What is an unguided meditation? An unguided meditation is a meditation done in as close to silence as you can. 15 minutes, you, eyes closed, and nothing is going on, but your thoughts. A guided meditation has someone speaking you the process. Unguided is going through it alone.
Since the 10th of January, I’ve been doing an unguided meditation every day. I’ve been enjoying them and want to share my observations with you.
I hope to persuade you that unguided meditations are something worth trying.
Sleep Easier with unguided meditation
I have been meditating for at least 5 years. I’ve tried many different kinds of techniques and apps to help. I subscribed to Headspace for a year, and there is a Youtube playlist of some of my favourite meditations. There would even be times where I would stick on an 8-hour deep sleep meditation. I would use it to prime myself for the next day. In short, I have meditated a lot.
I used to struggle with my sleep. I was unable to turn my mind off. Sleep is a time for sleep. You have to tune out all other thoughts. There is no point in worrying about what has happened during the day, that time is over. There is no part in worrying about the future, it is yet to happen. All you have is now, and now you must sleep. Unguided meditation and meditation overall has helped me locate the sleep switch. All I have to do is flip it.
No such thing as silence
Birds chirping, the sound of traffic, the groans of the house. When you do an unguided meditation, you learn there’s no such thing as absolute silence. Even when things are at their most still, there’s always movement. Now you could let the noise distract you, or you could accept there will be sound. The only place where there’s no sound is the vacuum of space.
Unguided meditation gives you the chance to listen to all those sounds—the sounds you usually relegate to the background. You may not hear those sounds, but your brain does. Think of how much we are sonically assaulted over a day. TV, music, notifications, you name it. It’s there, chipping away at your focus and concentration.
Bring those background noises to the fore, accept them. Realise that there is no such thing as absolute silence. To be alive is to be loud, the noise in your life. Go silent and listen to how noisy life is.
I set my timer for 15 minutes and close my eyes. When the timer is up, I open them again. The truth is, I don’t know how long I’ll be away. What do I mean by that? Unguided meditation has shown me that time can be mentally manipulated. This part of the post may seem strange and nonsensical, I understand. What I’m trying to say is that it feels like you can control your perception of time.
How many times have you heard someone say “There aren’t enough hours in the day” I’m sure I’ve said it myself. Here’s the thing, there are more than enough hours in the day.
One of the ways to realise this is by getting up earlier. Another way is by planning your day. Give yourself a structure.
It’s strange, since doing the unguided meditations I can feel the 15 minutes stretch out. It’s incredible how when you take the time to focus on how long that moment feels. The feeling is not one of boredom. It’s a feeling of discovery. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been meditating for longer. Sometimes I feel like that has to be it, and then I look at the timer and only five minutes have passed.
You can alter your perception fo time using unguided meditation.
The evil of scrolling
Whatever you rely on you will resent. I rely on my phone, I resent my phone. If unguided meditation makes you stretch time, then your phone shortens. Butchers it, leaves you an amputee, a torso.
There’s a fight going on with myself and my phone. My phone is a pocket-sized succubus. Seducing me, luring me in with a sirens song. It is a never-ending quest to find new ways to tie myself to the mast. Muting all sounds, greyscaling the screen, so the pretty colours are no longer a beacon. Still, my phone sucks me in. It knows I will need it at some point. When the inevitable happens and stare at the screen, 10 minutes have gone by in a blink. I look again, half an hour, an hour, two. I think to myself, “Well, the day is gone so I may as well stay on my phone,”.
I’m not saying I’m going to throw my phone away and I’m not saying you should either. What I am saying is the phone is not the master. The horse may pull the cart, but you are the one who cracks the whip.
Your phone wants to rob you of time and memory. Scrolling is the digital equivalent of “Why did I come into this room?” Guided meditation has made me aware of just how much time I waste on the phone.
Focus on the breath
When you are practising meditation, what do you do? What do you do with the mind? You let go of the mind.
What do I mean by that? What I mean is that you don’t try and force out thoughts you let them enter. Remember that your mind works for you.
Imagine your mind as a restless toddler. Bored, comes in looking attention. At first, it is sweet and innocent, how could you ignore it? Then when you’re unreactive, tempers flair. It will make noise and crash about the place. Still, you do not react.
The toddler brain, the monkey mind, whatever you want to call it thrives on reaction. It might feel good to let your mind run away. Remember, you will have to return to a place of stillness and acceptance in your mind. You do that by bringing back focus to your breath.
Breathing is something that’s always happening yet most of the time we’re unaware. Close your eyes put the focus on the breath. The breath reminds you of how temporary this all is, you cannot hold onto the breath indefinitely. Everything is temporary. If you’re going through hell, it will not last. If your life is a dream one day, you shall wake. Focusing on the breath reminds you that one day you will take your last.
It feels like our society is on a mission to deny death. You’re locked in your home because those in power feel that you’re too dumb to understand that people will die. Lockdowns are a denial of death. You’re being told that if you do what the experts say, you will not die. You are being given the promise of eternal life. You must die someday; otherwise, life is pointless. At the moment, we are killing ourselves to avoid death. You cannot avoid death, you can put distance between him and you, but eventually, there is nowhere left to run. Unguided meditation is to accept death. You understand nothing lasts.
Ripples on the surface
I’m not entirely sure what we are. Logically we are individual human beings. When I meditate that assuredness slips away. It feels like our lives are ripples on the surface. You are an individual drop, but you’re part of the ocean. Our time on top is short before the surf brings us down below.
Unguided meditations are a dive into that collective unknown. I’m not saying we are all one. I am not saying we are psychically connected. I am saying there is an infinite depth of what we don’t know about ourselves. Unguided meditation feels like dipping below the surface.
Conclusion – Unguided meditation
An unguided meditation is simple to practice.
- Find somewhere to sit where you will not be disturbed. You can sit cross-legged on the floor, or you can sit in a chair.
- Get comfortable
- Set a timer for fifteen minutes
- Close your eyes, there is no “preparing to meditate.”
- Let the mind wander
- If you feel like your mind has wandered too far bring your attention back to your breath.
- If you fall asleep that’s fine
- When the timer goes off, you’re done.
Try and do it once in the upcoming week.
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