Myq Kaplan is a beloved New York comic who has done standup on Conan, The Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Late Late Show with James Corden, as well as his own Comedy Central Presents half-hour and so much more. His new album, A.K.A. is out now and it’s a phenomenal recording of his hit solo show, A.K.A. that he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In it, Myq takes you, the listener, and himself, and the universe, all of which are one entity, on a journey of kindness, from challenges like love, death, and bathrooms, through controversial topics like religion, politics, and Nickelback, into a spiritual land of ayahuasca, peace, and Kanye West, down the rabbit hole past all the turtles and back up again, covering everything there is, forwards and backwards and otherwise.
The 17-track comedy album is about truth, love, and not murdering, guaranteed to appeal to all the not-murdering enthusiasts out there. A.K.A. was named by Myq Kaplan, AKA Mike Kaplan (named by himself and by someone else [namely his parents, another part of the universe that he is also a part of] respectively).Could anything be better timed or more needed right now?
Yes. One thing can. Not only is Myq bringing you this phenomenal journey of a comedy album, he’s also sharing with you his 5 favorite meditation apps to save you from the stress of downloading 100 apps to find one thats &*%^&$^!* usable.
So get this album immediately, or at least immediately after reading this 5. You need it.
Meditation. Science says do it. And spirituality agrees! Everyone’s talking about it. And I’m one of everyone, so here we are. I meditate just about every day and find it valuable. And if you don’t, I understand! I was like you. Why meditate, right? You’ve got a full life. Things to do. Places to be. Garbage television to watch. And when will you find the time? Well, perhaps this quarantine is the perfect opportunity, because you’ve got nothing to do, nowhere to be, and you just finished all the TV. The time, it turns out, is now.
Headspace. This is the first app I tried, and it was a lovely introduction to the world of meditation, in large part because it addressed my concerns about not knowing how to meditate. Headspace Co-founder Andy Puddicombe’s voice is so soothing, and he says things like “just count your breaths, and if at some point you find yourself becoming distracted, that’s okay, just start counting your breaths again.” It’s all part of it. If you’re breathing, you’re doing it. If you’re getting distracted, you’re doing it. I probably used Headspace for weeks before I even felt something in my brain that made me think “I think I’m meditating right!” followed immediately by “Oh, now I think I’m meditating wrong!” but now I understand there’s no way to do it wrong. I mean, don’t close your eyes while you’re driving. (Only use Headspace when your head is in the right space.)
Insight Timer. I discovered Insight Timer after about a year with Headspace, when I started wondering if there were other guides out there. Turns out, there are! (Good thing for this piece.) In fact, according to the app’s website, Insight Timer has more than 5,000 teachers and musicians whose voices can help guide you on all different kinds of meditations, including folks like Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach, and Ram Dass. One feature I like is that they offer meditations in all different time increments, because your time is valuable. And you know what they say: if you have time, meditate ten minutes a day; if you don’t have time, meditate an hour a day. If you want to specifically time your insights, Insight Timer might just be for you.
Waking Up. For this past year, I’ve been using Sam Harris’s app, Waking Up, which offers guided meditations from Harris’s perspective as a neuroscientist and philosopher. It often includes discussions about consciousness and what it consists of, of interest to me because I HAVE a consciousness, or AM a consciousness, or a part of it, or I at least certainly seem to be experiencing SOMETHING in some way that is addressed meaningfully here. Harris offers valuable pathways into a person’s individual experience. At least that’s what he does for me. I only have my own individual experience. Your individual experience may vary. But I’m optimistic for you. So maybe try starting each day by waking up and using Waking Up.
Hope in Uncertain Times — a 21-Day Meditation Experience. For the past several weeks, I’ve begun each day with a meditation experience curated by Oprah (YOU get a meditation, and YOU get a meditation, look within yourselves, you ALL get a meditation) and Deepak Chopra (I don’t know any of Deepak’s catchphrases). Oprah begins by introducing the day’s hope-related topic with personal stories and lessons she’s learned, in her beloved Oprah way. Then Deepak offers a centering thought along with a Sanskrit mantra for meditating on. Perhaps you already have your own mantra of “I don’t know about meditation, I don’t know about meditation,” and I hear you. That used to be my mantra as well. (And regarding making a joke about this meditation experience’s name, I’m Uncertain if I’ll be able to like all the other Times, but I still hold out Hope.)
No App Just Eat an Edible, Lie Down, Listen to Music, and Feel Your Body. Finally, is it possible that all the answers you seek have been inside you all along? The answer (coming from me, outside you) is yes. Only you know what’s truly right for you. There are so many options, so many possibilities, so many choices in life, that sometimes it can be paralyzing. Maybe you just want to lie down. And great news, that can work also! Now, I haven’t been a huge pot guy for most of my life, because it made me very forgetful and not a great conversationalist at parties. But now, especially in times of quarantining, once in a while I find it’s nice to eat an edible, lie down, and then just listen to music and feel my body. I recommend the latest Sufjan Stevens or Childish Gambino. Or, listen to your own ideas. These are all just suggestions. And maybe you don’t need the edible! Experiencing the kind of meditative bodily awareness that pot helps me get in touch with, my girlfriend seems to experience all the time without substances. So, maybe you’re doing it already. The point is, listen to your body about how to best listen to your body. Take a moment if and when you can and want. Be as still as you like. Breathe. Put on some music or don’t. And listen to the best guide you’ll ever have: yourself. Or the second-best guide: me pointing you to all these guides including yourself. Thanks for listening.