Meditate in many languages with UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center
Guided meditations can be a helpful way to begin or sustain a mindfulness practice. Now, whether you speak Armenian, Mandarin, Farsi, Tagalog, Korean, Hindi, Russian or American Sign Language, you can find guided meditations in your language at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC).
Thanks to funding from CalHOPE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, MARC’s guided meditations are now available in 14 languages, in addition to English.
“We were in a great position to help because we have a program called Training in Mindfulness Facilitation, a teacher training program that we've done for 11 years, and we've actually had participants in that program from all over the world, speaking many different languages,” says MARC’s associate director, Marvin Belzer, PhD, adding that graduates of the program helped create the translations. “So it was easy to say yes. And, of course, we were also very excited about it.”
The guided meditations available through the MARC website and on the free UCLA Mindful app range in length from three minutes to 19 minutes. They include basic breathing and body-scan meditations, a “loving kindness” meditation to generate compassion and a meditation for working with difficult physical or emotional sensations.
Focused on the present moment
Guided meditations can be useful for people new to mindfulness meditation, a practice that helps cultivate the ability to “pay attention to present-moment experiences with openness and curiosity and a willingness to be with what is,” according to Diana Winston, PhD, director of mindfulness education at MARC.
In the simplest terms, mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing on something real, but something that isn’t too complicated, Dr. Belzer says, such as the feeling of the breath moving in and out, sensations in the hands or feet, or ambient sounds. The aim is to place nonjudgmental attention on the object of focus, and when you notice the mind has wandered — which it will, this is normal — to gently guide your attention back to the chosen focus.
For novices, it’s often hard to sit still and stay connected to the present moment for more than a few seconds — the mind quickly wanders and you’re making a shopping list or thinking about what you’ll have for lunch. Hearing the voice of a teacher can be helpful for maintaining focus.
But guided mediations are far from the only way to practice mindfulness, Dr. Belzer notes.
We have the ‘natural capacity’
“We would encourage people to use the app if it’s useful, but if you begin to notice that you are bored or you kind of know what they’re going to say or, for whatever reason, you feel like you don’t need it, pay attention to that,” he says. “Because you don’t actually need it. You can do the same thing on your own. And it’s not a matter of following some instructions perfectly. It’s much more doable than that.
“It can be helpful to have someone guiding you,” he continues, “but it can also be helpful not to have someone guiding you, where you’re just remembering to tune into your breath.”
Besides the traditional seated meditation most often depicted in popular culture, there are also standing and walking meditations. MARC offers introductory mindful awareness classes that also include eating meditations.
Mindfulness is a natural capacity all human beings have, Dr. Belzer says: an ability to be aware of what’s happening in our experience.
“Not only do you not have to stop thinking, you also don’t have to create something new. Just by being a conscious human being, you are mindful,” he says. “In meditation, we can refine and develop this. But it’s not that meditation creates mindfulness; it just helps deepen and refine it.”
No matter what language you speak.
Learn more about the guided meditations offered by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.