11 min read

My top 16 guided meditations of 2022

Image of a golden bell hanging from a tree with a sunlit field in the distance
Activity bell at Blue Cliff Monastery, photo by Robert Walsh, taken in July 2016

As the year comes to a close, I thought it might be interesting to look back on what mindfulness and meditation recordings I listened to the most. I have a feeling it will tell me a little something about my year.

I’ll list each recording, where to find it, and when/how I typically use it.

I also think it’s important to have some idea of who the human is that is guiding you during a guided mindfulness practice. I think that one aspect of feeling safe and at home during a guided meditation is the trust of the person who is facilitating. To that end, I’ve tried to briefly introduce each person whose voice you hear.

Hopefully by putting all of these links in one place, you might discover a meditation that’s helpful in your year to come.

At the bottom of the post is a compiled list of the meditation recordings for reference.

A note on using the links in this post

All of the links below will work whether you are on a computer or a mobile device. If you are on a mobile device and have the app (Plum Village or Insight Timer) installed, you will be taken there. If you are on a computer, you will be taken to the web version of the app in your browser.

For Plum Village recordings, I’ve provided some guidance on how to navigate to the recordings within the app. This may help you find other recordings that I have not listed. Read more about the Plum Village App here.

For Insight Timer, I would simply recommend exploring the facilitators other recordings on the app if you’d like more. Read more about Insight Timer here.

For any of the teachers below, you may find more content from them by searching Google, YouTube, Twitter, or any other platform you use to find content.

Guided Sitting Meditations

Calm - Ease | Thích Nhất Hạnh (15 min)

This is a recorded meditation from Thầy. It’s one of the only ones that I know of. If you know of others, please comment or send me a message!

There are multiple versions posted in various places. On the PV App, there are 15 min, 20 min, and 37 min versions. For a breakdown of this guided meditation, see my previous post.

Where to find:

  • Plum Village App Navigation: Meditations (zen circle icon) > Guided Meditations > Thich Nhat Hanh
  • PV App: Calm - Ease | Thích Nhất Hạnh (15 min)
  • Youtube: Calm - Ease | Thích Nhất Hạnh (20 min)

Guided Meditation on Touching Freedom | Br. Bao Tich (7 min)

Short and sweet guided meditation that I use when I want to develop some stillness at the end of a busy day. This one has been getting a lot of airtime in my home recently. It’s quite spacious in it’s guidance.

From Brother Bao Tich, who is a wonderful Plum Village monk that I had the pleasure of touring India with in 2012. He has a gentle and solid presence.

Where to find:

Mindfulness of Feelings | Br. Phap Linh (11 min)

I often find myself reaching for this recording when I have had some strong emotions arise during the day. In it, Phap Linh guides us to find a place of stability so that we can have space to engage with challenging feelings.

From Brother Phap Linh, a PV monk who was one of the leads on helping the Wake Up initiative to start. Earlier this year, he gave a talk on Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness & Plum Village Practice.

Where to find:

  • PV App: Meditations (zen circle icon) > Guided Meditations > Short Meditations
  • Mindfulness of Feelings | Br. Phap Linh (11 min)

Mindfulness of the Body | Br. Phap Dung (5 min)

When I feel like I only have a few minutes at the end of my evening, this one is a go-to. Coming home to myself starts with the body.

For an introduction to Brother Phap Dung, see my earlier post.

Where to find:

  • PV App: Meditations (zen circle icon) > Guided Meditations > Short Meditations
  • Mindfulness of the Body | Br. Phap Dung (5 min)

Mindfulness of Breathing | Br. Phap Dung (11 min)

At the end of a busy day, when I feel like I’ve been running and rushing in everything I do, this meditation is a nice one for settling the mind.

Where to find:

  • PV App: Meditations (zen circle icon) > Guided Meditations > Plum Village Essentials
  • Mindfulness of Breathing | Br. Phap Dung (11 min)

Morning & Evening Chant | Sr. The Nghiem, Michael Ciborski (5 & 6 min)

Sometimes I like to connect in to the feeling of being at a Plum Village Monastery. When this instinct is coming up, depending on the time of day, I listen to either the morning or evening chant and then practice sitting meditation.

If you stay at a Plum Village monastery, typically there are morning and evening sessions of meditation in the large meditation hall daily. At the start of these sessions, one of these chants is recited. They have become almost Pavlovian for me. When I hear them, I can feel the stillness of the monastery and the peaceful energy of the sangha.

The morning chant recording in the PV app is offered by Sister The Nghiem. She is the abbess of Blue Cliff Monastery and has one of the most soothing voices I’ve heard. There was one night during a tour I was on when she played guitar and sang songs to a small group of us (all in our 20s) in a Zen centre until 3am. “Remembrance” is a lovely song from her: Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube. To find more PV music go here.

The evening chant recording in the PV app is offered by Michael Ciborski. He lived as a monk for seven years in Plum Village. He served for several years as an English language chant master in the monastery. He also helped guide children’s programs during tours, including for retreats that my wife, Elli Weisbaum, attended when she was a teen. For more about him, go here.

Where to find:

  • PV App: Resources (book icon) > Chanting > More Plum Village Chants
  • Morning Chant | Sr. The Nghiem (5 min)
  • Evening Chant | Michael Ciborski (6 min)

Here, the PV app team has combined them with a period of silent sitting:

Sometimes I combine these chanting recordings with one of the other meditations above using the PV App Playlists feature, which can be found here:

  • PV App: Extras (small bell icon) > Playlists

Deep Relaxations / Body Scans

Depending on your context, you might use the name Deep Relaxation or Body Scan for the practices below. They are similar and the two names are often used synonymously. You might consider all deep relaxations to include a body scan, but I don’t think that all “body scans” can be considered deep relaxations. For an introduction to Deep Relaxation see this Lion’s Roar article by Sister Chan Khong.

In Plum Village, the name Deep (or Total) Relaxation is typically used. The intention is to come home to and rest in the body. The guidance is infused with compassion, kindness, and love. This attitude, that we might want to bring to our awareness of the body, is embodied by the facilitator. In this spirit, a few songs are usually offered as part of the practice. The lyrics of the songs are meditations in an of themselves, and by receiving them in song, we can experience the soothing embrace of the facilitator.

I think we all have a child within us that is looking for love. I try to allow myself to become child-like and receive the care of the facilitator through their singing.

When a meditation is called a body scan, sometimes the facilitator can guide it in a way that you might think the intention is bare awareness without compassion. I believe that this can, in part, stem from some mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) that adapted buddhist practices for medical spaces in the west. In some of my introductory training for facilitating MBSR, I was instructed that the focus of a body scan is not compassion, even though it may be “embedded” by the participant. In fact, there is an entirely separate MBI for developing compassion called Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC).

I would encourage anyone practicing mindfulness to embody kindness, love, and compassion in all meditation sessions. In Plum Village, there may be different meditations for different purposes, but there is an embrace of the fact that none of them are completely separate. Plum Village started in the 1980s as a place that Vietnamese refugees could find community and a feeling of home. This spirit of family, love, and kindness is embedded in every aspect of PV and Applied Mindfulness. I personally find so much comfort in this.

Now, on to my list:

15 Minutes Body Scan | Sr. True Dedication (15 min)

I use this body scan frequently during mid-day lunch breaks. It’s a reasonable length and it never fails to bring me into my body on a day when I’m in non-stop thinking/analyzing mode.

From Sr. True Dedication, a PV nun who worked as a journalist for the BBC prior to entering the monastery in 2008. She is the editor of Thich Nhat Hanh’s latest book, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet (2021), as well as his books The Art of Living (2017) and Love Letters to the Earth (2013). She recently gave a TED Talk titled: 3 questions to build resilience -- and change the world. Years ago, during a Wake Up retreat in Plum Village, I remember sitting in a small group with her discussing the art of deep listening. She has a true spirit of being there for others. She is one to follow for sure.

Where to find:

  • PV App: Meditations (zen circle icon) > Deep Relaxation
  • 15 Minutes Body Scan | Sr. true Dedication (15 min)

5 minutes Total Relaxation for Healthcare Workers | Sr. Chanh Nghiệm (7min)

I think of this deep relaxation recording as a pair with Sr. Chanh Nghiem’s longer recording below. In shorter practices, I find it can sometimes be more difficult for me to settle; however, If I have already developed the habit of coming home to myself with a certain facilitator, I find it easier to settle during shorter practices. So, I’d encourage you, if this one doesn’t seem so effective, come back to it after trying her longer recordings.

From Sr. Chanh Nghiem, who is a PV nun and I believe has some kind of healthcare background / training in trauma-sensitive mindfulness. Her singing voice is wonderfully peaceful and nourishing.

Where to find:

Trauma-Sensitive Relaxation | Sr. Chanh Nghiệm (44 min)

Here is one of my favourite longer recordings from Sr. Chanh Nghiem. There are a few others as well on the PV app and on Youtube. They are an absolute must for anyone.

Where to find:

Mother Earth Guided Relaxation | Joe Reilly (28 min)

Joe Reilly…What can I say? I have an idea for a post titled “A love letter to Joe Reilly”. I’m not sure he could possibly know how much joy and healing my wife and I have received through his music.

Joe is incredibly musical and in this deep relaxation, he connects us to the earth and to the very core of who we are. I can’t say enough good things about this recording and this human.

Joe is a singer, songwriter, social worker, educator and lay Plum Village Dharma Teacher. Find his music here (Spotify, Apple Music, CDs). His album Greyhound Bus Tour gets a lot of airtime in my home.

Where to find (Insight Timer):

Guided Relaxation Practice | Kaira Jewel Lingo (28 min)

Another go-to deep relaxation recording. When I listen to Kaira Jewel’s deep relaxations, I can feel love in the way she speaks and in her songs.

From Kaira Jewel Lingo, who is an author, mindfulness teacher, and former Plum Village nun. From her website: “I guide people to transform and heal through embodied presence, stillness and play”. Her most recent book is called: “We Were Made for These Times”.

Where to find (Insight Timer):

Deep Relaxation | Meena Srinivasan (15 min)

This is a short and spacious recording. When I find myself looking frequently for a 15 min practice, I find it nice to alternate between this one and Sr. True Dedication’s 15 minute recording.

From Meena Srinivasan, who I met at an educators retreat in London in 2012 while on tour with Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village community. I filmed and edited a video titled “Talking about Mindfulness and Education” that she is in. I definitely feel like I’ve had long conversations with her, but in reality my memory of spending time with her is likely just from editing the video 🙂.

Where to find (Insight Timer):

37 minutes Deep Relaxation, Touching Inner Safety with songs and chanting | Br. Bao Tang and Br. Dinh Thuong (37 min)

This recording is beautifully trauma-informed. I love the guidance and the songs.

From Brother Bao Tang and Brother Dinh Thuong, both beautiful musicians and monks in the Plum Village Tradition.

Where to find:

50 Minutes Deep Relaxation | Br. Phap Dung (51 min)

This is a deeply nourishing long recording from Brother Phap Dung. His guidance is consistently what I need to hear in most moments of my life.

Where to find:

Compassionate Body Scan | Kristin Neff (24 min)

This is a body scan from Kirstin Neff, who is a researcher and helped to develop the program Mindful Self Compassion. I’ve often listened to the first 10-15 minutes of this recording as I’m going to sleep. I especially like some of the guidance at the beginning, where she talks about different ways of bringing compassionate awareness to the body.

Where to find (Insight Timer):

Bonus: Walking Meditation Accompaniment

As a bonus, I thought I’d include something that is not a guided meditation. This is a chanting recording that I like to use as a walking meditation accompaniment.

The Great Bell Chant (Vietnamese) | Thay Phap Niem (37 min)

While staying Upper Hamlet, Plum Village in France, this chant can can be heard throughout the monastery in the early morning before sitting meditation and at dusk before the evening sit.

When I hear it, I can sense the feeling of home that the monastery is for me. I like to turn it on with headphones while practicing walking meditation throughout my neighbourhood.

Where to find:

That’s it for 2022! Looking forward to returning in the new year 🙂

As always, leave a comment or message me. I’d love to hear from you.

List of meditations for reference

Guided Meditations

Deep Relaxation & Body Scan

Bonus: Walking Meditation Accompaniment