Use technology to inject far-reaching and long lasting benefits into your life.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that meditation is no longer an ancient concept, or a strictly Buddhist activity. It is however well-renown, for endless benefits which run throughout the mind and body over consistent practice.
When these are realised, it becomes addictive with more and more people affirming the preached outcomes are very much true. And the better they feel, the easier it becomes to prioritise meditation, making it a daily ritual not to be missed.
Why? Because meditation comes with so many good things no other practice provides. There are many things in life that are beyond our control. When you take responsibility for your own state of mind, you can change them for the better.
There is no alternative to meditating, from which you’ll remerge with a refreshed spirit and sustainable calmness. Buddhism teaches it is the only real antidote to our own personal sorrows and to the anxieties, fears, hatreds and general confusions that burden the human condition.
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.”Buddha
This is why it’s become the way of life for many, who place heavy reliance on meditation to get through life’s challenges every day. The more you practice the easier it becomes, with further benefits to follow.
It’s was only going to be a matter of time until your curiosity got the better of you, and you decided to see what all the hype was about. And here you are. Ready to find the deeper version of yourself and a consistent state of calmness. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to meditate and you don’t have to panic about learning everything there is to learn about Buddha and his beliefs and upbringing. It helps however, we all have our own reasons for meditating and the benefits can be realised by absolutely anyone.
Meditation is not easy, especially for a beginner. Thinking about nothing is hard and the newer you are the more vulnerable you become to distractions – which regardless of what scene you set, will always emerge.
That’s why apps are great tools for beginners, and those who are striving to practise regularly. Because let’s be honest. Where do you ever go without your phone?
The key is to prioritise your meditation time. Don’t glance at the notifications and continue watching tv. Don’t start a session with your phone alerts on in case a friend is going to text you back.
Drop what you are doing and meditate when you have committed to meditate. It literally takes minutes. Once you’re in a consistent pattern with practice, the benefits realised will be enough to inspire you to continue on the journey to rediscovering your spiritual being for an ultimately better life.
What is Meditation?
When you google meditation, you’ll get a series of articles about the calmness it creates and a newly discovered sense of being. But you never read about what it actually is, what you do, and why you do it.
It doesn’t help when the term covers a wide range of forms in different traditions. Meditation represents practices found across many cultures, where the outcome varies from training the attention of the mind or teaching calm and compassion. This is why there is no specific definition of the term. There will never be universal acceptance within all cultures and the scientific community.
The meditation we are focusing on, which has become increasingly common is mindfulness meditation arising from Buddhist traditions.
So again, what is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient Buddhist practice, from which Buddha asks its followers to pursue as a means of ‘awakening,’ to understand the world and themselves in a deep and transforming way. It also exists in the Hindu tradition, which was where Buddha himself sought the practice.
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. It encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. Whichever practice you engage in, you’ll learn the patterns and habits of your mind, with a means to cultivate new and more positive ways of being.
“The body benefits from movement and the mind benefits from stillness.”Sakyong Mipham
If you meditate regularly, you’ll experience a profoundly peaceful and energised state of mind.
Most people envision meditation is just crossing your legs, closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Which does not sound very appealing if you’re someone who is juggling multiple challenges and searching for a sense of calmness. It becomes one more thing to do, which seems impossible when you know there will be millions of thoughts running through your mind the moment one leg is crossed over the other.
If that’s all you think it is, no wonder you’ve never tried it! Or perhaps you did, by sitting in a dark corner and waiting for the magic to happen.
Ever heard of guided meditations? You can’t just go it alone, especially from the start. Yes, it’s a solo activity however, you need to be guided initially towards freeing the mind and breathing correctly while finding inner peace.
So what exactly are you guided to do? Yes, you do close your eyes and take deep breaths. However, it’s all about mindfulness, or focusing your mind on a particular object, thought or activity. You need to remove every other thought, concept and worry from your head, to the point you’ll learn to train your attention and awareness. The result is a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Accumulative experiences can have a transformative effect and lead to a new understanding of life.
There have been countless practices developed over the years, however the foundation of them all is the cultivation of a calm and positive state of mind.
Why Do People Meditate?
Everyone’s going to have differing reasons for meditating, and with all the benefits there are it becomes a no brainer to initiate the practice into your daily routine. Whether there are several small things you need help with or one big thing, the right practice could change your life.
Reduce and stabilize stress. It’s the first thing which comes to mind when most people think of meditation benefits, and that’s because it’s a massive one. Meditation targets stress in a few different ways, starting with taming the mind to survive unforeseen circumstances.
From a scientific perspective, when you’re stressed, your cortisol levels increase as a response to the behaviour. Regular meditation will lower your cortisol levels in the brain, making you more vigilant and self-aware as opposed to literally freaking out.
Enhances empathy. When you’re constantly in a deep state of flow, you’ll build social connectedness which makes you more affectionate and amicable as a person.
Improves cognition. Studies show mindful meditation practice improves the brains problem-solving and decision-making strategies which will increase your performance throughout both your professional and personal life.
Emotional wellbeing. You just become happier and ooze confident when you meditate. It’s the effect of the clear picture you see of your mind which is why it’s also a coping mechanism for anxiety and depression. You become aware of the thoughts that drive your emotions and actions in the moment. Regular practice makes you stronger and more resilient to handle anything which comes your way.
Best Meditation Apps 2021
There are a lot of options out there in the technology space as app developers are rapidly jumping onto the popular practice with increased demand. Work out what your challenges will be, such as making time, remembering to do it, staying focused, breath work, and you can look for these specific key areas within the app you’re considering.
Try as many or as little as you need to discover which one is right for you. The most important thing is that you are able to meditate every day with ease and comfort.
This app is designed to cover meditation, sleep, mindfulness and stress. Headspace comes with guided courses and quick meditations, to suit a busy schedule and any level you’re at. It’s great for beginners and anyone struggling with sleep, as it comes with sleep music and soundscapes. Other features include reminder notifications to meditate which you can set yourself. The app also suggests other notifications with simple practices throughout the day to remind you to stay calm and take deep breaths. It is designed to strengthen the mind and is simple to use with enough options so you have no excuses not to make meditation a regular practice.
You can’t say no to inner peace, which is just why Calm was created – a portal to peace of mind. It will ask you the right questions to know where you’re at and navigate you to the right exercises based on your responses. Calm will know if you’re seeking to resolve anxiety, stress, bad habits and more. You also get walking meditations, body scans, masterclasses and sleep stories. It’s a great app for if you need more specific direction in what it is you want to achieve through meditation.
3. Smiling Mind
This app developed by psychologists and educators, offers a wide variety of programs for all ages to ultimately achieve mindfulness. There are solutions and exercises for the whole family based on feelings of stress, anxiety and depression which can be amended as you progress and become closer and closer to freeing the mind. The programs include stress, sleep, attention and concentration, wellbeing, relationships and performance.
Insight Timer has many benefits, among them are that it’s 100 per cent free. It’s got the largest collection of free guided meditations with over 80,000 titles, as well as a series of live events from the world’s best teachers such as Indian yogi Sadhguru and psychotherapist Anthony DeMello. Insight Timer also comes with sleep and yoga practices, relaxing music tracks and a kids section. If you want to learn and like variety, this ones for you.
This app comes with a series of meditations which are tailored to your needs on any given day. When you log in, you’ll fill out a quick survey each time and receive the recommended practice based on how you are feeling. Recommended activities include meditation, breathing, yoga and guided journaling. Another great option for beginners who need that extra direction to take them to the most relevant exercise.
Sattva translates to existence and this app has packed in as much as it can for you to experience all the right things. If you’re a serious Zen seeker, this comprehensive meditation app is the right tool for you. You get guided meditations led by top experts in the industry as well as mental wellness high-fives like trophies and progress trackers. If you let it, Sattva will also tap into your physical health, with a heart rate monitor and mood tracker. You’ll be able to visualise the effects your meditation practices are having on overall health as well as feel them within.
A great option if your always on the go, Aura is a collection of three-minute sessions and 30-second anxiety busters. It’s designed for busy people, to help save you from intense situations you anticipate will occur such as that first date, or an important work meeting. Aura targets emotional health and sleep and is tailored to you after you choose your preferred topics such as meditations, stories, life coach and sounds. It finds you the best content from coaches and therapists around the world.
Inscape is a meditation studio in New York City. The app is an extension of the zen room where teachers guide you through mindfulness practices. It focuses on reducing stress, anxiety and sleeping better. You’ll get meditations, music and breathing exercises, which all pop up as recommendations based on your goals, the time of the day and your experience level of meditation. The tailored platform will help you maintain your routine, and feel supported throughout each practice.
9. 10% Happier
If someone’s forced you into meditation, this is a great place to start. 10% Happier targets “fidgety skeptics” with meditation practices connecting you directly with expert teachers who will coach you through the basics of meditation. You get video lessons and can also ask questions and receive personal responses typically within the day.
Buddhify your life with over 200 meditations targeting anxiety, stress, sleep, pain and tough emotions – for busy lifestyles. It focuses on on-the-go meditation which you can do from wherever you are and regardless of what you are doing. There’s a range of teachers you can choose from based on their style and voice. The app’s mindfulness exercises are area specific, so you can choose the most relevant for your situation such as traveling, at work, waking up, eating and more.
11. Simple Habit
The wellness and sleep therapy sessions on this app offer guided mindfulness and meditation, daily motivation, guided sleep sessions and coaching by world-renowned experts. And it’s all personalized for the way you live your life with motivational talks and other sessions designed for life’s daily problems. Exercises vary in length to suit your schedule, and are aimed at reducing stress, getting better sleep and being your best self.
Shine is founded by two women of color, who didn’t see themselves represented in the mainstream wellness space. The daily self-care app comes with meditation, mindfulness and journaling exercises from a diverse set of experts.
There’s a range of topics covered including Black wellbeing, navigating COVID-19 anxiety, focus, improving sleep, finding joy and more. It’s perfect for beginners who are seeking additional comfort with each practice, as well as relatable content.
In Summary: Let’s Get Spiritual
Thanks to technology, there’s never been a better time to add some meditation to your life. Coping with stress, increased self-awareness, focusing on the present and reducing negative thoughts are just some of the science-based benefits everybody needs within their emotional capability.
You’ll grow as a person with increased imagination, creativity, patience and tolerance. Life will become easier to manage and your happiness will stick as you flourish in all areas of life just by having those few minutes of mindful mediation. Every. Single. Day.