Differences Between Meditation, Guided Imagery and Visualization

Meditation, guided imagery and visualization are similar, and are defined in different ways depending on one’s viewpoint.

For the purposes of the relaxation techniques on this site, here are the definitions I am using:

Visualization – visualizing something for relaxation or making positive changes. This may include visualizing a relaxing scene, visualizing healing occurring, visualizing the stages of a breath, or other mental images.

Guided imagery – the process of being guided through calming or helpful mental images. Includes following along with a description of a peaceful place or calming scene, healing process, or other guided images.

Meditation – focusing the mind for the purposes of relaxation or making positive changes.

Relaxation techniques usually involve all three of these processes.

The main differences between meditation, visualization and guided imagery:

– Visualization can be guided or unguided. You can visualize mental images all on your own, with or without a script.

– Guided imagery is directed, either by a written, video, or audio script.

– Meditation involves focusing the mind on passive observation or on making positive changes.

Site Organization

According to these definitions, the scripts that are classified as “visualization” on this site are also considered to be guided imagery. The scripts in the “meditation” category could be termed mindfulness, guided imagery and visualization as well.

Although the scripts could be included in any of these categories, for organization purposes I have placed them in two categories: 1) guided imagery and visualization, and 2) meditation.

I have chosen to include scripts describing relaxing scenes (beach, forest, meadow, etc) in the guided imagery and visualization category.

Scripts that relate to healing, pain relief, and mental focus are grouped in the meditation category.

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