All those qualities that we aim to achieve in mindfulness, like presence, focus, compassion and awareness of thoughts, are practiced through meditation. A daily meditation practice is the best way to develop those skills and grow them over time, because our daily lives are so full and busy, that we don’t naturally live in that way. Setting aside 10-20 minutes a day to complete a guided meditation can therefore be a good balance to this busyness and help to develop a more mindful approach to life overall.
There are a number of paid apps that deliver great quality meditations, but with so many free meditations out there, why would you pay? The tricky thing is, free meditations can vary so considerably in quality, that it can take some time to discover which ones are genuinely worth practicing.
I’ve therefore put together this list of 7 meditations that I think are great quality meditations from the people who have led the mindfulness movement in the west. Nearly all of them have decades of experience and further spiritual or psychological experience to inform their teachings.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher, who pioneered the use of mindfulness for stress in the 1970’s. He’s credited with bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. This meditation is a master class in meditating on the breath. It has plenty of instruction in his warm voice, so it’s perfect for beginners.
Tara, more than any other teacher seems to capture the essence of mindfulness as a vehicle to becoming more alive. As a psychologist, Buddhist and meditation teacher, she blends Eastern and Western techniques and is one of my favourite voices to listen to.
Kristen Neff is an academic with a strong practice in Buddhism. Her research work has focused on Self-Compassion and she has developed a website (self-compassion.org) with many resources for self-compassion on it. This meditation provides the perfect introduction to self-compassion so you can hold yourself a little more gently.
An accident as a young woman left Vidyamala with chronic pain and disability and she found herself in mental turmoil. After discovering how mindfulness transformed her experience of suffering, she founded Breathworks in the UK to help other people transform their experience of stress and pain. This meditation creates a safe space to open up to experiences in the body so you can release any unnecessary tension and anguish.
Jack Kornfield is a Buddhist Monk, trained in the Far East, who is credited with bringing mindfulness and meditation to the West in the 1970’s. This short meditation is designed to help change how you relate to your thoughts and is great for creating a sense of space when it feels like your mind is full.
Its not easy to find mindful movement videos online (maybe I need to make one!) but I love this video from Marisa as it’s a brilliant sequence to tune into the body and release tension and holding, which are two of the big aims of mindful movement. Marisa is a student and teacher of Yoga, Qi Gong, Meditation and Thai Shamanism.
Sharon co-founded the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield in 1976 and has gone on to write a considerable number of books on mindfulness and compassion. This short meditation is a great way to pause during the day and reconnect with the breath and the body.
Don’t forget that you can follow me on my new Sound Cloud account where I’m uploading free meditations for you to listen to.
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