Nearly a year ago, a friend sent me the link to a 21-day meditation course. It was free, easily accessible via an app on my phone, and not very time consuming, so I signed up. I’ve always enjoyed the savasana portion of a yoga class, set meditation goals after reading Eat, Pray, Love, and nearly worshiped John Kabat-Zin in college, but this was different. This meditation course asked me for discipline and dedication—two things that went out the door as my family grew. While I have felt the benefits of mindful meditation for pain management when my back issues became excruciating, or even in the midst of a medical crisis when I needed to calm down, I never practiced it regularly or preventatively. Quite simply, meditation was a Band-Aid, never the anecdote.
When I began the 21-day meditation course, I looked at ways to successfully get it done. As soon as my feet hit the floor every morning, anything could come up and divert my attention from my “just for me” list, so I decided to complete my meditations every morning before I even left the bed. I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier and woke to practice as the sun rose. After the first week, I looked forward to the sound of my alarm, as it was the touchstone to the time I gave myself.
After 21 days, I finished the course and felt like a new version of myself. It was as if my mind would turn into a magical LUSH bath bomb in all its glory after meditating. I felt my ability to be a more positive human increase exponentially. There were days when I fought to stay in the moment and disregard the noise in my head, but I recognize those days will always exist.
Meditation isn’t new, and there are so many excellent books and courses on different approaches. Accessibility and approach are ultimately what helped me successfully stick to new behavior. I have tried a few different avenues, and here are some excellent places to start:
Insight Timer—This feels like the online library of all things meditation. You can select a meditation based on what you need, what you believe, and how you feel. If you don’t want a guided meditation, many are music only. You can keep track of the time and days you meditate, and seeing the check marks on a calendar reinforces the behavior. There are courses and some fee-based portions, but I have been pleased with all of the free content.
Headspace—For an annual fee, Headspace uses graphics and guided meditations to take a beginner to yogi status. I did not find the wide selection options Insight Timer has, but many of the men in my family prefer this meditation app to others. The male voice with an English accent, perhaps?
Deepak Chopra—Deepak and Oprah have mantras/music, online programs, and a meditation experience library that can be purchased and downloaded to the app. Some topics include “energy of attraction,” “creating peace from the inside out,” and “hope in uncertain times.” Oprah and Deepak talk during these lessons and meditations. I was lucky to complete a course for free during an introductory phase, and I loved it. The price tag on it does add up, though.
Mediation Rx—Mary Maddux has a podcast full of guided meditations, but this app focuses on stress relief for patients and families with serious illness. There are stress and pain relief sections to select a meditation and even an SOS type for when you may be in crisis. I have found this one especially helpful when my medically fragile child needs surgery or we are in the hospital. It’s a prescription of sorts.
My meditation time is sacred to fostering spirituality and sanity. I intend to cultivate harmony within myself by engaging in meditation as a daily practice from now on.