Basically every teacher I know recommends daily meditation as a personal practice. Even if you only do it for two minutes. Even if you aren’t good at it.
It’s really, really hard to stick to it.
No matter that there are studied, proven benefits. No matter that it’s easy enough to do.
That you can do it anywhere. Any time. For free.
The mind resists. The ego resists. With everything it has.
But I figured out a trick.
I use an app. Insight Timer, by name. It costs three and a half bucks.
There are many meditation apps out there. I’ve had success with this one because of three things it does.
First of all, it offers eighty-some guided meditations, ranging from one minute to an hour. There are well known teachers (Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn) and lesser known ones. They’re on a variety of topics. Some have new age music in the background, most don’t.
Let me just point out that I’m terrrrrrrible at meditating. I’ve got monkey mind, the whole time. That’s exactly why a guided meditation helps. A gentle phrase every now then, like “noticing the silence” – followed by silence – brings me into the moment.
Pretty soon my mind wanders again. Part of many of the guided meditations is the teacher saying that the mind will wander. And that’s okay. That’s what it does.
And hearing that brings me back to the moment.
And it wanders again. And something comes up. A voice. A bell. A prompt to take a deep, full breath.
And I’m back.
Another way it helps: it keeps track of how much I’m meditating. You get a gold star for ten consecutive days. You get a green star for five gold stars. A pink for five greens.
It’s silly… but it works. Having a simple though meaningless goal helps me remember to keep up the practice daily.
And of course, I’ve missed days. I’ve forfeited gold stars.
The third thing it does is let me know how many other people are meditating using the app right now. When you open the app you see a world map, with dots, and a total. As I write this, 472 people are meditating, by the way.
When you complete your meditation it says “Congratulations, you just meditated with 472 people.”
You can see who, and where, by clicking “community.”
Avi in Israel completed 5 minutes of meditation.
Annette in Kelowna, Canada completed 45 minutes of meditation.
Roberta in Mashpee, MA completed a guided meditation: Simply Being – Guided Meditation for Relaxation & Presence (Mary Maddux)
Enrique in Guayaquil Ecuador completed 30 minutes of meditation.
Ingrid in Malmo completed a guided meditation: Vipassana (Basic) Meditation (Tara Branch)
You can reach out to people whose profiles you see, or people you know, and friend them.
You can refine the community feed to show what your friends are up to. You can see who’s nearby. Who’s using it right now.
If you don’t know anyone on there, you do now. You can friend me: TJ from Vancouver. If you check out your “friends” feed, you’ll see when I last did a guided meditation, and which one. And vice versa.
It’s easy to disdain going with the herd. Our culture trumpets the value of individuality. I’m particularly prone to this. And there are many examples of groups bringing out the worst in people.
But we can draw strength from each other. We can help each other up. We can give each other quiet encouragement to continue with a valuable, healing regular practice.