Guided vs Unguided Meditation

So a lot of people have been wondering about what is the difference between guided meditation vs unguided meditation.  The answer is simple:

Guided meditation utilizes a track or a guru who leads the mind through a series of meditative practices. An example of this would be this 5 minute meditation for busy business people.  On the other hand unguided meditation relies solely on the practitioner to go through the steps and bring oneself to that calm and quiet state of mind. This is the most common form for monks such as Hindu or Zen meditation. 

Meditation is something that is so invaluable in our stress-filled daily lives. It is a centuries old method to be able to re-center your mind and refocus on the things that are the most important in our lives. Unfortunately, while meditation is something that everyone has personal access to, so many people have issues unlocking the power and the ability to be able to actually calm their mind enough to be able to properly meditate. The good news, however, is that anyone can learn how to meditate. Here, I will be providing you with the differences between guided meditation and unguided meditation, so that you can best determine which is the best fit for your needs as you begin to explore the incredible world of meditation and unlock its power for yourself.

Guided Meditation

Flickr by K. Stepanov

Let’s first begin with guided meditation. Guided meditation is a great way to learn the basics of mindfulness through meditation by being led by someone who is properly trained in the skill and art of meditation. Guided meditation can be conducted in an office or studio with someone leading in a classlike manner or one-on-one session, or it can be done via a number of different options such as online apps or even Youtube videos.

If you are a beginner to meditation, guided meditation is a wonderful and powerful tool to gain some footing into the world of meditation by way of having someone actually walk your mind through all of the stages and redirecting your focus when your mind starts to stray off course. Through the method of guided meditation, you can learn the basic fundamentals and take away some key tips and techniques that are truly useful for learning how to eventually meditate on your own.

Unguided Meditation

An image of a man using unguided meditation:  Guided vs unguided meditation
By Lisa Risager

Unguided meditation is meditation that you do on your own, without the assistance of someone actually guiding you through the steps of what you need to actually do. Unguided meditation can be quite tricky to learn how to do on your own, but with practice, it can most certainly be achieved. With unguided meditation you are taking the power of meditation to quiet your own mind, instead of having someone who is trained to do it, show you how to do it yourself.


Quieting your mind is one of the most difficult parts of meditation. Our lives are filled with so much activity, stress, things we learn, things we hold on to, things that make us smile, things that make us sad or outright angry. And learning how to shut all of that out and simply listen to your soul can be next to impossible if you simply do not have the patience to do so. And patience is they key to really being able to unlock the power and beauty of meditation.


So let’s explore a little bit about why patience is such an important aspect of meditation (whether using the method of guided or unguided). Learning how to meditate requires stillness in both the body and mind in order to achieve an ultimate sense of mindfulness, which is truly the key to being able to change your life and your way of thinking in its entirety. As previously stated, our lives are filled with hassle, chaos, and the stresses of the everyday world that surrounds. Our minds are like filing cabinets that pick up all of this information and files it away to be pulled out at a later time if necessary. The problem is, even if this information is not useful to us, no longer serves us, or is in no way needed nor necessary, it remains stored to be brought up at any given time. And usually these times are when you are trying to find a sense of stillness in your mind.


So what do you do about it? Well, for starters you may just want to opt to get started by using guided meditation to launch your path and simply learn the basics and some useful tips you can personally implement in order to fit your personal style so that you can reach your ultimate meditation goals. If you find that you really want to try meditation on your own, there is most certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, there are a ton of helpful books (and again, Youtube!) that can tutor you and provide you with the basics of meditation and how you can get started for yourself.


The best advice I can offer is to find a place of stillness, light a candle, direct your focus on something with your eyes closed (it can be a candle flame, envisioning yourself in a white room, or even the crashing waves of the ocean… whatever works for you), and just focus on that stillness, when your mind starts to wander from that focus, redirect it back. And remember patience is the key here. It can be so easy to give up on meditation because you think it’s just not working or that you simply can’t do it. Stay positive, and keep trying– it will work.

David Ex Machina

David Ex Machina


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