I’ve been meditating for about five years, and although I’ve gone through periods where it was a devout daily practice of mine, I’ve not been very good at making it stick lately. The annoying thing is that I know how much it improves my life – it gives me clarity, a way to relieve stress, and it lends to a marked and overall improvement to my mental health. I thought that perhaps by blogging about meditation, it would inspire me to make it a daily habit once more.
I’m rather flexible when it comes to my meditation practices, because I like to learn about and experience new things. I’ve tried many different types of meditation: guided meditation, meditation accompanied by sound (my preference is ocean waves), binaural beats, breath-focused meditation, and just plain old silent meditation. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite type, but I tend to practice silent meditation or guided meditation the most. My favorite guided meditation is Blissful Deep Relaxation. The first time I used this meditation, I fell into the deepest meditation I’ve achieved to date. It was trance-like, and once I finished, I wasn’t even aware of my body. It was awesome.
I also have some meditation apps that I like to use:
- Brainwave: The Brainwave app is a good option if you’re into binaural beats. Brainwave has a handy timer feature, ranging from five minutes to eight hours (if you use one of the sleep beats), and it also has background sound options (like “Beach Surf”). The actual binaural beats options include programs such as “Power Nap,” “Morning Coffee,” “Critical Thinking,” and “Creativity Boost.” I definitely like all of the options, but I’m not sure binaural beats are for me. I never seem to get anything out of this app, try as I might.
- Breathe: Breathe is one of my favorite meditation apps. It provides a meditation guide for newbies, a list of meditations–some of which are free, and some that you must purchase–and it even tracks your meditation progress. My favorite Breathe meditations include “Mindful Meditation,” “Gratitude,” and “Great Compassion.”
- Calm: Calm may be tied with Insight Timer as my favorite meditation app. The interface is super nice, and there are a ton of options. Calm offers daily meditations and various meditation programs, such as “7 Days of Calm,” “7 Days of Sleep,” and “7 Days of Self-Esteem.” Both unguided (timed vs. open-ended meditations) and guided (“Body Scan,” “Calming Anxiety,” etc.) meditations are available, although many of the latter need to be purchased. Calm also has a scenes feature, which allows you to choose from an array of moving images to focus on while you meditate, if you so choose. They have everything from a beach sunset to a horizon scene.
- Headspace: Headspace is perhaps one of the most popular meditation apps. It’s a really great resource for newbies and promises to teach and promote daily meditation in just 10 minutes a day. Like Calm, it has a really nice interface, although as someone who has meditated for years, I found Headspace to be a bit too meditation for dummies.
- Insight Timer: This one is my most recent find, and it has quickly climbed to the top of my list. It’s free, and it’s basically an online database of meditations for all different purposes: sleep, relaxation, reducing anxiety, balancing your chakras, etc. You can search for whatever you want, and they also keep lists of the current top 20 meditations, newest meditations, etc. I really like that there’s a bookmark feature, so you can keep track of your favorites, and there’s also a rating feature, which always helps me decide which meditation to choose.
- Simply Being: Simply Being is a guided meditation app, but you can mute the voice so you can focus on your chosen sound instead. I favor “Moderate Surf,” (with the voice muted) but there are other options, such as various music, “Light Rain” and “Evening Lake Birds.” I also like the timer option on this app – you can set your meditation for 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes.
If you’re interested in meditation, you should definitely try one (or some!) of the apps listed above. Of course now that I’ve published this post, I’ll be sure to take my own advice and get back into the habit of meditating 😉 I find that for me meditating at night just before I go to bed is a great way to unwind after a long day and fall asleep faster, which is always appreciated.