Have you ever tried a guided meditation where you’re being led on a journey through an enchanted forest, or a beautiful beach with the waves gently lapping on the shore – you finish the meditation and you’re floating, peaceful and all your stress has gone? You feel amazing.
But then. The next night, you sit down and try the same guided meditation again. Only this time, you find that you’re feeling anxious and frustrated during the guided meditation and not at all calm and peaceful when you finish?
Well, this is a classic example of mindfulness in action.
The very first time you listen to the guided meditation, you have no expectations, no idea of where the story is going to take you.
Your mind focuses on what’s currently being said. You’re listening to every detail of the journey. The colors, the textures. You’re building a mental picture of the smells, the sounds. You’re actively using your mind.
So during that first run through of the guided meditation, you are hopefully using your mind 100% to focus on the story.
However, the second time you listen to the guided meditation, you will find that your mind starts to anticipate the story. It might not remember every detail, but it will have a rough idea of where the story is going.
So instead of listening closely to the details precisely, it starts to gloss over and not pay full attention.
It no longer has to build a mental image from the details as it’s already got a rough framework from before. It already imagined the color of the sand or the sound of the waves, so it’s unlikely to invest any effort in changing how they look.
Any moment where the mind is not being used by you directly, gives it an opportunity to drag your awareness somewhere else.
If it’s anticipating the story, it is using the PAST memory of the guided meditation to visualize the FUTURE.
Both of those are far from the PRESENT.
An emotional response to Guided Meditation
The effect of listening to a guided meditation twice can create very strong emotional feelings.
Emotions are simply physical reactions to a mental state.
When you first listen to the guided meditation, your mind is imagining a scenario that is so naturally happy, calming and relaxing, that your body experiences a similar physical response.
Hence, listening to a guided meditation has the effect of releasing the built up stress and flooding your body with happy hormones.
Essentially, thinking happy thoughts puts your body into a happy state of chemistry.
All sounds good so far.
Buuuuut. When you listen to the guided meditation again, your mind isn’t listening closely to the words or building the scene in your head, instead it’s anticipating what’s going to come next.
It creates an anxiousness that’s like waiting for a jump scare in a movie. You know it’s coming, you’re just not sure when.
So instead of flooding your body with happy, relaxing hormones, that feeling of anxiousness or impatience may release small amounts of adrenaline and other, not-so-good chemicals.
So, peace, calm, floating relaxation can be replaced by nervous anticipation. Completely the opposite of what you want.
Take advantage of the phenomena
So understanding how your mind will want to anticipate and create feelings of anxiousness is actually something we can use to our advantage.
If you deliberately listen to the same guided meditation multiple times, you can become aware of how your mind is creating the feelings of anxiousness.
You get to watch it in action. Get to study it.
It’s exactly the same story you’re listening to, but it creates a different physical response.
Get comfortable with that feeling.
Watch it without reacting to it.
Endure the discomfort.
You may find that after a while, you stop reacting to the mind completely and simply watch it instead.
This is a very powerful tool and a powerful lesson.
Your body no longer has to react to what the mind says. Try it in other areas of your life too.
When your spouse asks you to do something you don’t particularly want to, just observe the feelings arise, but don’t react to them.
Listening to a guided meditation creates peace and harmony in your body through mindfulness. Listening to the same guided meditation multiple times allows you a greater opportunity to observe how the mind works and ultimately silence it.
I wish you peace, happiness and a quiet mind.
Namaste my friends.
Events & Workshops
August 26 – Mindfulness & Unconditional Love - Denville Senior Citizens Center
August 27 – How to Silence Your Mind