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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