After the stress of the Thanksgiving holidays and the impending anxiety of Christmas, I made the very important decision to start meditating. I started very small, sitting in silence every day for five minutes only.
The problem is that there are little options of iPhone meditation apps for people who can’t afford a monetary subscription service. The best luck I had was downloading the Headspace App that has a free program called “Take10,” which takes the beginner on 10-day meditation introductory course. It was great. Then I finished the free option and the more in-depth stuff requires an average $10/month subscription. Listen, Headspace, it’s been wonderful and I wish I could subscribe, but my husband’s in law school. It’s either you or Hulu+, and you don’t have access to Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episodes.
While listening to an interview with Brainpickings creator Maria Popova, she mentioned she listened to the Tara Brach podcast, which offers guided meditations and general topics about mindfulness. I’ve since downloaded a few episodes, and I’m enjoying them quite a bit. The podcast has been in existence since 2010, so there is plenty of material to scour. Some recordings are taken from retreats and run anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, and meditation episodes can last anywhere between six to 35 minutes. These episodes are free, but if the listener wishes to support the show financially, donations help with costs of audio feeds and website-related necessities.
The only criticism I have with the podcast is that it is heavy on the metaphors. I know what she means by “softening the eyes” and letting “the heart smile.” But it takes me out of it. I’m immediately responding, “My heart can’t smile. It doesn’t have teeth. Or lips. Why would that look like on an anatomically correct heart? Wait, right! Focus on breath! In, out, in, out...” I’m finding more guided meditation options out there and plan on switching it up every now and then, but this podcast is definitely in the rotation.
Recommended episode: “Relating Wisely with Imperfection.” I’m an admitted perfectionist, so this one hit pretty close to home. Brach relates some great stories from history, mythology, and her own life regarding the topic of imperfection and how we can be mindful of what is going on beneath the fear of it. As a frequent procrastinator and stress box of creative self-doubt, this episode is pretty high on my list of necessary listening.
If you’re looking for a nice start to guided meditation, start with “Ten-Minute Basic Meditation Practice.” As the Brits say, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Ten minutes and you’re done. Boom. Meditated win.
KC Ryan is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.