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Twenty Minutes a Day

A couple months ago, I began a regular meditation practice. Prior to that, I spent twenty years meditating in bite size chunks (five to ten minutes) occasionally with little to no success. I wasn’t even meditating correctly. I spent all my time just trying to clear my mind, instead of embracing the thoughts that emerged, resetting, and starting over.

My regular practice began with a free trial of Headspace (thanks to Kerri), but eventually I made my rounds on Insight, Calm, and Waking Up. There was a honeymoon period with each of these apps, that usually fizzled out about two weeks into it (I’m so appreciative of the free trials!) I then began using Oak, which seemed to work as a great no-frills timer.

Although, I feel like my practice struggled a bit when I transferred over to Oak exclusively. The guided meditation on Oak is not to my liking, and I found that guided meditation was a nice addition to traditional silent meditation. I think I need that diversity, at least until I get more reps in. So, I tried out Headspace (my favorite of the bunch) again, but still had some issues with the app design, difficulty of finding the type of meditation I was looking for, and outdated content being pushed to the front page. There’s nothing like following their recommended meditations for the day and the meditation being made for teenagers or for dealing with COVID.

I did another deep dive on the App Store and realized I had skipped Ten Percent Happier. There was a reason for this. Around ten years ago, when the book Ten Percent Happier was released, it was recommended to me by my therapist at the time. I read the book in a day and found it to be decent, but it seemed to lack the heart I was used to while studying Buddhism. My therapist only made things worse when she recommended I attend an $800 meditation program at Duke University (I was unemployed at the time) and well… our sessions ended right after that.

That experience soured me on the idea of an app from Dan Harris, the writer of Ten Percent Happier, but I was still looking for some decent guided meditations so decided to take advantage of a free trial. I love the app. It’s everything I wanted in a meditation app. It’s well researched, simple to use, organized, customizable, and has some amazing teachers. The beginner program (I’m approaching everything with a beginner mind these days) was sensational and led by Joseph Goldstein. I began a course on managing anxiety and discovered the work of Dr. Luana Marques, who has some wonderful techniques (I’m less thrilled about her website’s focus on helping companies, however) and Booker, who is by far my favorite meditation teacher I’ve ever listened to.

My only complaint is that the app tends to push up against that idea of corporate meditation/meditating for better productivity and is pretty devoid of any spiritual connections. For some that may be a pro, but for me, I prefer a slightly more balanced approach. Still, this complaint is very minor in comparison to the truly terrific teachings enclosed.

For the month of June, I set a goal for myself to average twenty minutes of meditation for the month. We are almost halfway through the month, and I’m hitting my goal and enjoying every minute of it. I actually look forward to meditating now, something I never thought I’d say. I always thought meditation was more like going to the gym, something you did because you needed to, but you’d prefer to do something else. But here I am, and the highlight of my day is often those twenty quiet minutes where I sit or lie down, the kitten cuddles up next to me, and I give my brain a break.

Side Note: My other goal for this month is to spend no unnecessary money. My seven-day free trial of Ten Percent Happier ended around June 1st. I um… did some creative juggling, I sent myself a thirty-day guest pass from my seven-day free trial to get me through the month with the intention of subscribing in July. With that being said, the price you see for subscribing is $99.99 annually. When I didn’t renew after my seven-day free trial they sent me a coupon code for 40% off. So, you can technically get the first year for $60, and at $5 a month I’d say that’s a bargain. Furthermore, I was subscribed to their newsletter that then offered me a year for $50. 

I emailed them about a monthly subscription fee since they mentioned it but the only way to get it is to email them. The monthly price is $14.99. Definitely not a good deal.

Published inSimple Living


  1. When I used 10% Happier, they had coaches you could email and get a personal response back. I had a few questions answered pretty well that way. I’m glad to hear they are still providing a quality service and that it is working for you.

    • That’s wild! What an option to offer. Actual communication with a teacher. I saw Headspace is offering counseling now or something similar. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

  2. JK JK

    I also went thru some of the various apps and landed on Calm for various reasons. One I love the short daily session with Jeff Warren who I think is brilliant (and i believe has stuff in 10% but not sure how much). Two I love all of the “sleep” and “focus” content they have. It ticks a lot of buttons. Once a year they have a lifetime sub sale and I did that. Wasnt cheap but the discount on that sub level was significant and at this point feel like i’ve gotten more than my moneys worth. I tried Headspace first but that app was too reliant on visualization which my mind just wont do. Dunno what it is but I just know it doesnt work for me.

    • Im so glad you found something that works for you! It’s funny how each of our brains require something different to quiet down.

  3. JTR JTR

    Like you, I had a similar bad experience that pushed me away from guided meditation – in my case, it was a yoga class, which slowly became more of a “cult” of sorts that sold vibrating plastic hand-size brain (to sync with my brainwaves) for more than $100 and started to push on a trip to a mountain somewhere (forget where) to meet their main trainer. The trip was in the neighborhood of $3000, and when they started really pushing it, I left.

    I was always able to meditate with different degrees of success. Counting my breaths, visualize colors and such in my mind, scanning my body… but it’s a habit I always fell out of. These days I’m trying again with Headspace; it’s familiar and popular so that’s what I reached out to.

    I’m not sure I’m “sold” on it. The guided meditation is helpful, and the techniques Andy (the main guy) offers in the recording are all familiar to me, but more focused. I appreciate the gentle “nudge” guiding me toward focusing and being less distracted (that’s my main focus right now), but I keep thinking that I could come up with all of this myself if I just kept at it.

    It’s a tougher sale than Trainer (which used to be called Co-Pilot, I think they changed the name because of Microsoft), which I use for my daily workouts. Over there I have a life coach who sends me feedback, we can meet, my plan is tailored to me, and I feel I’m paying her rather than the app; with Headspace, my money goes to some “blurb.”

    I guess we will see.

    • Andy’s workouts on Headspace were my favorite. From my understanding he founded the company but is no longer part of it. I think that is part of what bummed me out because if he made a daily meditation I’m pretty sure I’d participate.

      I saw those weird vibrating egg/brain waves things on Amazon one day. Sheesh, this stuff is getting out of control!

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