My review of The Anxious Lawyer, a mindfulness and mediation guide, opened with the following:
Meditation relieves stress and anxiety, increases focus and productivity, and helps you let go of bad habits. There are other benefits, including the ultimate goal of transforming the way you see yourself and the world.
But you already know that or some of it and you’ve yet to start a meditation practice. Is it because you’re not sure how to get started and what to do or even what exactly meditation is?
I went on to recommend the book.
While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, get the excellent Insight Timer app to explore different types and durations of guided meditations and to help you get into the habit of meditating. Recommended by Jeena Cho, co-author of the book, I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and for novices and skeptics like me, it can turn critics into converts.
If you’re a meditation newbie, listening to sounds of waves on the beach or the patter of rain in the forest will get you nowhere. You’ll need some guidance. Insight Timer has a treasure trove of guided meditations to energize your morning, to help you relax and be mindful during the day, and to go to sleep at night. Or, check out one of the 19 categories of guided meditations which include self-confidence, mindful eating, and depression.
Try different teachers (the folks who guide the meditations) and bookmark the ones you like. One of my favorite voices is Bethany Auriel-Hagan who leads 6-minute Morning Mediation and 18-minute Breathing into Sleep guides.
When you’re ready to go it alone, open the timer, choose the duration and sound (default is “ambient”) and hit the “start” button. I haven’t gotten there yet.
Whether morning or nighttime, make it a habit
To paraphrase Aristotle: Excellence is not an act, but a habit. To give meditation your best shot, make it a habit by assigning a time in the morning and/or evening to meditate and do it every day, or every weekday since routines vary on weekends. I do a 3-10 minute guided meditation in the morning at my desk 20 minutes before starting the day’s work.
Getting to sleep is not a problem for me but I recommended it to a friend for whom it is and we did it together. We both fell asleep before the meditation ended – which is the point, after all. You’ll need to allot about 20 minutes for this and a huge bonus is how the practice gets you out of a not-so-good habit: staring at the screen on your phone for 30 minutes in bed.
Make it social…or not
There’s a community component to the app where you can add friends and join a group. It probably makes you more accountable and therefore more likely to stick with it, but it’s not for everyone. The last thing many want to do is join and engage on yet another online social platform. I’m holding off for now but I know users who love it.
The app, available for Android and iOS devices, is beautifully and intuitively designed. And it’s free! They also have a good-looking website with lots of useful information. Check it out and start on the path to a more mindful life – at home and at work.