I love sitting meditation. I believe in the health benefits it provides, and I know that if and when I get into it, it makes me happy. It makes me calmer, nicer and more awesome in every way.
I have made many attempts to cultivate meditation as a daily habit over the past several years. I get a few days in, then I stump away and miss a few days, and my firm resolution is gone. But this past few months (!) I have found the way, and I want to share it with you. It will not be the answer for everyone, but for those of us who thrive with some external expectations, this is the perfect solution. And yes it’s an app, of course it is!
Having the Willpower to start…
Meditation is said to build stamina and willpower, but to create that meditation habit you might need lots of willpower first… Since I need better habits, and as willpower is my word of the year, that is what I’m working on right now. With the help of this meditation app I have created a new habit without much effort at all, and that is why I want to share it with you. Now that meditation is a habit, I don’t need to plan or think about it all the time either. I just plop down and meditate – once every day. Yay!
These days, everything and their aunt, has got an app that will help you become a better person! You need an app to be more productive, eat healthier, exercise more, schedule your day, be grateful and so on and so on. I sound like I’m mocking this, but I have tried them all, and love them for about a week or a month. Then I forget about them, so they were few that were very helpful in the long run. I just tire quickly I guess: I need more willpower.
I started in February by downloading an app and did the start-up-program of 10 days. It was great, but then I discovered that you had to buy a subscription to continue to use it (gah!), so I got derailed and stopped.
Then in June I heard about another app (that was totally free), and so far, I haven’t tired of using this meditation app…
The Insight Timer App
The app is called Insight Timer. You can time your meditation practice and start with the ring of a Tibetan singing bowl. If you need support you’ll join the worldwide meditation community inside the app. You can sit in silence (with the timer counting you down silently) or use one of the guided meditations (they range from 5 to 50 minutes in time, so there is something for everyone).
I think that Insight Timer is a great way to support your meditation practice. And to me, the most important aspect of what it does, is that it gives me stats on how I’m doing. I love that. Love love love that! And the statistics is what keeps me coming back, every day with few exceptions.
The app keeps tracks of your personal meditation statistics, in numbers and a few simple graphs that grow as you use it.
How the Statistics helps me
I guess the most important thing when trying to set a daily habit, is finding what motivates you most. With a habit like 365 collages, it’s easy to keep up because I love collage. I see the result in a pile on my desk each day. But what do you really get out of spending a few minutes in silence? Nothing tangible, really. But I still know that it benefits me, so I need a little push that helps me do it every day, something that gives me a push not to skip a day.
Maybe it sounds strange that it is the statistics in Insight Timer that helps me the most to keep this habit going, but it is true.
It is the idea of consecutive days that helps me. You can see how many consecutive days you’ve been meditating. It’s that streak of days that I don’t want to disrupt, and frankly, when I do (which has happened many times) I get really annoyed with myself. And challenged. So the next day I start again just to prove to myself that I am not a flake! I’m just not.
When you meditate for 10 of consecutive days you get a yellow star, considred the first milestone! I was so totally proud of myself when I got the first one (even though a few of those sessions where mostly me sitting and thinking rather than giving meditation a real go, but at least I sat – and therefor I deserve a digital gold star). You get the next milestone star when you’ve meditated for 50 consecutive days. I haven’t reached that yet, but I have 79 sessions under my belt so far (that is 90 % of the days this summer). I also got a gold star for (trying to) meditate for 50 days since June (not consecutive though). So thank you Insight Timer for thinking of those of us who might forget a day or two here or there…
If you skip a day you start at day 1 again of course, but don’t give up the practice, just start fresh the next day. As you continue, the app calculates your average session time, what days of the week you meditate most and such fun facts. I already knew that I love personal statistics and the idea of a quantified self, this is just another (easier) way to keep track of one part of my life.
Average session time: 9.3 minutes
Longest session time: 30 minutes
Total session time: 12 hours and 34 minutes! How does your stats compare?
With the app I also really like that you can choose what kind of meditation you want to do each day, and all are added to the statistics. There are almost 100 guided meditation from different teachers and voices, from 5 minutes breathing meditation to longer body scanning, metta meditation and other kind of practices. You can also set the timer and pick how long you want to sit, without any talks. I love that, and I love the meditation bowl that rings when you start and end your practice.
Carpe the Hell out of your Diem
Thanks to Jo and Sally for helping me find this app! Because it was when I listened to an episode of Jo’s podcast the Dexterous Diva that I found out about it. Her guest, Sally Hope, in show #5 Carpe the hell out of your diem, recommended it. Since I’d been on the search for a perfect meditation helper for the past year or so I checked it out, downloaded it and started using it. And it’s exactly what I’ve been searching for! Not too many bells and whistles, but no hidden fees. You get the possibility to track your meditation, and that was exactly what I wanted and something I have actually been missing!
When and how do you meditate? And what app has improved your life?
Bra tips! Kanske något jag ska prova… Jag gick på yoga och meditation en termin för ett tag sedan och jag har aldrig mått bättre. Vet inte om det bara berodde på det, men det spelade säkert in.
Yoga + meditation är den bästa kombon. Önskar att jag fick till min yoga också, men meditationen är ju alltid en början… :-)
Thanks for being so open in sharing how you meditate. In months when it is not unbearably hot, I do walking meditation. Takes about an hour and doesn’t require a timer. On inside days, I just set my iPhone timer. But I do like the idea of keeping track. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!
Walking is a nice kind of meditation too, though I could never go as as deep as I can sitting (when it happens). But I’ve tried walking meditation too, when I was at a meditation center, and it’s lovely, esp. when you get into the flow of it.
I am a Zen Buddhist, so I practice meditation 5 days a week with my sangha (and the other 2 days at home). We have scheduled sitting and walking meditation times at the sangha hall twice daily for 5 days a week (early morning and late afternoon). At our center, you don’t have to be a church member or Buddhist to meditate, most zen centers are the same. If you want to practice with others, you might want to see if there is a zen group near you. I have used several meditation timers including the Insight Timer but find I prefer to ring my own bell.
Hi Kate, thanks for chiming in about mediation, you are one of the rock stars of meditation to me. I understand you don’t need external help if you are “living in it” daily, that is so awesome. And I think it sounds lovely with a sangha, but my practice right now needs to be at home, short and sweet – so that I actually do it at all…
Now a bell of my own is on my wish list, it’s such a lovely calming sound!
Way to go making meditation a priority. I have been an off-and-on again meditator for 25 years. I just did the math. Holy moly! But, I must confess I’ve been off more than on in recent years. I was thinking an app might be a good tool to keep me on track and I love stats being an engineer’s daughter. I’ll definitely take you up on your suggestion and give it a go. Meditation feels great. I guess it is up there with taking supplements. I’m not consistent. Here’s to hitting the reset button today. Many thanks! k
Yup, personal stats is da shit. Give the app a try!
I started meditating about a year ago. Now I meditate (almost) every day. Sometimes I can only fit 5 minutes (for example when I am travelling), but I learned that 5 minutes are better than not meditating at all. Usually I meditate for 20 minutes. I feel better when I do it every day (my mind is calmer and quieter), and it helps me to sleep better!
I use the Headspace app (I guess that’s what you tried first) and although the subscription is not cheap it helps me to continually grow with my meditation experience. You can chose different topics for the meditations and learn different techniques. (You can use a simple timer, too, but it would be crazy to buy a subscription just to use a timer that is available for free!) I like that every day there is another spoken intro to the meditation, which gives me the feeling of having a personal teacher! That helps me a lot to keep on. I guess I am the sort of person who needs some external motivation to build a habit!
I tried the free “21 day Meditation Experience” by Deepak Chopra, too. A little bit different as you use mantras while meditating!
Yes, thanks, Headspace was the first one I tried. And it was funny because I got two of my friends to try it out and they are now paying subscribers well into their first year. But it wasn’t for me I guess, not too found of that Australian guy as my guide. But what ever it takes, it’s good!
Glad you’re finding it useful, and maybe paying for the subscription also helps keep you accountable?! Mediation is just nice!