Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Insight Timer

“We carry about us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes. To abandon all that is to be alone, and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young -- not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age -- and only such a mind can see that which is truth and that which is not measurable by words.” 
- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Two week ago I wrote a post about a neat app that I found called Bell of Mindfulness.  It's a great app for those with hectic lives who would love to take few seconds to themselves throughout the day if they only could remember to do it.  I love this app and I still use it every day even though I've gotten into a good habit of being mindful throughout my days already.  I really appreciate when the bell rings to remind me it's my time now to take several deep breaths and focus on the present.

Today I want to talk about a smart phone app that I found pretty much at the same time as I discovered Bell of Mindfulness.  It's called the Insight Timer and it is geared for those of us that meditate or would like to meditate but find it hard finding motivation.  The basic Insight Timer is free but some of its best features become unlocked only after a $3.49 upgrade.  Like I said before, I seldom buy any apps but I know a good one when I see it.  This one provides a lot of value for the price.

One of the most basic features of the app is the timer which is used to time the meditation sessions. I can choose how long or short I want to meditate and the bell will ring when the time is up. The free version has only one kind if bell, if I remember correctly, but the full upgrade has variety of bells to choose from.  These are all genuine sounds that have been recorded at a prominent meditation centre.  It's great to know that these sounds are actual real bell sounds instead of electronic replicas. The sounds are very soothing and instantly make me feel like I've been transported to a monastery somewhere in Tibet.

The app keeps logs of all the meditation sessions together with charts and milestones.  I hit my 20 day milestone today.  I find that this is a great way to keep my motivation up.  I like to see how many consecutive days elapsed with at least one meditation session and being the committed and stubborn individual that I am, I don't want to break the streak.  Eventually I know I will but hopefully not any time soon.

Another great benefit the app provides is the Journal.  After each session the box pops up asking me if I want to record a journal entry.  Once again, a great feature.  It's very convenient to record the thoughts that the meditation brought on right there and then before, like dreams, I forget them.  If I don't want to record a journal entry at that moment, I can always do it later.  The journal can also be exported into the email and printed.

And then there are guided meditations.  A lot of them.  The app provides free guided meditations with some well known names such as Eckhart Tolle and others. I don't normally use guided meditations and I haven't used this feature so I cannot say much more about it.

The last but not least if not the greatest thing about this app is the community.  The app provides spiritual link to the worldwide community of like minded meditators who I can connect with but don't have to.  I can participate or I can simply read and get inspired.  After each session I can see who meditated at the same time with me and how many people overall.  There are many groups to join and I joined few of them.  My favourite is the Daily Gratitude group where people record their thoughts of thanks and gratitude every day.  There is something so wonderfully peaceful about waking up in the morning, meditating for few minutes and then reading positive thoughts of all the things people are grateful for. I find it very inspiring.  Another great group is Rumi, where people post poems and quotes written by Rumi, Persian poet and mystic who lived in 13th century.  I always find a lot of great read there.

Sometimes I think it's ironic that I have found a peace and tranquillity within a smart phone app but that appears to be so.  It's true that many of the benefits the app provides can already be found somewhere else.  I can use my phone's notepad or a physical journal to record my meditation thoughts and I can use my phone's timer to time my meditation sessions (although without the beautiful bells).  The reason that I prefer this app instead of other separate tools, is that everything is together in a nice bundle, and when I connect with it, I feel like I'm in a virtual monastery.  It does something wonderful for my soul.


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