How to meditate without an app

Apr 11, 2024
meditate naturally, tune into yourself not your phone
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

I was asked this question in response to one of my recent blogs, and also, I was asked on LinkedIn to offer my recommendations on which app to use. Not surprisingly, many meditation instructors, including me, said: no app!


Meditation is a beautiful, powerful practice of creating space for yourself to connect with your own inner intelligence, to the divine source code that you were born with. To meditate is to tap into the wisdom passed down from generations, lineages, eras, eons, past, present, and future, to your heart center. When you tap into this, you tap into yourself. When you tap into yourself, your nervous system recalibrates. Your cells begin to remember. Healing happens. You begin to feel connected again. Said Buddhist meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg: 

Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively. 

Available to you is your own voice, your own wisdom, for guidance. You don’t need an app. YOU are the power source. Self practice helps you upgrade connection to your own power. Rather than searching online for external guidance, you’re seeking to align with your inner guide. The cost is just a little bit of your time. It will deliver the highest return you can ever get in this lifetime: the real, comfortable-in-your-own-skin YOU who has nothing to prove, therefore nothing to judge, therefore peace.


The purpose of meditation 

is to conquer your mind rather than your mind conquering you so that you can find peace. This, along with the most important answers you will ever need to navigate your life.


How to relate to meditation

  • Like brushing your teeth, it’s a (twice) daily hygiene. It gets stinky in there when you miss a brush. 

  • Like working out, cross train. Varying your meditation will provide you with new stimuli, help you develop the mental and emotional muscles that aren’t being lit up with just one kind, and provide you with access (via practice) to different types of meditation; it makes you more flexible. You can adjust your practice according to your environment and needs. 

  • Showing up a little each day is better than a lot once every blue moon. 

  • Meditation is not hiding from problems or becoming oblivious to your surroundings; quite the opposite. It’s becoming aware of your surroundings without getting lost in any one of them. It’s noticing and working through the difficulties of sitting in your own quiet space with your monkey mind and physical discomforts. At the other side of this is where you’ll find your true power, clarity, curiosity, play, and peace. All you need to do is sit through it and eventually your monkey mind will quiet down and serve you. Nothing important will go to hell because you took actual time to meditate. 

  • Daily morning meditation is more mainstream than you think. This practice brings out the best parts of you and will turn you into an influencer of the truest kind - the kind that the world needs - simply by existing. More and more people are figuring this out.

  • You’re not too busy for yourself. 


Cross train your meditation practice

You want the variety and benefits of the different types of meditation. Here are some options to familiarize yourself with. 

  1. Pranayam, or Breath Meditation: learn this first. It’s the most fundamental. Learning to breathe correctly in itself can change your life. Breathing correctly throughout the day requires daily practice. First and foremost, the Long Deep Breath. After that, there are other powerful breath practices you can add to your breath meditations, including Suspension of Breath, the warming and detoxing Breath of Fire that stokes your digestive fire and personal power, the cooling Sitali Breath, the balancing Alternate Nostril Breathing, and more.
    Pranayam is a practice, so don’t worry about whether you’re doing it perfectly. Simply follow the instructions, don’t think too hard about it, and eventually, like everything else you learn, it will all fall into place.
    You can decide to learn from a breath instructor. An investment in personal instruction and coaching can cut out the guesswork and speed up your learning process. There’s no need to commit to weekly sessions, just a check-in from time to time, whenever you need the support. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself this way. I don’t know where I’d be without my mentors over the last couple of decades. 

  2. Mantra Meditation: Sound affects your mental state. Mantra, or Sound Meditation, changes your mind by coding over your negative self-talk to be more supportive to your higher potential. While listening to mantra is healing in itself, using your own voice - and simultaneously listening to your own voice as you sound out the mantras - will tune you into… well… your own voice, and strengthen it. Practicing mantra meditation will strengthen your ability to express yourself through communication.
    I’ve added a playlist of mantras here that you can chant with or listen to while cooking, folding laundry, driving, or simply needing some healing. I suggest that you write down the mantras and learn to chant them without these videos as well. I recommend starting with RaMaDaSa by Snatam Kaur, a healing mantra that’s super easy to learn. Long Ek Ong Kar is a good one to do in monotone and balance your entire being. It’s ideally practiced for 7 to 11 minutes a day. 

  3. Prayer Meditation: ask a question to the Universe and then sit openly and receptively. Don’t let your mind go to work to come up with answers for you. In this context, the ego only blocks the messages from Divine Intelligence. Think about times when you’ve asked someone a question that you really wanted to know the answer to. You may have to go back to when you were just starting out as an adult learning what you’re expert in today - driving, your long-time hobby, the work or industry you’ve spent decades in - and how you took in so much new information, like a sponge, because you knew you didn’t know, and you wanted to know. An empty cup can take in fresh water whereas it spills over and gets lost when pouring into a full cup. Stop simply focusing and reaffirming what you already know and just listen to the silence. Within the silence is your answer. You’ll hear it if you listen. Just keep practicing.
    Another way you can practice prayer is to just say thank you to the Universe - mouth it, whisper it, or say it out loud, and then take what you just put out there into your silent space. In both instances you are communicating gratitude and a call to connect with wisdom.

  4. Visualization Meditation. Choose visuals that inspire, expand, ground, and elevate your sense of self. It could be as simple as lighting a candle and meditating on the flame. You can create a vision board. Or imagine being in a place that makes you feel incredibly happy or inspired. Simply take in the visual and feel it in your body. Nothing more.
    I was just in Mexico, and I recorded exactly one minute of the ocean waves on the last day of my trip. Once I got settled in my seat for my return flight home, I played it a number of times and felt the power of the ocean soothing and expanding me. This was much more calming to the nervous system than sitting there scrolling and absorbing everything going on around me during the onboarding of the flight. And yet, I was fully aware of my surroundings.  

  5. Moving Meditation: There are meditations that use moving mudras (hand and body positions). Also, yoga is meditation (when not practiced as one, it’s just a workout). Moving meditation helps to align breath with thought with action with feelings with values. Learn a simple sequence and do it with intention. It could be a 3 minute sequence. Some moving meditations focus on the flow between movement and breath. Some increase heart rate. Some challenge and strengthen the nervous system, and some balance your energy centers. Notice what sort of energy, gift, and challenge each posture brings out for you to master. 

  6. Guided Meditation: From time to time, it’s wonderful to connect with a teacher and let them guide you to places within that you wouldn’t have found on your own. 


How to meditate without an app

  1. Do it first thing in the morning when you first wake up. You’re less likely to be disrupted by the world earlier in the morning, and the Earth’s energy will assist you during this time. It may not feel like it when you’re not used to it, but remember that nothing feels right when you’re not used to it.
    If you have children, you can get up a little earlier as well as let them know that when they see you sitting in meditation, it won’t be long, but until you’re finished, not to disturb you unless the house is on fire (I did this). You can invite them to sit next to you, but don’t engage with them when they do. This is your time to practice, not your time to teach. You’re teaching by example.
    Here’s a quote I love by Charles Dickens that reminds me that we’re not alone in the morning struggle: The sun itself is weak when it first rises and gathers strength and courage as the day gets on. 

  2. Choose a meditation from above**. Remember to vary and cross-train. Maybe do a pranayam meditation for a week. Then mantra meditation the following week. Then visualization. Then pranayam. Then prayer. Personally, I begin my first eight minutes before I even get out of bed with pranayam. Then after my bathroom ritual, I do moving, then mantra, then prayer.

  3. If morning meditation feels impossible to you, just start at 3 minutes a day right when you wake up. You don’t even have to get out of bed to do this. 3 minutes is less than how long the snooze button gives you. As you build strength and courage, 11 minutes a day is beautiful. 30 minutes is amazing. Beyond that is bonus. You have time. 

  4. Use your timer instead of an app. When you’re starting out, you might record how many minutes you meditate from day to day. I have my clients give themselves an Ease Rating for each practice: without thinking about it, what number comes up for you, from 1 to 5, 5 being the easiest, from showing up on your cushion to staying present and compassionate with yourself, to following through on your intention for that practice. This can help you stay purposeful and self-accountable, and it will give you information to work with to help you strengthen your personal practice.  

  5. Commit to a daily practice. I do 40 consecutive days at a time with my clients. I’ve done some 90- and a couple of 1000-days with them as well! The main point of this is to embed daily practice into your cells and psyche so that it not only becomes habit but who you are. By committing to daily practice, what you’re saying to yourself is, I’m going to do this because I want command over my mind and my neuroses. I don’t want my mind to have command over me. I want to be able to relax, sleep well and have peace and joy in my life, and I want to be my best self with others. 





(much like this blog post!)