06 Feb

Meditation Made Easy: Some Apps, Books, and YouTube Videos

Last week, I discovered my 9 year old son had fallen asleep with his iPad and earphones, so I asked him about it the next day. He confessed he listens to peaceful music sometimes to help him get to sleep. It sounded like it puts him in a relaxed meditative state. I have to admit I was surprised. As progressive as I try to be, looking up an “app” on a phone to play relaxing music or meditate didn’t even cross my mind. Brilliant! If someone had offered me quick yoga poses or meditations that I could download on my phone while I was at the office, I think my performance and stress level at my past job would have been significantly different. I managed to get through it and performed well but it always seemed much harder and more stressful than it had to be.  Could a simple app like one of these make a difference? The answer is “yes”!

Many of us suffer from worry, stress or anxiety, in various forms at different times of our lives. My sister says “we need all the help we can get”.  And so this month, I am promoting the idea of a support system, instead of the traditional New Year’s Resolution. This promotion is not for an in-person support system, although that’s always helpful, but rather, an electronic one in the form of apps, and YouTube videos. And I’ve thrown in some books, a bit more heady, (about Buddhist practice and philosophy), but helpful in understanding the ongoing and complex relationship we have with our mind. We are naturally complex beings, so even simple things can be difficult sometimes.

Below is a short list of apps for phones, videos on YouTube, and books I have found helpful. I have tried, read and watched all of them. This list is by no means comprehensive or a review/endorsement of the products/services listed, but merely an example of how many resources there are to help us along the way. Additional note:  I usually offer a book recommendation but this month, since the theme is primarily digital, I’ve offered instead, a list of CD’s that are great for meditation and visualization exercises.

Meditation has moved way beyond the iconic image of a Yogi chanting “om” under a tree (with funky guitar music playing in the background). You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to meditate. You also don’t have to commit to anything except yourself, and a minimum of 5 minutes. (It is recommended to not try meditating while driving . . .) Basically if you can breath, you can meditate. Basically, it’s finding a quiet space, a few minutes and breathing. It’s that simple. It can be done in all sorts of ways. Some wake up and meditate; some have a formal routine of going some place to meditate with others. Others do it before bed or during a break while at work.

Meditation has been definitively proven to lower heart rates and decreases the experience of stress a person feels.  It has also been repeatedly found to help individuals find a sense of peace, which can decrease anxiety. The breathing techniques in the meditation process increase oxygen to the brain, effecting the actual synaptic functioning of the brain. Some studies have found that leaders and college students (taking tests) have shown more clarity and decision-making after meditating before an event.

A meditation practice can start anytime. I find if I can take a few minutes (literally 5-10 minutes) to invite a new simple habit it into my busy life, if it’s easy, I like it and it has a reward (like helping me feel better) it’s easier to continue the habit.
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Meditation Resources

Apps to Help You Meditate:

OMG. I Can Meditate! App:
This app has an immediate start with a nice short visual tutorial. It also offers hundreds of meditations for various things a person may be struggling with.
For iPhone: OMG. I Can Meditate! on the Apple Store
For Android: OMG. I Can Meditate! on Google PlayV

Welzen App:
Also user friendly, is subscription based: with a package of 5 free sessions available, the rest are purchase as you go.
For iPhone: Welzen app on the Apple Store
For Android: Welzen app on Google Play

Spotify:
Free and pay subscription options available, user friendly, short meditations.
For all devices visit Spotify.com to download.

Videos On YouTube to Learn Meditation:

Benefits Of Meditation – TOP 6 BENEFITS video by Improvement Pill

How To Meditate For Beginners – A Definitive Guide video by Improvement Pill

How to Meditate and Why Most People Fail video with Noah Elkrief

Books to Explore More:

Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, Phillip Moffit, 2008, Rodale Publishing, NY

Grace Unfolding, Psychotherapy in the Spirit of Tao-te Ching, Greg Johanson and Ron Kurtz, 1991, Bell Tower, NY

06 Feb

A Quote for February

“If you pay attention to thoughts and feelings while you meditate and try to use them to evaluate how well or how badly you are meditating, you will never reach the ultimate silence. Instead you will just get bogged down in mental concepts.”
– Annamalai Swami

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