I’m pretty sure it’s no surprise that – as a diehard meditation and mindfulness practitioner – I have some picky preferences when it comes to resources. Mindfulness and all it’s New Age trappings are big business these days.
There is a lot of “stuff” out there and lots of “gurus” willing to take your money. I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to anything outside of plopping my butt on the floor and just doing the work. With that said, some resources can be really helpful. These are a few of my faves. (p.s. with the exception of the Amazon link to Dan Harris’ book, none of these links are affiliate links – these are all recommendations straight from the Creative + Mindful regular use arsenal)
The Insight Timer app is THE #1 resource for my daily meditations. It’s not particularly elegant, but the paid version (as of this post, it is $4.99 USD in the Google Play Store) is indispensable in my humble opinion. The free version is good too, however the paid version gives you access to many different bells, interval timers, etc.
If you need some support in your practice, you can access tons of guided meditations from top teachers. There is even a community feature, although I don’t use that much. And, although I’ve never signed in, there is also an online version if you aren’t a smartphone person.
For me, it’s the closest thing to real retreat practice. In other words, you don’t have to worry about clock watching (intervals!) and the bells/gongs are very realistic. I’m not an affiliate or anything. I just love it that much.
Sounds True is the gold standard for Transformation/Spiritual Journey/New Age multimedia. Tami Simon – the founder – is a great leader in the industry and has done an amazing job keeping pace with technology over the past 30 years.
I’ve purchased a number of courses and audio from Sounds True, including MP3 versions of some stuff I originally had as CDs. Their meditation resources library is second to none. I was beyond excited when I discovered they had Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s work and was able to replace CDs I had lost.
Brain.fm is one of my newer resources. I’ve written about my experiments with it HERE. Admittedly, I don’t actually use it for meditation. I have found the greatest benefit from using it for mindfulness and focus when I am working.
It sort of feels like an extension of the calm and focus I’ve found during meditation, except applied to my work practices (which can sometimes be tedious), which is why I’m including it here. But it’s certainly worth exploring if you’re looking for new resources specifically geared toward meditation support.
Tara Brach’s FAQs
Tara Brach is a wonderful teacher in the Vipassana tradition and I’ve followed her for years. I have also attended several of her programs and retreats (see more about retreats below).
Her info is admittedly very Buddhist-centric, which I know can be a turn-off for some people. (Although it’s worth noting that Western Buddhist practices are philosphy-based and not religious/devotional in any way. I’ve practiced Vipassana alongside Christians, Orthodox Jews, pagans and atheists.)
Dan Harris’ Website
If you’re really turned off by the “woo-woo” stuff, Dan Harris is your guy. He wrote a really great book (10% Happier) and has a website that offers a free meditation course and other support. (Full disclosure, his partner for the freebie course is a Vipassana guy… so maybe just get over the fact that meditation is going to be a little woo-woo no matter where you turn.)
Probably the most impressive thing about Dan Harris is the reason he started meditating. He had a public melt-down. On TV. On ABC Nightly News. You can see it HERE. He’s very open about what led up to it. And he credits meditation with changing his life.
I outlined a bunch of resources in a piece I put together for a talk I gave at a creative conference and included links to some other Dan Harris videos. You can download it HERE.
Other useful stuff
Learning how to meditate using a book is kind of like learning how to swim using a book. It doesn’t really transfer well.
However, as a lover of books, I do have to say there are some really amazing books out there with tips and suggestions for improving your meditation practice, recommendations for dealing with challenges in practice and other interesting info around the practice of meditation in general.
When possible, I actually recommend going for an audio book read by the author.
I outlined a bunch of good books (along with some great articles and other resources) in a piece I put together for a talk I gave at a creative conference. You can download it HERE.
Info on retreats
Retreats have become an integral part of meditation practice for a lot of people. Do you need to go to a retreat to meditate or learn how to meditate? Of course not! Will it change and (possibly) improve your practice? You bet!
My retreat experience has been specifically with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. The IMCW was founded by Tara Brach and focuses on Vipassana meditation.
There are many, many different meditation retreats held all over the world so my experience – and the IMCW way – is just an example. Read about my first retreat experience HERE and check out my FAQ HERE.
Enlighted Audio is a royalty-free audio company headed up by a talented Australian named Christopher Lloyd Clarke. I’ve used some of his work as background tracks in meditations I have recorded for my own teaching gigs.
If you’re really into long, lush meditation music, binaural beats, or are just tired of all the other stuff out there, Christopher’s stuff is amazing.
Admittedly, it’s far more expensive (because of the licensing rights) to purchase these audios, but he often runs specials/discounts. I know lots of people who like to record their own guided meditations for personal use. If this appeals to you, get Christopher’s stuff for your background audio.