As is generally the case with people, I’m good at some things and bad at others. On paper this sounds entirely normal, and not at all like something that should present issues for me in any way, which is technically true; I’m as capable in my daily life as you’d expect a functioning member of the human race to be. So what if I excel at some things and flop at others—don’t we all? NBD.
The problem is that the things I’m not so good at are, well, kind of essential to existing comfortably. This includes, but is certainly not limited to: experiencing any kind of heightened emotion without crying, sleeping soundly, thinking positively, and doing The Right Thing for myself, like exercising and eating healthily. These are all necessary tools for survival. And the one thing they all have in common is that I’ve been told, at various turns, that my approach to all of them could be improved by meditation.
I’m not spiritual, religious, or otherwise interested in the intangible—my feet are planted firmly on earthly soil, though I am afraid of ghosts—so the suggestion that meditation alone could help me to get a better grip on my internal struggles always made me roll my eyes, hard, despite actual hard scientific evidence to the contrary. (I can be a little stubborn.) But while I was complaining to a trusted friend that I had been feeling especially anxious, irritable, and general malaise, she delivered the news that there is a (very popular) app for that. It is called OMG. I Can Meditate!, exclamation point and all.
What the App Does (or Says It Will Do)
OMG, as I call it, seeks to make the whole meditation thing more accessible by not coming on too strong with the spiritual connotations, therefore turning it into something anyone can easily digest, provided they have an iPhone or Android and $12.99 to spare on an all-access monthly membership. (You can also purchase a yearly membership for $89.99 or two years for $119.99.)
I realize it’s not entirely fair to say that meditation is having a moment right now because it’s been practiced all over the world for, like, thousands and thousands of years, but it is currently very zeitgeisty. Celebrities and billionaires love it. Every day something new—and backed by real research—is published about the many ways meditation can benefit the body and mind. It’s proven to help anyone who’s willing to give it a try manage everything from stress, depression, anxiety, and anger to physical pain. It can make you happier, more compassionate, more grounded, and more empathetic, which are all good things to be.
This app wants to make that transition easy. It consists of different types of meditations for different purposes—there’s the 12-week Daily Meditation Program, which is meant to give beginners an extremely gentle, slow-moving crash course on how guided meditation works; the self-practice category, which provides you with music you can meditate to without anyone telling you how to do it; and the Specialty offerings for all of your needs, sorted into sub-categories of Time Based, On the Go, Relationships, Happiness, Life, Spiritual, Relaxation, Performance & Success, Health & Wellness, and Stress & Anxiety. Delightfully straightforward, and all delivered in the soothing voice of the app’s creator, Lynne Goldberg.
What That Means for Me
I love the idea that doing nothing except downloading and listening to an app without any active participation could be all that’s needed to make me be a better, kinder, more balanced person—it really takes the onus off of me for changing my own life, which I appreciate. But seriously, I could really use some help managing my frazzled temperament, my negative thought patterns, my shot nerves, my thin skin, and my signature trait, the jewel in my crown, which is the ability to get upset and spark an argument over almost anything. Also, if meditation can change Howard Stern‘s life, it can change anyone’s.
What I Did
The first thing I tried was the 7 Day Challenge, which acts as the first week of the Daily Meditation Program. I did it after work for two days straight: I turned on the track, was greeted by Lynne, sat upright in a comfortable chair with my back straight and feet touching the floor with my eyes shut (as instructed), and meditated. I felt great! I loved it! Refreshed, rejuvenated, and feeling rested after just thirteen minutes of a soft-spoken woman’s disembodied voice telling you over nature sounds that everything is going to be OK—what’s not to like?
And then I completely blew it. I just stopped. Then I came back to it, started at square one, did it for three days straight, and forgot about it again. Then I gave up completely, mostly because I was tired of having to listen to the first one over and over, which was entirely my fault.
After a few particularly stressful weeks, I returned to OMG, and headed straight for the specialties this time. I found a pleasing range of things like “Overcoming Negativity,” “Managing Reactivity,” “Better Conflict Resolution,” and “Developing Patience,” all of which appealed to me greatly. At first I worked to make a habit of it by doing it once a day, every day, always right after work, but eventually phased out of a set routine and started doing it when I felt like it, as frequently as possible. After work, in the morning, right before bed—basically, whenever I could fit it in.
Did I Hate It? (Y/N): N
So How Does That Make Me Feel?
The meditation itself makes me feel good. I feel great after each self-imposed session, like I’ve just had my jets forcibly cooled and am all the better for it, and the floaty, content feeling lasts long after the recording is done. I think I’m better able to find perspective in frustrating situations that used to make me lose my shit, as well as situations in general. As a wise hypnotist once told me, I’m now better equipped to “zoom out,” and all I have to do is sit there with my eyes closed.
What makes me feel even better is that now I can go around telling people I meditate. I’m smug, self-satisfied, and reaping the reward, which is that literally everyone I speak to hates me. JK, but there are people in the world that are like that—isn’t that scary?
Will I Continue Using It?
Without question, yes. Plus, by bragging incessantly about how good I felt after meditating, I got my boyfriend into it, too, and now we do it together, which is so hilariously lame and cheesy but also kind of fun—we particularly love falling asleep to “Relaxing on the Beach.” My only worry is that if I stop meditating, the high-strung parts of me that my new practice helps to soothe will return tenfold, like a roach that will not die. No problem: I will continue to pay $12.99 on the first of every month to ensure that this does not happen.