The 10 Best Mindfulness Resources
It’s a popular philosophy: read enough on one subject and eventually the stuff will sink in.
I am a big believer in attacking from all sides when setting out to acquire a new habit. Where you basically hack your environment and bombard your brain with stories, facts and ideas from the books and articles you read and the podcasts you listen to so that it finds its way deep into your unconscious. That’s been my approach to the epic challenge that has been meditation this month.
I’d like to think that it works. Dr. Seuss seems to think so!
Anyway, for those of you interested in adding a little more mindfulness into your day, here are some tried and tested apps, websites and books for you to check out.
1. Best Overall Resource: Headspace (website, app). Probably the most helpful resource for me this month. The explanations and approach to meditation in the book and website are simple and relatable, as are the 10 minute guided meditations. I love how the site holds your hand through the first ten days of your practice so that all you have to do is set aside ten minutes and press play. It couldn’t be easier. Free for the first 10 days. There is also a great book and TED talk for more inspiration and explanation).
2. Guided Meditation: Omvana (app, website). Its what you get when the iTunes store and the mindfulness community have a baby. The website and app itself are free. From there you can handpick the tracks you want to listen to from their library of thousands of audio recordings, some of which are free, others cost a few dollars. Unlike other guided meditation programs, I like the variety that Omvana offers – topics (like energy, health, sleep), formats, lengths etc. including recordings from some of the world’s top authors and experts, so that you can find exactly what works for you.
3. Starter Book: Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn. A great, straightforward book for beginning meditators, with very simple and practical explanations on mindfulness and awareness. I can’t recommend it enough.
4. Philosophical Book: The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle. It’s one of the most popular ‘self help’ books out there, and one of the more intense ones too. This is a book about learning to live in the present moment, free of attachment, free of our egos, free of pain and suffering. Because it’s all that we have. Unfortunately we’re conditioned to be attached to objects and feelings and circumstances which makes the idea of presence such a difficult thing. They’re important concepts, but the way they are presented in the book (i.e. more philosophy, less technique) makes it a little more difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you’re brand new to mindfulness. It’s only this month, and my 3rd attempt at reading the book, that I am able to really accept this idea of presence.
5. A book for the skeptics: 10 Percent Happier, Dan Harris. Harris is a self proclaimed overachiever who famously had an on air panic attack while reporting for Good Morning America 10 years ago. Until then, he shunned all things religious and spirituality in favor of a hard working, hard partying lifestyle. He writes about his introduction to meditation and how his mindfulness meditation practice helped turn his life around.
6. Device: HeartMath Inner Balance Sensor, $129: This little gadget is a heart rate variability (HRV) monitor that very simply attaches to your earlobe and monitors your heart rhythm patterns, which you can track in real time on your iPhone. The devices forces you to train yourself, through your breathing, to get to and remain in a state of calm; i.e. the green zone (there is also a red and blue zone, depending on your HRV). I use it in the mornings to start my day off in the right state, and whenever I’m feeling agitated or overwhelmed as a way to quickly calm down. The biggest surprise, however, was when my four year old asked to try my device and meditate. She quickly took to its simplicity and gamified elements and now, she sits quietly every day, for 4-6 minutes at a time, learning to control her breathing so that she can “get to green”. And she always does.
7. Website/ Resource: WildMind.org. A very simple, ad free website that offers a wealth of free guides, articles and resources for practicing mindfulness. Based on the Buddhist philosophies, it’s an awesome place to poke around at your own pace.
8. Gratitude App: 5 Minute Journal, free. If sitting in silence is not for you, then one of the easiest and most effective ways to practice mindfulness and present moment awareness is through gratitude. The 5 minute journal app forces you to focus on the good things in your life, twice a day. In the mornings, you write down three things you are grateful for, three things that would make today great, and any daily affirmation. In the evenings, you write down three amazing things that happened today and how you could have made the day better. It also comes with a daily inspirational quote. A notebook version is also available for purchase here.
9. Podcast: Zencast, free. The car (or treadmill) can be a great place to learn and let new ideas sink in. The Zencast podcast is a series of 45-hour long talks on meditation, mindfulness and a host of other topics that you can download for free on iTunes.
10. Habit Tracker App: Lift, free. Sometimes we just like to check the box. Sometimes we need a little encouragement from strangers. This app does both. Select the habits you want to develop (meditate for 20 minutes a day, do 20 pushups, wake up at 6am) and check in once you have completed them.
I’m curious – what are your favorite websites, apps and books to help you stay mindful? Leave a comment and share your mindfulness resources below!