I am, at best, a mediocre yogi.
I drink soda, pantomime poison when kale is within arm’s reach, make faces at the teacher during Chair Pose and strategically plan water breaks to escape portions of the sequence that I’m not feeling that day.
It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect, after all—and I really need the practice part.
The actual reason I do yoga is not for the physical benefits; although I benefit from the discipline holding Frog requires, what I’m really seeking is the reminder to be in the moment, to breathe, to accept challenges and to take the time to honor myself.
Yoga is my moving meditation. It’s an opportunity to bring calm and quiet to my days.
When I injured my foot, at first I was grateful for the excuse not to practice. I refused to judge myself for skipping out on heated Sun Salutations with a cracked metatarsal. After months without a regular practice, however, I noticed a consistent pattern of zoning out instead of tuning in. Much like when I had experienced difficulty on my yoga mat, I realized I was finding opportunities to take an extended water break from life; to excuse myself from discomfort on every level.
I have just enough experience with meditation to know that it would help me. I also have enough to know that, for me, the thought of sitting quietly and making space for a clear mind is as mildly panic-inducing as doing a headstand away from the wall. It’s possible but on most days I just don’t feel quite there yet.
And although I’d like to say that I don’t have time to dedicate to a regular meditation practice, the time I spend scrolling through Facebook or playing cat games on my phone proves that is yet another story to escape from self-improvement.
Since it had my attention anyway, I decided to use my phone as a virtual guru and put it to work as a portable meditation teacher.
Here’s how I transformed the distraction of a smart phone into a tool for introspection:
Like many of life’s challenges, the hardest part was getting started. There didn’t seem to be an ideal time to schedule a new habit.
Would the benefits of an early morning meditation outweigh the missed sleep? Was there such a thing as a quiet space when the family was home?
I set an alarm at the end of each day to remind myself to meditate before bed, and at first it was an unwelcome intrusion. However, its persistent nagging would give me the guilty nudge I needed to check it off of my daily to-do list. I began to look forward to the alert that announced that “me time” was starting soon, and the quiet that followed when I retreated to my room.
In its simplest form, meditation is sitting and breathing. It doesn’t seem like much instruction would be necessary. However, an app can help guide thoughts and provide physical cues while eliminating the urge to check the clock.
A large part of establishing a daily meditation practice is accepting that there is no perfect time or place or situation—there is only what we are able to create. Whether it’s a few minutes caught during car rides or a walking meditation while listening to a mindfulness podcast, the goal is to take time to enjoy the simple indulgence of observing and connecting with our breath, body and emotional state without judgment.
Here are the apps I found that I enjoyed, and I hope you will too:
A simple and soothing daily meditation series with body and breath cues. Marketed as a gym membership for your mind, Headspace offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises of various lengths. The first 10 days are free and then a subscription provides access to sessions that focus on specific subjects, challenges and feelings.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Check in daily and choose adjectives to help describe your physical, mental and emotional state. Breathe will suggest guided meditations appropriate for your mood or offer a timer for self-meditation. Chart progress with digital stickers, a session counter, Settledness log and a record of minutes spent meditating in this simple—but comprehensive—free app.
Track your health and moods, journal for greater insight, utilize relaxation techniques and challenge yourself to meet life goals with this visually appealing app that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness to help users organize and simplify their everyday lives. The app is free with subscription options to unlock additional meditations and exercises.
Just like yoga, meditation is a practice, and even the most devout practitioners will have good days and bad, successes and struggles. The true challenge (and reward) is in doing it anyway and enjoying the journey. Lately, I recharge by hitting the “do not disturb” switch on my phone as a reminder to do the same for my psyche, and inner peace is usually just a few taps away.
Author: Ashley McCann
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Jean Gerber/Unsplash