Sunday, June 18, 2017

Meditation Overview and App Guide

I've taken up meditation this year and have introduced it to several people who enjoyed the practice. Below is a list of meditation references for those interested in getting to know meditation through self-practice. To add more color and zen to this post, I've added some photos I've taken around NY and Jersey City.

battery park sculpture

Equinox meditation (free, great for beginners): I didn't download the app. Right on that website, they have short 10 minute sessions for different times of the day.

  • Rise (waking up, early morning) 
  • Recharge (refresh, good for late morning or maybe afternoon when you're aching for coffee but should actually take a walk and listen to this instead)
  • Unwind (great for coming back from work or maybe a workout)
  • Sleep (listen and relax before going to sleep). Once you go through all 4 sessions in some combination for a week, you'll build up good habits to incorporate this practice into your daily routine. this site offers a lot of reading and resources. If you haven't read any books by Thich Nhat Hanh, you should check them out at the library or your favorite bookstore. 

Mobile Apps (Google and AppleStore)
Meditation studio ($3.99 one time fee): they have intro as well as themed collections. so you can quickly pick up a theme like "dealing with stress" or "relax before sleep" or even body scan. You can also filter by type of meditation and length of the session. I like exploring different teachers and then looking up their other meditation sessions. Two teachers I have enjoyed are Chodo Campbell and Elisha Goldstein. This app links to the Mindfulness section of Apple Health.

Calm (free for limited meditation, subscription for more): good background music and some free guided meditation. If you subscribe, you get a nice library of guided meditation as well as a daily themed meditation. I also like their calendar for tracking your meditation time so it's encouraging to keep up with the daily routine. You can add outside meditation sessions to the app by using their "add a session" function. I've been tracking Yoga classes there. This app also links to the Mindfulness section of Apple Health. After trying this for free for a few months, I signed up for an annual subscription when they were running a promotion. If you are interested in signing up, I can send you a referral.

ship near Liberty State Park

Relax Melodies (free for limited sound library, paid for more and also meditations): Mostly music and some free meditation as well. I like the playlists you can build from sound blocks. Enjoy rain and city sounds and the ocean? You can make it into your own sound playlist. Timer for exiting the app is also helpful when you want to drift off to sleep but don't want the app running all night. Unfortunately it doesn't link to your health app for the meditation sessions so you have to track it separately.

In Person Resources
Besides some meditation before and after yoga class, I have not been to a meditation class in person. There are a lot of different resources in NY and Jersey City so feel free to try them and see if they are helpful for you.

Lower Manhattan seen on top of ferry

Where to try meditation (besides your home)

  • Neighborhood Park. I love Van Vorst Park for this, especially when it's raining lightly (bring an umbrella) or when it's early morning, right before the crowds get to the playgrounds.
  • Beach (or even the waterfront just to hear sound of water)
  • Friend's apartment or house. Offer to take a break together if you're doing a game night or cooking food.
  • Before, during, and after music practice. Good for clearing your mind, practicing breathing, and reflecting on your intentions for your group (or even playing solo in a practice room).
  • Quiet corner of an art museum or botanical garden

Van Vorst Park Fountain

Try it out and enjoy!

Ship and State of Liberty

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Intro to Reading Challenge

Last December I came upon a blog post suggesting a list of NYPL books for the 2017 "Read Harder Challenge". Interesting enough, the original list of categories were sourced from Book Riot, the NYPL blog simply provided some book ideas to fit those categories. If you finish the challenge, you will have 24 very interesting books from different categories / perspectives to talk about.

While I set reading goals in general (something simple like at least 1 book a month of maybe total of 10-15 books a year) and use goodreads (website and mobile app) to track book recommendations and progress, I don't recall ever consciously trying to vary the types of books I read in any given year. So why not start with this challenge? I've also sent around the challenge to friends who suggested some books they've read. I've included them later in the post.

For 2017, I will work through this list and aim for a monthly or every-2-months update on what's going on. I've also been reviewing my local bookstore's book club suggestions for ideas.

What are some of your reading goals (if any?) Feel free to add more books to the comments.

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
    Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbne. This was a tough book to read at times because it was set in the same time period as the financial crisis/fall of Lehman. The main characters are from Camaroon trying to make themselves a new life and family in the USA. The end of the book made me wonder whether it was supposed to be hopeful (the family was able to cash in on their money/earnings and start at a higher income level in Camaroon) or bleak (they were not able to make it in the US due to immigration policies)
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
    No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (Japan >6000 miles away from NY). I actually read this book because I'm currently watching an anime series called Bungo Stray Dogs that features Japanese literary personalities re-imagined as young men/women in a detective agency. One of the main characters is based on Osamu and his special ability (nullify other people's special abilities) is called "No Longer Human". Some of his crazy antics in the anime actually fit the main character from this book to a T.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
    Golden Son (Red Rising book 2 of 3) by Pierce Brown. I also intend to finish the trilogy this year but wanted to take a quick break for some other books.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel
    I started Guapa by Saleem Haddad but didn't get a chance to finish. Will try to pick it up again since it had a strong start.
  21. Read a book published by a micropress.
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)
    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book has such poetry, love, and anger that I do highly recommend it to everyone. It is written from the perspective of a father to his teenage son and chronicles various injustices around the US.

    Some other categories I'd like to explore are
  25. Read a book about music (can be a musician/composer/rock star/instrumentalist/music period, etc)
  26. Read a book in Chinese (can be fiction or nonfic)
  27. Read a book related to mindfulness

This list will be updated throughout the year and may or may not be finished by end of 2017. For more background / context, please read my post on the intro