Lately, I’ve had several friends connect and ask if I meditate.
I’d love to say that having a meditation practice has whole heartedly changed my life, but that would be lying. It has enhanced my life and made me more cognizant and sensitive to how I react to situations. I notice on days where I don’t meditate, I am curt, short, in a rush and more agitated. On days where I start with a 15 minute sit, I focus on my breath, my clarity and alignment for the day. I find that I’m much more calm, don’t react to situations at work with anxiety or panic, and all-in-all I’m more present.
I wanted to provide friends (and readers) with some of the tools I use to regularly engage in a meditation practice. Many practitioners suggest meditating in the morning at the start of your day, but lets be honest, some days you need those extra 15 minutes of sleep. If you can meditate at least once during the day, then you’ve accomplished your goal.
Headspace was the second mobile app I tried to build a meditation practice. I’ve found it to be the most beneficial. The Headspace program provides users with establishing a meditation foundation. You start your practice with sitting for 5 minutes and slowly build. The freemium version offers 10 days of guided meditation. Once you complete the 10 days, the app encourages you to become a subscriber. As a subscriber you get further access to a variety of guided meditations. You can further your practice by additional meditation levels in which they help support you building a longer practice. In addition, you have access to SOS sessions, and sessions geared toward sleep, children, creativity, and even access to the meditation class of the day. All-in-all, I credit Headspace to being core and crucial to my practice of meditation.
Insight Timer is another wonderful app that I suggest utilizing once you have a foundation of meditation. Insight Timer has a variety of tools to help assist in your meditation practice. The first tool is a simple timer. You pick your time, and the background sound (if you want it), as well as the chime you want to conclude your meditation. Its not guided, but provides users with the opportunity for a clear meditation sit. In addition to the core technology of the Timer, you have access to many meditation teachers, styles, and guides based on your goals and interests. It also tells you who is meditating around you, which is a neat feature. I tend to utilize more of the guided meditations, specifically with one of my teachers, Davidji. After taking a class with him at the Wanderlust Fest, I was enthralled. He provides great guidance and energy in his meditations and I absolutely love them.
Yoga Nidra is such a special practice. During teacher training, my fellow classmates and I would scour quickly to set up for Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a physical practice in which you are laying down on your back, using support under your knees and head. It essentially adult nap time. The art of yoga nidra allows you to go into deep sleep, as some of the science indicates that 30 minutes of yoga nidra equates to several hours of sleep. In addition, it is a great form of healing after a traumatic injury, long week, or if you just need to dedicate time to relaxation. You can find a teacher through the iRest site. Yoga nidra can also be done via the Insight Timer app. There are several great meditations which can be done prior to sleep. I highly recommend this if you have trouble sleeping at night or just need to chill out.
Getting Outside … without headphones
When was the last time you took a walk, run, or hike without headphones or someone with you? Meditation can be found through outdoor activities, ones that we do often, as long as we pay attention and are present to the noises and natural beauty around us. One thing I like to do is go to the park behind my house and walk around the grass barefoot. Its a chance to feel the cool grass between my toes, to feel the sun on my face, and also be present with my pup. I don’t bring my phone, as I find it distracting. I often run into neighbors and say hello, allowing me to build great relationships with my community. My recommendation here is to get outside and leave your phone, watch, or technology at home. Be present, breathe, and feel.
Meditation is not a one size fits all approach. Like every experience, its a practice of committing to it daily, whether its 5 minutes or an hour. Just begin to notice how you feel after you meditate. Are you more calm, centered, patient, kind, resilient and open? Let me know if you have other questions on meditation. I’m happy to be of service and help you build your practice!