So, I know the whole idea of meditation is to unplug. To turn off the phone and put away the computer. I get it. I’m just not very good at it. Instead of fighting technology, I’ve learned to use it to help tame my monkey mind, especially on those days when it is acting particularly unruly. The following are my favorite ways to plug in and unwind:
I love this site. It has thousands of hours (I’m guessing – I haven’t counted:) ) of high quality yoga instruction that can be selected by difficulty, time and emphasis. They are also growing a database of meditation videos. I find that I gravitate towards these when I’m looking for something longer and more interesting than my standard fare. The meditations are all guided and are quite interesting and varied. (free 2 week trial and $18/month for unlimited use for meditation and yoga)
This is my go-to. There are many different soundtracks to choose from – everything from chants to nature sounds. There is also a mixer so you can customize your own personal blend. I love the quick timer that I can easily set for a variety of times, even if I don’t play any music (this especially happens when I can listen to real rain outside the window!). There are no guided meditations. It’s just simple, easy to use and high quality. ($.99)
Calm.com (website and app)
I read about this website and app in Lifehacker (which I also love but it doesn’t technically tame my monkey mind!) the other day. This is meditation for dummies. It comes in preslugged durations, starting at 5 minutes. Each one is guided and follows a similar script. As with the app above, you can select your background sounds, although they are not as varied. I have found that this app is excellent for the days when I am struggling to get my monkey mind to sit still long enough to slip on the headphones. (free or $4.99 for the full version)
This nifty little app sounds a gong at predetermined times to remind you to quickly graph your mood and tag it with key words. It is designed to help you identify your triggers both for positive and negative moods. I also use the chime as a reminder to be mindful and present. I have it set to go off at two of the craziest times of my day – in the middle of homeroom where 30 kids and a handful of adults are competing for my attention and at 5:00 pm when I get home. ($1.99)
My monkey mind is tired and is ready to shut down the computer and plug in the headphones. I just hope I can teach him to stop chewing on the cord:)
I only began consciously meditating within the last couple of years. I have actually been practicing mindfulness much longer than that, however please keep that a secret from my monkey mind. I have used weight training as a tool for bringing my focus to the moment since I was a teenager. I lift heavy, more to direct my thoughts rather than to build my frame. Lifting was a way to force my mind to rest. I could stay within my comfort zone of strength training and yet flirt with the exotic (to me at the time) world of meditation behind the scenes. When executing a compound movement with heavy weight, my mind could not wander; the monkey that normally scurried around the folds of my cortex was silenced under the burden. Breath was forced into the smallest bronchi, as the body demanded extra oxygen. Each flexion of muscle was accompanied by a relaxation of mind, a perfect partnership of mind and body.
Zen Habits beautifully explores his experiences with the meditative power of iron.
So, if your monkey mind resists the yoga mat or the meditation pillow as mine sometimes does, try taking your monkey to the gym and shut him down with some heavy weights! Just don’t tell him that he’s actually meditating:)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Graduation Day (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Experimenting on the Monkey (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)
- Taming the Monkey Mind: Embracing the Monkey (lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com)