The Universe has asked us to retreat during this surreal time. Spending time in stillness is one way of doing just that. We are called to go within and not without. It’s a journey without distance. Meditation, a mindfulness practice, helps us to connect with our true essence – who we are without the personal stories.
Meditation is also a proven method for reducing stress, increasing our immune, and improving our mental health. Meditating helps us to focus and offers us an elevated perspective on our experiences.
However, a meditation practice poses some challenges for some, which is why we culled a list of free guided meditation resources to help you cope in these difficult times, as well as hone in your practice. We also put together mindfulness resources for children and teenagers.
Free Guided Meditation Resources
1. Tara Brach
Tara Brach’s website is my go-to resource when I need a calming and wise teacher at the helm of my practice. Renowned meditation teacher and author Tara Brach offers beautifully instructed meditation that aims to remove our suffering and lead us to inner peace. Her methodology combines Eastern spiritual philosophies and Western psychology, also known as Western Buddhism.
Check out: Tara’s guided meditation “Calling on Your Awakened Heart” In this practice, Tara shows us how to access wisdom and love, what we most need in these times of uncertainty.
Note: If you benefit and find healing through the meditations, please make a donation.
2. Self-Compassion Meditations by Dr. Kristen Neff
Self-care is the new health care. In a time of a crisis, there is a tendency to worry about others’ well-being but not our own. In order for us to be in a position to help those around us, we need to start with self-care. Mindful self-compassion is what Dr. Kristen Neff teaches. She also authored Self-compassion – The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.
Check out: Self-compassion / Loving Kindness meditation. Dr. Neff instructs on how to apply compassion when we’re critical of ourselves.
There are self-compassion exercises on the site as well, which from experience, has made a difference in the way I respond to the self-critic.
This site was started 10 years ago by David Procyshyn. DoYogaWithMe.com is a definitive source for yoga and yoga-centred meditation where their aim is to honour the integrity of yoga, make this practice accessible to all, and teach in a way that is enjoyable for the student.
They’ve curated some of the best meditations and yoga sessions around. With such a mix of topics and exercises it’s impossible to get bored. Half of the content is free, high quality, and accessible right away. There is also a community forum you can participate in. Premium membership is available, which unlocks the rest of the content.
Check out: David’s guided meditation on how to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
In a rush? Try out the 6 minute meditations, which includes a body scan, breath meditation, and loving kindness.
QuietKit is a no-frills yet useful source for meditation beginners. They offer simple tips to get started, and keep up with a meditation schedule. Best of all, it’s all 100% free. That means you can get started today. With 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 minute sessions QuietKit allows you to increase the length of your practice as needed. Bottom line, if you’re looking to get into meditation, this website has what you need.
Check out: Box Breathing, also known as Navy Seal breathing technique to help you find calm. You inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds.
QuietKit created a visual meditation that you can sync your breathing method with.
5. MBSR by Palouse Mindfulness
This is a free online MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program resource. Dave Potter, a certified MBSR teacher, put this complimentary resource together so that it can be accessible to everyone.
6. Audio Dharma
Audio Dharma is a collection of vipassana meditations and dharma talks in audio format held at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Insight continues the 2500-year-old Buddhist tradition of offering the teachings for free. In line with this tradition, the Audio Dharma resource is also free. Most of the meditations are led by Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella – teachers at Insight.
Check out: Breathing Interconnection in Challenging Times led by Nikki Mirghafori.
Note: If you benefit from the resources and if it’s in your interest, please make a donation.
7. Stress Reduction at Work
This resource is offered by Bill Scheinman – a mindfulness teacher of 20 years. He is an MBSR instructor and he offers one-on-one coaching to students who want to develop their practice. He also teaches corporate clients how to practice mindfulness communication and stress reduction. The site offers free guided meditations both in audio and video format.
8. Centre for Mindfulness Studies
I’ve taken a handful of courses at the not-for-profit Centre for Mindfulness Studies. They offer a robust selection of both in-person and online mindfulness-based personal and teacher-training programs. On their site is a number of complimentary guided meditations by experienced teachers.
Check out: Meditations for their Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program
9. One Mind Dharma
If a live group meditation is your thing, One Mind Dharma is your source. They offer a weekly group meditation (by donation). Also, they have a membership program that has a small monthly fee. You’ll gain access to their online courses and guides and daily meditations.
Check out: Their free 30 day meditation challenge. During the course of the challenge, you’ll receive guided meditations directly in your inbox.
You’ll also get access to their meditations on Youtube.
10. Meditation Oasis
Format: Website, App, Podcast, MP3
Meditation Oasis is a constant force in the meditation world. Mary and Richard Maddux, founders of the resource, offer 40 years of practice and experience. Although there’s a cost to purchasing their apps and MP3s, they have a ton of free guided meditations via their podcast that they uploaded on the site. In addition, you can go through their reading materials on how to get started on your practice.
Check out: Belly Breathing for Anxiety – it’s about 12 minutes long. It’s the 4th one from the top of their podcast page.
Also a good one is the Whole Body Relaxation guided meditation. It’s 7th down from the top.
11. Dharma Seed
Dharma Seed is a community board designed for posting Insight teachings. You’ll find material – guided meditations and discourses from the Western Insight tradition taught at centres such as Insight Meditation Society (IMS), Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Gaia House and New York Insight.
Check out: Well-being in the time of Coronavirus guided by teacher Nathan Glyde.
For those of you who get distracted by physical discomfort while meditating, have a listen to Chas DiCapua’s dharma talk.
Note: If you find comfort in the resources and if you’re able to, please make a donation.
12. The Free Mindfulness Project
The Free Mindfulness Project has collated mindfulness resources as practiced in MBSR and MBCT – mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and other related methodologies. Donations are accepted.
13. Self Realization Fellowship
The Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) was founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda. Some say Yogananda is the father of Yoga in the Western culture. The site contains lessons and guided meditations based on Kriya Yoga – a philosophy and way of life for achieving well-being.
14. Quiet Mind Cafe
Format: Website, Youtube
Quiet Mind Cafe’s YouTube channel is full of meditation exercises. They touch on many subjects such as, limiting anxiety and focusing on deep sleep. This helpful resource can get you on the road to more restful sleep and a more peaceful existence.
Check out: Simple Relaxation meditation – a quick 7 minute session to shift your state.
Sonima is one of the most comprehensive collections of online meditations. When scrolling through their library chances are you will find something that can help you. Most likely, you’ll find quite a few.
16. The Chopra Center
Format: Website, App
The center, founded by famous Guru Deepak Chopra, and colleague David Simon, is one of the formative libraries of guided meditations online. As Chopra’s fame has grown, so has his ability to provide free material. That means you benefit from his success. With 15 home spun sessions, The Chopra Center continues to add new material. If you seriously enjoy it, they also hold live workshops and seminars around the country.
Check out: Chopra and Oprah teamed up to offer a free 21 day meditation
17. Fragrant Heart
Elisabeth Blaikie, founder of Fragrant Heart, teaches from years of experience. Fragrant Heart’s selection is impressive. With some guides as short as 1 minute, and specific programs formatted for women or for empaths, everyone can find a meditation to influence calm within themselves.
Check out: Guided Awareness for Obsessive Thoughts
Format: Website and App
When you first visit Calm’s website it’s easy to see their message. The soothing moving water and harmless forest rhythms will have you feeling calmer instantly. Once you get inside you can see why they offer one of the best resources around. They offer professional quality meditations. You can track your progress and keep your routine fresh with new unique options. If you outgrow the free service, you can move up to the premium tier with enhanced and unlimited offering.
19. Center for Mindful Learning
The Center for Mindful Learning vows to help us “dance the dance that only we can dance.” So are you ready to tango?
Check out: Aligning Body, Breath and Mind guided meditation
20. Art of Living
Art of Living’s Experience online series allows you to tailor your sessions to your needs. If you’re feeling stressed, there’s a tutorial for that. If you’re in need of some restful sleep, there’s a tutorial for that. Essentially you are the master of your own experience, you decide what you need and they show you how to fix it.
21. Guided Meditations of Soul Transcendence
This resource from MSIA gives the listener a more spiritual focus. The goal is to find your essence or soul, and seek out what it needs. This exploration of consciousness is not as much about religion or an afterlife as discovering what you truly are. If that sounds interesting to you, give it a shot.
22. Diana Lang
Diana Lang is yoga instructor with close to 40 years of experience in the field. Listening to her guides on soundcloud is an easy way to take that expertise on the go.
Meditainment’s motto is “Meditation that Takes You Places”, and after one session you’ll see why. They desire to remove you from the stresses of everyday life to a faraway place. Consider it like an audio vacation. With 18 free mental trips, they make sure you don’t need to visit the same place twice.
A free resource from the University of Texas’ MindBody Lab, CMHC helps you realize the association between brain and body. Turns out it’s pretty important.
25. UCSD Health
University of California San DIego’s health department has compiled a wide variety of meditations and posted them for download. The sessions range from 6 to 45 minutes and touch on a myriad of issues like kindness, wisdom, movement, and of course, breathing. They also have posted video sessions and yoga exemplars as well. If you download everything here, you’ll be in a good frame of mind for a long time.
26. Frantic World
Frantic World’s mission is to show you how to relax in a world that can seem out of control. They are a resource for the modern daily warrior and essential for anyone looking to decompress.
27. Dave Vago
Dave Vago is currently employed by Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s hospital where he works on meditation as a means to mental health. You might want to listen to what he has to say.
28. UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center
Format: Website and App
UCLA’s Mindfulness Center has compiled a few introductory meditation lessons. They have provided a spectrum of listening options including publishing to iTunes. Furthermore, they offer a 30-minute guided meditation podcast weekly. Also, they offer transcripts and some sessions in Spanish. UCLA has a reputation for being a great institution of learning and this branch seems no different.
29. OISE Wellness
The University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) created a wellness resource that includes meditation groups, as well as guided meditation audios for free.
Check out: Compassionate Breathing meditation instructed by Rose Munjee.
30. Sharon Salzberg
Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, played a role in bringing mindfulness and meditation into the mainstream. She has an approachable and practical style in her teachings. Sharon offers a ton of resources on her sight, including access to her Metta Hour podcast.
Check out: Covid-19 Resources page that was put together for this time of crisis.
Guided Meditations for Kids and Teens
31. Annaka Harris
Annaka Harris is author of Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind, as well as a children’s book called I Wonder. On her site is a handful of guided meditations for children. You can find topics such as mindful hearing, mindful breathing, and mindful seeing.
32. Mindfulness for Teens
This is a great meditation resource designed for adolescents. This resource was started by Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician at B.C. Children’s Hospital. Dr. Vo also developed MARS-A (Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents) – an adaptation of the MBSR program.
33. Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
Format: Website, App
Kelty Mental Health Resource is offered by the B.C. Children’s Hospital. The site provides mental health and substance use information and tools, such as mindfulness-based therapy. Guided meditations are available on the site, as well as on their app, called Breathr.
Check out: Mindful Movement meditation, guided by Dr. Vo.
34. Insight Timer
Format: Website, App
Insight Timer is one of my favourite meditation apps. They have 40,000 free guided and non-guided meditations. They also have a robust collection geared towards children and teens. Insight has a premium version, but the cost is nominal.
Check out: Meadow Meditation for Kids and Teens by Dr. Brett Wade; and Kids: Learn to Meditate – a 5 day course by Andy Hobson.
Do you have a favourite resource for guided meditations? Share in the comments.
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, the trifecta of healing and being, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.
Carmella Custodio says
The 32 Free Guided Meditation Resources for Difficult Times article
is one of the best I have ever read!
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Jasmine Hewitt says
Guided meditation really works for me, I’m so glad I started this years ago
Real Happiness says
Hi , marina Thanks for sharing the list of guided meditation resources .
Please check this out for guided meditation : https://realhappiness.org/blog/guided-meditation.php