Robin (solri) wrote,

Happiness Journal 4: Messing Around with Meditation

[From my ENG 102 blog. This coincided with our week of studying mysticism and religion]

1. Tara Brach's introductory guided meditation

I thought for my next mini project I'd try out some different meditations, given that we're looking at mysticism at the moment. For the first day I went back to basics with Tara Brach's Ten Minute Basic Guided Meditation I'd been thinking about doing some meditation in class so I wanted a short simple meditation. As it happened I decided I probably wouldn't do meditation in class (that's another story) but it was a nice, easy meditation for me to do in my tired state - just focusing on and relaxing different parts of the body, then paying attention to the breathing. I should do this more.

2. Tara Brach's "Smile" meditation

I wanted to try Tara Brach's "Smile" meditation because some guests on the Tim Ferriss show recommended it (one even said it was the only meditation she did), and also because of Ketut in Eat Pray Love saying "Smile with your liver." It is indeed a nice meditation but I didn't get too much out of it because I was so tired that I kept falling asleep.

3. Calm app

Calm is an app designed to help you meditate (or sleep, if you prefer). There are guided meditaitons, some free, some payable (hey, this is an app, what do you expect?) and relaxing soundtracks (mainly natural sounds like rain or birdsong). I downloaded it about a year ago, but had only used it for the soundtracks, which I like to put on when I'm doing what I call "napitation" (i.e., starts as meditation but is intended to turn into a nap - great for the space before a 1.40 class). This time I tried the first of the "7 days of Calm" series of guided meditations. It was very like Tara Brach's basic mindfulness meditation I mentioned earlier - relaxing different parts of the body then focusing on the breath. Nothing fancy, but would make a good first practice for someone new to meditation.

4. Headspace

Like Calm, Headspace is a hip meditation app recommended by lifestyle gurus such as Tim Ferriss, so I thought it was worth a try. It's a bit like a jazzed up version of Calm. Instead of the natural backgrounds, you get a lot of cartoon figures, points, levels and the usual gamification stuff. The guided meditations are read by a guy called Andy who speaks generic Estuary English - something I found a bit off-putting at first but got used to after a while. Better than all those West Coast women who sound like they've taken too much Prozac, anyway.

The actual meditation I tried was OK - the usual body/breathing mindfulness stuff. I have to confess that again I kept drifting off to sleep, and I missed the last two minutes because my office-mate came in. Conclusion: do not try out meditations after work in the office.

Other conclusion: Headspace is probably a good app for type-A personalities who are allergic to any hint of mysticism, spirituality, or hippie New Age woo, and who love data tracking, levels and other kinds of Silicon Valley hype, but it's not really my cup of tea. If I'm going to go to the opposite extreme from traditional meditation, I'd rather have it more science fictiony, and rather than Andy, I'll take that sexy android from Dark Matter.

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