By Sarah Huntington
In today's world of fast paced, instantaneous, want it now... always seeking the newest, latest and greatest, hippest and coolest... always moving to the next best thing, meditation seems revolutionary to the 21st century. It feels like it's the counter culture. Meditation tells us to go inward, to breathe, move a little bit slower... Our society doesn't seem to be sending those messages.
There are so many books on the subject: Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn are some of my personal favorites on meditation. But even reading seems to be waning in our go, go, go culture.
The reality is that our world is spinning, and sometimes we don't have time to walk in the woods, sit by a river, or even get a second cup of coffee because our days are filled with deadlines, do-nows, and in the age of technology everything is supposed to be instantaneous.
While for me, the best centering practice is guided meditation, walking meditation, gratitude reflection, and unplugging from technology, there are days when I am not able to break from the world how I would like. However, meditation is a necessity for me. As a person who struggles with severe anxiety - breathing exercises, and taking the time during the day to pause with some of these apps has helped me calm and work through the noise.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Headspace // Get it
This is one of the more popular apps for meditation. It was featured in WIRED magazine, and it really is an amazing app. A friend of mine suggested it to me when I was at the height of my nervous suffering, and I am a fan. The 10-day trial is free, and I suggest you try it. Yes, after 10 days there is a yearly subscription, and it is pricey. But think: one night on the town, or a pathway to getting clearer headed. My vote is "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."
Pause // Get it
This is a simple app, quick, worry free. Just follow the dot around the screen with your finger, breathe, and just slow down for a few seconds. The goal is to fill the screen with color, but if you only need it for five seconds before you say something you shouldn't, or act in a way that isn't aligned with who you are... Take a pause. I really like this during the work week when I can't always dedicate 10 minutes if I am crunched to meet a deadline.
Calm // Get it
Love the relaxing natural sounds and the natural images as you are guided to pay attention to your breath. It helps you notice where you are holding tension. Sometimes I just play the image for a few seconds, just the sound of rain hitting leaves sometimes is all I need.
Tiny Buddha // Go to Site
Okay this one isn’t an app, but you can sign up for daily or weekly emails that have questions, challenges, affirmations, and quotes. Sometimes it will challenge you to pick up garbage at a local park, or help out at a food bank, or it will pop on your screen and give you thoughtful quotes from philosophers or various cultural proverbs. Tiny Buddha is a little reminder to make the world a better place, and making the world a better place starts with making you your best self. (There is also an awesome app, but it is only available if you switch to the Canadian iTunes store!)
Regardless of how you choose to meditate, the studies show some serious scientific benefits. For those who struggle with depression and anxiety, meditation just might be the tool to help you fight the good fight. But for all of you seeking calm, clarity, more self-awareness, and increase in brain function in a busy, hectic schedule... Just sit with it, you just may find it's good for you.
A vagabond by nature, Sarah Huntington has traveled to Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Austria, Vietnam, London, and France... to name a few. She loves to travel, hike, and explore the world. She played collegiate basketball and studied Literature, History and Education at Connecticut College, and is currently a high school English teacher and basketball coach. Sarah is also a runner (completed the NYC Marathon), and her newest workout obsession is kickboxing. Sarah currently lives in Wilton, CT with her pitbull Jada, and enjoys spending her "free" time writing, reading, practicing yoga, working on meditating, and investigating all things related to fitness, fashion, and literature.