There’s been a lot of buzz around mindfulness lately. Meditate in the morning, focus on your breathing during the day, practice yoga in the evening. Do this, do that, and preferably become a Buddhist monk while you’re at it. There’s so much information about mindfulness, so many misconceptions that no wonder you feel overwhelmed, intimidated and let’s admit, annoyed by the hype. Where do you even start and why should you care? Well, during these trying times, mindfulness is even more important than ever before. This list with our favorite books, apps, podcasts and videos made for The Wellness Starter Pack will point you in the right direction.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, the art of being aware and being conscious of what is happening right now. We spend most of our lives either thinking about the past or the future, so being able to focus on the here and now is actually pretty hard. Just try not to think about anything for 30 seconds. How did that go?
In order to be able to practice mindfulness, you need some serious focus, discipline, and concentration. The same treats you’re using while making music, even if you’re not aware of it when you’re in the flow. The flow itself is mindfulness, and it has numerous benefits, both in your music practice and your personal life. It’s good for both body and soul, and there’s no “wrong way” of doing it. So what is there to lose? Doesn’t matter if you’re a skeptic or you’ve already mastered the power of now, the list below has something to offer for everyone.
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“Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.”
Dan Harris is a journalist and co-founder of the Ten Percent Happier app. He used to think that meditation was for people who collect crystals and use the word “namaste” without sarcasm. But after he had a panic attack on live television, he did a 180-degree turn and became one of the loudest and coolest advocates of meditation. Harris makes meditation accessible to everyone, and it’s a great read for both beginners and experienced meditators alike.
“We’re not just addicted to drugs, sex or alcohol, we can also get addicted to our thoughts and feelings of panic, anxiety, and despair.”
If you’re a beginner looking for a book that is serious but doesn’t take itself too seriously, here’s a pick for you! American actress and comedian Ruby Wax is an interesting and quite controversial character. She’s been truly open about her depression, which makes her very much relatable. Her book is packed with humor, explains the why’s and how’s and even includes a 6-week mindfulness course to get you started.
“You’ll soon discover that although you feel time-poor, you are actually moment-rich.”
Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Dr. Danny Penman teamed up to share the secrets of living a less anxious and happier life. This 8-week plan is based on MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) techniques, and it contains super simple and straightforward exercises. If you have 10 minutes to spare every day and want to get started, this is a highly recommended kickstarter.
Calm is currently the #1 app in the health and fitness category, and for a good reason. So far it helped millions of users to reduce their stress and anxiety levels, to sleep better and to boost their confidence. If this sounds like something you would also like, check out their vast library of guided meditations and masterclasses, and create new sticking routines with relaxing music and mesmerizing bedtime stories. Keep calm and download this app!
Price: Free with optional premium subscription, 7-day free trial
Former Buddhist monk turned mindfulness icon Andy Puddicombe’s app wants to make meditation appealing and accessible to everyone. This pocket meditation guide offers hundreds of themed sessions for work, focus, stress relief, anxiety, and sleep. Try the mini meditations if you’re super busy and add your friends to meditate with you for some extra motivation. It’s a kinda magic!
Price: Free with optional premium subscription, 2-weeks free trial
Smiling Mind is a fresh breeze in our crazy business-driven world. This 100% free app was developed by Australian psychologists and educators and is especially aimed at young people to give a gentle push and help bring balance to their life. The app has dedicated programs for stress, sleep, performance, attention and concentration, mindful eating and much more. It’s an impressive and beautiful tool worth exploring!
If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of mindfulness, join Canadian psychologist, Dr. Joe Flanders, for enlightening talks with his broad spectrum of guests, from scientists to artists. The podcast focuses on evidence-based practices but doesn’t shy away from controversial trends either. You’ll learn about the art of laughter, the psychedelic renaissance, medical cannabis, and everything mindfulness.
In this weekly podcast, hosts Patricia Karpas and Ariel Garten speak to psychologists, neuroscientists, Buddhists, nutritionists, etc. to untangle various areas related to mindfulness. While there’s a lot of science packed into these convos, each episode is tailored to be a practical how-to guide for accessing your better self. You have more than 200 episodes to choose from, explore these inspirational and thoughtful nuggets!
Swing right into the action with meditation teacher Mary Meckley’s podcast that solely consists of guided meditation exercises. These short exercises focus on different styles and techniques that help you deal with stress, manage depression, gain focus and generally feel better. You’ll be introduced to basic meditation to channel your inner peace and calm, no matter where you are and how you feel.
If you wanna wrap your head around mindfulness but only got 15 minutes to spend, check out Dr. Shauna Shapiro’s pioneering TED talk. She is a clinical psychologist and an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness. She knows what’s up! Her unique way of words and her ability to explain the even most complicated topics makes this video really fun to watch, and you’ll soak up some useful knowledge without even noticing it.
For this incredibly cute animated video, Happify turned Dan Harris (see Books section) into a sweet mouse who explains and demonstrates the basics of mindfulness and meditation. This 2-minute introduction is not only adorable but also highly informative with some great advice, debunked misconceptions, and three steps to get started. One for the busy skeptics.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article (well done btw!), hopefully you feel inspired enough to get things started. If you’re not up for doing a group session, get cozy in the comfort of your own home and tune in to Adriene’s meditation wavelengths. It’s easy to enjoy her warm personality while you follow her super simple 10-minute practice. All you need is an open mind and an open heart!
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Wellness Starter Pack, which is a collection of videos, interviews, and articles exploring some of the most challenging health issues music makers experience today. Think of it as a toolbox for health, specifically created with music makers in mind.
The information within The Wellness Starter Pack is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Seek the advice of a physician or a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.