I am a meditation skeptic. Aside from prayer, the closest I’ve come to anything resembling meditation is the 3-Minute Retreat app, which I must admit I liked. Three minutes, after all, matched both the time available in my schedule and, if I’m honest, my attention span for this sort of activity. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea; I’ve just never had any interest in it personally.
I think it stems back to graduate school, when I was subjected to progressive relaxation exercises as part of my counseling training. My husband loves these, as did many of my peers in grad school. I hated them with every fiber of my increasingly tension-filled being. I spent more time wondering when they’d be over than I did actually relaxing any part of my body. Once again, it’s not that I don’t think they’re a good idea; I’ve just never had any interest in them personally.
Lately, though, I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of mindfulness. While I still hate progressive relaxation exercises, I find it easy to relax when I’m coloring or writing or working on a jigsaw puzzle. The feelings inspired by these activities, combined with the reading I’ve been doing left me open to the idea of exploring things that help me to practice slowing down and becoming more attuned to the world around me.
So, when I read about the Headspace app, I decided to give it a try. So far, my record is one day in a row. Not auspicious, I know, but it’s more a reflection of my lack of commitment than the value or quality of the app. When I take the time (ten minutes, although there are mini-session options, too) to do the mediation, I actually do feel more relaxed afterward, and not just for a few minutes. The peacefulness lingers. And, from a Jersey girl whose default speed is the speed limit of the turnpike, that’s saying something.
It took very few sessions (two) for me to wish the voice on the app would talk less and let me focus more, a sure sign that I was finding value in the exercise. I’m not sure whether that feeling was a sign of progress (I’m ready to go it alone) or stubbornness, but I’ve chosen to chalk it up to my ability to personalize the experience to meet my needs. I mean, that’s kind of the point, right?
Definitely a bigger hit than progressive relaxation.
The app has basic mediations as well as meditations on specific topics, ranging from anxiety to cancer to sleeping or a even just a garden-variety rough day. There are even meditations for kids. Some can be tried for free, while others are available only with a paid subscription. So far, I’ve found that the free app meets my needs just fine.
If you’re new to this whole meditation thing and want to try something low-key and adaptable, I highly recommend Headspace. It’s really easy to jump right in, and, if a skeptic like me can reap benefits, imagine what it could do for you.
Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess