As part of my self-care these days I have been practicing meditation and mindfulness. It was a little difficult at first for me to accept this practice as I always associated it with an eastern religious belief system. Not something that as a Christian I should be doing. There has typically been a stigma surrounding the word “meditation” in the Christian community.
My interest in meditation began as I was looking for ways to combat my anxiety. I began to dig in and found several apps that were helpful in meditation and/or mindfulness. I was looking for ones that didn’t feel like they were drawing me into a religious practice but just the basic secular practices of meditation. These tend to focus on breathing, mindfulness, mood check-ins and more. A few of the apps that I think are pretty great are:
All of the above apps have free and premium options, I am sticking with the free options for now as they satisfy me (and I’m cheap).
What is Meditation and Mindfulness?
But let’s back up a bit. You may be wondering, what exactly is meditation and mindfulness? (Definitions from English Oxford Dictionary)
- Focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
- Think deeply about something.
- The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.‘their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition’
- A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
There are different types of meditations, including mindfulness meditation, contemplative, visualization, and spiritual meditation. To learn more about the various types of mediation, I recommend this article from MindWorks.
What Works for Me
For our purposes today, I am going to focus on the types of meditation that I prefer to do. First, I usually practice mindful meditation in the form of breath control. This practice helps to settle not just the mind but the body as well and can be very useful in providing some relief during times of high anxiety or stress. It forces you to focus on your breathing in a way that calms both the mind and the body. I have found the more I practice, the easier it is to utilize it at a moment’s notice, should I become stressed.
The other meditation that I find effective is visualization, sometimes used in conjunction with
The guide may direct me to use all of my senses and pay attention to the sounds, the smells, the sights, etc. Really become focused and aware of all that is present around me. When I am doing this, I am truly focused on this scene and not focusing on what my current reality might be. Good or bad.
As I mentioned before, I am a Christian and part of my journey is to grow spiritually. So while I was looking for various sites and apps to help with meditation, I found a few interesting ones that are considered Christian Meditations.
These are contemplative meditations that focus on scriptures and prayers but often incorporate breathing and mindfulness practices as well. That is the third type of meditation I enjoy. They help to center me, calm me and also feed me spiritually.
A few of the Christian Meditation Apps/Sites that I prefer are:
How I Practice Meditation
When you think of meditation, you may picture someone sitting cross-legged with their hands resting on their knees and chanting some word or phrase. While that may be one way of practicing meditation, it usually isn’t for me.
I often begin my day with a spiritual meditation and I do so while I am still lying in bed. The room still dark, eyes closed, I put on my earbuds and spend about 15 minutes in meditation. It’s a great way to start my day.
I try to do a different type of meditation before I go to bed to help me relax. Maybe the visualization. Sometimes I might be sitting up or even lying down on the sofa. If you are trying meditation, you do whatever feels most comfortable for you. Get in whatever position works best for you.
Why It Works
Meditation is helpful mentally and physically because it guides you into focusing on something other than your present reality. It trains and redirects your mind. It helps you to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings (mindfulness) and helps your body relax.
With continued practice, meditation can help to reduce stress levels, help your mind become more focused, help you sleep better and a whole host of other wonderful benefits. It is a discipline just like exercise. You need to do it more than once to reap the rewards. Think of it as a workout for your brain but a lot less physically demanding.
If you haven’t tried meditation yet, I suggest you check out a few of the sites/ apps I mentioned and give it
“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.”