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The Best 20-Minute Guided Meditations to Enjoy a Little Mind-Body “Vacation”

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Summary: Can't seem to quiet your mind? Explore this list of 20-minute guided meditations to help you find calm in just minutes a day.

Does a flood of conflicting thoughts driven by angst ever happen to you at any one time?

“Did I turn off the coffee maker?”
“I have so much to do. I need to reply to fifty emails today.”
“I feel broke. I wish I had more money.
“I’m overweight. I should cut back on carbs.”

Thoughts about what happened in the past alternate with your concerns about the future, and before you know it, you feel your heart rate accelerate and you can’t focus on the task at hand.

We’ve all been there. But there are effective ways to destress when this happens or to prevent it from happening at all.

The Harmful Effects Of Long Term Stress

Chemically, stress is a combination of hormones released as an evolutionary response to a perceived threat.

When your brain interprets a certain circumstance as potentially dangerous, it releases adrenaline and norepinephrine, which are stress hormones that help you gear up to defend yourself or escape.

These hormones are the main cause of acute stress, or the immediate response to an imminent threat and they can save your life during a threatening situation.

There is, however, a long-lasting type of stress which is slow and can be extremely harmful.

This type is often called latent stress in the beginning, and we tend to get it from thinking back and forward in time too much. 

Latent stress happens as a result of thoughts about past regrets or shameful experiences, combined or alternated with worrying thoughts about the future. 

If latent stress progresses, it becomes chronic stress. This is largely caused by a hormone called cortisol.

The excessive release of cortisol in the body has been scientifically linked to several common illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and even bone density issues.

Moreover, cortisol can contribute to a surplus of free radicals, which kills brain cells.

The negative effects of long-term stress on the body have been proven in numerous scientific studies, and the impact can be noticed in people’s bodies, their moods, the quality of their rest, and even their libido. It is all caused by emotional responses to the world around us.

This means that the cure for stress involves changing your thought and response patterns to a more mindful and relaxed standard.

But how?

The answer is over five thousand years old and has now been proven by multiple studies to be the single most efficient way to not only reduce current levels of stress but also remedy the impact of past stressful circumstances: meditation.

How Meditation Peacefully Combats Stress

Meditation can lead to amazing results in managing and eradicating the effects of chronic stress.

Whether you quietly sit or lie still, or just observe your thoughts and enjoy the present, when practiced for a consistent period of time, meditation allows you to truly appreciate the present moment, while not getting emotionally—or psychologically—attached to them.

What that means is to be able to distance ourselves from thoughts that would normally cause an emotional response—by observing them, accepting them, and allowing them to go their own way.

It’s about having thoughts, observing them without judgment, and then letting them go.

It’s not about judging yourself for having certain thoughts and letting your mind wander through the experience it’s having in the now.

Like any skill or exercise, meditation requires some practice and diligent effort—especially for those of us who tend to feel restless when sitting quietly for even short periods of time.

However, it’s a worthwhile time and energy investment when you look at the benefits.

Your brain and your body will thank you later.

Guided Meditation: A Short Body And Mind Vacation

A great way to start a meditation practice to combat stress is to use guided meditations, which are meditation audio or video tracks that give specific directions so that you can simply visualize and follow the instructions.

Guided meditations became popular in the 1970s and have evolved with technology to allow beginners to learn how to meditate, while also immediately reaping the benefits of it.

Aside from alleviating stress, guided meditations can also help address specific issues like anxiety, pregnancy-related stress, addictions, and other health ailments, simply by providing instructions that are relevant to tackling those specific circumstances and allowing people to center themselves, become more in tune with their mind and body, and visualize a positive outcome.

They make it so easy for you to start a meditation practice that it becomes hard to make common excuses for it, like: “Oh, I don’t have time to sit down and breathe,” or “I can’t afford to hire a teacher,” or “I don’t know how to meditate.”

You simply explore various guided meditations, follow the instructions, and stick with what works with you.

Aside from the abundance of free guided meditation tracks, you can find online, you can actually start your practice today—even if you only have 20 minutes to commit.

You can get the benefits of meditation with just 20 minutes a day.

There is no need to sit quietly for two hours in a zen garden. Just 20 minutes with an effective guided meditation track can help you start building a healthy meditation practice to help address the chronic stress symptoms you may be feeling.

To help you get started in the practice, below are a few guided 20-minute meditation tracks we believe can help you reduce stress, cultivate a healthy brain, strengthen your mind-body connection, elevate your mindfulness, and address other aspects of your life you may be having trouble with.

A man walking in a forest and listening to 20-minute guided meditations

6 Effective 20-Minute Guided Meditations

1. Breathing Into Presence

Purpose: Being present and relaxed

This meditation focuses on the breath and how it can be your path to awareness and calmness. It starts off with a breathing exercise to calm your nervous system, inviting you into a relaxing state of mind. You will be much more aware of your surroundings and the sensations you are feeling in the present.

2. Loving Kindness Meditation

Purpose: Being present and relaxed

Like other meditations, the focus of this track is being present and mindfully aware, with an emphasis on focusing your intention on love and kindness. This specific one doesn’t have a background sound or music, but the author has a calming and soothing voice if that is what you are looking for.

3. Guided Meditation “Connecting To The Calm Within”

Purpose: Being present and relaxed

This track by Diane Yeo is a great treat. Diane has a soothing voice, and the track starts with an important reminder to allow your thoughts to come and go. She also reminds us that every experience is perfect and that there is no such thing as a “bad meditation.”

4. Self-Care Meditation

Purpose: Being present and relaxed

This is a great track by Mary Mackley. You will notice that this track is part of a podcast with some more information on why it’s important to reserve a space in your day for mindfulness and meditation as a self-care practice. The purpose of this track is perfectly aligned with the goal of this article—to provide solutions for your stress and to help you have a more immediate quality of life as well as a healthier thought process for the long run. Check this amazing guided 20-minute meditation out!

5. The 6 Phase Meditation

Purpose: Daily affirmation for manifesting abundance in every aspect of your life

This one is a very personal 6-phase dynamic meditation technique that I developed myself and use on a daily basis. I shared this with friends and family and they all loved it.

 – Vishen, founder of Mindvalley

The 6 phases are connection, gratitude, freedom from negative charges, creative visualization, intentions for the day, and blessing.

6. Mindfulness Meditation For Being Present

Purpose: Being present and relaxed

This is a guided meditation, written and read by Sara Raymond, which helps you develop your skill of being mindful and present. It will reduce your stress level, as well as improve your overall health and well-being when practiced regularly.

Now you can get started eradicating chronic stress from your life and embracing a practice that—among other things—will help you reduce stress, cultivate a healthy brain, and strengthen your mind-body connection.

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