Meditation has become an incredible tool in my life. Meditation helps decrease my stress, anxiety, and encourages me to be more mindful of every-day moments. In short, meditation is a daily and life-long practice that brings me peace and joy. Studies have also shown that meditation can aid in disordered eating, behavioral problems among children, and even increase cortical thickness and cognitive capacity. But how do you even start meditating? It seems so difficult and time consuming. Well friends, I’ve rounded up my favorite meditation apps to help you get started on your way.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the art and practice of being in the present moment. What does that mean? Basically, meditation is a process of becoming aware of your current surroundings- whether you are aware of your breath, body, sounds, feelings, movement, etc. – you are simply noticing and being aware without allowing your mind to drift off and think of things in the past or future. Sounds simple? It’s not.
Our minds are constantly processing new information, remembering memories from the past, planning for the future, stressing about things that could happen, and much much more. Meditation allows us to try and take a break from all that thinking of what was and what will be, and gives us the opportunity to sit in the present moment.
There are many many different types of meditation, perhaps even thousands of ways to meditate. There is meditation in the Buddhist traditions, there is movement meditation, silent meditation, transcendental meditation, breathing meditation, and much much more.
I first became introduced to meditation in college. Every Sunday evening, I would go to the multi-faith center and a small group of us would sit in silent meditation with an 80 year old Japanese professor. We even had a Japanese tea room and meditation garden (gotta love liberal arts colleges). After college, I spent a year in Nepal and India, and spent 2 weeks in an ashram in the south of India, where I cultivated a deeper meditation practice.
Every morning we would wake up at 5 in the morning to meditate for a full hour, then head off to 2 hours of morning yoga practice, followed by breakfast. This was an incredible experience, I learned so much about myself during those two weeks – mostly, that meditating for an hour every day would simply not be sustainable. These days, I practice for 5-10 minutes every single morning. I know I can do it every day, because it’s so short. And if I feel that I can sit for longer, I do.
My biggest piece of advice for beginners is: don’t get caught up in the most perfect ideal of meditation. Remember, we’re not Buddhist monks living on the top of a mountain in Nepal. We have plenty to do as mothers, wives, sisters, friends, and #girlbosses. Instead, try starting out small, and take a look at these apps to help jumpstart your meditation practice.
Top 5 Apps for Meditation:
- Insight Timer – this is the app I use every single day. It’s a very simple timer with a bell and ambient sound in the background. The most bare bones of all the apps listed here.
- Headspace – When I first got into a daily practice, I used Headspace. They have wonderful guided meditations (10 are free), as well as meditations for different occasions like sleeping. They often have good deals, so be sure to check back.
- Calm– I like using this app in the evenings if I have trouble sleeping. They have guided meditations, meditative stories, and much more.
- Breathe – This one comes on my Apple Watch, and is a little reminder to breathe for 1 minute. I enjoy these opportunities for mini-moments throughout the day.
- Saatva – This is the newest of the apps that I’ve used – I like that it has meditation, mantras, chanting and music. I don’t use it often, but it’s nice to switch out my practice every once in a while.
Want to learn more about meditation? Check out my blog post on 3 simple ways to be more mindful.