Guided meditation has become very popular in self-help circles, with apparently every website dedicated to meditation trying to sell US CDS or even one-on-one sessions with a personal meditation guide. I have never been interested in this activity, and in this article, I will explain the reason for my booking. If you are serious about attaining altered states of consciousness through guided meditation, you won't fall for the hype either.

Is Guided Meditation Really Meditation?

Meditation is – or should be – the ultimate individual pursuit, in which the practitioner explores the deepest regions of the self. This is not a team sport, and it is not a social activity. If you want to meditate in the presence of other friends or like-minded people, perhaps in the hope of experiencing a deeper connection with them, or with a view to discussing your experiences afterwards, that's fine. But the actual activity itself is one you must undertake alone. The journey is uniquely yours.

Guided meditation, by its very nature, converts this personal activity into an interpersonal activity, and gives unacceptable control and direction to the meditation guide. The voice of the guide may ask you questions to encourage analysis of troubling emotional issues, as in a psychotherapy session. It may attempt to lead you to certain inner states by suggesting imagery as if you can't relax by yourself.

Or, in its worst possible form, it may actually seek to reprogram your belief system with selected affirmations, in a manner akin to hypnotherapy. These may all be interesting activities, and may even be worth pursuing for some people who can't seem to gain traction working alone. But to the extent that they transfer control and direction to someone else, they cannot be considered proper meditation.