I use the meditation to get in touch with myself to learn about what is on my mind. What are going to be my daily distractions. At this moment there are so many that it costs me too much effort to focus on a guided meditation. So for now I am just accepting I have lots of distracting thoughts and I meditate on them and work on getting the most urgent one's out of the way after the meditation so I can get on with my day.
The guided meditation both reminds me and interrupts me. It reminds me to get back on my focus when I’ve wandered, but sometimes also is what knocks me off of my focus. Unguided meditation is just me and my focus, and I have to rely a bit more on myself to maintain that focus, but it’s only myself that’s going to be in the way.
In practice of taking what I learn about focus and mindfulness from meditation into the real world, that mix of about half and half feels about right, too. Sometimes the external world prompts me back into being more mindful, and sometimes it’s what knocks me off balance. And sometimes it’s just me and my own thoughts getting in my way. So, for me, practicing both ways better prepares me to deal with both contexts.
I learned about metta on the Daily Calm that they offer every day with a different topic. So the meditation is also a learning experience. It is recommended by doctors as a great start to your day to give yourself peace and relaxation for at least 5 minutes.
There is another guided meditation set that I have from the Mindfulness Meditation course offered by Dr Chris Chroniak in Chicago. His CDs have 45 minute meditations and are mainly silent so you can be lightly guided but mostly you are meditating at your own level and with mainly yourself. Does that make sense? Sometimes I find it difficult to try to describe meditation
I sometimes do mindfulness meditation simple. Just myself and my seat. For about 7 minutes, it seems like, although it can go far longer. This practice is to calm myself, refocus on just letting go and being in the present, in-depth, with no one outside to distract you.