Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s interim editor in chief and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about something a ton of people have questions about (me included): meditation. Specifically, how the heck does one actually go about starting a meditation practice? Also, for the uninitiated among us, what’s the real point of trying to meditate in the first place?
Our listener question this week comes from Nan, who sums up these types of meditation questions pretty well when she says, “I guess my basic question is: What is meditation? Specifically when I’m sitting there—what do I do? Is the reward in the process of trying to distance yourself from your thoughts in some way? Is there some state of mind you’re trying to achieve?” But also: “Especially during the pandemic, I want to know, why meditation, of all the things that I want to cultivate into my life.…Why should this be getting my time?”
All excellent questions! To answer them, I first speak with Carolyn Todd, SELF’s health editor, who dug into the potential health benefits of meditation for a past feature on the subject. Carolyn also happens to be an avid meditator herself, so she’s able to speak on the beauties and challenges of meditation from multiple perspectives. I then chat with Kriste Peoples, a runner, outdoor adventurer, and community facilitator with the app Liberate, which focuses on the meditation experience for Black people and other people of color. Together, Carolyn and Kriste offer solid insight into the many potential benefits of meditating, how to figure out if it might be right for you, and how to actually get started.
New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Carolyn Todd covers all things health and nutrition at SELF. Her definition of wellness includes lots of yoga, coffee, cats, meditation, self-help books, and kitchen experiments with mixed results. You can follow Carolyn @CarolynLTodd on Twitter, and read more of her work here.
Kriste Peoples is a runner, writer, producer, speaker, and community facilitator with the app Liberate (among other roles!). You can learn more about Kriste’s many passions on her website. And you can follow her on Instagram.
Here are some popular meditation apps if you’re interested in giving it a try:
Liberate is a subscription-based meditation app that includes practices and talks designed for the Black community. According to its website, it has curated content from 40-plus teachers of color with a diverse background in lineage, perspective, and approach.
Headspace is a subscription-based meditation app with a friendly interface. It helps guide you through meditations, both single mediations and dozens of courses that address anxiety, loneliness, gratitude, and much more.
Ten Percent Happier (Carolyn’s favorite!) is dedicated to skeptics. You can even connect to a coach who will answer your questions, and the app has also spun off into a podcast and book you may find helpful.
You Might Also Like:
If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:
What Meditation Can—and Can’t—Do For Your Health
How to Meditate When You Have No Idea When to Start
The Has Never Been A Better Time to Start Meditating
The 15 Best Meditation Apps, According to People Who Actually Meditate