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In terms of creating positive ripples in my community, starting a meditation circle has been one of the best things I’ve done since moving to Berlin 2 years ago. To this day, the group still meets regularly to meditate and has become a community of people that can support each other and offer a space for each of us to be heard. This is a great way of bringing people together and creating a friendship group, as well as providing support for my own practice.

Having experienced the positive effect it has had, I would love to see more of this and others doing similar. So here is a way, step by step, to start your meditation group:

Enlist Support

Before starting, as an optional first step, if you have a friend or know someone who is interested, enlist their help. Getting started with something like this is always easier with someone else. I had a good support friend at the beginning and eventually got comfortable doing it alone. This step is optional and you can of course do it alone.

1. Find A Place

You can do it at your place, a friend’s apartment, a park… ideally a place where there is not much outside noise coming in and you won’t be disturbed by other people.

2. Set a Time and Date

Pick a day, maybe two weeks ahead. Consider whether you’d like to have regular meetups and whether this day will suit you going forward. You could also change the day every week, depending on your needs, but a consistent day helps establish a routine and helps people plan around it.

3. Spread The Word

Tell any friends who might be interested in joining about your event. Share it online. You could do this via Meetup or facebook, or, as I did, on Couchsurfing. In your post, include info such as: basic information about yourself and why you’d like to hold a meditation meetup, who it is suitable for, when it is and how long it will last, and what type of meditation and exercises it will include. You can use a simple name, we held ours on Wednesdays so called it Midweek Meditation Group.

If you have limited space, I’d suggest not including the address. Instead, put a contact number or email so people can contact you to tell you if they are coming. That way it will be easier to manage numbers. You can also add info like if it’s free or if you’ll accept donations. You can also ask people to bring tea or candles, snacks, and things that you’ll use for future meetups.

Now that you’ve organised it and have a date, you need to prepare!

4. Get Ready

Get anything you may need, such as candles, cushions, tea, and maybe some snacks for after. All you will absolutely need are enough cushions for the amount of people attending. If you are short you can also ask people to bring their own cushion, like I did when first starting out. Then, the day of, go a bit early to prepare the space and make it nice and cosy. Clear away clutter and have some nice low lighting, either with lamps or some candles.

5. Hold the Circle

Ask people to arrive on time to prevent latecomers disturbing the sit. When people arrive, give them a warm welcome and take them through to a place where they can sit down and talk to others. Ask people to turn off their phones. You could even have a box where people can drop them for the time of the meet.

Once everyone has arrived, you can say hello and remind them of the basic plan for the session. A nice way to begin is a short sharing round. Before that, it might be useful to offer some sharing guidelines. In the first session, I think a nice thing to do is ask people why they came and are interested in meditation. In future and consecutive meetups, I think it’s nice to have a round where each person just takes a moment to check in with themselves and share how they’re feeling with the group. When you have a consistent group, each person can share a little more with what has been going on with them since last time.

You can guide the meditation yourself if you feel comfortable doing that. Otherwise, you can prepare a guided meditation and play it. You can also just decide a set time and do a silent meditation.

Then, you have successfully held your first meditation meetup. Here’s some further tips:

Be Open to Evolve and Mix It Up

It can be nice to offer a few different types of mindfulness activities to keep the practice fresh, and as different things will work for different people, it’s nice to expose people to different tools.

Some activities that we’ve done include:

  • Pranayama (breathing exercise)
  • Mindful eating
  • Sound Meditation
  • Body Scan
  • Mindfulness of Breath
  • Open Awareness
  • Eye Gazing
  • Loving Kindness Meditation

As you have more experience holding the circles and getting to know the group you will feel more comfortable mixing it up and can also include other things like authentic relating exercises.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small

Don’t worry about how many people show up. Keep going! More and more people will reach out and you will find your community. For my first one, which a friend and I hosted, we had one person show up. The next week we had 2, and the following week we were at capacity of 10 and had to turn people away. Over time a regular group settled and I stopped posting about the event online.

Keep It Regular

I think keeping some kind of regularity is great to help build connections between people and offer some consistency to people’s support and practice. If once a week is too much, consider every two weeks.

That’s it. I have seen how initiatives like this can really help people so if this idea calls to you I encourage you to take the first steps to hold your first circle today!

woman breathing air

Here’s an easy and effective way to get more mindfulness, patience and peace in your life. With this technique you’ll open up lots of opportunities for mindful moments. Even better, those moments will replace time that would normally be filled with impatience, boredom, or mindless distraction. It’s like the six point swing of mindfulness practices.

Here it is:

Waiting Is Meditating

Or, waiting is mindfulness.

That’s it. You remove waiting from your life, and replace it with awareness.

Anytime you find yourself in a state of ‘waiting’ for something, use this as a reminder to be present and practice mindfulness. Take 3 long deep breaths, relaxing yourself, then bringing your attention to your body. (Or, whatever other mindfulness practice you like).

woman peaceful

Sounds easy, and in principle it is, but it takes some practice and mental reprogramming to get there consistently. I won’t pretend I practice this everywhere, but I do it often and find it to be a great tool to have in the mindful kit, and certainly most worthy of a share.

How To Practice

An example to demonstrate….

supermarket

You enter the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. You’re in a hurry and just want to buy your stuff and get on with your day. You whip round and with your basket full you join the queue for the checkout. It’s a little longer than you’d like.

Now, instead of entering a state of ‘waiting’ and whatever that might normally bring up, (maybe a feeling of hurried restlessness and/or a compulsive urge to get your phone out and check some feed), you check yourself. You stop for a moment.

and breathe

You take 3 deep breaths.
You bring your attention to the sensations in your body.
You observe them patiently until you reach the front of the line.

When you reach the cashier you’re more relaxed and focused, and go on with your day, happy to have taken the opportunity for a mindful moment.

Opportunity Is Everywhere

queue line

If you consider how many times you find yourself waiting, you’ll see how many opportunities there are for mindfulness:

  • Any queue or line: shops, airports, banks, post offices etc.
  • Stopping at a red light
  • Something is downloading, buffering, loading, converting
  • Coffee is brewing/tea steeping/water boiling
  • Bus stop/tram station/train station platform

I’m sure you can think of many more.

Try to think of one now. What is something you often have to wait for? Think of how it would affect you if you slowed down every time.

Mental Reprogramming

To frequently and effectively use this in your life, it helps to mentally program yourself to associate waiting with this practice, so you catch those opportunities rather than missing them in a blur of hurried and unconscious thoughts (hey, we all do it).

To do this, first find a short phrase that is catchy for you. Some examples:
‘Waiting is breathing’
‘Waiting is slowing down’
‘Waiting is mindfulness’

breathe sign

Then once you have your phrase, drill it in. As if you were learning a new word or other behaviour; repetition repetition repetition.

Sit down for 5 minutes and meditate on it, repeating it like a mantra. Saying, over and over again, ‘waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing…’.

You can also write your phrase down and leave it somewhere you’ll see it a lot, like your desk or mirror (post its work!), whilst you train yourself to associate waiting with your practice.

mindfulness sign

Implement this in to your life and over time you’ll naturally become more patient in times when you’ve found yourself mentally (or loudly) saying ‘hurry up!’ Or ‘come oooon’. You know what I’m talking about 😉

As with anything, it takes practice, so keep it up!

universe cosmos colours beautiful

Psychedelics and meditation have both had a strong influence on my life and are somehow inextricably intertwined. I first got interested in meditation in the aftermath of primary experiences with LSD, and now meditation, in some way or another, informs every psychedelic session I take.

There is dispute in the Buddhist community about the value of psychedelics ‘on the path’ and if you’re interested in the intersection of Buddhism and psychedelics, I highly recommend the book Zig Zag Zen. There are plenty of other articles on this topic, but today I’m just gonna share a bit of my story and how these two things have weaved their way into my life.

Discovering LSD

lsd acid tabs psychedelic

I first tried LSD as a curious guy keen for new experiences. As someone who enjoyed being creative, I was especially interested in new ways of thinking. I also wanted to have fun. I had little idea what I was in for when I put that little piece of paper in my mouth, but looking back, I now see those first experiences as pivotal in my life. Though they’ve affected me in many ways, one that stands out is how they lead me to meditation. At the time I had never tried meditating, nor had any real idea what it was, but if I had never tried LSD, I honestly doubt I’d have started meditating.

How Psychedelic Experience Lead Me To Meditation

On the tail end of my first LSD trips, I didn’t have any ‘comedown’. The post-trip chapter I experienced would more accurately be described as a serene, contemplative afterglow. After the ecstasy and madness of the peak, I descended to a more peaceful state which was in its own way, my favourite part of the whole experience. Though at the time I didn’t have any clear idea of what ‘meditation’ meant, I described the afterglow state to friends as meditative; my mind was sharp and clear and I was deeply reflective. I also noticed that my breathing naturally became long and slow. This tuning into the flow of my breath was a naturally induced meditation session.

When my friends and I didn’t naively first time candy flip on a Sunday and have to go to work the next day without getting a wink of sleep (see: my first time on acid – I started a new job that Monday – another story, another time), an ideal recovery day would be spent chilling with my fellow travellers. We’d order pizza, smoke joints and get comfortable on the sofas for a run of movies. After a long session, we were always physically exhausted, yet my mind was always energised. With this mental energy I’d wander philosophically through themes and ideas that came up in the films, conversation, music or anything else. As we watched movies I’d interpret them in all kinds of novel ways, see metaphors the writers and directors had put in, and understand concepts that I hadn’t considered before. I’d make notes in my journal about interesting ideas that came to mind and, of course, just generally enjoy hanging out. Relaxed but attentive, naturally contemplative, it was a taster for meditation.

lsd acid psychedelic trippy meaning

In the wake of these experiences, my mind was clearer. I had a greater awareness and detachment of my thoughts. I felt wiser. I was looking at things from a greater perspective more often and more naturally, like that mental trick you do when something bad happens and you ask yourself “how much will this matter in 5, 10 or 20 years?”, or you zoom out on google maps to try and coerce the overview effect. I was thinking more creatively and seeing metaphors in almost everything, and my behaviour became less guided by fear and petty concerns. The effect was sudden and obvious, and lasted some months before beginning to fade and older mental habits and ways of being began to return.

I missed my newly found but now fading clarity and wisdom, but I’d experienced another way of being that I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Following a wikipedia trail, I was lead from psychedelic drugs to non-ordinary forms of consciousness to meditation; a method of changing awareness, without substances. Though my access to psychedelic substances was gone, my newly whetted appetite for discovery remained, and I moved to Asia with a job teaching English.

London England Shanghai Pudong

From the UK to China

In my new home city of Shanghai, I started going to classes on meditation and reading books on the topic. Reading books about Buddhism felt like I was reading books about psychedelic experience, and in retrospect, they were some kind of integration texts. I began a daily meditation practice, and soon after went on my first silent retreat in 2012.

temple stay meditation korea

Temple stay in Korea

In the 6 years that have passed since, meditation practice has become a key foundation in my life. I’ve been back on other retreats and temple stays, was part of a Zen sangha in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh in Spain, and last year started a weekly meditation group in Berlin. Meditation is what a friend of mine would call a fundamental – others include exercise, diet, community and creative projects – and mindfulness is a skill I find applicable in so many situations of life. 

Like many others, my practice started with psychedelics. And while my first psychedelic journeys lead me to meditation, meditation has boomeranged back around and played its role in my psychedelic sessions. Today I’ll share one example.

How Meditation Helped On A Deep Journey

On a grey Saturday a couple years ago, alone in a friend’s house whilst he was away for the weekend, I took 250 micrograms of LSD. In the months before, I’d been reading various psychedelic-therapeutic protocols and had prepared accordingly for the session. I managed the anxiety of a turbulent come up by relaxing myself many times as I noticed myself getting anxious and tightening up, and directing my attention to my breathing. Around an hour in, as the lysergic waves really began to come on strong, I was lying down, looking up at the ceiling.

In one moment, a monster appeared above me. It was hovering over me, looking down at me from the ceiling. I was looking directly at its face, and it was looking right back at me, right into my eyes.

monster beast

I was instinctively gripped by fear. My shoulders and rest of my body tightened up instantly as I stared in shock. The beast was of course not physically there, it was a manifestation of my fears, a representation of what scares me and had been avoided.

I held the monster’s gaze, took a deep breath in, and with a long exhale, relaxed my body, letting tension go. As I did this, the monster dissolved into harmless patterns right before my eyes. The visual information was in fact the same – the rich ceiling patterns that made up the monsters face were still there – but they no longer appeared scary or even as a being to me. What changed wasn’t the sensory information I was receiving, it was my perception of it. What made up the ‘monster’ was still there, I just saw it differently. I had a new perspective.

There were a few other moments leading up to this confrontation where I noticed myself getting anxious and tightening up, and I consciously relaxed my body. I see these as like smaller hurdles that once passed, allowed me to get to the point of this confrontation. The dissolution was like a jumping off point, and after this I dropped deep into ineffable experience.

universe cosmos colours beautiful

The journey was deep and had many chapters: there were visions of a past life, alternate realities, and repressed emotions burst up and were released though uncontrollable bouts of sobbing. In the most profound chapter, it was a transpersonal experience; ‘I’ disappeared, along with time, and experience just happened.

I’ll share this story in more detail another time but for now I think its enough to say it was a significant experience that shifted something deep inside of me. The next day I felt lighter and clearer. I had more understanding and compassion. And my meditation practice was revived with a spark. I hadn’t been this affected since those very first journeys – the ones that spurred me on to meditation. I didn’t become a holy and all-understanding being overnight, but I inched in that direction. 

Reflecting on the session afterwards, I saw how techniques that I’d learnt in meditation helped me to relax, to let my guard down and open to the experience with lessened resistance. And this is why I recommend meditation to anyone considering a first psychedelic experience. Including you.

Thanks for reading.

tea teapot

How’s your mindfulness practice going? Approaching monk like presence? Mind still wandering a lot? Either way, if you’re here, I’m sure you’re looking for ways to improve. Today I’m going to share a way for you to become more mindful without taking any extra time out of your day. No extra meditation sessions, no more time needed out of your day. The principle is so simple that you can even practice while drinking your tea.

tea teapot

Transforming Existing Habits

If you’ve read a bit about habit forming, you’ll already be familiar with the strategy of attaching new habits to existing ones. This is the basic idea here, but rather than attaching mindfulness to our habits, we’re actually going to be transforming the habits into mindfulness practices. This is an idea I came across a few years ago after reading Thich That Hanh (who seems like the most chill man alive), and has been hugely helpful in bringing present moment awareness from my meditation session to the rest of my day.

Creating Mindful Checkpoints & Triggers for Awareness

What we want to use are everyday habits that are spread throughout the day. This is to create a series of mindful checkpoints to keep us on course and develop consistency and continuity of practice. It’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of the day, becoming rushed and going from one task to the next without truly being present. Later, we come round when the day has come and gone, and realise we’ve only been “half-there”. We’ve been absently gliding through on autopilot, and we’ve missed much of the day without being sure where we’ve really been.

“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller

ferris bueller life moves pretty fast

Mr. Bueller, a wise man

By transforming existing habits into mini-meditations, we can sprinkle mindful moments throughout the day, using our checkpoints as triggers for awareness, calling us back to the present moment, and giving us a chance to choose where we put our attention.

The Basic Method To Turning Any Action Into A Practice

Totally focus your attention on what you are doing in the present moment. When your mind wanders or you realise that you’ve begun thinking, just bring your attention back to what you are doing. Focus on the sensations you feel in your body, what you can see, what you can hear. Keep your attention tuned in to your activity as best you can.

5 Habits To Turn Into Mindfulness Practices

Here are 5 everyday habits turned mindfulness practices, complete with cheesy alliterated titles to help you remember them.

1. Awakening Ablution: The Sensual Shower

shower water

Listen to the sound of the splashing water. Notice how the water landing on your skin feels; the temperature and pressure. Take in the smell of your shower gel. As you dry yourself, feel the rub and the texture of the towel against each part of your body as you dry it, scanning your body for sensation.

Bonus: Cognizant Cold Shower
If you find that in the shower your mind easily wanders off elsewhere, flip it to cold and see how quickly you are back in the room! As your natural inclination to tighten up kicks in, relax your shoulders, and breathe deep. Surrender to the cold! As well as being effective at bringing you into the present moment, cold showers have numerous other benefits and are a good way to build discipline and practice embracing discomfort.

2. Conscious Coffee: The First Sip Of The Day

coffee

Wrap your hands round the mug and feel the warmth of the coffee permeating out against your fingers. Get your nose in there and yes, smell the coffee. Take that first sip like you’re on death row and chose coffee as your last drink – its the last sip of coffee you’re ever gonna take. Taste that goodness.

Alternative: The Taoist Tea
Not a coffee person? Do it with a tea, or whatever your morning drink is.

3. Savor The Flavor: Mindful Mouthful

food mindful eating

Choose one meal or snack in your day and make the first bite a mindful mouthful. Before you start eating, stop to think about where all the ingredients have come from and their journey to your plate. Look at the colours of the food and take on how it smells. Then, chew the first mouthful at least 10 times, taking the time to pay attention to the texture and flavour of the food. Enjoy.

Bonus: Mindful Meal
If you’re feeling ambitious, make it a full mindful meal. This will work best with a meal that you eat alone. Before you start, put your phone on airplane mode and put it face down. This will help stop your flickering mind from finding a distraction from your food. And don’t worry, the world will go on just fine without you for the course of a meal. Then, repeat as above, but making each and every bite a mindful mouthful.

4. Tuned In Toothbrushing

Just before you’re about to put the toothbrush in your mouth, stop. Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Now switch hands and brush your teeth with your left hand (or if you’re a leftie, your right hand). This will feel a little weird but the awkwardness will help to coerce you into being present with the act and make a normally unconscious act conscious. Focus on the task of brushing.

Extra: Using your opposite hand can be applied to many everyday tasks and can apparently help increase creativity and grow your brain. Give it a go, try stirring drinks and putting your key in the door with the opposite hand.

5. Receptive Rest

rest sleep mindfulness

This is for when you’re ready to get your sleep.

Lie on your back and feel the weight of your body on the bed. Rest your hands on your stomach and feel them rise as you inhale, and fall as you exhale. Now you’re breathing from your diaphragm, begin to make the exhale longer than your inhale.

  • Breathe in for a count of 2
  • Hold for 1
  • Breathe out for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 1

Continue this for a few minutes.

Adjust the 4-1-6-1 ratio as you like, the only rule is that your exhale should be longer than your inhale.

The tummy rise and fall is to make sure you’re breathing from your diaphragm (a relaxed form of breathing that occurs in mammals during a state of relaxation), and making your exhale longer than your inhale has a physiological effect that calms your body – your heart rate drops, blood vessels relax – perfect for bed.

And… a bonus 6th one, as it doesn’t strictly qualify as transforming a habit – it’s a classic habit-attach. Still, too good for me not to include…

6. Desk Downtime

Visit this website when you arrive at your desk (or before you get up from it). A surprisingly effective way to give yourself a 2 minute breather and tune back into the present. Try setting it as your homepage so its the first thing you see when you switch on.

Create Your Own

These are just examples, but you get the idea. Be creative and make your own checkpoints by transforming other daily habits into opportunities for awareness.

Implement The Practices. One by One.

Daily habits can potentially act as cornerstones to bring you back to presence throughout the days that make up your life, so it’s worth taking the time to implement them as mindfulness practices. It’d be easy to try and take them all on at once, fail, and then give up altogether. Instead, I’d recommend installing them one at a time.

Choose one, for example showering, and really target this window of your day to make it as mindful as possible. Have ‘sensual shower’ on your to-do list every day. Leave a note on the shower nozzle to remind you. Fully dedicate the shower to mindfulness. After a few weeks, it should become second nature and you won’t need to have it on your to-do list to remember doing it. Congratulations, you’ve successfully installed a trigger for a mindful habit (though you will still need to practice the mindfulness during the activity).

Whilst continuing with your sensual showers, choose the next habit to install. Let’s go for conscious coffee. Now go about it with the same amount of effort: Have it on your to-do list, leave a post-it on your coffee mug etc. Stack your mindfulness practices this way and in a few months you will have a series of mindful checkpoints throughout your day.

Monthly Challenges

calendar month mindfulness

To make a game of it, choose a calendar month and make a mindfulness challenge. For example, March is going to be sensual shower month: “Every single shower I take in March, I will pay attention to my senses.” By April, you’ll be ready for conscious coffee month: “I will take that moment to make the first sip of the day a conscious one.”

That’s it. Good luck. I wish you many more mindful moments!

meditating beach

meditating beach

Meditation is on the rise. As it grows, so do the number of meditation apps and there are now so many available that I wouldn’t be surprised if you felt overwhelmed at the choice. Not an ideal way to start a journey to calm your mind. So on my quest to help anyone who wants to try, start or keep up meditation, I’ve tried out a selection of apps and compiled this list of the best ones (yes, I’ve been meditating a lot in the process).

Find One That Works For You

Some are simple timers, some have profiles and progress trackers, most have guided meditations. There are many different types and they will suit different needs. I suggest looking through to find one that appeals to you and then try it for a week or two. I’ve put a summary below each app so you can skim through. If you’re new to meditation I’d recommend starting with one that has an introductory course – info on these with the summary.

N.B. All of the apps in this list have at least some free material, whilst others are entirely free. I can’t comment on the paid versions or features of any of these apps, the info here is on the free versions.

Without further ado:

Insight Timer

insight timer app meditation

The most popular completely free meditation app, insight is comprehensive and has a tonne of features. There are loads of guided meditations available, with and without music, even in numerous languages. You can of course use as many or as few features as you like (I typically only use the timer).  However, if you like extra features and think that tracking your progress or storing presets for different timed meditations would be useful, this one might suit. There are really too many features for me to include here, far more than I’ve ever used, the best way is to just download it and have a look round for yourself. You can create a user profile, add friends and send messages to other meditators. It is almost a bridge between a meditation app and a social networking site. I like that whenever you finish a meditation you are told how many people around the world meditated at the same time as you, and have an easy option to tell them ‘thanks for meditating with me’. Nice touch.

Summary:
– Totally free
– Comprehensive app
– Thousands of guided meditations with and without music, ambient music tracks.
– Customizable timer with options for reminder bells throughout.
– Personal profile; Track progress over sessions per day, and as well as logging your sessions, add friends & send messages.

Download: here

Headspace

headspace meditation app

When you start on Headspace you will be led through ‘Take 10’; an excellent free ten-day course for beginners with a ten minute guided meditation each day. Take 10 is perfect for beginners as it introduces the practice of meditation in a very accessible way and has a few short animations on some days which help to illustrate and explain some of the ideas and concepts behind meditation. The meditations are guided by British founder Andy Puddicombe and I found them to be very relaxing. After the 10 days are up you will be invited to subscribe. If you are new to meditation I would recommend doing the 10 days to learn the basics, and then decide if you want to pay subscription or go on to one of the other free apps to continue your practice.

Intro course: Take 10 – a ten-day course for beginners with a ten minute guided meditation each day.

Summary: Best free introductory 10-day course out there. Sadly nothing else in the free version.

Download: here

Calm

calm app meditation

Slick app with a nice layout. When you start you will be led through ‘7 Days of Calm’, a week long course for beginners in which you can learn the basics of mindfulness meditation through a ten minute guided session each day. The course introduces ideas like awareness and working with thoughts, and teaches mindful breathing techniques, concentration, and how to recognize distraction. The free version is much more extensive than Headspace and after the intro course there are loads more meditations which come under headings of; body scan, loving kindness, calm light, and forgiveness. You can choose the length of the meditation with options between 3 and 30 minutes so you can find a meditation that’s suited for you. There is also a free sample collection of 10 minute sessions from the daily calm program that are based on themes like choice, resilience, gratitude, impermanence, and letting go. All the meditations are guided by an American female.

Intro course: 7 Days Of Calm – teaching the basics of mindfulness in a 10 minute guided meditation per day.

Summary: Slick app. Many features on free version. Good introductory 7 day course. Many different types of meditations at different lengths. Other features including profile for tracking stats and streak, daily meditation reminder, and simple timer for a timed or open-ended unguided meditation.

Download: here

Zazen Meditation Timer

zazen meditation timer app

 

Super basic meditation timer that I like because of its simplicity. When you open the app you all you need to do is press ‘Start Meditation’ and you will get a 5 second countdown before a bell rings to start a 10 minute meditation. Another bell will signify the end. That’s it! Perfect for a no-fuss way to have 10 minutes in silence.

If you want more or less than 10 minutes, you can enter the settings and change the length of the practice.

Summary: No-thrills timer for a silent meditation. Default is 10 minutes but time of meditation changeable.

Download: here

Aware

aware meditation app

Aware has a 21-day course which will build you from 10 minutes a day to 20. The first week is free and each is 10 minutes. The sessions are similar to headspace but without animations and led by an Indian rather than a British male. What I like about Aware is the ‘energizers’ – short 3-5 minute meditations that you can slip into your day. I’ve been setting an alarm around 1pm everyday to do one of these and it always seems to catch me when I’m starting to feel rushed. After the short meditation I always feel calmer and more relaxed. The benefit of these shorter ones are that they’re too short to say no. If it was a 10 minute meditation I’d be tempted to skip it but I can always find 3 minutes. Even though its short it halts the momentum of my thinking mind long enough for me to feel a difference to my mood.

Intro course: Free first 7 days of introductory course. 10 minutes per day. Similar to headspace.

Summary: Good ‘energizers’ which are 3-5 minute meditations. Good for slipping into busy schedules.

Download: here

Stop, Breathe & Thinkstop breathe & think meditation app

OK so this is number 6 – I’ve added this on as an update to the article because I’ve been using it recently and think it deserves a mention.

When you open Stop, Breath & Think you’ll be prompted to close your eyes for 10 seconds and check in with how you’re feeling mentally and physically, and then input what you’re feeling and your emotions. Based on this, you’ll be given suggestions of two or three different types of meditations, and after choosing one, you can then choose the length. Alternatively, if you know what type of meditation you’re after, you can just choose it straight off the bat. Nice variety and another good option.

Summary: Sleek app. Many different types of meditation at different lengths. Nice check-in feature before you start a meditation.

Download: here

Good Luck!

Hope you find one that can help you build a regular meditation habit, as I genuinely believe it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Good luck!

Did I miss any great apps? Let me know and leave a comment below.