When you think of meditation, what do you picture? Do you picture someone sitting cross-legged on the beach with wind blowing through their hair? Or what about a person on a park bench near a fountain, listening to the water splashing and the birds chirping? Meditation can mean something different to every person because there is no single way to meditate and people can have different motivations for engaging in the practice. Many people meditate to learn how to focus their attention or be more present. For some, this experience can help them feel happy and relaxed. The buddha is quoted as saying: “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” This way of thinking resonated with me and influenced me to try mediating in hopes of creating a lifestyle that is more relaxing and mindful. This is my story of using Headspace, one of the most popular mediation apps, for the past week and I hope that it influences you to try it as well.
I was excited to try this app because I heard many great things about it and how simple and easy it was to use. I started with the Basics course and chose to do the 10 minute sessions, although you can also choose the 3 minute or 5 minute sessions if you are short on time. The techniques covered in the Basics course focus on the Body Scan and Focused Attention, two very important skills to develop for meditation. I learned this by watching a short video tutorial that Headspace offers at the beginning of every course to introduce the techniques covered and why they are important. I was learning why meditation was important, and not just how to meditate. After the 10 minute session, I felt pretty relaxed.
I was busy today with classes throughout the day and then a club meeting in the evening, so it was hard for me to find a time when I could be alone and someplace quiet. I ended up going to an unoccupied study room in my dorm and used headphones to block out the ambient sounds. I stuck with the 10 minute session instead of a 5 minute one because I wanted to fully immerse myself in the experience.
The process of becoming fully relaxed has been getting easier by now and I am really liking the Body Scan technique. As Headspace puts it, this is a “simple technique that will bring body and mind into sync.” Basically, you are scanning down your body, from head to toe, like a photocopy machine. As the light passes horizontally across each part of your body, you are supposed to think about how that part feels in the moment. The goal is not to change the feeling or resist discomfort, but to build up a picture of how the body feels.
By now, I’ve started to notice a pattern with all the lessons: Get into a comfortable position, become aware of the sounds around you, do a body scan, and start to focus your attention on your breath. This pattern has actually made it easier for me to complete these lessons because I know what to expect and can even do them without using the app.
While this is the final day of my “test run,” I am definitely going to continue meditating from now on. Each day I tried to find a new place to meditate. Today, I went outside because the weather got warm enough to do so and relaxed on a swinging bench. Yesterday, I was at the library and did a short session when taking a break from studying. So far, I am already starting to feel the benefits from meditating and look forward to trying different focuses. I want to point out that the longer you use medication practices, the more beneficial they become.
The reason I chose to use Headspace is because of how user friendly it is, while also being very thorough with lessons, tracking habits, and consisting of a wide variety of courses. The app comes with 10 free lessons in the Basics course, while also letting you try sessions with other focuses like happiness, dealing with distractions, and productivity. The app offers a large student discount: $9.99 for a year instead of $95.88 per year. If you’re interested in learning about meditation but would rather not pay for an app, Insight Timer is a fantastic free option. I strongly urge you to consider meditation as a way to relax and hope you find it as helpful as I did.