What is guided meditation? It is a meditation technique in which we imagine a story, or a simple progression of images. The story -- like the plot of a sleep-time dream -- has a symbolic meaning by which we explore our life, particularly the dynamics of our psyche (as represented by the images).
The technique of guided meditation. There are many books and tapes which present the texts of guided meditations, but we can create our own, in order to use the precise images and story-lines which are most meaningful and effective for us. We can consider the following options when preparing our guided meditation:
- The amount of detail. We can write a script which is highly structured with specific details, or we can simply create a bare outline upon which our imagination spontaneously creates those details (such as the appearance of a character or a landscape). If our story contains many details, we might need to memorize it, or tape-record it in advance, or ask a friend to read it to us; we will not be able to read it during the session, because our eyes will be closed.
- Our state of relaxation. Prior to the session, we can use one of the techniques in the chapter regarding relaxation. Then, when we start the session, we can enhance this state with soothing images; for example, we imagine our body floating on warm water (or on a cloud), or rising weightless like a balloon, or falling gently like a feather.
- The features of the guided meditation. We can use some of these features:
- Our identity. We can visualize ourselves with a different identity -- a different age, a different appearance, different abilities, etc. We adapt our character to suit the story-line.
- The plot. We can have a peaceful story with friendly characters. Or we might create a tale in which we confront an adversary with whom we must resolve a conflict. The enemy can be any part of ourselves with which we have a conflict. Because this enemy is "us," we accomplish nothing by "killing" it; the imagined murder would probably aggravate a controversy which will have to be resolved peacefully at a later time.
- Locations. Because a guided meditation is an ongoing story, we can change locations during the session; for example, we might walk from one scene to another. Guided meditations usually have settings which are inspiring and intriguing, rather than a common scene such as a downtown street. Possible sites include a meadow, an ocean beach, a cave, a tropical paradise, a castle, a temple, a mountain, a forest, a desert, a lake, a tunnel, or a church. We might use the setting from a place which we have visited in our home or neighborhood, or during our travels, or in a dream, or during a previous guided meditation.
- Symbolic characters. These characters can be:
- Representations of parts of the psyche. For example, a dark creature might represent the shadow. A man could portray a woman's animus; a woman could portray a man's anima.
- Archetypal characters. For example: the Hero, the Wizard, the Warrior, the Healer, the Mother, the Father.
- Characters from myths, legends, fairy tales, and religious stories.
- Props for the various settings. We all have symbols which have personal significance: our childhood home, or the cookies which our mother baked, or a beloved doll or toy, or an object which has served the purpose of a "security blanket," or items from sleep-time dreams.
- Our senses. We can create scenes which are vivid to all of our senses -- sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. For example, we notice the details of the meadow -- the shades of green in the grass, the fragrance of the flowers, the songs of individual birds, the breeze against our face, the sunlight in the sky.
- Advancing the plot. In most guided meditations, we are traveling via a peaceful means -- walking, floating on a raft or boat, or flying gently through the air. We have a sense of being on a journey or a pilgrimage toward a goal which could be depicted as a mountain top or a bright light. We can proceed to the next scene symbolically by walking across a bridge or going through a doorway.