Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Self-care is essential to find a way to center yourself in trying times. I know this and have no problem typing it, but doing it is another thing. I frequently find myself slipping into a rabbit hole of  non-stop thinking and running around, attempting to complete the never ending list of tasks. This mentality started to take a toll on my well-being. I could feel it from the inside to my outside with my short temper and mood. I knew what I was suppose to do, slow down, take 'you' time and stop thinking. Yet, saying those things and doing them are completely different. I did try to turn my devices off and sit in the peace and quiet, listening to the naturally occurring sounds around me and trying to breathe. That lasted about... 1 minute then my brain re-fired and I was out of there. I can't just sit still and turn off, no matter how much I wish I could. I needed baby steps. 

The Apps

During my decompression time sprawled out on the couch I was watching Billions and the main character is a stock trader billionaire who took time out of his day to meditate using an app on his phone. What?!?! That is an option? This lead me to started trolling Google for guided meditation apps and I landed on a free app called 'Insight Timer'.

Insight Timer has something for all levels and I am trying it from the ground up. The app is full of meditation teachers, music meditation tracks and 5 000+ free guided meditations. The duration of the tracks differ and you can preview the ratings and how long each track is, I like to know what I am getting into. You also have the ability to bookmark the ones you found you enjoy and go back to them when needed. I am working on my library of tracks but so far I have a few, mostly for stress and sleeping, that I keep returning to. 

Bookmarked Playlists
  • Melting Stress and Anxiety Away by Lisa Abramson 
    • Duration: 11:43
  • Guided Meditation for Sleep by Meg Cox
    • Duration: 10:18
  • Relax into Deep Sleep by Meg James 
    • Duration: 20:00 
    • Like her voice the best so far, she is very soothing
  • Quick Confidence by Meg James
    • Duration 15:00
  • Slow Down and Accept 
    • Duration 15:00 
My intention is to try more of Meg James's guided tracks as she is my favourite teacher thus far. I tend to prefer the female voice when it comes to meditating but there are plenty of males and sound tracks if you find someone talking irritating. I suggest playing around, you will find something you like out of the vast library of playlists for any mood and duration you desire. 

But if you give Insight a try and find it's not for you, don't be discouraged! As mindfulness grows and becomes more mainstream (how can it not with the long overdue attention starting to be given to mental health and it's stigma), the options are growing exponentially.

Here are a few other apps that you can give a try as well:

  • Calm- guided meditations, sleep stories, nature music, breathing exercises and more
  • Headspace- guided meditations, specific options for stressful situations like fear of flying and introductions to meditation
  • Stop, Breathe, Think- mindfulness, guided mediation AND has a kids version
And this is just a small selection- there are many, many more. Our suggestion- try a couple different ones, see what you gravitate towards. They will all be a little different and not everyone will like the voice of each person doing the guided mediation. Though I usually recommend avoiding using electronics before bed, as long as you aren't staring at the screen and you have night mode turned on (or a blue light blocker) then the amount of time looking at the screen to get it going is fine. A nice feature is that you can often set a timer to go off at a certain time each day to remind you to do your meditation. This could easily be set for maybe 30-60 minutes before bed so that you can start your bedtime routine, remind yourself to start winding down/turning off electronics and start your meditation for sleep. Getting into parasympathetic mode is essential for having a good nights sleep.

The Music Subscription

One of my favourite resources for guided mediation is through my music subscription. Most of us at this point have a subscription to either Spotify or Apple Music, or both. Personally, I use Apple Music and have been blown away by the selection of guided meditation tracks that are available. Not only do I use this for myself and my kids, but it has quickly become a patient favourite to be played during acupuncture treatments. My favourite playlist thus far is Stress Relief by Dr Siddharth Ashvin Shah. This CD is also available on Amazon for purchase but is fully available in the Apple Music Library (likely Spotify as well). I find his voice isn't annoying (which totally happens) and I find the length of the tracks to be a perfect amount of time, generally ranging from about 10-15 minutes. The Power Sleep track is about 10 minutes long and I will often just turn it on and fall asleep to it. It was a while before I actually heard the end of the track as I apparently fell asleep around the 5-6 minute mark. There is also a great selection of guided mediations for kids which my daughter loves listening to. Her favourite are stories about Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo who are fairy friends that go on little adventures. This is a favourite bedtime routine and a great way to help kids unwind at the end of the day. You can also search specific guided mediations such as to help quit smoking, after work unwinding or even to start your day. 

The Podcasts

Though I haven't delved too much into Podcasts in general. I recently came across an article on the best podcasts for kids and one of them was a meditation/yoga podcast which is free AND Canadian based, Peace Out- Relaxation and Mindfulness Stories for Kids. It's part of the Bedtime FM  which also has a pod cast of recorded stories for kids. I turned on a Peace Out track for my daughter and left her alone in her bed to listen to it and when I went in to check on her she was standing on the bed in tree pose, haha. The track always goes through a bit of a guided meditation and then a small yoga routine. The podcast is great for a bedtime routine, or an unwinding throughout the day or after school. There are many more options available for adults as well and most are free and release new episodes regularly to keep it fresh.

As the benefits of mindfulness and mediation are quickly becoming more and more studied and known, the resources to help will just increase. This is a great time to get into a regular practice to help combat the stress of every day life. With today's over-scheduled and high demand lifestyle, stress is definitely taking it's toll and it's not uncommon for people to be in that "fight or flight" sympathetic mode all day long until they crash at night. If full meditation isn't where you are at, that's okay. Start with something as simple as mindfully taking 5 deep breathes throughout the day, set a timer if necessary. Often times just remember to breathe deeply into the bottom of our lungs goes a long way. However, thanks to the vast availability of easy learn to meditation options like the ones here mindfulness and mediation is something that any one can practice. So, what are you waiting for?

Happy Meditating!

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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