With all the buzz surrounding mindfulness, you can probably recite many of the benefits of meditation off the top of your head–lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved focus, heightened creativity, and the list goes on…
But even when we’re aware of the myriad benefits of meditation and intend to practice regularly, there are still barriers that pop up and prevent us from making it a consistent habit–like family and work obligations, our internal resistance to sitting still, or feeling like we just can’t find time for meditation.
As with establishing any new habit, it helps to make things as easy as possible for yourself–to set yourself up for success in advance. For me, I’ve found that having a tool belt of meditation resources at the ready has made it much easier to learn how to meditate and keep practicing consistently.
I’ve put together this list of my top 3 free meditation resources in the hope that you, too, will find them helpful as you grow your meditation practice. It’s nice to know that you can always turn to these handy resources when you need a meditation break.
The Headspace app‘s free starter course, “Take 10,” is a wonderful place to learn or revisit the basics. In short, 10-minute guided meditations, which you ideally practice every day for 10 days, Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe guides you through the simple technique of counting each breath to anchor the mind in the present moment. Andy’s guidance is straightforward, gentle, and motivating–great for beginners or those striving for more consistency in their practice.
2. Stop, Breathe & Think
What I love most about the Stop, Breathe & Think app, created by the nonprofit organization Tools for Peace, is its “check-in” feature. You can input how you’re feeling mentally and physically (on a scale of “great” to “rough”), and select a few emotions (Are you appreciative or excited? Conflicted, uneasy, or pessimistic?). The app then pulls up a few guided meditations recommended for your current state.
You can also bypass the check-in and just choose from the full list of free meditations. Some of my personal favorites are “Welcoming the Day,” “Falling Asleep,” “Body Scan,” and “Relax, Ground and Clear.”
3. The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way offers free daily guided meditations sent to your inbox every morning. With each new day comes a new meditation with a different theme or technique. I look forward to opening these emails and popping my earbuds in first thing in the morning. It’s the perfect way to sample a virtual buffet of meditation techniques, from concentration and mindfulness to body scans and loving-kindness (or metta).
Try sticking with one app or technique for a week at a time to “try it on,” so to speak, and see what you like the best.
What are your favorite meditation techniques or resources?
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Photo: Matt Deavenport via Flickr