guided meditation recordings

Why meditate?

Eight Step Recovery

On the 17th of November I will be releasing the 21 Day Meditation Recovery to listen to or download free. It’s a short course in meditation to accompany our book, Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, which will be published in January in the UK and in March in North America.

For a free sample chapter of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email:

Each meditation is about 15 minutes long. It’s a bite-sized length – perfect for people with busy lives who find it hard to make time or if some of you struggle with longer meditations. The meditations cover a range of topics including mindfulness, loving-kindness, ethics, wisdom and mantras. All the meditations have some background music which can help you to stay focused on the subject of the meditation.

These meditations are special because friends donated there time, creativity and expertise as a gift of generosity to make these recordings free. When you register you will learn who the people were who made these meditations possible.

I asked a few friends: ‘Why meditate?’

  • ‘First and foremost, I’m a simple recovery guy and it is the focus point of the 12-Steps. What ignites me each day to practice, is meditation encourages me to stay awake and be present for my life, which is enough, which is everything.’ Tom Catton, author of the Mindful Addict
  • ‘I meditate for many reasons but above all I meditate for insight, guidance and direction into the nature of mind; it’s a sort of spiritual SatNav pointing to the path away from suffering,’ Vince Cullen, Founder of Meditation for Abstinence and Recovery –Fifth Precept Sangha
  • ‘Some people meditate for a purpose—for stress reduction, anger management, physical and mental health, enhanced athletic or artistic performance, or whatever the reason might be. And that’s totally fine. Meditation can be very beneficial for all of those things. But what I would call true meditation is not a doing. It has no purpose, no goal, no use. It is simply being here now. Not being here now in order to achieve something or get somewhere or get rid of something or change something, but being here now with no agenda. Meditation is simply awareness. It allows everything to be just as it is, without chasing anything or pushing anything away. Meditation is a kind of open looking and listening rooted in a spirit of curiosity, interest and love. It can be done in an intentional way, which is how we usually think of meditation, as deliberately sitting down and meditating. In that case it is a kind of simplified space where we stop all the usual doing, the “sound and fury” of daily life—and we sit relatively still, without talking, turn off the TV and the stereo and the phone and all the various devices, put down the books and magazines, and simply BE, Here / Now, awake and present. We allow what we often overlook or avoid to come into the light of awareness. We see patterns of habitual, conditioned thought that we hadn’t seen before, and we discover the open, spacious aliveness of bare being. In simply being present with no goal or purpose, a space opens up where nothing is lacking. Stories that have seemed so real dissolve into silence and what remains is beyond words. ‘ Joan Tollifson an author of several books, who uses her personal experience to explore non duality and awareness
  • ‘I meditate because, while profound change can potentially happen anywhere and anytime, meditation offers the best set of conditions for that to happen. There are times when it seems I don’t want or need to meditate, but I simply have never found a better alternative.’ Satyadhana, a Sanskrit and Pali scholar
  • ‘Only the meditation pillow grows sweet calm and clear insight’ Bhikkhu Samahita – Theravadin Monk.
  • ‘I meditate to step into the vastness that is always there.’ Florence Caplow – Zen Priest and editor of Hidden Lamp:Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women
  • ‘I recognize meditation as one of the most direct methods for growth and working with tendencies. Right now my body feels charged with a happiness that makes me feel like laughing…. Ed Cooper, Going For Refuge Mitra in the Triratna Sangha
  • ‘I meditate because I love to be reminded that love and openness are always just there.’ Padmadharani – Meditation Teacher and Writer
  • I hope some of these quotes inspire you to take part in the 21 Day Meditation for Recovery – and Busy Lives. It has been said it takes 21 days to change a habit, so how about creating a new habit, 15 minutes of mediation daily. What was the Buddha doing when he became enlightened? Meditating. This answer says it all. Meditation is revolutionary and continues to revolutionize my life.
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Guided meditation … by the riverside

I recorded this guided meditation using Google Glass while sitting by the river that runs by my office. Glass, which is like a mobile phone that you wear on your face like a pait of glasses, shows a first person view, so you’re seeing what I saw during the part of the meditation that my eyes were open. In fact this is a meditation that, unlike most of those I lead, involves starting with the eyes open.

If you have any problem viewing the video, you can watch it on Youtube instead.

My purchase of Google Glass was made possible, in part, by a kind donation from Adrian Lucas, who runs a hydroponic microfarm in Florida, and who teaches other people how to do likewise.

Thanks, Adrian!

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Looking with loving eyes (through Google Glass)

glass buddha projectI picked up Google Glass, which is essentially a smartphone that you wear on your head, on July 6. I’d made a pitch to Google in order to get Glass, saying that I wanted to explore it as a tool for teaching meditation and mindfulness.

The timing in some ways wasn’t great, because I was working a second job at the University of New Hampshire over the summer, teaching personal development and study skills to teens from low income families. And when that seven-week stint was up I had a heck of a lot of catching up to do back at Wildmind.

But one of the things I did do with Glass while teaching at UNH was to use it to record some guided meditation sessions I led with my teens. You can’t actually record just audio on Glass, so what I’ve done here is to take a video and strip out the audio.

I’ll be posting more about my adventures with Glass now that I’ve caught up.

A word about the quality. I was teaching in a large room with constant noise from the air conditioning and from the fan of a projector. So I had to talk much more loudly than I would normally do, and you can also hear the machine noise in the background. But here’s the recording, which is 12 minutes long.

The meditation starts with a brief body scan and then turns into a lovingkindness practice. It uses an approach that I call “loving gaze,” which is a quick and easy way to evoke a sense of kindly, caring, compassionate attention.

I was able to get Google Glass thanks to many generous donors who covered the costs involved. (Although I won a competition in order to become a Glass Explorer I still had to pay for the device.) One of the most generous donors was Adrian Lucas of Sassakala Microfarm. I’ve visited Adrian’s microfarm in Florida, where he gets an amazingly bountiful crop from a vertical hydroponic farm with a tiny footprint, and it’s very impressive. In fact, Sassakala catered a retreat I led in Florida this February, and the veggies were delicious.

sassakala logo

Sassakala’s aims are:

  • to show kids where real food comes from
  • to encourage you to take control of your health by growing some of your own food at home
  • to show you how much fun it can be to cook beautiful, healthy meals for yourself from the food you grow
  • to show you that it’s not only possible but also amazingly rewarding to put food on the table that came from seeds you planted and nurtured yourself
  • for you to grow your own food

Please visit Sassakala at

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Guided meditation: The six element practice

Here is a recording of meditation Hangout on Google+ where Bodhipaksa leads a session of the Six Element Practice, which is a traditional insight meditation practice taught by the Buddha.

The Six Element Practice is a reflection on impermanence, interconnectedness, and non-self, where we notice that the elements of earth (anything solid that constitutes “us”), water (any liquid in the body), fire (the energy in the body), air (any gases within the body), and space (the body’s form) — that is, what constitutes our physical body — are not in any way separate from the world, but are simply borrowed from what we consider to be “not us.”

Even the separateness of the experiencer and that which is experienced is dropped, so that we can come to a state of pure non-dual awareness.

For more information visit our online guide to the six element practice.

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Guided meditation: mindfulness of breathing


The video below is another recording from one of the Google Plus Hangout meditations that I lead from time to time.

This one is a form of mindful breathing meditation. It follows the traditional form that’s taught on this site, but with more of an emphasis on setting up conditions for the jhana factors to arise.

I incorporate a few elements which have become distinctive in my teaching: the principle of paying attention to a broad band of experiences connected with the breathing, so that we use up as much mental bandwidth as possible in order to reduce distracted thinking. This week I add a little twist, which is paying attention to the three-dimensionality of the breathing: something I find really calms the mind, probably because it moves activity from the left to the right hemisphere of the brain.

Enjoy! And remember that we have a thriving online meditation community, where we share what’s going on in our practice and give each other support and encouragement. Please join us!

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Guided Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing


This is a guided meditation that I led this week in a Google Hangout (that’s a form of videoconferencing, if you’re not familiar with it) with some meditation students.

After 100 Days of Lovingkindness practice I felt the need to get back to exploring mindful breathing meditation again.

The sound quality’s not perfect and the video is — well, there’s no video. Due to a technical problem of some sort the video stopped being recorded a few minutes into the Hangout, so I just took it out altogether.

Still, I hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from the talk and the practice.

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The value of guided meditations…

wildmind coverRecently I was interviewed by Hannah Atkinson of Windhorse Publications in the UK. I’m one of their authors, but she was curious to know more about the guided meditation CDs and MP3s that I’ve published through Wildmind.

Here’s the conversation:

You have produced a large number of guided meditation CDs and you also run a huge online meditation teaching resource, Wildmind. What is the ethos behind your emphasis on audio and online meditation teaching and why do you think it is so important? 

Well, it’s something I stumbled into really about 13 years ago when I was doing my Masters degree at the University of Montana. I was wondering about how to teach and I started thinking about the potential of the internet to reach people. Back then there was nothing much on the internet about meditation at all, so it seemed like a really exciting thing to do. I started making meditation courses with audio and text available online and then the CDs just grew out of that really.

So I think that audio and online meditation teaching is a really great way of reaching lots and lots of people and it is also a really great way of reaching people who would have difficulty getting good instruction elsewhere. Perhaps in Britain there are people who don’t have their own transport and who have to travel 20 miles to go to a meditation class, but in the US it’s not uncommon for someone to be several hundred miles from their nearest Buddhist centre.

How effective do you think CD guides are as a teaching method? What are the advantages of your guides over a book or a meditation class, for example?

Every avenue of teaching has its particular advantages and disadvantages. A class is great because you’ve got a teacher there who can answer any question you might have about your meditation practice. But perhaps you go to the class once a week and when you get home you can’t quite remember what the instructions were, or perhaps you didn’t completely grasp the instructions and you’re not actually doing what you were taught. With a CD guide you have a meditation teacher at home – I mean you can’t ask any questions, but if it’s a well-led guided meditation then it will introduce you to some skills that you can repeatedly expose yourself to and begin to internalize.

Books are great for giving people things to think about but they’re pretty terrible from the point of view of leading you through a guided meditation. We’re not very good at memorizing and we don’t want to have to keep opening our eyes and peeking at the book to see what the next instruction is! Memorizing also involves effort that should just be going into paying attention to our experience.

So all these different teaching methods have their place, and I think ideally you want to be exposed to as many as possible, taking advantage of whatever is accessible to you. I think the most important thing is that you have a mixture of teaching and independent exploration in your practice. Guidance from someone who is more experienced than you is obviously essential in order to grow, but I also advise my students to give themselves time to do their own exploration because sometimes you just need to hit a difficult patch in your practice and find your own solution to the problem that you’ve been facing.

Let’s talk about a couple of your CD guides in particular. One has the title Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction. Why do you think meditation is so good at reducing stress?

Well, there are two parts to stress: one is the things happening in your life and the other is how you are responding to those things, and stress mainly comes from the latter. When we experience something difficult or challenging, often our minds go into overdrive – we start obsessively thinking, ‘This is terrible!’, ‘It’s going to go on forever!’ or ‘This shouldn’t be happening to me!’ These kinds of stories that we tell ourselves are where stress is really coming from, and meditation helps us to become aware of those stories and gives us the opportunity to let go of them.

Meditation can also help us to see other ways of being with difficult circumstances and experiences, for example, we can learn to just be with things that are uncomfortable. If you can just tell yourself, ‘This experience feels unpleasant right now’ without trying to run away from it, you’re not adding that secondary layer of suffering.

Yes, on your Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction CD you lead a meditation on acceptance. Can you talk a bit more about the relevance of acceptance to stress reduction?

If we recognize something unpleasant in our experience, we often feel a strong tendency to fix it. And if we’re in an emotional state of ill-will then yes, we need to do something straightaway to stop ourselves behaving in a destructive way. However, if we are just experiencing unpleasantness on the level of vedanas, trying to fix those feelings is misguided. Feelings may be unpleasant, but they’re never unskillful, while aversion to those unpleasant feelings is a form of unskillfulness.

Instead, I find it helpful to try to treat unpleasant experiences as opportunities to be compassionate. If I’m experiencing an unpleasant feeling – anger or fear, for example – I ask myself, ‘Where am I experiencing it in the body? Often it’s down in my solar plexus – I feel this kind of knot of tension there. So I recognize that this is suffering, and what is the most appropriate response to suffering in the world? It’s compassion. I therefore treat the suffering that I’m experiencing in my body as something that needs compassion – I wish the pain and discomfort in my solar plexus well.

I find that if I do this, the whole superstructure of anger completely disappears, because the point of the anger in evolutionary terms is to defend us from the thing that is causing us hurt or fear right now, but in the majority of circumstances in modern-day life, a defensive, angry response is a destructive rather than a useful one. So through meditation we can learn to be mindful and compassionate towards unpleasant experiences rather than reactive and defensive.

The most recent of your CD guides available on the Windhorse Publications website is Mindfulness Meditations for Teens. Why did you produce a CD specifically for teenagers? What benefits can teenagers gain from meditating?

Well that CD came out of some teaching that I’ve been doing in the summer – there’s a national academic enrichment programme for High School students in the United   States called ‘Upward Bound’, and I’ve been teaching a study skills personal development course with that for over 10 years now. A few years ago I started introducing a short meditation session into each class, and this was with some trepidation. Would I end up with a fundamentalist Christian parent knocking on my door complaining that I’d been indoctrinating their child? Would the kids just find it really boring? I didn’t know what the response was going to be at all. But it turns out that it is always their favourite part of the course! So I thought, ‘Well if I’m doing something that’s working for 30 teens over the summer, why not record it and make it available for other people as well?’

And in terms of the benefits that teenagers can gain from meditating, I think they’re the same as for people in general really because being a teenager is just an intense form of being human! If you think about all the difficult things about being human, they are all things that teenagers experience really intensely. Take change, for example, teenagers are experiencing constant change in their lives. Each year they have to learn new subjects with new teachers, their bodies are changing, they’re moving into being adults and having to deal with all the pressures of developing romantic, sexual relationships. And they’re going through all this at a time when their brains are still developing as well.

So the way that I teach meditation to teenagers isn’t that different from the way that I teach it to people in general, although I do keep the meditations fairly short and break them down so that we’re just focusing on doing one particular thing in a meditation practice, and I try to keep the vocabulary more simple and appropriate for young people.

Lastly, for those who haven’t used CD guides in their meditation practice before, what is the one thing you would tell them in order to convince them to give it a try?

I would suggest being open to the possibility that there are skills and perspectives that other people may have learned that might be useful in your own life. I know that from my own experience, the guidance that I’ve received from meditation teachers has been enormously enriching because it has exposed me to different ways of approaching life. So I’d really encourage other people to be open to experiencing that as well.

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Guided compassion meditation (karuna bhavana)

Here’s a recording of a guided meditation that I led in a Google+ Hangout, for people who are part of Wildmind’s Google+ community. The meditation is the Karuna Bhavana (Cultivating Compassion) in five stages, where we cultivate compassion for:

  1. Ourselves
  2. A suffering person
  3. A “neutral person”
  4. A “difficult person
  5. All sentient beings.


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