5 Meditations Hacks For Anxiety, Sleep & More!

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On the surface, the idea of “meditation hacks” is laughable and counter-intuitive. Kind of like writing a list of “inspiration hacks” – seemingly a tad useless, since we all draw inspiration from relative things and react to it in different ways. Likewise, we each have different reasons, presuppositions, and ways of action when we begin to meditate. It is so individualistic and idiosyncratic, that making a list of “hacks” may look downright silly to some. BUT there are ways to ease into meditation and make it more approachable and sustainable over time, and that’s what this post is about: our 5 meditation hacks for anxiety, sleep, & more.

The whole idea behind meditation is self-awareness, so what the heck does a hack have to do with it? Is there a shortcut to self-awareness? A roundabout way to revelation? Not exactly, but there are circumstances and conditions you can choose to place yourself in while walking the path. These can make your mind and body that much more susceptible to the process, and more welcoming to the benefits that meditation has to offer. 

The forces which act on us during meditation are always there, regardless of our actions. Every second of every day, they are all around us, permeating and penetrating everything. Engaging in an activity which makes us more sensitive to their presence – such as meditation – allows us to open up to them and make room for them in our life. This is precisely why hacks do have some potential, after all, particularly in areas outside of meditation.

How Do You Meditate and Why You Should

woman meditating by water

Woman Meditating

Meditation is about establishing a connection with the very essence of awareness and consciousness itself. And the goal – to some extent – is to lengthen the amount of time and space in which we are conscious and aware. It’s like a sponge that is able to soak up a lot of water, keep it inside, and then let it out when it is needed, wanted, and/or necessary. Something like that.

Step one to the meditation process is actually taking the time to engage in it. It means making this practice a priority of some kind in your life: adding it to your to-do list, scheduling it, setting aside the necessary space, ridding yourself of outside influences (to the best of your ability), and physically making it happen on a regular basis. 

How does one meditate? This is a question that is asked often, especially by those who are new to it. The traditional answer is fairly simple to understand: sit upright, with your back straight; close your eyes, or keep them open; breathe. That’s it. Do that for 60 seconds, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 4 hours – however long you’d like to, really. When your mind or body begins to stray, acknowledge that and bring them both back to your breath. That’s one simple, yet highly effective, technique.

As for “why?”, the answer is also pretty simple. When you meditate, you reveal yourself to yourself. You are laid bare, for better or worse. You are able to experience yourself in your natural state of being, and transcend it. Now, this can be very difficult (especially in the beginning), because the mind is all over the place. But the mind and the brain are fortified over time, and stronger bonds are tied within your internal and external networks.

From classic Zazen to Jedi Knight techniques, there is something to learn and gain from every method and tradition. Some of these go way back and some are newer and more advanced, but the general meaning and “north star” of meditation is gaining insight and revelation. The differences are primarily in how you go about it.

Types of Meditation Explained

A group of people meditating

Meditation Class

The two overarching categories of meditation are: focused and opened. With focused meditation, we are attempting to limit ourselves and anchor ourselves to a particular aspect of reality: our breath, a sound, a mantra, a body organ or system of organs, or visualization of something external or internal.

With opened meditation, we make a conscious effort to take in everything that goes on. You don’t need to react to anything in particular, but rather you acknowledge it (a thought, a feeling, a sound) and see it plainly for what it is, without judgment or interpretation. You simply observe.

Both of these meta-practices are ones that can be improved on and further developed by the individual. But, for now, I am only giving a few examples of these meditation techniques. Focused methods include Zazen, mantra, and flame; Opened methods include mindfulness, Vipassana, and body scan.

5 Meditations Hacks to Try Today

1. Meditation Pillow Or Cushion

You don’t have to sit down in order to meditate, but many practices call for seated meditation of some kind. It makes various positions easier to achieve and hold, and hey – no one says you can’t be comfortable while meditating!

2. Meditate While Driving

Obviously, this falls under the “focused” category, because you are focused entirely on the road. It doesn’t matter if there is traffic or not if the weather is pleasant or not if you’re driving in a Prius or a Lambo. Time behind the wheel can be very therapeutic. Turn off your devices, feel the steering wheel as it responds to your touch, and breathe.

3. Physical Activities

No license? No car? Walk or run or cycle. Another form of focused attention where your mind and body can unwind, even as they are acting! It’s all about giving that walk or run or bicycle ride their proper time, place, and attention. This means no phones, no music, no distractions. Just you, on the move, with your human body.

4. Special Space

Back view of woman in workout clothes doing yoga.

Woman meditating by window.

I mentioned a pillow or cushion, and this one is similar to that. Whenever possible, create your own special area, room, or corner designated for meditation. I said step one is to create the time, and this is a counterpart to that. Setting a piece of your living area apart, specifically for this purpose, has a very positive effect. It infuses that time you provide with some extra meaning which is special to you.

5. A Guide

Whether physical or digital, having a guide can do wonders, particularly for beginners but also for advanced practitioners. You don’t have to be tied down to a certain aspect of meditation or a single method. Feel free to experiment with different techniques, and feel ever free to consult with a master, a teacher, a guide, who can help you out.

And speaking of digital guides… 

Top 3 Free Meditation Apps Reviewed

woman meditating with app

Woman Using a Meditation App

The Zen Koan says that “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” There is a kind of awareness and revelation which is entirely and completely yours.  It is a teaching and an understanding which cannot be taught nor learned by anyone other than yourself. In life, there are some things which you need to learn on your own; a pearl of wisdom which no master can impart. But until you come across the Buddha on the road, you may want or need some help along the way.

These are our top 3 free meditation apps. The list is unranked and is completely subjective. And just to be clear, these are referring to the Android versions of the app. They are free but have the option of paying for additional content and features. You can cancel your subscription to any one of these apps, at any time.

1.Headspace

From better sleep at night to higher grades on exams, this is an all-round great app. You can choose to focus on any number of topics or issues and be guided in various techniques and methods made to enhance your health and wellness.

There is no amount of money or riches in the world which can equal a sound mind and a healthy body. Apps like these may be flawed in some ways, and there could be bugs and glitches – as there often are with man-made technological devices – but overall it is a wonderful thing to have in your pocket.

It is no small thing to get free access to talks and guides which assist you to grow and become more mindful and aware. How to breathe, how to calm yourself, how to manage stress and anxiety – these are skills that can help you out in almost any avenue in life. Headspace may not be for everyone, but it is certainly worth a shot.

The annual fee for Headspace Plus is around $65

The monthly fee is about $14

Student and family plans are available.

2. Calm

This is one which does amazing work, but I don’t like the fact that it asks you for financial details straight up. I get the idea, but I don’t approve of it as a consumer. If you’re going to bill me, at least provide me with some value beforehand. Also, there are issues which may cause it to stop abruptly – not exactly what I am looking for in a meditation app, and that was a bit of a turn-off.

The idea of “Calm Kids” is great, and I applaud the makers of the app for their broader view and inclusion of kids and teens. I personally feel this app is better for sleep than it is for meditation, but that’s just my preference right now. True to its name, it’s calming and soothing.

There is a lot that this app can provide you with, once you get over the annoying details or glitches, and let’s not forget that this app is essentially offered for free. Some users claim they had trouble canceling and getting a refund, so take that into account.

Annual fee: $59.99

Lifetime fee: $399.99

3. Insight Timer

There are still some bugs to work out in the user interface, but all things considered, it is a great alternative to many paid apps. It has won some awards along the way, and has a large community and following. Guided meditation and various talks help you to unwind, de-stress, prep for sleep, and calm the mind and body.

Beginners and advanced users alike will be able to reap the benefits of this unique app. But like every piece of tech, it is not perfect. They add new content to the platform daily. The caliber of teachers, artists, and scientists who collaborated in producing this app is impressive and noteworthy.

Subscription is available for $59.99 annually, or  $9.99 monthly.

Conclusion

Humans have been meditating since the dawn of time. Ever since we became self-aware, we’ve been questioning and exploring the nature of awareness, of consciousness, and of existence itself. Meditation is a way to connect yourself to more ancient roots, be they sacred or secular. You can align yourself with something that is larger than you, greater than you, and yet is contained wholly within you.

Sleeping is a crucial part of human nature as well. We need proper sleep in order to function in the best possible way, and in order to stay sane and well. There are many studies on sleep and lack of it. Many findings point to the fact that sleep is, in essence, a superpower which anyone can make their own. Giving the body and mind some downtime, it can do wonders for your work life, your home life, your social life, your productivity, and creativity.

Sometimes, it can take the mind hours to stop running in thought-loops, ruminating, dwelling, etc. Meditation helps you work out some of those issues which may be keeping you up at night, or keeping your down on life. It is not a miracle cure, and it is not something that can be achieved overnight, but it is a practice that can help to change your life, plain and simple. Meditating on a regular basis can help one lead a calmer, more meaningful, and more purposeful existence.

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