For the average person, living and working in today's hectic world can sometimes feel like being caught in a Miley Cyrus music video: getting hit by a wrecking ball without even the benefit of knowing what it all means.
Busy as people are building careers, nourishing relationships, taking care of others, and pursuing their dreams, taking a little time to decompress and meditate can seem difficult, even indulgent. Given the choice -- in whatever little time remains in an average day -- to take care of oneself or not, a disproportionate number of people choose the latter option.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are widely understood: putting in a little "me" time prevents burning out and allows individuals to bounce back from stress. It's more than fair to say that mental health requires the same ongoing care and support as physical health. Meditation can be essential in that endeavor, helping the mind stay focused, calm, and resilient.
Where is a gal (or guy) to start, though, when she's looking to carve out time in her busy schedule to get down with her bad (centered) self? First things first: she can breathe deeply, count to five, and breathe deeply some more. Because the Internet will deliver.
Meditation and technology don't always go hand-in-hand -- after all, the whole point is to shut off the noise -- but there exists a growing number of tools online that specifically will help a person do just that: disconnect and focus on the present moment.
For anyone looking for a way to incorporate mindfulness on a daily basis, the Headspace app is worth a shot.
This easy-to-use app can help the user set up a schedule, starting with ten minutes a day, and commit a little more to the practice in increasing increments. The app also offers guided and non-guided exercises that come with a subscription. Headspace has broad categories -- from health to relationships -- as well as more specific ones, such as cooking. Corresponding sessions focus on incorporating mindfulness in each category of the user's life.
Headspace also produces Radio Headspace, a podcast that shares ideas and methods on introspection and finding meaning (for a taste, check out this one featuring Brainpicking's Founder Maria Popova).
For those who seek guided meditation audio, there's Meditation Oasis. Co-hosted by Mary and Richard Maddux, this soothing (naturally) offering talks listeners through practicing meditation while providing insight on being more present every day.
Another option in that regard is the UCLA Meditation Research Center, which provides free, short and longer guided meditation to get listeners through a daily practice at their own pace. The center also offers paid 6-week online meditation classes (in both English and Spanish) that include discussion forums and live chats.
For the times when a girl (or -- again -- guy) just doesn’t feel like listening to a guiding voice, there's my personal favorite: Calm.
The Calm website gives the user options for different calming sounds and visuals, including a mountain lake, a crackling fireplace, rain on leaves, or the sounds of a meadow. While a cursory once-over may make the site appear alsmot too simple to work, listening to rain falling for fifteen uninterrupted minutes is likely to disarm a person of any such preconceived notions. On the contrary, she just might end up finding that her mind is a little quieter. (Other side effects may include an inexplicable urge to grab an umbrella and make friends with a lamppost.)
It can be difficult to find an hour for quiet reflection, so it's important for a person to celebrate even small moments of being present as she expands the presence of mindfulness in her life.
Set that uninterrupted and start looking forward to some well-deserved self-care.