It seems like each week a new study is released touting the benefits of meditation. From keeping you forever young to helping you sleep to literally changing your brain, the facts are there — meditation is healthy.
But I’m not so scientific, and all this data doesn’t really impress. As a hands-on kind of person, I need to experience the benefits first hand. After practicing meditation on and off for years, and then turning to a regular practice more recently, I can say that it’s the difference in how I am after sitting that holds the most impact.
Here’s a real life situation to explain.
Yesterday I got an email from my client changing the direction of our photo shoot. I had already prepped this job, and now she needed me to get more stuff — different styles from what was originally requested. As I read the email, my heart rate sped up. My stomach clenched. And my chest twisted into knots. Add this to the ongoing encounters from the kids who were hungry, needed help playing their song on Sonos, and basically just wanted my attention (the email came in at dinner time) — my patience was gone! I begged them for 15 more minutes so I could deal with work.
When I wrapped up, I went to the kitchen to start cooking– completely distracted. Though rinsing green beans was somewhat settling I still couldn’t pay attention to my present life. My head was still in that email.
After serving dinner, and eating in a fog, I went into my room to meditate. I’ve discovered a new app which starts the session by asking How are you. I pressed anxious, uneasy and frustrated. It led me to the Relax, Ground and Clear program which stated it will reinforce moments of feeling physically and mentally settled and calm. For 6 minutes, a woman’s voice serenely guided me, in plain english — no Buddhist terms or out-there explanations to breathe into my body. When it finished, I felt better, but was up for more.
I then went to the body scan, another 8 minutes, which did the trick. I came out of the room grounded in my body, calm in my mind and able to BE with my kids. The meditation motivated me to shift gears, and let go off the stress I previously felt. Yes, I still had the same situation. But my mindset was different. And that’s the foundation of meditation — it is a technique to impact our reactions to stress.
And I know this because I feel it — the change in my mind + body is real.
When something annoying happens, there are many ways to deal with it — eating, drinking, gossiping or whatever –I sometimes do these. But I’m much better off when I take 10 minutes to myself — to meditate. And by having a few apps on my phone, I don’t even have to think about it, I just press start, then listen.
3 Apps To Try To Start Experiencing The Benefits Of Meditation
Stop, Breathe & Think is the one I wrote about. I like that there are several programs to choose from. The Kindness and Compassion sessions stem from Buddhist Meta meditations, yet are delivered in a straightforward approach. Most of the free programs are 6 minutes, which frankly isn’t long enough when I’m in a real tizzy…but works just fine for a quick mind body boost.
The Mindfulness App takes another very down to earth tone to meditation. Again, very clear + concise instruction that has you focus on the breath. The sessions are in 3, 5, 15 or 30 minute increments. I do wish there was a 10 minute option, but it’s probably better because I always end up selecting 15. There’s also mindfulness reminders that you can set to keep your practice going throughout the day (it sends you a message to take a deep breath, or notice any areas of tension in the body) which is a nice notification to show up on your phone.
Third Eye Meditation is a bit more out there. If the other two apps deal with grounding you into the body through the breath, this one instructs you to ground into your body through more subtle means. The focus is to connect to the expansive energy that exists beyond our physicality. He even tells us to leave behind the little dramas in the mind. It’s a great antidote to when I’m feeling overwhelmed because it puts my little life and problems into perspective. It helps me to feel more open, and less defined by my current situation.
One thing to note: each meditation session is different. I don’t always come out a better person. Sometimes I sit there distracted and itchy the whole time which leaves me just as irritated as I was before meditating. It’s a practice. There will be good days and not so good days. But if I want to get better, I must keep at it.
Which meditation apps have you tried the help you experience the benefits of meditation?
Image: Ann Devito
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Over the years I have had allowed myself to put up roadblocks to meditation. Instead when stress hit the fan I went to the familiar “bad-for-me” coping behaviors. Since those behaviors are bad for ME they in turn are also bad for my family.
I read your post 5 times (sort of a meditation in itself). This is why I am going to try meditation because of your post:
Your phrases: “REAL life situation”; “Change in mind and body is REAL”; your honesty in informing us that meditation won’t always end in perfection but requires practice…which was for me keeping it REAL. So I suppose what I took away from you today were two life affirming words………REAL + PRACTICE.
Thank you, Elysha!
Very helpful, Elysha. Have started up my practice again, and am SO pleased and grateful that I have. As you say, each day is different, but being on the path is better than not. Am going to check out those apps–especially the first one. Really appreciate the inspiration and tips! xx
GGW, it’s so nice to see you here! I hope you give it a try. I know it’s not the most enticing activity, but it really does make a difference in how I perceive my situation. It’s gives me space and clarity. (Not all the time, but the more I practice, the easier it goes.) And thank you for reading my post 5 times!
ST, how right you are…to be on the path is better than not! I’ll have to remember that on the days when I’m leaning towards the NOT. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your insight and support. x x
I love this! For years I resisted a meditation practice but now that I’ve started, I can feel a huge difference in my life. Now I crave that extra time in the morning before the city wakes up. 🙂 Aleya
Alohaleya, mornings are my favorite time too! And that’s the great thing about meditation, once you get into the habit…you don’t want to miss it! I think it’s just getting started that is the toughest part. x o
Thank you for sharing this! Meditation is something I have been trying to incorporate regularly and have not successfully done consistently, so I will check out your resources for sure! This month, I am doing Oprah & Chopra’s challenge, but when that is over, I will definitely revisit this post and check out the apps you suggested! I totally know what you mean about how an email can throw you off and make you live in your head – I do the same thing! I also even sometimes don’t remember the content of whatever upset me, just that I am in a bad mood, and I have to retrace my steps to remember it was an annoying email!
Hi Mandie, I have done Oprah & Deepak Chopra’s meditation challenges before, and thought they were a great way to kickstart a new habit. It really is about making it a habit, like brushing your teeth.