When meditation is mentioned, what comes to mind? Maybe you have a mental image of dedicated monks in a remote locale or a group of experienced yogis in a studio. Maybe you see a spiritualist perched on a mountain top or picture a lifelong practitioner with crossed legs. Maybe you think about your last trip to a modern meditation studio like Inscape or mndfl, or you get a pang of guilt thinking of how many days its been since you opened the Headspace app…
”In Buddhist tradition, ‘meditation’ is a word that is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S.,” said Richard Davidson, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist who studied the minds of Buddhist monks while meditating. “It’s a family of activity, not a single thing.”
There is no singular “right” way to practice. Meditation is accessible, safe, effective, and highly personal. And with more meditation apps launching, studios opening, and practitioners sharing tips online, there have never been so many avenues to enter the practice.
And now, with Oura’s Moment feature, you have an extra layer of data to support — or start — your practice. In this article, we’ll explain the basics of meditation, how to use Moment with your practice, and some ideas for getting started with your routine.
To get started, find a comfortable space to sit or lie down, ideally as free of stimuli — like noise, artificial light, and device notifications — as possible. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, drawing mental focus to the physical sensation of inhaling and exhaling.
If your mind wanders, that’s fine — let your thoughts float by like clouds in the sky or waves rising and crashing on the shore. Bring your attention back to your breath or another calming focus point, such as a sound (like “om”), a positive word (like “relax”), a mantra (such as “breathing in calm, breathing out tension”), or a patient acknowledgment of your thoughts (“thinking, thinking”) and return to your chosen focus.
Start small, and build up. Why not try five minutes today, six tomorrow, and seven the day after that? Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer of mind-body research in the Western world, recommends practicing mindfulness during the day for 20 minutes. If you start with five minutes today and add a minute each day, you’ll be confidently practicing for 20 minutes in just two weeks!
If you’re looking for more direction as you get started, there are plenty of resources to explore with seemingly endless programs to choose from. A few we like are Oak, Waking Up, Calm, and Headspace.
Inside the App
Moment was designed for restful, relaxing, or mindful sessions where you sit or lie still, for two important reasons. First, mindful and restful moments between tasks help your body and mind recover and re-energize. Second, movement during a Moment session distracts the Oura Ring’s optical tracking, making your results less accurate. While heart rate is easily measurable throughout activities like exercise, HRV measurement requires stillness to produce accurate results. Movement in the body throws off the delicate beat-by-beat differences seen in the blood volume pulse, which the Oura Ring uses to determine the state of your autonomic nervous system.
To start a Moment, tap the + button in the app home view. Before you begin, you’ll select a session length and set your soundscape (or opt for a silent session). When you wrap up, you have the option to tag your session as meditation, relaxing, breathing, or nap. You can also rate how the session went, choosing from bad, okay, and great.
Then you’ll get the sweet, sweet reward of insights. The longer your session, the more in-depth your stats will be. Here’s the breakdown:
- Fewer than three minutes:
- Lowest heart rate
- Three minutes or longer:
- Lowest heart rate
- Average HRV
- Five minutes or longer:
- Full heart rate trend graph for session, including comparison to nighttime baseline
- Full HRV trend graph for session, including comparison to nighttime baseline
Resting heart rate and HRV show how relaxed and recovered you are (or, alternatively, how stressed and strained you are). Your nighttime baseline is the best point of reference to compare against, because it’s during sleep that your body recovers. So, as a rule of thumb, the closer your resting heart rate and HRV are to your nighttime baseline, the more relaxed you are. However, daily variance in circadian rhythm, cortisol levels, caffeine intake, and exercise (just to name a few!) are likely to affect your measurements.
Personalize Your Moment
Moment was designed to fit into your practice, however you define it. Here are five ideas to inspire your first Moment — and many more to come.
Stay Present: Use Moment to calm the mind, quiet the body, and flex your focus muscle. The more you practice, the easier it will be for you to enter a peaceful state of presence in your daily life.
Boost Recovery: Optimize recovery by practicing stillness during the day. Think of it as a powerful supplement to the repair work your mind and body do while you sleep.
Master the Power Nap: Yes, you can use Moment to quantify your nap (!!!!). Experiment with time of day, length of session, sound versus silence, and other variables to make the most of daytime rest.
Before Bed: Ease out of a busy day and prep your mind and body for sleep with an evening chill sesh. It’s a certain way to bring your mind and body down a notch before settling in for the night.
Relaxation: Even if you can’t get into a meditative state, simply dedicating some time to stillness is beneficial. This could be a five-minute break on a park bench during your lunch break or a half hour where you zone out with your favorite show. It’s all about making space where you can — progress, not perfection.
To take a Moment, you’ll need a second generation Oura ring, iOS app version 2.6.0 or later, Android app 2.7.0 or later and ring firmware version 1.19.1 or later.