I’ve taken a bit of a social media and blogging break the past several weeks. Mainly because we have gone on a few family vacations where I vowed be “present” with my family and not be “online”. Which is super-fair: the last trip was not sponsored so I did not have to constantly be on social media while we were skiing, enjoying a lunch, or swimming in the pool. It was a nice digital break, I have to say.
I find that being “on” in the digital sense, whether it be blogging, posting on social media, or working with one of my clients can be mentally taxing. My job is very…what’s the word? Ethereal? Intangible? In the “bits and clouds” overhead? Anyway, I not only needed a break, but I also needed something to ground me. I couldn’t take a forever-break from social media and marketing, so I needed something to make me feel more in the present, every day – like how I felt when I was on vacation.
I picked up A Practical Guide to Mediation by Yoga Journal when I was in Whole Foods and was intrigued. I read it front-to-back, back-to-front, several times. I have always been interested in meditation and looked up courses on how to meditate. But I found that they were too expensive. $1500 on a meditation course?!? That price tag stressed me out — which is the opposite effect of what meditation should be.
So I asked around (on Instagram, of course) what people do to learn how to meditate and some friends mentioned mediations apps that can be downloaded for FREE.
DUH! Of course there’s a meditation app!
I downloaded the free versions of the Insight Timer Free app, the Mindfulness app and the Calm app. In the end, I liked the Calm app, simply because I liked the woman’s voice the best. It is all subjective; just pick the best one for you.
What does the Calm app do? “The Voice” tells you exactly what to do, when to do it. For example: closing your eyes, sitting up straight, focusing on your heart, focusing on your tummy, or your legs and feet. She also gives you tips on what to do when your mind wanders. It sounds simple but it really is hard to focus and be present for two to 10 minutes straight!
What I also liked about the Calm app: there are two versions (on the free app) of the guided meditation with varying number of minutes: from two minutes on up. You have a choice of a homepage image as well as a background sound. I chose the rainforest leaves and the rain sound, which I find calming, surprisingly.
When do I meditate? As a busy parent living in New York City, I find that my commute — whether it be on the subway or in the back of a cab — is the best time for me to meditate. I find a seat, get comfortable and depending on how long my commute is, I choose between a 2-minute, 5-minute, and if I’m feeling up for it, I’ll do a 10-minute guided meditation. To most people, the subway is not the most ideal place to meditate considering there’s the jostling of people getting up down next to you and constant loud announcements being made, but I’ve made it work. Surprisingly, I would rather meditate on the subway rather than in my quiet home. Is that strange, or what?!
My view when I open up from a guided meditation on the NYC subway.
Meditation is just like any exercise. The more you do it, the better you get at it. I was meditating four to five times a week, sometimes two times a day (during my daily commutes) and I got really good at the five-minute guided meditation. So I increased to 10-minutes, which I have to admit was a little harder. Plus I needed to find the extra time in my commute to get the full 1o minutes in, so I started taking the local train instead of the express train to my job as a marketing consultant.
Meditating in the back of a cab is much more comfortable, no doubt about it.
I recently fell of the meditation wagon while we were away skiing, but I have slowly gotten back into the groove. I did have to learn how to meditate again. I started off slowly with the 2-minute guided meditation and then to the 5-minute. I was rusty, with my mind wandering off and listing out what I needed to do, but the guided meditation brought me back to my body. It just takes practice, like anything else in your life.
Meditation makes me feel cleaner, clearer, sunnier. It’s like drinking a glass of crisp, lemon water and your system gets flushed out of all the toxins. With meditation, the brain cobwebs get cleaned out and you have a clearer mind to work on whatever it is you need to work on.
Do you meditate? How do you meditate? In your home? With an app? Without an app?
Click here to learn more about the Calm app.