My journey to meditation began in early spring of 2020—in hindsight, quite lucky timing as meditation has been key to preserving my mental health during these years of global pandemic. A colleague of mine suggested checking out the Calm app and, in particular, the 30-day “How to Meditate” course by Jeff Warren. This suggestion was another stroke of luck—I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to meditation!
Before I extol the many virtues of Jeff Warren and his amazing meditation teachings, I want to focus on the big picture: Why meditation? Why should we meditate? What are the benefits to meditation?
In recent years, there has been an explosion of research into meditation, which has been shown to:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Boost recovery after the release of the stress hormone cortisol
- Improve immune system functioning and response
- Slow age-related atrophy of the brain
- Mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety
Studies also show meditation can reduce violence in prisons, boost productivity in the workplace, and improve both behavior and grades for school children.
Things get really interesting when you look at the neuroscience. In recent years, neuroscientists have been peering into the heads of meditators, and they’ve found that the practice can rewire key parts of the brain involved with self-awareness, compassion, and resiliency. (Harris, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, pp. 4–5)
Well, okay then, those benefits sound awesome. Sign me up, right? But sometimes it’s hard to know how to get started, or to keep yourself to a daily meditation schedule. I know it’s hard for me! But here’s where Jeff Warren’s contributions to the Calm app really help me out. I’ve done his 30-day meditation program a couple times now. These daily meditations are between 10 and 15 minutes long, so it is possible to find time to fit them in! Some of my personal favorites include “Pop Out of Your Thoughts” (10 min), “Inner Smoothness” (11 min), “Even Flow” (10 min), “Into the Stillpoint” (11 min), and “Eye of the Hurricane” (10 min), but they are all wonderful at teaching a basic point about meditation while also guiding you through a practice and relaxing your mind.
Even more amazing, once you are done with Jeff’s 30-day meditation program, you can still get a Jeff fix! Every day on the Calm app, Jeff gives a 10-minute meditation in his “Daily Trip.” I love that I can heart my favorites so that I can always find them and do them again. For those of you who are looking for an introduction into meditation, or a meditation guide with whom you can practice every day, I highly recommend Jeff Warren and his meditations on Calm!