1. Brain Training: Ok, let’s admit it.  Forming habits is not easy.  It takes about 66 days to solidly form a habit, with the first few days and weeks being the most difficult to surpass.  When you condition your mind and body to practice meditation at a certain time and place, it is easier not to fight with yourself about whether you will meditate on any particular day or not.  It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dog, who after being fed every time he heard a bell,  salivated every time he heard the bell ring–even when  he wasn’t given any food.  Every morning, the simple act of waking up and getting out of bed (or not, meditation in bed is totally great in my books) makes me want to meditate.  It’s a ritual that has become ingrained during this coronavirus season and it’s one I’ll continue to cultivate.

2. Community:  It’s important to feel a sense of community, especially when it comes to trying something new in your life.  Having an accessible community can help you keep motivated to continue to practice meditation.  Communities help you reach your goal by supporting you when you are lacking inspiration.  Insight Timer makes it easy to feel that you are a part of the meditation community, even if it is virtual.  After you meditate, the app shows you people that are nearby or are in the same groups, and you have the chance to thank them for meditating with you.  This act of gratitude is tiny but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in your meditation journey. 

3. Compete…with yourself. I have found I am much more competitive than I thought, with my own self.  With Insight Timer, you can track how many minutes you have meditated in your lifetime and are rewarded with tiny stars once you reach certain milestones such as 200 days with a session or 140 consecutive days with a session (both which I’ve achieved so far in 2020–humble brag).  It allows you to set a measurable goal for yourself that you can visually see making progress or not.  Your stars are public and while you are able to see the progress of others, competition is much more satisfying with your own personal goals and intentions.

4. (Almost) Never-ending Variety: In order to keep your brain on its toes, it is crucial to continue to expose it to a variety of activities.  Practicing the same meditation has its own benefits, but to stay motivated and keep boredom away, I love having a wide variety of choices.  They offer over 65,000 free meditations–that’s enough to meditate to a different meditation every day for 164 years! Insight Timer continually updates with new content and upgrades.  Apart from meditations, there’s SO much to learn from and with: talks, daily insights, live yoga sessions, music and courses for anxiety, stress, sleep and parenthood.

5. Practice a Foreign Language: Language learning is a lifelong journey, so of course it is important to find new methods of practicing your language of choice.  Meditation is a great way of practicing your listening skills and because meditations are usually a bit slower than the normal speed of talking in movies and podcasts, your ears will slowly get more and more  used to understanding the language and associating it with relaxing and focus.  I truly enjoy rotating through listening to meditations in English, Portuguese, French and Italian.  I don’t always understand everything but as everything, it is a process.

6. Practice Anywhere and everywhere: Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t have to be done on the top of a mountain in the Himalayas or on a meditation cushion in a studio with incense and palo santo.  Meditation can occur quite literally anywhere.  Practicing on a yoga mat or in bed is great, but it’s very convenient to be able to open up the app and use it if you suddenly feel anxiety during a hike in the Lake District, if you are next to the canal enjoying the winter sun or if you are sitting on the top of a double decker bus and want to have a few minutes to yourself amongst the noise of traffic and fellow passengers.