The following guided meditations are offered to provide relief from depression, stress, and/or anxiety. We’ll provide a broad overview of the terminology followed by free downloadable practices you can use any time.
What is mindfulness and meditation? How do they help?
Mindfulness most simply means maintaining moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, emotions, physical surroundings, and bodily sensations. The key to mindfulness is bringing awareness to the present moment and bringing awareness to how we judge our experience. The idea is to allow thoughts and sensations to come, while being aware that we do not have to believe everything we think 100 percent of the time. Mindfulness helps us cultivate curiosity, openness, and kindness, and from this place, we have more agency in our lives.
The word “meditation” can refer to many kinds of practices that involve observing or training the mind, including guided and silent practices. Mindfulness is one kind of meditation; other forms include guided meditations, visualizations or even prayer can be a form of meditation.
All types of meditation can help calm the nervous system and help with mood management. Practiced over time - even in as little as two weeks- meditation can change the brain structure and hence positively impact our stress and moods.
What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT for short, involves exercises that help you understand how thinking patterns, emotions, and behaviors affect and interact with each other. CBT can help you learn to observe and better manage your thoughts, gain self confidence, and learn coping skills when you experience strong emotions.
What is behavioral activation?
Behavior activation is a method to identify activities that you both value and enjoy. When we’re depressed, it’s incredibly difficult to schedule things that are meaningful to us. Behavior activation helps improve depressive symptoms by providing step-by-step instructions for scheduling time for social activities, physical exercise, and other positive experiences that improve mood!
Guided Exercises - to download
The following exercises are designed to help you in specific moments of stress and depression. These exercises include mindfulness practices, meditations, guided visualizations, behavioral activation and cognitive practices. Remember, these exercises and resources are no substitute for finding professional help.
Listening instructions: To listen to the audio file, click the black triangle next to the title. To download a personal copy of the audio file, click "Download" next to the title.
WANT TO LEARN THE CALMING EFFECTS OF MINDFULNESS?
Because our breath is with us 24/7, noticing breathing is one of the easiest ways to begin practicing mindfulness meditation. Whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed, come back to the present moment by noticing your breath. This practice can familiarize you with this process until you’re ready to do it on your own. Credit: Emily Hine
Feeling Stressed At Work?
Sometimes, we just need to STOP: Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed. This guided exercise offers a quick and portable way to reduce stress in 20 seconds. It’s an exercise you can turn to again and again. Credit: Renée Burgard
THINKING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS?
This short exercise can help you focus on more positive thoughts by helping you become aware of both negative and positive feelings and sensations. Renée Burgard kindly reminds us that we are not often joyful about not having a toothache, and yet we often focus on negative feelings when a tooth hurts. This exercise can help you identify more positive thoughts in the moment. Credit: Renée Burgard
Most of us have a seasoned inner-critic that likes to share opinions and judgements of what we’ve seemingly done “wrong.” The inner critic can take a sabbatical with this short, soothing, self-compassion practice designed to remind you that kindness is actually your birthright. Credit: Meru Health