learning during our formal meditation practices. When you notice your monkey mind wandering, try to bring it back to the moment. Focus on your breath and try to refrain from having judgments or expectations related to what you are doing.
Do I have to sit cross-legged?
No, you can meditate in many different positions. The most common meditation positions include sitting upright (either in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground or cross-legged on the floor), standing, and lying down. Some meditations can also be practiced while walking or ask you to move in particular patterns. The most important thing is that you find a position that is comfortable for you, and which you can maintain for an extended period of time. One thing to consider is that lying down for meditation makes it easier to fall asleep. If you know that you drift off easily or you have struggled with sleepiness in past meditation practices, try finding a different position that better supports your success.
Is meditation a kind of self-hypnosis?
No. Since the rise of guided meditations, more people have associated meditation with hypnosis, thinking of the meditation guide as a kind of hypnotist. However, hypnotists and meditation guides have virtually nothing in common, except for the fact that they both use verbal instruction. Hypnotists have a very specific goal in mind and direct the client towards that outcome, which, in the case of therapy, may involve overcoming fears or fighting addiction, but more commonly involves some sort of humiliating activity. A meditation guide differs from a hypnotist in that they rely on the client’s own ability to enter a meditative state. Rather than focusing on a specific outcome, meditation focuses on general goals such as a clear mind and physical as well as mental relaxation.