I had begun a draft of this post awhile ago but never quite made it. I think now would be a great time to review some of the different resources I’ve found helpful for my meditation and mindfulness practice, some of which I credit with helping me dig out of my mental and emotional hole during this current pandemic situation recently. Just for the record: I do not have any direct affiliations with any of these products or individuals – these are simply tools I have personally found helpful.
There are many meditation apps out there, and I’ve tried a few, but this one has really hit the spot for me.
It’s structured to begin with a 50-session introductory course that starts with a basic introduction to the meditation and then slowly builds to include different and more in depth meditation practices. After the 50-session introductory course, the app populates a new daily meditation each day. You have the option to choose 10 minutes or 20 minutes for these daily meditations depending on how long you’d like to practice that day.
If you’re looking for the ABCs of meditation in a structured format, this is a great app for that. There is also a lot of additional content I find very engaging. Sam provides some lessons where he discusses concepts or approaches in greater depth, and he also has a series of conversations where he has interviewed many mindfulness and meditation teachers and experts to provide their insights.
The app is free to download (iOS and Android) offers the first five meditations and five short talks for free. To move beyond those you will need a subscription.
There is also an option for existing subscribers to gift a free month for people wishing to try out the app beyond the five free sessions, but are unsure of committing. If you follow me on Twitter (@zenparentings) and DM me, I’ll happily send you the link from my subscription.
One other thing I love about Sam is that he has made it very clear, Other thing I love about Sam is that he has made it very clear, and reiterated during this pandemic, that price should not be a factor in helping people use this app to help with their daily mindfulness practice. If you contact his team at firstname.lastname@example.org and explain that you’d like to use the app but are not able to afford it and they will give you a year-long full subscription for free, no questions asked.
Moreover, he often then points to many of the other apps in case this isn’t your cup of tea: Calm and Headspace among others. He is truly committed in helping people find the vehicle by which any person can deepen their mindfulness practice, whether or not it is his app.
Beyond the App
I will also mention that Sam has several books he has written as well. In fact, his book, Waking Up, dives into a lot of the concepts that he incorporated when building the app.
I first learned of Tara Brach from an interview she did on the Tim Ferriss Show. I subsequently read her book Radical Acceptance, which was, as advertised, a highly impactful read for me. Her podcast (iOS and Android) is one of my go-tos featuring both longer meditation talks she gives live (well, virtually right now during the pandemic) as well as shorter meditations.
You can find more information, books, and resources she provides (often for free) on her website (tarabrach.com)
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”Thich Nhat Hanh
My list could perhaps have started with TNH, since he was my first entry point to mindfulness. Just after college I was struggling with some stuff and a friend of mine who was a Religious Studies major gave me some of his books to help me begin cultivating mindfulness. They were so simply written and so beautifully clear that I began devouring his body of work in the coming years.
Sometimes, when I’ve gone very far down the path of more advanced meditation practices I re-read them. Touching Peace and Being Peace are a great place to start, but any of his books are truly wonderful.
Other books that have also had an impact on me you may wish to check out:
Awareness: Conversations with Masters
Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest, but this book reads more like a Buddhist monk’s treatise or teachings. Very simple and understated, but powerful.
The Untethered Soul
By Michael Singer, I heard about this book on a podcast and tried it out. It’s a bit more in depth, so I don’t know that I would recommend it for beginning your mindfulness practice, but it does a really deep dive on the different layers of consciousness and uses first person experience to illustrate its points.
He apparently has an online course based on this book on Sounds True that I’ve heard is good, but I have not yet tried myself.
Whatever tools or path you take, I wish you the best on your mindfulness journey, and carrying it “off the cushion” into your daily life.
What are your favorite “tools of the trade”?