Gaining a sense of calm takes a lot of practice, and for many, it takes a little bit of help to get started. Sometimes this help may manifest in the form of a person. Maybe you learn to meditate through a therapist, a book, or a class. For others, there are tools, tricks, and toys that can be utilized for the sake of finding a calm and mindful state of mind. Anything that helps you accept the present moment as it is is a meditation tool.
Before I start listing meditation tools, I should mention that pretty much anything can be used for meditation, as long as you’re willing to be present with it or it helps you be in the present. For example, cleaning my house has become one of my favorite meditations, because I can witness my progress in real time. Many choose to use totems or tools that remind them of a certain meditative concept or state of mind.
Some regularly wear certain types of jewelry to remember to stay present and reflective. An easy example of this is prayer beads. Each bead may correspond to a different prayer or mantra that you may repeat in your mind. Commonly, people use singing bowls or calming music for occupying their auditory attention and entering meditative states. Fidget Spinners could be considered a type of meditation tool. Some people keep lucky charms (not the cereal) in their pockets that remind them of something positive they would like to recieve or accomplish in life. Every now and then, some people will even get tattoos that call them to abide with life on life’s terms.
My favorite meditation tool is the harmonica, and I don’t think I would have realized it without my wife’s encouragement. One night, my friends and I were playing music together at a house party we threw. My guests picked up different instruments of mine, but it’s kind of gross to use someone else’s harp (nickname for harmonica), which is what I ended up playing. She noticed that I seemed to excel at it, and suggested to me that if I could utilize the instrument to its fullest potential, I could always have an interesting presence in any jam. I’m not very competitive, so it appeals to me to be good at something that others don’t really try to be good at. That’s when my love affair with the harmonica was ignited.
The harmonica was the first instrument that I learned. I got a little book with familiar folk songs and tablatures for the harmonica when I was about 10 years old. This was the first time in my life that something I read from a book came to life for me, and it’s an really underrated instrument. A harmonica can be useful for all genres, the more you understand it. It covers a range of 3 octaves, if you have the right key, which is the same range as a flute. Since the harp has its own build-in grit and distortion, you could make a case that the original blues guitar solo was played on a harmonica.
I’m leaving out the best thing about a harmonica though: you can always have one on you. Howard Levy referred to the harp as the original iPod, because it was the first music making device that you could keep in your pocket. Since you can always have it on you, you can be improving and learning new things constantly. If I’m wanting to step outside to enjoy the day’s weather, it’s fun to spend that time figuring out a new song. If I’m sitting in traffic, I can run through a few scales and be improving on my improvisation. It’s also a weirdly Zen instrument. It’s the only instrument that I can think of that is played by both inhaling and exhaling, and you can’t see it as you play it. It’s hard to think of much else while I’m playing. The harmonica keeps me in the present.
As fun as I think it would be to have everyone get interested in the harmonica, I get it if this specifically is not your thing. That’s not the intention of this post. I just wanted to share this interest of mine, in case it may inspire you to discover a meditative tool that connects with you. It may be a craft or party trick that keeps you in the now, but I encourage everyone to always keep a meditation tool close by.