Celebrating International Women’s Day: 10 Meditations by Powerful Women

We gathered 10 of the most popular women-led mindfulness practices led by the powerful women of the mindfulness movement.

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, in this article, we shine a light on a small fraction of the women who are making the world a better place by sharing their deep wisdom and their mindfulness practice. Here are 10 of the most popular episodes of our podcast, 12 Minute Meditation, that are led by women.

10 Guided Meditations Led By Powerful Women

A 12-Minute Meditation to Remind Yourself That You Are Enough—A Black man with a beard and a dark blue shirt on gives himself a hug.

A 12-Minute Meditation to Remind Yourself That You Are Enough

In this guided meditation, Jenée Johnson offers affirmations to help you remember your inherent worth and reconnect with compassion …

In this practice, we will hold our attention on five affirmations that can help us be more compassionate toward ourselves. Try doing this in moments when you feel overwhelmed—breathing in, “I do my best,” breathing out, “I let go of the rest.” You can do it right before you go to sleep at night. You did your best, you let go of the rest. Tomorrow is a new day.

Guided Meditation

  1. Sit and find your breath. Sitting in an upright relaxed position, please drop your gaze or close your eyes. Find the breath, the faithful friend that it is, and notice that you are breathing. Take a deep breath in, and out.
  2. Take three deep breaths. Breathing in, breathing out. Breathing in positivity, breathing out and letting go of old stale air and stale stories. Breathing in, breathing out. Sitting with our attention on the breath. Relax the body, drop your shoulders, and be still. 
  3. Repeat these affirmations to yourself, taking a deep breath at the end of each sentence. I am a human being full of life and possibility. No one else is like me. I have a right to make mistakes and recover. I love myself unconditionally. I do not need anyone else’s approval to love and be kind to myself. Sometimes I do not know. It is OK not to know. What is not known is an invitation to be curious and to discover. I do my best. I let go of the rest.
  4. Return your attention to the breath. If your mind wanders off, come back to the home base of the breath. 
  5. Gently and easily, on the next breath, open your eyes and return your attention to the space.

A 12-minute 4-7-8 breathing practice - Human lungs. Respiratory system. Healthy lungs. Light in the form of a tree. Line art. Drawing by hand.

A 12-Minute 4-7-8 Breathing Meditation

This easy breathing practice helps to release stagnant air in the lungs and find calm …

The 4-7-8 breath was introduced originally by Dr. Andrew Weil who was really considered the grandfather of integrative medicine and as a pulmonologist who’s also a current University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Fellowship fellow. The 4-7-8 breath can be used for situations when you’re feeling particularly anxious, stressed, and even if you have some difficulty falling asleep.

The 4-7-8 breath stands for the following: You inhale for a count of four, then you hold your breath for a count of seven, and then you exhale through your mouth through pursed lips for a count of eight. The durations of these breaths aren’t as important as the ratio of the inhalation breath, breath-hold, and particularly the exhalation breath. The exhalation breath, you’ll notice, is twice as long as the inhalation breath. This allows for the lungs to completely empty of stagnant air, and oftentimes people who have chronic lung disease, particularly those with obstructive lung disease, have a tendency to air trap. This 4-7-8 breathing meditation offers the opportunity to completely exhale.

The 4-7-8 breath can be used for situations when you’re feeling particularly anxious, stressed, and even if you have some difficulty falling asleep.

Ni-Cheng Liang

It’s also a much more intentional practice. If, for instance, awareness of breath might be anxiety-provoking, then perhaps a 4-7-8 breath would be more helpful. Pursing your lips when you exhale has been shown to basically stent open the airways. This type of breathing also activates your vagus nerve, which is your “rest and digest” nerve. 

Guided Meditation:

  1. Sit or stand in a position of comfort. You can close your eyes if that feels safe for you to do so or lower your gaze a few inches in front of you. Perhaps sit more upright, envisioning this string that’s pulling the crown of the head upwards toward the sky, running down through the spine. Checking in and making sure that the head is atop shoulders that are atop the hips. This allows your lungs to be in better anatomic alignment to maximize their ability to exchange air. 
  2. We’ll exhale out through the mouth and then to start, you’ll inhale through your nose for a count of four. One, two, three, four. Hold the breath, two, three, four, five, six, seven. And then out through your mouth, through pursed lips, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. 
  3. We’ll do that three more times. 
  4. Exhale once again, and then inhale through the nose. Hold your breath. Then exhale through your mouth. Inhale into the nose. Hold the breath. And exhale through your mouth. One more time, inhale through the nose. Hold the breath. And exhale through the mouth. 
  5. And then return to a normal rhythm of breathing. Perhaps checking in and noticing how you feel now compared to just a few breath cycles ago. Notice the body sensations now. Notice any emotions. Notice your sense of being right now in this moment after the 4-7-8 breath.  

The recommended number of times to do this type of breathing meditation is going through four breath cycles up to twice a day initially. Sometimes, if you do more than that, it can cause some lightheadedness and dizziness. If that should happen, you can definitely decrease the number of breath cycles you do with the 4-7-8 breath and slowly build up. But perhaps this is a breathing technique that you might want to try before you do your daily mindfulness practice. Incorporating an intentional, mindful type of breathing before your formal practice. The invitation is there, the choice is yours.

A Compassion Practice for Opening the Heart - Image of a blooming flower

A Compassion Practice for Opening the Heart

A 15-minute meditation that begins by imagining yourself surrounded by a circle of the most loving beings, making generous offerings of love and goodwill to you …

We tend to focus all our love on the people we care about—yet, to connect more deeply with others, we must turn toward the one person we keep on the shortest leash: ourselves. We often reject other people’s care or attention when we believe we don’t deserve it. This compassion practice reminds us that there’s nothing special we must do to deserve love. You are worthy of love simply because you exist.

Guided Meditation:

  1. Imagine you’re encircled by people who love you. Sit comfortably, eyes open or closed, and imagine yourself in the center of a circle made up of the most loving beings you’ve met. There may be some people in your circle who you’ve never met but have been inspired by. Maybe they exist now or they’ve existed historically, or even mythically.
  2. Receive the love of those who love you. Experience yourself as the recipient of the energy, attention, care, and regard of all of these beings in your circle of love. Silently repeat whatever phrases are expressive of that which you most wish for yourself, not just for today but in an enduring way. Phrases that are big and open, something like: May I be safe, be happy, be healthy. Live with ease of heart. May I be safe, be happy, be healthy. Live with ease of heart.
  3. Notice how you feel when you receive love.  As you experience yourself in the center of the circle, all kinds of different emotions may arise. You may feel gratitude and awe, or you might feel kind of shy, like you would rather duck down and have all of these beings send loving-kindness to one another and forget about you. Whatever emotion may arise, you just let it wash through you. Your touchstone is those phrases—May I be happy. May I be peaceful… or whatever phrases you’ve chosen.
  4. Open yourself up to receiving love. Imagine that your skin is porous and this warm, loving energy is coming in. Imagine yourself receiving. There’s nothing special that you need to do to deserve this kind of acknowledgement or care. It’s simply because you exist.
  5. Send loving care to the people in your circle. You can allow that quality of loving-kindness and compassion and care you feel coming toward you to flow right back out to the circle and then toward all beings everywhere, so that what you receive, you transf