Are you often stressed out, anxious, or nervous? In small doses, those feelings are normal. But to the detriment of our health, stress has become somewhat of a steady-state.
You have ruled out pills and your doctors don’t think you need therapy? If you have come to the conclusion that meditation is a method to calm your mind and achieve well-being worth trying, then I can help you with resources and tools.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is an umbrella term for a broad variety of techniques that have been practiced as part of numerous religious traditions and beliefs since ancient times. Meditation can be used to develop mindfulness, concentration, relaxation, tranquility, patience, insight, compassion, love, generosity, and forgiveness.
The common denominator of meditation methods is the quieting of the mind. When meditating, you practice still awareness of your surrounding, as well as the thoughts that come up. Rather than engaging with the stimuli that reach your brain, you let it all pass, even your own thoughts.
Online Meditation Resources
As mentioned above, there are a variety of different meditation techniques. First, they differ in their posture, ranging from sitting, standing, or lying down to walking. Second, they differ in how the mind is used. For example, you can focus on your breathing, repeat a single word or mantra, or simply observe the thoughts that are drifting through your mind.
UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center provides free guided meditation audio files, which provide an introduction to mindfulness meditation. Dr. Maosing Ni wrote an article on easy beginner meditation techniques forYahoo! Health, and U.S.News has an article on meditation techniques for beginners, which the Huffington Post picked up.
Sitting Meditation Posture
Essentially, any comfortable and stable posture is acceptable. Ideally, sit or kneel freely, don’t lean against something, and make sure you can comfortably hold the position for the length of the meditation. Dummies has a very detailed article on meditation postures that explains the characteristics of the most common positions.
Sounds & Music To Improve Meditation
Sounds are a great aid in quieting the mind. We have written extensively about ways to drown out the noise, we have compiled music to relax and white noise to concentrate. What works best for your body are nature sounds, which have similar effects as meditation itself; they reduce your stress levels.
Android Meditation Apps
When you have decided to move forward with meditation, digital tools can support you. Here is a small selection of apps that provide facilitated sessions, background sounds, and timers.
Online Meditation [No Longer Available]
This app is suitable for beginners. Along with brief and helpful meditation instructions, it provides links to six different meditation audio files. They facilitate guided meditation sessions that last from 12 to 25 minutes. Some contain only music, others also come with guidance.
If you won’t have access to Internet for streaming, you can also download the audio as mp3 files ahead of time.
A similar app is QiGong Meditation Relaxation, which contains a selection of articles, streaming audios and videos that explain and teach different methods. It also requires Internet access to stream audio and video, but files can be downloaded to your device ahead of time.
The Meditation Assistant is a timer and a progress meter that controls your phone’s settings during meditation and provides access to a community of people who practice meditation.
Your meditation can be timed, end at specific times, or be untimed. You can set up to three preset times. All sessions are recorded in a calendar and you can add a note to each. The calendar, your individual sessions, and the overall statistics are available under the Progress tab.
In the app’s settings you can define starting, interval, and ending sounds, control what happens with your phone’s ringtones, notifications, and screen during a session, set daily meditation reminders, and more.
SATiFY Mindfulness Meditation [No Longer Available]
SATiFY Mindfulness offers a meditation timer and a simple goal setting tool.
Under Meditate, set the length of your meditation via the slider, then choose your preferred starting and ending bell, background sound, brainwaves, or introduction voice. A number of audio files can be downloaded for free via Extras. Others become available with the premium version or are for purchase only. Under My goals you can manage personal meditation goals and add individual activities to them. The premium version supports scheduling of activities.
A simplistic alternative to SATiFY Mindfulness Meditation and Meditation Assistant is ZenTime, a meditation timer. You can manually set up your timers, set the time for preparation, sitting, and cool down, and add ring sounds to the different stages of the meditation. Fancy features like custom sounds or background music are not provided.
How Does Meditation Work For You?
Whether you are just starting out or have practiced meditation for a long time, what is your motivation? Did meditation improve your well-being? And what is helping you improve your meditation technique? Please share your experience for others to benefit.
If this article sparked a deeper interest in meditation, I recommend the New York Times article The Morality of Meditation by David DeSteno.
Image Credits: Meditation Posture from Dummies.com