“Life is not a race. It’s a gift. Enjoy it. Don’t rush through it.” – Daniella Kessler
I started something new at the beginning of January – meditation. Initially, I thought I’d try it for a month to see if I could make it work this time around.
With my yoga practice over the years, I’ve dabbled in meditation. I know the benefits but have never been able to make it stick. Near the end of December, I was in a yoga class and the teacher was talking about breathing. Standard practice in yoga since it’s not all about the poses, breathing is just as important. I noticed that my breaths were feeling very shallow at the beginning of class and once we did some breath work in a guided meditation, I felt like I was actually taking quality breaths again. Hmmm…maybe I need to meditate daily?
How many times a day do you take a deep, meaningful breath? Probably never if you are like the average person. We spend our days rushing from the moment our eyes pop open in the morning till the time our heads hit the pillow at night. With all that rushing, our breaths tend to be shallow. Our thoughts are scattered. We are always thinking of what’s next, not what’s now.
Present. Aware. In the moment.
Since the new year was coming up and I had my AHA! moment again in yoga, I thought it was time to really try meditation.
I downloaded the Calm app and started on January 1st. I started with a 1 minute guided meditation. Huh. That wasn’t so bad. The next day, I moved on to a 5 minute meditation. It felt like 5 hours. But then I started to find a rhythm. I let go of the idea that I had to do it “right”. Whatever feels right to me was the right way. Now, I can do about 10 minutes most days of the week. I’d love to say that I do it first thing in the morning before the day starts but that doesn’t happen. It could be during my lunch at work. It could be before or after my run or workout. It could be right before my head hits the pillow for the night. Sometimes I use the app, sometimes I try on my own. I let go of having it done at the same time everyday or even the same way.
So have I noticed a difference in the almost 2 months of daily meditation? Absolutely, yes. I feel calmer about things. When negative thoughts creep up, I acknowledge them as thoughts and then release them. With running, I find I focus on the present moment rather than looking at my watch and wondering how much longer do I have to run.
I didn’t start meditating to improve my running. I mean, running and meditation seem like two polar opposites of each other. In reality, they both are complementary to each other so they are bound to crossover.
A lot of time, I find that running is a form of moving meditation. Maybe not so much when I’m on a group run, but a solo run is a time when I tune into the present. I’ll notice the sound of the wind through the trees. The rhythm my foot steps make. The morning dew on the grass. The smell of pine trees or trash on a humid summer day when it’s garbage day. Ewwwww…that’s not so enjoyable.
Have you ever been zoned into a run that you don’t recall any of it? That’s called being present. I find that happens a lot to me especially on the trails. I’m so focused on the present that my mind isn’t thinking of anything. It’s kind of freeing.
Ironically, there’s plenty of apps to help you slow down and be present in the moment. I know we are all trying to reduce our screen time but this is an easy, do any where option that anyone can use. And all it takes is 5 minutes to get started and to feel the difference. Here’s 5 meditation apps that I have tried and liked.
I love the first thing that you see when you open the app is, “Take a deep breath”. Why, thank you for the reminder! There’s options for soothing sounds like a crackling fire or thunderstorm in addition to daily 10 minute guided options. Easy to use and quite enjoyable.
This app promises that 10 sessions, 10 minutes a day, can train your mind towards a happier life. The first 10 sessions are free but further use of the app after those sessions requires a fee.
This app can be used anytime, anyplace. There’s no need to have a set meditation time. Want to do this in your office at work? No problem. Walking during your lunch break? Got it! There are activities each week that help change your perspective to a more optimistic view and to start seeing improvement in your life satisfaction.
This app asks questions in a simple survey as a way to “check in” with yourself with how you are feeling. You are then lead through a guided meditation based on the results.
This app is based on your emotions. Having a happy day? Let’s build on that. Crabby, no good day? We’ll work with that. Another perk of this app is that it’s meant for the whole family from ages 7-adult. Plus, who wouldn’t want to put a smile on their mind?
Do you meditate?
If so, do you use an app?