Part of my plan this summer is to get back on track with my health and wellness goals. Yep, it includes whittling back down my weight, exercise, and eating healthfully. It also means Including daily meditation.

Meditation for me is like dropping an emotional plumb-line. It's a way to restore a sense of clarity. When I meditate in the morning, the tone of my entire day changes. When I'm NOT meditating, even thought I already know its benefits---it's easy to let a meditation practice seem like something you can do without. At least for one day. Then one day becomes two, and then weeks go by.

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But there's a reason it's called a "practice." It's ongoing and seems to have exponentially positive, cumulative effects on your sense of mental well-being. Just like brushing your teeth, it has to be etched into your permanent routine. Meditation apps can be hugely helpful in building this habit. I highly recommend for beginners, especially.

Now, that July 1st is upon us, I've re-committed to a daily meditation practice. However, as you may be aware, there's many apps to choose from: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, 10% Happier, Waking Up, and many more. And not only do they offer guided meditation, they've added all kinds of additional content that can help your ongoing education, sleep habits, exercise routines, and even more.

So, I've decided to go through a few of these and let you know what I like about each of them, in case that's helpful to you. Let's start with the one I'm most familiar with: Headspace.

I feel compelled to start with this one since its the first one I used. Here's some of what I enjoy about this meditation app:

Founder Andy Puddicombe's voice. When you're going to do a guided meditation, it's important to find the host's voice calming and compelling, without being overly distracting. I find his voice does this well, for me at least. Andy spent years as a monk and his inherent knowledge of this practice is evident.

A sense of playfulness in the app. Often, we can take certain things too seriously. That includes ourselves, sometimes our work, and any new practice we're seeking to develop. With meditation, some have the preconceived notion that it's all about being serious and saying "ooohhmm" or some other mantra and sitting seriously atop a pillow cross-legged and slightly in pain.

I think in the beginning it's good to keep it "easy like Sunday morning." Be curious, lighthearted, and sincere. The Headspace app helps with this. Even the art design of the characters and videos add a touch of whimsy that make it all seem more doable to me. And even fun.

The Wake Up. When you first open the app in the morning, you'll see "The Wake Up." Sometimes this is a chat with Andy about a particular subject. Sometimes it may be communicating a metaphor through an interesting story about someone's work. Or it may a few calming moments and a message as you watch someone build a beautiful aquarium--it's quite therapeutic to me.

There's an entire section just to help you sleep well. I. Love. This. Every evening when you open your app you'll see a featured "Sleepcast." These are usually 45 minutes or so and you get in bed and put in your ear buds and you are transported to...wherever you pick. Spend your pre-sleep moments in a tree house in the redwood forest. Or perhaps you'd like to visit a cottage by the ocean. Visit an antique store on a rainy afternoon. Dreamy, indeed.

In addition to the sleep casts, there are quick meditations to help you if you wake up in the middle of the night, soundscapes, and sleep music.

Move. A relatively new section where you can have a workout with a trainer who shows you how to exercise mindfully, with intention, and each one typically involves a meditation of some kind. You can even pick from a few choices of trainer.

Overall, I simply adore this app. However, there are many to choose from. We'll look at Calm next. Another one I really like.

For now, here's a closer look at inside the Headspace app:

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