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Many people do not dare to meditate in silence – they think they cannot sit in silence for more than half an hour. Many people know meditation. They have experienced it many times – but they often know only guided meditations. I would like to write here also about silent meditation and compare both types of meditation. What are the advantages of guided meditation? What can silent meditation do and why is it becoming more and more popular? What are the reservations or prejudices about both types of meditation? In this blog article you will read the answers to the question: silent meditation or guided meditation – which is better?
What is guided meditation?
Silent meditation or guided meditationYou probably already know. A guided meditation is when you hear a pleasant voice guiding you. The meditation has a specific goal. It can be about well-being or relaxation. But it can also be that you are led on a journey – into the past or into the future. There, either something is cleared up – if you end up in the past. Or you vision how your future will look like. Maybe the pleasant voice is accompanied by some music? In any case, the guided meditation is designed to help you achieve a specific goal.
Advantages of a guided meditation
A guided meditation takes away the need for you to take the lead yourself. You simply need to trust the voice and you will be guided to your goal. Your body and mind will calm down much faster when you are already tense and busy with the issues of everyday life. You can simply surrender and let yourself be carried by the voice. Many guided meditations assume that you see inner images. There are people – like me – who have no inner images. For me, it’s a lot about body awareness. Please don’t let anyone tell you that it’s better if you have these images and that it’s bad if you don’t have them. You don’t need to practice if you don’t have this ability.
My recommendation for a guided meditation
I already wrote that a guided meditation always has a goal. Here at Madhukar Enlighten Life, it’s all about being presence. And Madhukar’s guided meditation also takes you exactly there. So I recommend you download it and try it out. The name of the meditation is Crystal Clear Presence and this Crystal Clear Presence is also where Madhukar’s voice takes you.
When is a guided meditation recommended?
I always start the guided meditation when I have too much on my mind and it would be too restless for me to just sit in silence. I know then exactly, I hear the gentle, warm voice of Madhukar and I just need to let myself fall. Of course, this is true for all other types of guided meditations. If you are on a vision quest, then it is often easier to start an appropriate guided meditation. Or if you want to train your body awareness, start a guided meditation with a body scan. It’s much easier, from my experience, to relinquish responsibility and let a voice I trust guide me to what my goal is.
So if your goal is to be present, to experience that crystal clear presence – then let Madhukar’s voice guide you there. Both the body then relaxes faster than in a pure silent meditation. My experience is also that my thoughts also calm down faster. When I am calmer then, I like to sit still in silence. So a guided meditation can also be a preparation for a silent meditation.
What is a silent meditation?
You close your eyes, you are presence. In your head everything becomes silent, your attention goes inside. And this inside does not mean to your thoughts or to your feelings – this inside is your being, your true being. It is what a guru embodies, and why he has the authority, that in his presence is silence, is presence. A silent meditation is much more than just sitting in a silent room with no noise. If you have already experienced it, you know what I am writing about here. If you haven’t experienced it yet, I think you should try it at least once in your life. It’s a little like me trying to explain to you what it feels like to swim in the ocean compared to you experiencing it.
Benefits of Silent Meditation
In a silent meditation, you can be completely absorbed in being. There are no thoughts, no feelings or anything else on the outside to distract you. You can sink completely into it. Once you get used to it, you will enjoy it. In a silent meditation, some people really start to shine, as if they had a source of light inside them.
The most impressive encounter I had with such a radiant person was in India. I was at the silent retreat with Madhukar and we were doing a pradakshina during the retreat. That means we were on a pilgrimage, walking around the sacred mountain Arunachala. A man propelling something like a wheelchair with his arms was heading towards Madhukar. He was full of joy and he realized that Madhukar is that Self. He expressed this, bowed to him as he could with his vehicle, and then “went on” his way.
This “silent meditation” is not dependent on you sitting in silence. But sitting in silence can make it easier for you to get a taste of what it is and what it feels like.
How do you succeed in sitting in stillness as a beginner?
Yes, even as a beginner you can sit in silence regularly. Maybe you don’t have experience with it and think you won’t be able to stand it? Maybe you think your body would get all restless? I have two recommendations for this:
- Before you sit in silence, listen to a guided meditation. This way your thoughts and your body will calm down. Instead of paying attention to your restless body and your thoughts, follow the voice you hear. Then, when you are calmer, you can sit in silence.
- Don’t start by sitting in silence for a whole hour. Set a shorter time and keep at it regularly. Then slowly increase the time. You will be surprised how quickly you can increase the time.
- If you practice yoga before meditation, you will find it easier to sit in silence. This is also why there is always a yoga class in the morning at the retreats.
What can I do to stop having thoughts?
To be blunt: Meditation is not about having no more thoughts at all. You can relax. If you do it right with meditation, you will notice that your thoughts become quieter, that they become less. It’s a byproduct. But your focus should definitely not be on having no more or less thoughts. Don’t even try – it will go wrong. What I recommend instead is to sit in the presence of someone who embodies this, and of course I also recommend applying self-enquiry. That is the question, “Who am I?” That’s also in my experience also what makes a meditation a silent meditation.
When is silent meditation recommended?
When you have realized what awakening is about, then it is about appreciating this moment, this realization from now on. Because the pure mental realization is not of much use to you – this treasure that you have discovered wants to be valued – in every single moment. When you sit in silence, it is an expression of this appreciation. From my experience, this is the main reason why silent meditation is recommended. Of course, it also has health benefits. A regular meditation practice will help you be more relaxed, your body will be healthier, your psyche will be more resilient, more stress resistant, and your empathy and self-empathy will be greater.
What are the benefits of meditation in general?
As a final point, I’ll now write about what I would have liked to put at the beginning. However, it was important to me that you get a taste of what kind of meditation I am writing about here. This is about meditation that makes an inner happiness accessible. I’m writing about the kind of meditation where you have a date with yourself – with your inner self. I’m talking about the kind of meditation where you are pure presence, not achieving some goal.
Nevertheless, this kind of meditation also has all the benefits that other forms of meditation have. It has been scientifically proven that regular meditation practice changes the structure of your brain. Your sense of happiness is increased – but this also reduces stress, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. The quality of relationships improves, thinking becomes more positive, and researchers have shown an increase in cognitive ability. Even pain can be relieved and there are even people who have managed to stop smoking through meditation.
Conclusion and Recommendation
My recommendation is to enjoy the benefits of both types of meditation. And even easier than sitting alone in silence is when several are oriented to that silence together. I find it easier to enter into this stillness every time I am on retreat or when I know others are now sitting in stillness together with me as well. This can be online – or on site. In Stuttgart, for example, members of the Sangha always meet to sit together in silence. Also online on the Facebook page of Madhukar Enlighten Life – we call it Madhukar Meditation Monday.
Come to Madhukar Meditation Monday, where we sit together in silence for about an hour. Suri speaks a few words first. Most of the time she reads a quote that gets you in the mood for silence. Then you listen to the guided meditation of Madhukar. You can also download it from the website. And after the guided meditation, we still sit together in silence. So that’s then an ideal combination of these two types of meditation. And during Madhukar Meditation Monday a gentle cymbal will bring you back to your body consciousness. Would you like to join us? Then sit with us. It’s every Monday at 8pm here on the Facebook page (click).