Here are two meditation apps that I use consistently and absolutely love.
1. Headspace: This app was created by former buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe, who incidentally has a very soothing, easy going voice. The basic ten minute meditation course is free and then you can subscribe to the advanced version from there.
What I like about Headspace: It has a great balance between talking for the guided meditation parts and silence to let you actually apply the strategies. For those of you who have used guided meditations before, you know that sometimes it can get, well, a bit chatty and corny. There are meditations for a variety of topics, it’s user friendly, and visually helpful. This is the first app I used when I got serious about my meditation practice.
What I don’t like: Well, it’s not all free and I suppose that’s okay because they do have bills to pay, but that is honestly it. I love this app.
2. Insight Timer: This truly is the holy grail of FREE meditation resources. It is a massive resource filled with guided meditations of just about every variety you can think of, at various lengths, meditation music (if you like that), chants, lectures, you name it.
What I like about Insight Timer: I love that you can save meditations you enjoyed and create your own little playlist library to return to as well as follow teachers you enjoy. They even have an offline version available now which is key if you’re traveling and don’t have wifi. I’ve never needed something from this site that I could not find.
What I don’t like: It’s a double edged sword. I love that there are so many resources, but I also get overwhelmed and sometimes cannot find what I want so quickly because I’m sifting through so many options. I also have to stop midway many times because the teacher isn’t really my style and there’s no way to know if a meditation is going to work for you without trial and error.
Addiction Transference? What is That?
Do you ever feel like you’re just jumping from one bad habit to the next? I know that I have felt that way many times (and still do) which is why I’m trying to learn more about addiction transference. Why do we do it? How can we stop?
Below is a YouTube clip from “This Naked Mind” that I recently watched that really helped give voice and perspective to the struggles I’ve been feeling lately. It’s informative and also comforting on some level to know that other people are experiencing similar issues. She has a podcast as well which I’ve also subscribed to.
The video is 11 minutes long, but I highly recommend watching the entire thing, especially if you find yourself (like me) just bouncing around from one hangup to the next.
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World Mental Health Day
It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay! So many of us suffer with mental health issues. It’s important that we devote time and resources to understanding mental health, eliminating the stigma associated with it, and work to improve the overall quality of life for anyone who is suffering.
Here is a video from British TV Chef, Nadiya Hussein, discussing her own mental health struggles with anxiety and panic disorder. I really connected with her honesty and vulnerability, particularly when she talks about how for so long she felt alone and that people in her orbit didn’t take her illness seriously.
Anxiety and depression have impacted my life in profound ways. I was first diagnosed with depression when I was in my early teens, but was not properly treated. I went on medication that made me feel like the walking dead and took myself immediately off before they could get in my system enough to do any good.
What I didn’t realize is that anxiety was tagging along probably the entire time. I attempted once or twice in my twenties to see a therapist, but did not have any good experiences and thus didn’t have the knowledge or the language to make sense of what was happening to me.
Recovery Memoir Review
I spent a lot of time this summer devouring recovery memoirs, articles, and other books and information. In the same way other people have recommended resources to me that have been helpful, I want to share whatever resources I’ve come across with you with the hope that you may find them useful as well.
In August, I read Leslie Jamison’s recovery memoir “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath.” I loved this book. Jamison is a beautiful writer who is able to weave in and out of her own storyline and the stories of writers and alcoholics before her. The constant switching back and forth somehow gives her own story context. She is an extension of these writing greats, has walked a similar path, attended some of the same bars, and fell victim to many of the same traps.
The Politics of Addiction
Jamison also explores the sociological and political aspects of addiction, and the differences in how society treats drug users from alcoholics, Black and/or poor addicts from White, more affluent ones. As a White, middle-class woman, she is self-aware in this regard. “My skin color is the right color to permit my intoxication. When it comes to addiction, the abstraction of privilege is ultimately a question of what type of story gets told about your body: Do you need to be shielded from harm, or prevented from causing it? My body has been understood as something to be protected, rather than something to be protected from.”
As an interesting, and critical, interlude to her own story she gives us a brief history of the criminalization of drug use and abuse, how the country has historically tackled the problem, the successes, the failures, the zealots, the sweeping societal impacts, and the tragic abuse of Billie Holiday until her final days. She’s not just giving us her own history, she’s placing her problems within a larger context, which is to say, so much of society does not get the same empathy, that there are greater tragedies when it comes to substance abuse, and it is entirely by design.