Meditation seems to be having a moment in popular culture these days. Everywhere, it feels like the benefits of the ancient practice are being championed: improved concentration, growing self-awareness and yes, even happiness.
The problem is, meditation does not come easily to all of us.
It takes a certain effort to be still, centered and mindful, especially in today's non-stop digital age. And when you're accustomed to instant gratification, it can feel frustrating if your meditation goals are not met immediately.
With patience and practice it can have great benefits. It's a wonderful tool for patients as well as friends and family of those at the hospital.
The good news is you do not have to wake up at dawn or be a yoga aficionado to meditate. Meditation can happen anytime, and anywhere. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, there are many apps that have been developed to do just that:
Calm is a mindfulness meditation app and sleep aid. Operating under a subscription model, the app charges either a monthly or yearly fee for a series of guided meditation exercises, the latter of which also offers a 21-day program for general well-being and a week-long series on sleep. Individual sessions can last anywhere between two and twenty minutes, and "unguided" sessions feature a soothing soundtrack of relaxing music and nature sounds.
Smiling Mind is an app created by an Australian non-profit organization of the same name. The organization hopes to make mindfulness meditation accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status or geographical location, with a goal of including the subject on the Australian National Curriculum by 2020. Co-created with psychologists and mental health professionals, the app sets itself apart from other, similar offerings, through extra specialization, including offering separate modules for group work (the classroom, the workplace, sports teams).
Headspace is an app specifically developed for meditation in the workplace. Described as a "gym membership for the mind," this app encourages ten minutes of uninterrupted meditation per day – all of which can happen right behind your desk! It's no secret that finding a health work-life balance can be a struggle. Apps like Headspace are a step in the right direction, making sure you take time for yourself each day.
You do not have to be a transcendent yogi to use the H * nest Meditation app, which claims to provide "mindfulness for the rest of us." Taking a light-hearted and humorous approach, H * nest Meditation peppers its guided sessions with "salty language," making them instantly entertaining and relatable, even for the skeptics out there.
Daily stress, worries and anxieties take their toll on our mental and physical health. Finding the time to clear our mind is incredibly important for our overall well-being. It may seem intimidating at first, but easing into meditation with a little help from our smartphones is a great first step.