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What Do You Look for in Meditation?

So you want to start meditating. Super! Now what?

The options and resources available are nearly limitless — there are books and DVDs and online videos and apps. There are meditations based on a mantra, others based on breathing, some that incorporate movement, and others that are all about stillness of body and mind. I’ve been playing around with various options for a couple of years now, and I’m still learning new things ALL THE TIME.

And the biggest aha! moment I’ve had recently was pretty much exactly that idea — the more meditations I do and the farther I branch out, the more I learn about what I do (or don’t) like. And it’s different for everyone. One of the apps I’ve been using a bit recently, called OMG. I can meditate! is a great example. It’s simple to use and has a wide variety of meditations with all different focuses — serenity, relaxing at night, happiness, relationships, performance and success, you name it! — and, as you can guess by the name, it’s really geared toward making meditation something anyone can do, which is awesome. However, this is where I learned that you don’t know what you really love until you try it.


I loved founder Lynne Goldberg’s energy in the introduction video on the app (and omg, you should read her backstory), but while my husband loved the meditations, I … didn’t. At least, not as much as I thought I would. The pacing was good, I dug the topics, but something about Lynne’s voice made me feel more like a friend was talking to me, rather than a guide or teacher — not a bad thing in general, but apparently, when it comes to guided meditation, I like feeling a bit more distance. I suspect I’m one of the few with that reaction, but there you have it. (I also had a couple of small issues with the wrong daily meditation queuing up, but otherwise, definitely impressed.)

You might recall that, back when I reviewed Headspace, I really liked the guy’s voice, while my husband found it grating. So, it’s truly a “to each his own” thing.

Also, when I first started meditating, I craved as much guidance as possible (please don’t leave me alone with only my thoughts!), now, I find that if I do a guided meditation that doesn’t leave space for silence, I like to tack on at least a few minutes to the end, just to kind of do my own thing. (If you’d told me that would be the case a year or two ago, I would’ve laughed you out of the room.) I like soft background music (but really don’t care for anything playing in an obvious loop — it jars me every time it starts over), and I appreciate having a mantra to repeat silently — it not only gives my brain somewhere to go, but it also helps me to slow and regulate my breathing.

So, I guess the biggest lesson meditation has taught me is that you’ve just gotta try stuff. And, well well well, what do we have here? Could that be a larger metaphor for … life? Because while I know I share my stories of exciting workouts and fit adventures here, in my day-to-day life, I can be extremely happy sticking to a totally comfortable routine, and I don’t necessarily like to mix it up unless I know how it’s going to go. But I can’t know until I try, right? The very thing that scares me (like, sitting alone with my thoughts) could turn out to be my next favorite thing.

What do you like — or dislike — when it comes to meditating? Anything that’s surprised you? And if you have any favorite apps or resources, definitely feel free to list ’em! Kristen

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