Thursday, December 17, 2009

Turn Your Gadget into a Meditation Device with Podcasts and Apps!

Like many people my age, I suffer from general anxiety. Blame it on the fast-paced information age. Blame it on overstimulation. Blame it on genetics. Whatever the reason, it sucks. Despite my pro-technology approach to everyday life, I'm not going to lie; modern technology can certainly magnify the problem. On a typical day, I stare at a computer with ten to fifteen browser tabs open, an RSS reader packed with hundreds of news articles, a lifestreaming app displaying real-time activity on various social networks, and an instant messaging client with conversations with friends on a dozen different networks.

I feel short of breath just thinking about it.

Luckily, just as gadgets have the power to intensify anxiety, they can also help relieve tension and clear the mind. In my pursuit to "chill out" (doctor's orders), I've come across some really great meditation tools - most of which are FREE.

The great thing about podcasts is that they're available on pretty much any device that can play music. Meditation podcasts usually offer ambient sounds and a soothing instructor to guide you through various relaxation exercises.  Once you subscribe to a particular podcast, new episodes can be automatically downloaded (or queued) to your device, saving you precious time and energy. 

iPhone and iPod users are in luck because iTunes has a pretty extensive library of free meditation podcasts. Blackberry and Windows Mobile users can subscribe to various podcasts using Viigo (a free app), and Android users should definitely check out the Google Listen app (also free). You can also play podcasts directly on your computer, but I recommend finding a nice, quiet spot where you can listen uninterrupted. (When the weather is nice, I like to take my iPod and meditate at the pier.)

Podcasts are great for meditating with your eyes closed but sometimes it's nice to have some visual stimulation. I recently purchased a Motorola DROID and one of my absolute favorite applications is Meditation Words. The app simply guides the user through controlled breathing exercises by displaying various words or phrases on the screen. What really makes Meditation Words stand out is that it even allows the user to set the breathing pace! It is available for free in the Android Market.

iZen Garden is another great app. Available for the iPhone/iPod Touch, iZen Garden opens with a daily zen quote and then allows the user to play in a virtual zen garden while listening to soothing sounds (like wind chimes!). It's truly a beautiful experience. iZen Garden Lite is free while the full version will set you back a few bucks ($2.99 to be exact).

Meditation Words and iZen Garden are only two examples of a number of mobile applications that are available to support your health and well-being. Check out your mobile app store to see what's available for your particular device. As mobile application development continues to skyrocket, let's hope we see more apps like these pop up in the near future!

So how about you? Have you ever used a gadget as a meditation device? Have you made any interesting discoveries? Let's hear about it!

Joe Says:  While I've chosen to highlight ways we can use modern technology to relieve stress, this post is not intended as medical advice. If you do suffer from anxiety, be sure to consult a physician.

Oh, and by the way, if you're anything like me and you work consistently at a computer, remember to take a break every hour. Get up and walk around. Drink some water. Get some fresh air. Interact with people in (GASP) real life. Besides, your gadgets need rest too ;)

This is Joe, signing off.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that finding the time to "relax" or ""meditate" is something I hear quite often as well. I however, have been listening to the most relaxing sound ever since I was 8 years old. THE VACUUM CLEANER! Laugh if you must, but the white noise it delivers happens to be the most amazing sound. I can use the hairdryer but the vacuum to me is the best. Before all these gadgets, I actually had to follow my mom around the room with a tape recorder and then dub a 60 sec recording to fit an entire tape. Talk about inconvenience. I guess what I'm getting at is that all of these meditation Gadgets make it so much easier to relax. I can hear ambient sounds and white noise on the 7 train instead of the crazy man yelling about some political cover up. I feel they definitely had me in mind when coming up with such gadgets. Thanks Joe.

White Noise said...

Good article. You can also try the white noise player located at

Anonymous said...

Thanks White Noise. I have made it to your link and I must say I am very pleased. Never been a fan of crickets but the radio and the ocean are a pleasant surprise to my ears. I know it sounds weird, but I think these noises really help calm me down! Thanks.