50before50: #20 learn to meditate – evaluating options (day 1)

This is definitely one of the more challenging challenges for me. I’d like to get a bit more calm and chill and focus in my life – and to stop the brain running off at a billion miles an hour, every minute of every day.

After a couple of aborted attempts, I wrapped up take 10 on headspace back in June (!). I’m under to illusions that I was doing it at all optimally – settling for after work / before bed because my mornings were too crowded. And let’s be real here – they were too crowded with mindlessly scrolling though instagram and reading blog posts from accounts I didn’t really care for (not yours, dear reader!).

10/10 – Woo hoo!


After I completed the 10 days, the challenge lay fallow – again – for a couple of months. This recent no internet before work in the morning has been quite amazing for my focus and mood, so I’m trying to add meditation into that mix.

Rather than immediately signing up and laying out cash for more headspace, I decided to give some other meditation apps a bash before I committed.

My goal is that by the end of this holiday (Friday), I’ll have chosen an app to go with. If I meditate every morning between now and the Big Day I’ll count this one as achieved (though obviously I’m trying to go beyond the birthday!)

First up Stop, Breathe & Think. I can’t even remember where I heard about this – maybe HBR, maybe lifehacker?

Lot’s of screenshots follow (this one has most screens to click through of any of the apps).

First up, the app has you check in – how you feel physically, mentally and has you pick 5 words to describe how you’re feeling. This is the only app I’ve tried that does this and I think it’s pretty excellent. If you know what you want, you can bypass this and go directly to particular types of mediation.

As I did this on the first day of my holiday, I was feeling pretty gosh-darned terrific!

Based on your mood, it then suggests a selection guided meditations:

I chose the 6 minute loving kindness with Jamie – because I’m all about learning new ways of foisting kindness on my enemies. In all seriousness, I find Chade-Meng Tan’s I wish for X to be happy really powerful and use it frequently.

When you’re done, you get a wee trophy and a sticker.

And the app includes a progress tracker – which measures streaks and weekly settledness.

What I liked: I really like the checking in and the suggestions for meditations based on your current state.
+ There are a huge number of free options.

What I didn’t like: The actual loving kindness meditation! I found it a bit too wordy/chatty for my liking.
+ May they always have positive experiences and happiness as a kind of mantra is a bit much for my brain to get itself around.
+ I don’t think Jamie’s voice really resonated with me in the way that HeadspaceAndy’s does – to be fair, Andy has a fabulous and very soothing voice.
+ I also had no idea that the mediation was over – after a while I realised the silence at the end was not an intentional sit quietly and observe your thoughts thing and wrapped it up!
+ I’m trying to stock relentlessly and obsessively tracking myself – so a tracker would be BAD for me.

Things for next time: It occurred to me that I should probably not drink coffee before I meditate as it doesn’t help at all with racing thoughts.

Cost: Basic = free | Premium = $15.49 per month ($7.17 per month for if you sign up for a year) – I’m not entirely sure if that is USD or AUD

Rating: 4/5 for the app | 2/5 for the meditation

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