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?