When you think of meditation do you envision someone sitting cross-legged in a serene or quiet setting?
Well I did. And the notion of incorporating that into my daily life, while desirable, seemed unlikely. When it came to leading more mindfully, I was content with the daily reminder to be more present or to practice more asana (only one form of yoga). But mindfulness is more than just a reminder to be present. It is a commitment to expanding your mind and all your senses in a holistic and compassionate manner – it’s being more awake. If you believe in good leadership then you believe in development because both inherently support and strive for positive change.
At some point, I had to confront my resistance to meditation: “Is it really that I do not have time? What was I really afraid of?” When I thought about it, I believed I could set an intention for the day and live more mindfully without meditating. I believed that thinking about what I would meditate on was good enough. And while it may be better than not placing any attention on how I was showing up, I was thinking more about being mindful than I was actually living it.
When I got past the surface-level resistance and examined the source of why I wasn’t even trying meditation, I realized I didn’t want to fail. Perhaps, at the core of my fear of failure, was the inner knowledge that I would be sporadic at best at my attempts to meditate. Those that know me best are familiar with my inability to fully embrace structure. I enjoy the ability to go with the flow, allowing for what I sense is needed in the moment. And, if I was going to try meditation, I knew meditating at whim would not amount to a decent practice or a fair assessment of the value of meditation. Rather than allow my procrastination and resistance to take control, I did what most millennials would do… I downloaded an app for help!
Here are four tools I recommend if you are trying to lead more mindfully and still haven’t really tried meditation:
1. Headspace – Offers an almost private experience with “Andy” who will guide your practice and build your capacity to meditate. Don’t want to go it alone? What I most enjoyed about this app is that you can connect with friends and have them join you on your meditation journey. Headspace also supports meditation “on the move” allowing you to download tracks and will track your progress. The price for participating? A monthly subscription of $12.99.
2. Omvana – Provides hundreds of meditation tracks from various guides and teachers that are priced by individual purchase. Omvana also syncs up with HealthKit (another app) which allows you to select tracks based upon your stress levels. You have the option of pairing meditation tracks with your choice of music overlay. “Free to download”, you will get 25 tracks to start with before you need to purchase as you go.
3. Buddhify – Tracks your meditation journey much like Fitbit or iWatch by providing helpful counters with charts and progress maps. The unique aspect, for me, was being able to select my current state and mood from a colorful pinwheel of options and then receiving recommended tracks for meditation. Another benefit, Buddhify has a low, one-time fee of $4.99.
4. Calm – Allows you to select your meditation intention while providing a plethora of differing tracks and guides. After a month of experimenting with other meditation apps, I was ready to try some of Calm’s longer programs that offer week-long or month-long themed meditation journeys. While you can download this app for free, tracks are limited but full-access subscriptions start at $9.99 a month.
When it comes to leadership, we often want to do it well while remaining true to ourselves. Meditation allows us to pull back the layers and tap into a deeper source of self. However, meditation can feel like an overwhelming and ambiguous feat. If you’ve been curious about exploring meditation, any of these tools are helpful for a beginner who needs a bit more structure, a private nonjudgmental environment, and wants to maximize convenience to ensure their follow-through. Ultimately, what I am learning is echoed by the following quote: