A Simple Guide to Meditation Tools & Supplies
The world around us seems to get just a little more stressful everyday, doesn't it? With the 2020-20..... pandemic, things have taken another eventful turn (to say the least). Some people are able to adapt to changes, whether good or bad. However, some find it a little more difficult to do so.
If you're someone who finds it difficult to decrease stress, and focus on the "now" instead of constant worry about past and future events, then there are certain practices that may be right for you.
Meditation is one of those alternative therapies. The reason we say this is because meditation to put in simplest terms, is a practice that encourages a heightened state of awareness (a sort of trained awareness). It is intended to help give practitioners a better perspective on the now.
Meditation is more about learning to deal with your emotions and feelings, and at some point understanding them better, in a way that doesn't cause additional stress on the mind and body. So if you're looking to learn more about meditation, check out this blog post on meditation!
Here is an interesting article published on the Washington Post about how meditation not only reduces stress, but changes your brain! Pretty cool!
However, in this article we're going to focus on some popular tools and supplies that practitioners use to successfully mediate.
You can certainly meditate successfully without the use of any of these props or meditation tools. However, if you're someone looking to change up your normal routine or looking to invest in something to further advance your practice, these are items you may want to learn more about.
You may look at meditation (or at least what you think the practice is) and in theory, think it's pretty simple, however, meditation can take really intense focus, as it attempts to retrain your mind. Proper tools and supplies can make it not just easier from a mental perspective, but also more comfortable on the body!
Meditation tools are known to aid you in your sessions in a number of ways. Most crucially, though, they improve your ability to focus and remain present and calm. This is certainly helpful if you're looking to meditate for more extended periods of time, or have found it difficult to focus or re-focus your attention.
Top Meditation Tools & Supplies:
1. Meditation Cushions
Meditation cushions are a popular tool that can aid in some of your beginner techniques and even in more advanced practice. Being that most meditation programs are done sitting down (on the floor vs. a chair), oftentimes in a lotus pose or with legs crossed, it can be uncomfortable for some, if required extensively.
Positioning can be crucial to help you focus your mind. Let alone for comfort on a hard flow, many practitioners work with there spine straight and erect, oftentimes requiring your pelvic region to slightly shift forward. This is where meditation cushions can help.
Meditation cushions ease this discomfort and help to create a more ideal environment for your body as you sink into your session. When your body is more relaxed, your mind will follow suit.
Keep in mind you want to do your research as meditation cushions can come in many different sizes, shapes, fabrics, etc. Try using pillows or cushions you have lying around your house first, to distinguished comfortable positions and not so comfortable positions, and which pillow(s) work best. For example; firm vs. soft, low profile vs. elevated, etc.
This process can be very individualized. Keep in mind in certain cultures like Ancient Chinese and even modern-day Asia, many individuals grow up in an environment where many of there chores are completed sitting on mats. They are much more accustomed to certain positions, so it's okay if you're not comfortable at first, meditation cushions and such can help.
2. Tibetan Singing Bowls/Bells
Meditation cushions (although a go to for beginners) is not the only useful tool you can purchase for your practice. Tibetan singing bowls are one another such useful item. Singing bowls might seem like a more advanced meditation tool, but they are actually used by many beginner meditators.
Bowls and/or Tibetan bells use auditory sensations to aid with meditation. Both meditation tools make sounds to help induce a sense of calm and help you focus on the present moment
These bowls have a long and rich history in meditation and Tibetan culture. They are meant to both heal and cleanse the mind as you meditate. These bowls create deep, rich and beautiful tones. They may also be known as Himalayan bowls.
We have discussed in previous blog posts, sound meditation or the use of sound therapy to help with mood, anxiety, and even pain intensities. A study of the use of Tibetan singing bowls in 62 men and women, produced results where participants reported less tension, anger, fatigue and depressed mood.
Another study using Himalayan singing bowls and effect on stress and heart rate variability, found that Tibetan bowls can be a tool leveraged to help increase parasympathetic tone (relaxation response), and reduce stress.
Some people conclude it is the vibrations and sounds that impact the mind-body and or brain waves to increase relaxation efforts.
One study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found similar results as the above study, suggesting that Himalayan singing bowls enhanced blood pressure and heart rate responses, in particular, when added to directed relaxation sessions.
3. Meditation Apps
Meditation apps are an accessible and simple meditation tool for anyone to begin using. One of the best facts about them is there versatility and ability to walk you through the process, especially for individuals completely new to the practice. Guided meditation sessions and information about meditation, can be crucial for practitioners to reach there goals, more effectively.
There is also a growing body of research behind the use of meditation apps and specific meditation apps like "Calm" and "Headspace". You can access one of these apps on any phone or smart device. They make mediation easy, and some say, more enjoyable, but that is certainly subjective to each person.
One study on the Calm App was conducted on efficacy of mindfulness meditation delivery via the app for college students stress. The study concluded that the app was an "effective modality to deliver this form of meditation to reduce stress and improve mindfulness and self-compassion in stress college students".
A randomized control trial was also conducted on mindfulness training though digital mediums. The concluded study found smart phone apps to be an effective delivery medium for mindfulness training.
Not only is this form of learning gaining attention because it works, it's also because of the convenience factor. Yes, the best apps cost money, but no longer do you need live sessions, in which you most likely pay individual instructors for. You are also learning a tremendous amount of information about the practice, compressed into a central location, at your fingertips.
You can get meditation music, bells, chimes, and even meditation timers. More complex apps, offer a wider variety of features.
You can too, attend live meditation classes, get the help of a teacher or coach, track your meditation habits, and even connect with a community of meditations. The possibilities are endless with these "newer" meditation tools.
4. Meditation Music
If you don’t want to deal with the fuss or price-tag that can ensue with any mobile or digital app, or other costly meditation supplies, we'd highly recommend using meditation music. You can find meditation music physically in stores, but if you want something modern, meditation music can be downloaded on your phone, or even streamed on platforms like YouTube, and in meditation apps if you chose to go this route.
Meditation music can come in many forms, is soothing, and helps to minimize strain or stress and focus the mind during meditation.
Sound therapy and or using music for stress relief has also more extensive studies in recent years. Studies have suggested that music impacts the psychobiological stress system, resulting in faster recovery times from stressors. An article posted on Stanford News, discusses rhythmic music's potential at changing brain function which you can read more about, here.
6. Meditation Books
Knowledge and content is power!
Meditation tools and supplies don’t always have to be used during your practice. Instead, you can improve your knowledge of meditation before you set out to meditate. Teachers and in-class sessions are one way to do this.
If you don’t have the time to learn in person, there are plenty of books (internet resources) to help expand your understanding of meditation. This way, when you do sit down and meditate, you have a better idea of what you need to do to have a fruitful session.
Make sure to purchase or pursue articles based on your experience level and/or goal. Keep in mind there are several different forms of meditation, like transcendental, sound bath, Zen meditation, yoga meditation, and even body scan meditation.
7. Meditation Beads
Meditation beads, also known as malas, are another useful meditation tool and a type of prayer bead. These beads come from the Buddhist tradition of meditation and are implemented during mantras or prayers. Typically, there are one-hundred and eight beads on each mala. Each bead represents a mantra. Today, it is common practice to use them for mediation, without religious affiliation.
Some practitioners count each bead as they meditate with them. If you do chant mantra, the beads can be a way to keep track of how many times you have repeated your mantra phrase. They are again, a way to focus or re-focus your mind and attention. Some use the beads simply to help keep grounded during their session(s).
They can also be a way of helping to control your breath as you place your fingers around the beads for 108 total breaths.
Malas can be made from different unique materials. From coral to stone, and many other mediums. Each mala has its own special energy and look. They can be very personal and some malas are better for some then others. It's important that the meditation beads feel good to touch (for the individual), is aesthetically pleasing (for the individual) and is made of materials that have some sort of special meaning (for the individual).
As you can see there are many different tools and or supplies that can help with your meditation practice. You can use none of them, one, or multiple to help with your practice. Hopefully we have given you a guide to some of the more common ones you can find, and what there potentials are.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to share your favorite meditation tools and supplies in the comments section of our blog!