I know I’ve been banging on about meditation pretty darn frequently lately (HERE, HERE oh and look, over HERE) but I do so cos I’m finding it so freaking awesome that I can’t not share what I’m learning. While I’m still very much a beginner, I’ve already started noticing changes from my daily practice.
I’m pretty sure you’ve probably read or at least heard in passing about the benefits of regular meditation (lowered stress levels, an increased sense of wellbeing even physical benefits like a boost in immunity and less inflammation in the body) but how it impacts each person is always going to be an individual thing.
We all approach meditation from a different place and with different intentions. For me, the reason I really committed to trying out this meditation thing was due to the positive impact it’s proven to have on mental health issues. As I am no longer on medication, managing my OCD and anxiety is important and being able to do it naturally is a huge bonus.
I also wanted to see how meditation would impact on my mothering and ability to stay in the present. Mindfulness (AKA staying in the present) is definitely not my strength. I am a future thinker and sometimes past dweller. I get caught up in the ‘what if’s’ and ‘what then’s?’ which make it very difficult to hang out in the ‘right now’. I find that when I am able to stay in the moment, my parenting flows far more easily. I get less exasperated, I worry less about what I ‘should’ be doing and I’m far more present with my son. It’s a skill that needs constant attention though and meditation is one of the best ways to help strengthen your mindfulness muscle.
I vary my meditation practice to include a few different techniques. Guided meditation, mantra based meditation and lately I’ve been going heavy on the mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation gently positions you to stay present throughout whatever pops into your head. It’s the perfect antidote to minds like mine that want to jump all over the shop. When I attempt a silent, unguided mindfulness meditation, I find myself staying present for the first maybe 60 seconds before jumping into the future (what am I going to have for breakfast?) then back into the past (what times was it that Ollie woke last night?), then usually back into the future (how long have I been meditating for?) before I realise what I’m doing and refocus back on the right now. The apps I’m currently using have been enormously helpful in that they lessen all those mind jumps and help remind me to focus on things like my breath/the sensations in my body/exterior sounds.
I have these apps downloaded on both my phone and ipad so that I can access them at anytime. I make a point not to take my phone into the bedroom with me at night, though my husband uses the iPad so I can plug into that if I want to do a before bed mediation then grab my phone in the morning for my morning session.
My three current faves are below:
Buddhify was recommended to me via an Instagram friend who raved about its merits. I immediately had to download it to see for myself and I wasn’t disappointed. The app gives you the option to choose from an extensive number of guided meditations to suit your current situation. Everything from ‘waking up’ to ‘walking in nature’ and ‘feeling stressed’ are included, along with options to freestyle it and meditate on your own. I have been using the ‘Waking up – Good’ track pretty much every morning for the past fortnight and it’s definitely one of my favourite ways to start the day.
I’ve been using ‘Mindfulness‘ by ‘Mind Apps’ for a little while now and it’s still proving to be rather awesome! It gives options for a variety of different guided meditations, along with the option to compile your own ‘personalized’ mediation track where you can specify time and things like intervals etc. I use the ‘personalized’ function when I’m doing a silent meditation and need reminders of the time I’m spending on each focus (I focus on counting the exhaling breath for 2 minutes, then switch to counting my inhales for 2 minutes, then switch to focusing on the sensation of breath for 2 minutes). Mindfulness uses bells to signal the 2 minute mark which makes it easy to keep focused and switch.
Mindfulness For Pregnancy
‘Mindfulness For Pregnancy’ is another ‘Mind Apps’ app and very similar to the above. Where it varies, is the different guided meditations on offer. These have been specifically tailored towards pregnant women and offer tracks to help with connection and relaxation. I really like using this app at the end of the day to spend some time with bubs as I often feel that bonding with my growing bump is at the very bottom of my priority list after a long day of work and toddler wrangling!
Something slightly different! Not exactly an app (though I have it on my phone), Meditones are designed to help deepen your meditation experience by creating relaxed neural activity. Basically, the track utilises a number of sound frequencies to help promote relaxation and deep meditation, two states which can be difficult to achieve when you’ve all stuck in your head/distracted by the ins and outs of your day/new to this meditation thing. You can check out the website HERE for the more in-depth details (and to try a sample) but I can vouch for the kind of insane power the tracks have when you plug in. I find it much, much easier to actually stick with a non-guided meditation while listening AND have also found the tracks a great way to just ‘be’ with myself.. Somehow the meditones quite a lot of the usual chatter going on and I’m able to just sit, with a relatively blank mind, something which is insanely blissful for an over thinker like yours truly!
You can try a sample and purchase the tracks HERE