Meditation can play a key role in helping calm the nervous system and improve health. Here are some of my best meditation tools that I have found to be invaluable.
It’s no secret that stress is brutal when it comes to both mental and physical health. We’ve learned that there are endless health issues that can be directly connected to or exacerbated by the effects of stress. In today’s world, avoiding all stress is basically unavoidable. Financial stress, relationship or work stress, and even basic stresses like hectic schedules or stresses associated with parenting are at an all time high.
We need to be concerned with just how far reaching physical and mental stress can affect our bodily systems and organs. Stress can affect everything from proper digestion and food absorption to cardiac health to reproductive and endocrine health and more. We have seen an uptick in almost every disease category including cancers and autoimmune diseases, and stress can contribute to these through a number of processes.
Some people struggle with “unguided” meditation, including myself. I have a hard time staying focused on my breath and not continually wandering back to my worries, to do list, and daydreams. Plus when my cortisol and other stress hormones are pumping in excess, I find it difficult to calm my system without an external source or reminder to stay on track. In this post, I want to highlight some of the tools I have been using that I find valuable for guided meditating and brain support.
If you are familiar with some of the neuroplasticity programs like DNRS or Gupta Programme, this app, The Meaning of Life Experiment, might look familiar to you. This is a free meditation app that can be downloaded on your smart phone and has a month’s worth of meditations in both 10 or 20 minute increments to use daily. I like that they each have a different focus and so you can go back to ones that are best fitting for your current circumstances.
This little gadget is called the Muse Brain Sensing Headband. Paired with the corresponding app on your smartphone, it helps you stay honed in on your meditation with several different background noises (rainforest, desert, ocean) which intensify in sound when your brain activity picks up and strays away from your breath. It also uses a reward system, namely, birds chirping, to signify when your brain is calm and your meditation is intact, so you can gauge your focus. The app is easy to use and you can save your sessions to compare and track. Find more about it HERE.
Oak is another free meditation app on your smart phone. It has a combination of breathing exercises, guided meditations, and relaxing sounds to help you sleep. I like the option of specific timed breath exercises because sometimes slowing down and simply focusing on breathing is enough to calm the nervous system, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. Find it HERE.
Headspace is another free app for your smart phone that is easy to use. Most of the content comes at a cost but there are some basic meditations to tap into at no fee.
Buddhify is a paid app that can be used for specific meditations based on your personal needs. They tout being great for people with a busy lifestyle, which basically means everyone these days! There’s also a section for kids which is a great way to introduce the younger folk to quieting the mind and working through stress.
Heartmath is a different kind of science that is not so much meditation as it is “coherence” based research. HeartMath technology is an innovative approach to improving emotional wellbeing. Learn to change your heart rhythm pattern to create physiological coherence; a scientifically measurable state characterized by increased order and harmony in our mind, emotions and body. The tool photographed above helps you shift into coherence which can help with heart rate variability and in turn stress management and overall emotional well being.
Calm is another meditation app for your smartphone. There are a variety of topics from mindful eating to sleep to basic meditations. The paid version unlocks a lot more but you can try a free trial initially.
Meditation gongs and bowls are a great way to “get in the zone” – and luckily can be delivered quickly to your doorstep so you can get your zen on. There are lots of resources online to see how to use them, but honestly, getting a feel for how to use a meditation bowl on your own is just as easy. Find this one HERE!
Insight Timer is a free app that claims to have the largest collection of truly free meditations – over 12,000. They do have a paid version too but with thousands of free options, you’ll have plenty to choose from at no cost.