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If you want to learn how to meditate and have been doing some research, you may have heard the terms, active meditation and passive meditation. If so, perhaps you are wondering which one is best for a person who is trying to learn how to meditate. Guided meditation is active meditation, and therefore, may be the right choice to start your meditation journey.
The difference between active meditation and passive meditation is that in active meditation, the person meditating uses thoughts and imagery in a proactive way to stimulate alpha brain waves activity and to keep the conscious mind busy.
For instance, in passive meditation the meditator is just watching thoughts and pictures that may come to mind, but in active meditation the meditator is picturing or visualizing a specific scene or image. During a guided meditation, the guide will direct you to picture and imagine different things in order to bring about relaxation and to help you to focus your mind.
Why should you focus your mind during meditation and how will that help? The reason that guided meditation is so effective at getting you into a meditative state is because when you focus your mind, it slows down, literally. When a person meditates or goes into a trance like state, his or her brain waves slow down to about 10 bets per second. There are four stages of brain waves and at this rate, you are in the alpha state.
In the alpha state, the subconscious mind is more accessible. It is easier to learn and also easier to relax. As the brain waves slow down, outside distractions and thoughts that cause stress are minimized. So the goal of meditation, from a physiological point of view, is to reach the alpha state.
While passively meditating, unless you are an experienced meditator, it may take a long time to reach the alpha state as thoughts and feelings may keep dragging you back to the beta state of full consciousness and alertness. However, when you use guided meditation, because you are listening to the guide’s voice, following suggestions, and using your mind, keeping it busy, it is much easier to enter the alpha state, so it is much easier to reach the physiological goal of meditation, the alpha state.