my favorite meditation apps (so far!)

I started meditating last year and I love it! It’s a very effective way to calm the mind and body, and can be done upon waking, during your lunch break, while the kids are screaming and you’re hiding in the bathroom, before bed… anytime! (Except while driving. I think all of these apps have that warning with them.) Meditation is a universal and impactful way to learn to be calm, even in the midst of chaos, heartache, or whatever is weighing on your shoulders. While you can meditate without an app, apps/recordings are great to use to learn how to meditate, and to learn new ways to meditate. Here are three of my favorites so far:

Stop, Breathe and Think (Link) This was the first meditation app I used. The app is free, most of the meditations are free, and you can purchase more if you’d like. The app includes a daily check-in and you can earn stickers for different accomplishments (mediating a certain number of days, checking for multiple days in a row, completing a mediation however many times, etc), which is a great motivation to keep going sometimes! The meditations are all about 2-10 minutes long, so it’s very do-able. This is a great intro to meditation, and an app that I still go back to. Mediation to try within the app: Welcoming the Day (4 min)

Meditation Studio by Gaiam (Link) This is my most recent download, and I love it. There are over 200 guided meditations by a variety of instructors. You can listen to just their voice, or you can add in a background sound (birds, chimes, rain, stream, tambura) at whatever volume you’d like. There are individual mediations you can do, or you can take a structured course (current courses available: Meditation Essentials, Uncovering Happiness, and Changing Habits), though I haven’t tried the latter yet. The app costs $2.99, and so far it has been well worth that cost. Meditation to try within the app: Relax Before Bed (by Ashley Turner, 5 min); Centering (by Elisha Goldstein, 10 min); Easing Stress (by Elisha Goldstein, 4 min)

Build Self-Esteem by Surf City Apps (Link) A kindred spirit of mine recommended this app to help heal some inner hurt, and I love it. The narrative takes you on a journey—literally a journey driving up into the mountains—and weaves in words, phrases, and thoughts to encourage the building of self-love and recognition of self-worth. I listen to this as needed, sometimes upon waking, sometimes before bed, and whenever I’m feeling triggered or just need some alone time to re-center. (Basic app is free; Pro app with hypnotic booster is $2.99, which I have and love to have as an option).

Try these and let me know what you think! What other meditation apps do you use and love? (Photo by Gary Barnes)

Living Movement

I originally wrote this post on May 26, 2015 during a time of grief and heartache. As I note in the post, the body and spirit are very connected. This week I’ve been thinking about working toward increasing flexibility in my hips, and I remembered this time—just a year ago—when doing any sort of hip opener or stretch would cause a flood of emotions, so much so that I ceased my yoga practice for weeks. Let me tell you, though—yoga can heal both body and soul. This is how I began practicing yoga again.


I stopped doing yoga for over a month.

Every time I tried to practice, the tears would begin to swell. The grief would become too much. My physical body is so connected to my spirit that as one ached, so did the other. Moving my body in certain ways worked certain chakras that were terribly off balance, and I felt it. And since I was already grieving everyday, I simply was not willing to do anything else that would set off that grief again, even if it could be the means to helping me find healing and balance once more. So, I stopped doing yoga for over a month.

Here is what I wish I had done instead: Sat down on my mat.

There is a practice I have recently learned about called Living Movement. It’s like a glorified morning stretch. It’s a practice in body awareness and gentle healing. I lie down on my mat and slowly move my body in whatever way feels right. I usually begin at my hips, maybe shift them from side to side, do a simple twist, stretch my legs, then move up my body, to my waist, shoulders, neck… moving my body slowly and intentionally, in whatever way it wants to go.

I am vocal when I practice. While there are certain sounds you can make to emphasize healing (like a buzzing noise, or a “zgee zgoo”). I usually just let myself sigh, yawn, or moan—whatever feels good. This, combined with the unstructured, slow movements, moves energy in the body. Last week my personal Living Movement practice was 10 minutes. Today it was 30 minutes. Time doesn’t necessarily matter, because my body needs different things at different times.

Today, in the middle of my practice, I broke down in tears, just for a moment, and I let myself be there. Personal yoga practice, especially a Living Movement practice, is about listening to your body and sitting with it, just as it is. And if my body needs to grieve just a little bit more, I will let it. So regardless of how I am feeling, I will aim to sit down on my mat. Maybe, if my body feels like doing so, it will begin to move and maybe, when the time is right, it will begin to heal. That is what yoga is all about.

* I learned about Living Movement at Bodhi Yoga in Provo, UT, where I trained to be a yoga instructor. Visit to see the class schedule. I highly recommend it.