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Get Your Resolutions Back on Track and Start Meditating

It’s January, which means now is the best time of year to put that bullet journal to use and start mapping out intentions for the next 12 months. Eating healthy, exercising more, and saving money are typically at the top of everyone’s resolutions list, but what about steps to have a healthier mental state this year? If you’ve never tried meditation or want to create a more regular practice, the best time to start is now.

 We’ve all heard plenty about the mental health benefits of meditation (including stress relief, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, and improving sleep), but that doesn’t make it any easier to create a consistent practice. Understanding how to meditate can feel daunting, as can creating a daily practice that will last throughout the year and not end by January 31. That’s why we at SPY went to the experts for advice.

Eddie Cohen is the founder of the New York-based company Walden, which makes ultra-comfortable, high-quality cushions and mats, as well as incense, oils, and other products that help people create a space in their home that encourages a regular meditation practice. Tory Schaefer is the National Director of Yoga Operations for Life Time, which has locations all over the U.S. and offers online classes. We asked Cohen and Schaefer about who could benefit from meditating, and their answers were identical: everyone.

“Everyone who has breath in their body can meditate,” says Schaefer. “Who should be making time? People who think they don’t have time really need to step up to the plate and dedicate five minutes at the same time every day. If they think they don’t have five minutes, then they should dedicate 10 minutes every day!”

What Are the Benefits of Meditation?

“To me, the largest benefit of practicing mindfulness meditation is that it helps you slow down,” says Cohen. “Feelings, thoughts, emotions are inevitable — the only thing we can control is our reaction to those experiences. Meditation helps slow down the reaction time — it’s almost like disengaging the clutch of a manual car. You’re able to see the emotions as they are and label them. For example, suppose you’re super anxious about something instead of letting the anxiety control your lived experience. In that case, you can just note that feeling as being anxiety and decipher what is reality versus what is fiction.”

Schaefer notes that “waking up to life as it is happening right now” is another major benefit of regular meditation practice. “You step into the best you that has been sleeping under a pile of to-do’s and all the things that we subject our physical bodies to in an attempt to numb ourselves from the endless stories we tell ourselves in our minds,” says Schaefer, who adds that meditation can help people focus and be more productive, be a better listener and a more caring and loving parent and partner.

How to Meditate

Meditation doesn’t look the same to everyone. If you’re new to meditation, it may be a good idea to begin your practice at home without any distractions until you become accustomed to it.

There are several YouTube series, meditation apps like Calm and Headspace, and meditation books that break down step-by-step how to meditate as well as explain types of meditation. The type of meditation you choose will impact how your meditation practice looks and feels, but most types of meditation focus on deep breathing, scanning the body, and reflection. Time spent on a daily meditation varies, but even as little as 10 minutes per day can have a big impact on reducing anxiety and improving focus.

Schaefer adds that people should start with small goals and be realistic. “It is often the expectations that we put on ourselves that get in the way, such as, ‘I need to have more time, I can’t quiet my mind, my house is too noisy, or I’ll start tomorrow.’ Meditation is nothing more than a single breath realized. When that one is over, begin again and move on to the next.”

“Keep trying,” says Cohen. “It requires patience and commitment before you see real results. But once you get there, it’s transformative.”

Helpful Meditation Guides

Once a meditation practice has been established, people will be able to reap the benefits of centering themselves and entering a state of mindfulness that helps to deal with stress and anxiety outside of their allotted daily meditation time. “It’s nice to limit distractions, but eventually, you should be able to sit with all the beeps, dogs licking your ear, even a child climbing on your back,” says Schaefer. “Remember, meditation isn’t about clearing the mind and having one space in our lives that is peaceful. It’s about being in reality as it is, without attaching to it or creating a story in our mind about why it is the way it is….it just is. In return, the world becomes our peaceful space.”

Until a meditation practice has been established, several apps and books can help those new to meditation find a practice that works for their needs, whether it’s meditation for anxiety, meditating with crystals, meditating through yoga, or meditating from the comfort of their bed.

Life Time Digital App


The Life Time Digital App is open to members and offers classes via Livestream, virtual training, classes on demand, and more. “It has something for everyone with a meditation section that is continuing to grow and partners the mind aspect with the body, with physical and nutritional practices,” says Schaefer.

Courtesy of Apple

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness


Cohen recommends John Yates’ book, which breaks down the practice of meditation for those who are new to their practice. Written by a neuroscientist-turned “meditation master,” the book outlines a 10-stage program that aids in understanding mindfulness and holistic health. “I don’t like dependencies, and this book helps build up a robust and independent practice,” says Cohen.

Courtesy of Amazon

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka


Schaefer recommends The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka for those who are new to meditation, as well as anyone who has already begun a meditation practice. Goenka makes it simple to understand the “Vipassana technique” or “the development of insight,” which is the type of meditation embodied and practiced by the Buddha. “It gets to the heart of meditation and how to implement it into life,” says Schaefer.

Courtesy of Amazon

Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day


For those looking for a crash course on how to tame a wandering mind better, Schaefer recommends watching Dr. Amishi Jha’s TED Talk, which includes the renowned neuroscientist’s findings on how people can optimize their ability to focus even in high-stress situations. Dr. Jha has also written a book to help people looking to focus their attention, noting that many of us miss out on half of life’s moments because our attention is unfocused.

Courtesy of Amazon

How to Set Up a Meditation Space

Both Cohen and Schaefer recommend setting up a space in the home specifically for meditation. “When you take time to dedicate a small corner of a bedroom or office, you are more likely to integrate the practice into your life,” says Schaefer. “You want to start as comfortable as possible.  Play around with different configurations of cushions and or pillows. There isn’t a specific way you have to sit. If you need to have your back against a wall for support, do it. If you need to sit in a chair, make it happen.”

Cohen agrees, adding, “We find that having a space encourages use and builds the ritual.”

Walden Meditation Cushion + Mat Set


SPY is a big fan of the Walden Meditation Cushion + Mat Set. The high-quality cushion is made with gel-infused memory foam and natural, hypoallergenic buckwheat fill. As for the mat, it has a medium-density foam that provides comfort and support for the ankles and knees when in the seated position. We’ve had our Walden Meditation Cushion for over two years, and it still looks and feels new even with daily use.

Read More: The Best Meditation Cushions To Set Your Zen at Home

Courtesy of Walden

Weighted Eye Mask by Walden


For those who need a little help blocking light when meditating and enjoying the benefits of a weighted sensory experience, we like the Weighted Eye Mask by Walden. Ideal for those who like to meditate while lying down, the eye mask is filled with flaxseed and lavender, offering a gentle aromatic scent to help create a feeling of peace and calm.

Courtesy of Walden

Canopy Humidifier Plus With Aroma Kit


Another great option for cleansing the air in your meditation space is the Canopy Humidifier with Aroma Kit. The two-in-one Canopy is a humidifier and an oil diffuser packaged together in a small, dishwasher-safe minimalist unit. Users can also add an aroma puck and fragrance oil.

As a humidifier, the Canopy reads the room’s moisture level and ensures optimal levels. The humidifiers’ smart sensors, which run until the unit is completely dry, leave no standing water behind that could create mold. Canopy has recently released its new Plus model, which works in large rooms.

Courtesy of Canopy

White Sage Smudge Stick


Prepare your meditation space by cleansing the air and removing bacteria that could be floating in your home with the White Sage Smudge Stick from Shaman’s Market. The White Sage Smudge Stick can help to purify an atmosphere and remove negativity, which can help set the stage for positive meditation practice. A relaxing scent, the White Sage Smudge Stick can be used by those who are new to meditation or have an established practice.

Courtesy of Shaman’s Market

Men’s Ultra-Soft Bamboo Jogger Pant by Cozy Earth


Of course, specific clothing for meditation isn’t necessary. But, if you want to be as comfortable as possible when meditating, it doesn’t get much better than the Men’s Ultra-Soft Bamboo Jogger Pant by Cozy Earth. Available in regular and tall sizes as well as a Women’s version, the joggers are made from bamboo, acrylic, and spandex, creating an ultra-soft brushed fabric. SPY received a sample of the joggers, and we have lived in them ever since. Whether you’re seated for meditation practice or running errands, you likely won’t find more comfortable or flattering pants than these joggers.

Courtesy of Cozy Earth

Astrology Candle by Homesick


If creating a space that is conducive to relaxation helps you stick to your daily meditation practice, we recommend incorporating a scented element. Homesick has a huge collection of non-toxic, natural soy candles that can burn for up to 80 hours, helping users create a meditation space year-round. Meditation fans may enjoy the company’s Astrology collection, which includes a specific scent for each sign.

Courtesy of Homesick

TREBLAB Z7 PRO – Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Headphones


If you’re just beginning your meditation practice and want to listen to guided practices or need help tuning out distractions, we like the Tredlab Z7 Pro over-the-ear headphones. The headphones provide some noise canceling features and also deliver a crystal clear sound that allows users to focus on their meditation or ambient music. The IPX4-rated headphones have up to 45 hours of playtime, which is ideal for those who are committed to meditating daily. SPY received a sample of the headphones, and we love how comfortable they are to wear for an extended period and how rarely they need to be charged.

Courtesy of Amazon

Hoka Clifton 8


We’ve been focusing on how to meditate indoors, but some people find it more beneficial to move their practice outside. Turn your daily walk into meditation time and enjoy the fresh air and added health benefits from moving your body. We named the Hoka Clifton 8 as our favorite walking shoe, and we think it’s a great pick for those who want a pair of sneakers they can wear year-round while on their meditation walks.

Courtesy of Zappos

Gorilla Mats Premium Large Yoga Mat


If you want to move indoors while meditating, one of our favorite bases is the Gorilla Mats Premium Large Yoga Mat. A great option for men or anyone who wants extra workout space, the Gorilla Mats Premium Large Yoga Mat is an oversized, non-slip yoga mat that provides enough room for seated meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or other meditative movements. We’ve had our Gorilla Mat for four years, and it has only barely begun to show any wear and tear after rigorous use.

Courtesy of Amazon