Tuesday, December 4, 2012

meditation + technology

(The Funk Zone on a cloudy day, Santa Barbara)

As someone who tends to become anxious easily, meditation had always intimidated me. I did not think I was capable of shutting my brain off and finding that inner peace that had always been elusive to me. However, I tried Deepak Chopra's 21-Day Free Meditation Challenge (now over, sadly, but you can purchase the series here, and I also mention some FREE guided meditation audio sources below) as a desire to try, really try, to understand and practice at least the basic tenants of meditation. Shockingly, I loved it and immediately felt the calming effects of taking 15 minutes out of each day to participate in this challenge. While I chose not to purchase the meditation series (I'm super cheap), I firmly believe it was an incredibly effective introduction to meditation for beginners and would recommend it to anyone.

After the challenge was over and I was meditation audio-less, I was stumped. I may have completed the 21 days of meditation, but I wasn't ready or able to just sit back in a silent room and try to achieve that inner peace myself. I needed the verbal instructions to keep me on task, instead of letting my mind wander into worries and stresses. What's a hippie to do?

Answer: Spotify! For those of you who are not familiar with Spotify, you really should be. It is a free music player that functions more like iTunes than Pandora. You can search for songs, albums, artists, make playlists, look at friends' music, get recommendations, and so forth...all for FREE. The free version is a desktop-only program with some ads between songs. The paid version ($9.99 per month) gets rid of ads and allows you to utilize Spotify's mobile app, so you can rock out on your phone to your playlists for free. Not all music is on there (big, sad, missing one: The Beatles) due to copyright owners not allowing the music to be used by Spotify and the like, but I rarely notice the absence, even though my music taste runs towards the obscure.

(Goleta Beach Park near UCSB, on a cloudy day)

Deepak Chopra and The Chopra Center have quite a few albums available for your use. The 21-Day Meditation Challenge is on there, but without the truly inspiring introductory remarks Deepak makes in the paid version. However, the real winner (for me) has been The Soul of Healing Meditations. It is a guided meditation CD (remember, I need someone telling me to stop thinking, dammit) and is a great way to ease into the wonderful world of meditation. Another amazing guided meditation for encouraging sleep is Blissful Sleep with Deepak Chopra.

I am so grateful for my mind and body, and my desire to be my own sense of peace. Even if you don't take it seriously at first (I chuckled aloud during my first meditation attempt), try it a couple times. You have nothing to lose, and so much inner fulfillment to gain!

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