Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meditation Tech

As many of you know, I've been meditating regularly for most of this school year.  I started in August, and I'm really glad I did.  I found it invaluable when I was deep in my grief.  My intent is to meditate twice a day, about 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes just before sleep.  I almost always manage about 15 minutes in the morning, and I often get up to half an hour before sleep, but sometimes I fall asleep before my 30 minutes are up.  I'd tried getting into the meditating habit many times before, but it never really stuck.  Here are some simple things I find helpful.

  • Something Jason Miller told me:  "It's actually impossible to fail at meditating.  If you notice that you're distracted, and go back to meditating, then you're SUCCEEDING at meditating.  The only way to fail is to notice you're distracted and just give up."
  • Set a timer.  Otherwise, I spend a lot of time wondering if my time is up yet.  I'm usually very good at knowing how long things take, but I find it very difficult to judge how long I've been meditating   (Some time ago, I wrote this article about improving your time's a useful skill that's relatively easy to cultivate.)  I like a timer that just chimes once, so I can go over time if I want to.  (Although in the mornings, I don't really have that option; my morning schedule is pretty tight.)
  • Headphones with white noise.   Blocking out background noises makes it much easier, especially when you're first learning.  This site lets you mix your own ambient noise.  This is what I use for meditating and this is for trance work.  Heaphones also work as a signal to people that you're busy and don't want to chat (when on a bench at the park or on the bus or etc
  • Isochronic tones on headphones.  I find this one especially nice when I have the time for it.  I think, probably, different people will get results from different tones.  I've tried a wide variety, and most of them just give me a headache.  I usually only use the tones when I'm really having trouble getting settled or if I want an extra deep meditation (when I'm very upset, or if I'm going to do magic after, for example).
  • Breathing exercises I find very helpful, they only take a few minutes, and they're quite discreet.
    • Take a deep breath in through your mouth for about 6 heartbeats.  Hold it for about  4 heartbeats, and then exhale for about 4 heartbeats.  Repeat.  I do this several times at the beginning, and it really helps.
    • While meditating, I imagine my breath spiraling up from my seat to my throat, it does not descend, but just sort of relaxes as I breath out.
  • Keep your hands open.  for some reason, my hands really want to ball up into fists, but its very helpful to keep them open.  I don't know why
  • This is a new thing that I've never heard of anyone else doing, but I find it really helpful:  I set a timer for 5-10 minutes and let my mind just wander during that time, before I meditate.  This doesn't "count" as meditation time, but I find that, especially in the evenings, it gives my brain a chance to "decompress" from work before I ask it to be still.  I kind of "get all that thinking out of my system" before I start.
  •  This website is helpful.


  1. Only thing I'd add is that binaural beats require headphones, but isochronic tones don't. So they'll work just as well with speakers.

  2. I just like headphones because they cut out background noise. I get very little results from isochronic tones over speakers, it's probably not a stereo/mono issue, but just because I get much better sound from $5 headphones than I do from laptop speakers. As a side note, Five Below has very nice headphones for $5.