This article is written in partnership with Sattva—a free meditation app founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to bridge the gap between an ancient tradition and the modern world, mindfully. ~ ed.
“Our mind can transform mud to gold. Gold to diamonds. And all negative thoughts to peace and compassion.”
I’ve repeated this quote to myself more times than I can count over the last three weeks.
I’ve also changed how I spend my mornings, the majority of my evenings, and probably most of the moments in-between (whether I consciously realize it or not).
In the past when people have asked me if I meditate, I would reply with a self-deprecating “if only I could quiet this mind” or “does savasana count?”
The truth is, I’ve always kind of actively rebelled against meditation. I know, I know—Oprah does it, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies do it, the New York Times extolls its virtues almost weekly. Mindfulness is cool, mindfulness is good for you, and mindfulness is arguably the path to something like world peace.
But that was part of my issue: “mindfulness” felt like a buzzword, the apps I tried were sleek and full of people with British accents and soothing voices, but I felt like I was hopping on a bandwagon without actually knowing what I was doing or why.
So I gave up for a while, shrugged off the weekly guilt-trip I gave myself about it, and stopped trying to meditate.
Then Sattva walked into my life—or downloaded into my life, via my thumb and a virtual app store.
“Meditation Has Ancient Roots. So Does Sattva.”
So says the first line on Sattva’s website, and so began my love affair.
The guided meditations, sacred sounds, and mudras in Sattva each have descriptions that illuminate the how and the why for each practice. It goes beyond pop-psychology and metaphors about passing clouds to educate and to allow each practice to be chosen with careful intention.
For example, the description of Sattva’s most popular sacred sound meditation, Devi Kavacham, reads:
“The day to be thankful and full of gratitude for everything and everybody in your life. Devi Kavacham is the different names of the Devi taken to different parts of the body. It’s almost like Yoga Nidra, but with names, as every name has a particular quality and energy, and name and form are very closely related. ‘Kavach’ means armour. It creates an armour around us. The Devi Kavacham consists of the Mother Divine’s names that makes an armour around us, around our body. Sit and listen to it to elevate your spirit.”
I wanted to go deeper than buzzwords, and Sattva delivered.
How to use Sattva to change the way you meditate.
Clearly, Sattva offers the opportunity to learn.
When I first opened the app, I was a little intimidated, but after trying a few meditations and getting the hang of what the app had to offer, my days with Sattva for the first two weeks looked like this:
7 a.m. My customized notification reminded me that it’s time to meditate and that my sanity would thank me for it later. (During this first week I learned that I am actually not great at meditating first thing in the morning, so I let this notification hang out on my home screen for a while.)
9 a.m. I take a mid-morning break and choose a piece of Meditative Wisdom to sneak in a little meditation education and get the most out of the practice. The Meditative Wisdom section of the app is full of (you guessed it) meditative wisdom, which are short recordings from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that go deeper into the practice and the mind. I started with The 3 Golden Principles of Meditation, and have revisited it a few times when I need to come back to the why of it all.
9:15ish a.m. First, I pick a mudra. Sattva has 20 mudras to choose from, and each one tells you what the mudra does for your mind and body, and how to set your hands up properly. Then, it’s time to pick my practice for the day. My personal favorites: Transforming Emotions (this is where I uncovered the gem about our mind transforming mud to gold), Sun Meditation (I broke the rules and did this one post-sunrise), and De-Stress.
10 p.m. I’m in the process of weaning my TV-before-bed habit, so I choose either a Sacred Sound or the Yoga Nidra meditation. (I feel obligated to say that this is the best Yoga Nidra I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, and if there’s a recommended weekly limit, I’ve definitely exceeded it.)
Now that I know my way around the app and feel like I’ve started to establish some meaningful knowledge about the practice, I’ve created my own playlists—one for Sundays, when I have a little more time to extend my sitting, and one for evenings so I don’t have to worry about the Yoga Nidra or music ending before I fall asleep.
I’ve also started making use of the ability to leave notes on the different meditations I especially loved or didn’t love (or when I wanted to jot down amazing bits of wisdom before I forgot). It pops up right after you’ve finished meditating, and you can revisit the notes (and the meditations they’re attached to) any time you want. I’ve even been able to indulge my slightly competitive side by trying to keep my meditation streak climbing.
Having something that can integrate so seamlessly into my days while allowing me to learn and practice has been transformative.
My days of rebelling against meditation are behind me for now, and if someone were to ask me if I meditate, I feel more and more confident in saying yes, in answering questions, in responding to the unshakable myth that meditation is about “not thinking.”
For me, meditation is now about having a grounded way to start and end my days. It’s about learning the ways our thoughts, the sounds around us, the words we use, and the physical world can all connect up to shape our individual and collective experiences, both.
And, you know, now I do share a thing with Oprah.
There are a lot of meditation apps out there. Sattva is for you if…
>> You’re new to meditation and want to immerse yourself in the tradition, not just the activity.
>> You’re a seasoned meditator who wants to go deeper into the practice and explore new elements like sacred sounds and mudras.
>> You like daily bits of inspiring, enlightening, often fortuitous wisdom after every meditation session.
>> You want the flexibility to create your own routine, customize your practice, and meaningfully choose the practices you want.
>> You need a little extra guidance and want to use ready-made playlists, recommended practices, or see what’s most popular among your fellow meditators.
>> You want to meditate with friends and encourage each other along your journey (you can add friends to your profile and meditate alongside them, and send each other surprises that can only be unlocked after they complete a new meditation or reach a certain goal).
>> You’re encouraged by seeing your meditation minutes, sessions, and days-in-a-row presented to you—without the fanfare of turning it into a game, and without guilt-tripping you if you miss a day or five.
>> You want a meditation app that prides itself on being as authentic to its ancient roots as it is suited to the palm of your 21st-century hand.