Meditation Timer

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube (and are now archived on my YouTube page). If you have any questions, please contact me.

A practical piece today.

I learnt to meditate before electronic aids were available. Well, some electronic timers were becoming available, but they didn’t work for me. Yes, I could have set an alarm clock for 15 minutes hence, but I found the sound rather jarring and so I didn’t use them. Instead I would do one of two things,

  1. sit until it felt like long enough,
  2. have a clock just in sight if I looked up and catch a glance at it occasionally to see how long I had been sitting.


  • ‘1.' didn’t feel right. My mind could very easily tell me when it had had enough as it looked for a way out of the mental gymnastics.
  • ‘2.' put an added distraction in my head, “was ‘x’ minutes up yet?"

With our smart phones being able to hold apps, there are now many dedicated Timers or specifically Meditation Timers to be found. I recommend finding a timer because then you can set it for how long that you wish to meditate for and then just focus on your meditation. The nagging voice might come up, “how much longer do I have to sit for?" but that is just the mind distracting you. Note that distraction and come back to the object of meditation.

Here are some apps that I recommend (all iPhone),

  • Samsara - This is the app that I use in the YouTube sessions. It has a number of options for customization. However, I have dialed it back to some simple settings. I use it in the YouTube sessions as it sounds a gong at the beginning and end of the sessions. I find the gong sounds comfortable. It also will work if you turn the display off to save the phone’s battery.
  • Simple Meditation Timer - This is probably my favourite in that it is bare bones and just works. Set your time, press the button, a gong rings ‘x’ minutes later. I don’t use it on the YouTube videos as it does not have a starting gong. Like Samsara you can turn off the display and it will still work.
  • Simple Zazen Timer - Another bare bones app. This has a higher pitched gong sound that might appeal better to some. I don’t use it as the screen has to be left on while the timer is counting down.
  • And of course there is the countdown timer on the iPhone itself. I just don’t like the ringer sounds that come with that and so do not use it.

If you are using a phone to host your timer, I do recommend putting your phone into Airplane mode before sitting. That way you won’t be distracted by phone calls, text, notifications and the like.

If you do choose to use a smart phone timer, I do recommend finding one that will work easily for you and for which the sounds are comfortable to you. Ultimately you want something that you can just forget about so that you can just get on with your meditation.

Beware of finding the right timer becoming a more important project than your meditation!