Top 10 guided meditations for 2020
Meditation: a massage for your mind
That joke in Great British Bake Off was truly terrible…
I wonder what I should make for dinner?
Genius comeback. But why didn’t I think of that at the time? I totally would have won that argument.
I need to send that email and make sure I include the attachments...
Next comes a series of jittering knees that bounce, playing with my hair and looking at the trickling of incoming WhatsApp messages that go on like a stream of consciousness throughout the day.
Sitting in silent meditation for many includes an assault on our focus like this. Even as someone that has been doing prayer and meditation since childhood, I still have moments of complete disconnection during my quiet time. So why continue doing it? And isn’t silent meditation outright terrifying?
According to the scrolls of ye old Wikipedia, Meditation is:
… a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Despite occasional attacks on my concentration, I can say that meditation has taught me to focus, just like this definition says. On the days I happen to skip my morning quiet time I am less productive and intentional with my day.
We have seen a massive rise in the popularity of meditation and wellness, and I think rather than the cycnicism that comes with mocking Gen Z for their uptake of it, it’s useful to question why. There is a contemporary infatuation with technology and its wonders have led to it becoming our personal assistant, therapist and Doctor. It is a supplementary mind, often substituting the use of our organic mental functioning and it has become an unprecedented merger between human and machine.
I think technology is amazing though. Despite these ‘evil’s it has provided innumerable benefits on all levels. As with all things in life, it is about us as humans navigating our mastery of things to use things responsibly as a force for good. Part of being a human with agency and free will over our lives includes the decision to be ‘king of our world’ and to fine-tune the way in which we manage the constant overflow of information our minds process.
Being 'mindful' makes you King or Queen of your world. You choose to dial up the experiences you want, to mute what you don't like and experience life in HD.
So, for the month of November, I have been doing a series I have named 'Screen Queen' recommendations. They are films, shows, online events or digital exhibitions that inspire us to use screens only for the most enjoyable, inspiring and nourishing things instead of mindless scrolling. My 'Screen Queen selections' have been a bid to balance wellness, creativity and social issues the best we can with the screens in front of us during lockdown 2.0 in the UK.
If you have never tried meditation before or are curious, I have compiled a list of top guided meditations for 2020 below*
*please note that the selections come from a range of spiritual and non-spiritual backgrounds
1) Best for Beginners: Headspace
"Headspace's meditations on the app are easy to navigate, bright and have cues for noticing external sounds."
Have I tried it?: Yes
Thoughts: I liked the fact that they did a student package , which was helpful whilst completing my Masters to sync with my Spotify account. It had tailored meditations for managing deadlines, coping with lockdown, some that were tailored to different seasons or causes and some lovely joint ones to do with others.
2) Best for Anxiety and Stress: Calm
"It is perfect for winding down to sleep at the end of a hectic day and to help ease stress and anxiety."
Have I tried it?: Yes
Thoughts: I thought it was okay. Liked the variation of narrator voices and storytelling options. I think that gave it a great dose of imagination and mysticism- like bedtime stories for adults.
3) Best for busy people/hustlers: Aura
Aura is for hustlers who have barely enough free time. It’s been described as the best to help quickly ‘calm nerves before a date, soothe their worries during an airline takeoff’, or come to the rescue at a moment’s panic.
Have I tried it?:No
Thoughts: Based on its description being pitched as ‘fast-food’ on-the-go-type of meditation, it sounds ideal and would want to give it a try.
4) Best for coronavirus anxiety: Smiling Mind
Based on Mindfulness and developed by psychologists and educators, it offers a wide variety for the whole family.
Have I tried it?: No
Thoughts: I love that it is a not-for-profit and free that has a focus on parents and carers. Seen how important caring for carers is through the work I do so it's great to see an app that supports families in having mindful homes.
5) Best for Walking: Gabby Bernstein
Blogger that creates meditations that can be listened to on Soundcloud whilst walking.
Have I tried it?: Once
Thoughts: Found her voice and mix of music upbeat, which is helpful seeing as you’re walking! However, my personal favourite things to listen to on walks (if not a conversation with others!) would be podcasts that can still feel like a meditation. Oprah’s SuperSoul conversations or Krista Tippett's On Being are not meditation apps per se, but they definitely create a contemplative feel to any type of walk thanks to their interesting thoughts and soothing voices.
6) Best for self-compassion: Tara Brach
Recommended for peaceful meditations that helps you discover self-compassion
Have I tried it?: Not full meditations, but listened to a couple of her YouTube videos
Thoughts: Her meditations are not my cup of tea, but have found her talks interesting. She made some interesting points about societal biases in society, inherent hierarchies and how compassion is monumental in shifting this.
7) Best for Sleep: Abide
Faith-based meditations for Christian backgrounds. Abide has a series of different soothing meditations to ease you into sleep.
Have I tried it?: Yes
Thoughts: Personally I have found it soothing and a great way to wind down to sleep. Liked the variation of images and graphics.
8) Best for learning breath work: Soma Breath
The main goal of this meditation is ‘to correct your breathing so that your normal rate of breathing at rest is 3-4 breaths per minute. On average people breathe 10+ breaths per minute. Very sick or highly stressed people breathe over 20+ breaths per minute. This can help protect against disease, balance your emotions and help you be more in the flow.’
Have I tried it?: Once
Thoughts: Haven’t tried it long enough to give a full review of its benefits, but of what I have seen it was very instructive and practical.
9) My most used: Pray As You Go
Pray As You Go is a daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc.
Have I tried it?: Yes
Thoughts: This is linked to my alarm in the morning so that it’s the first thing I do. It is probably branded more in the context of being a prayer guide rather than ‘meditation’ but it has a great variety of resources on it. I have found the Ignatian ‘Imaginative Contemplation’ and evening ‘Examens’ have become the cornerstone to my daily spiritual practice.
10) Best newcomer/most improved: 10% Happier
Described as the meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. This app has skyrocketed to popularity among users as it's modeled off the New York Times best-selling book.
Have I tried it? Not yet
Thoughts: The basic version is free which is a good selling point, and generally anything that's described as being good for people whose minds are always active seems to fit the bill for me.
Have you ever tried meditation or do you have any suggestions? Please feel free to comment, and subscribe for more upcoming content. I write on creativity, wellness and social issues so subscribe below to keep up to date with the latest posts.
This review is part of a ‘Screen Queen’ series selection I have started. For the month of November, I will be doing recommendations: films, shows, online events or digital exhibitions that inspire us to use screens only for the most enjoyable, inspiring and nourishing things instead of mindless scrolling.
Thanks for visiting the Riah Writes creative writing blog. Riah is a creative writing blogger/poetry blogger interested in wellness, society, social justice rights issues and the Arts. Follow the blog and on Instagram to stay updated on new content. Hit the 'Subscribe Now' button below to keep up to date with the latest posts.