A daily meditation practice is essential to receiving the benefits of meditation. It isn't always easy to find the time to take in a meditation session and, when we do find the time, we generally have to limit the length of the session. A countdown timer is a helpful tool, but the ending signal of a kitchen timer is typically a loud beep that is so disturbing it would probably defeat the purpose of the meditation session.
There are numerous timers available for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. These apps are sometimes complicated and, since these computing devices do so many other things, we risk some sort of unwanted interruption during the meditation session. A call or text message might come to the phone, a reminder might pop up on a tablet, and laptop and desktop computers can make a constant noise with cooling fans and hard drives whirring.
Having a meditation timer dedicated specifically to timing and gently ending a meditation session is ideal. There are few options available and they range from the inexpensive timer with few options to timers with sophisticated functions or beautiful design and oftentimes a much higher price tag. This is a review of various timers that can be used for meditation.
This is the least expensive type of timer. It looks and functions just like a kitchen timer, but has a vibration setting to silence the typically annoying beep of a kitchen timer. It is simple to use with very few buttons and a large digital display. The vibration signal sounds a bit like a dragon fly humming - well, maybe a bit stronger than this, but still more pleasant than a beeper.
There are separate buttons for hours, minutes, and seconds. Each press of the button counts up one increment. If you go past your intended number, you will either need to press the Clear button and start over or keep pressing the button you were pressing until you come around to your desired setting. Simply press the Start button to begin the countdown. Starting with a time display of Zero will let you use the timer as a count-up or stopwatch timer.
Another affordable option is this simple digital timer. This timer also works like a kitchen timer but has 3 selectable signals. On the back are simple on/off switches to set one, two, or all three signals, which include the traditional beep, a vibration, or a flashing light. Since the beep is quite loud, you will likely want to use the vibration and/or the flashing light. The vibration sound can still be a bit loud and jarring. It may help to place the timer under a pillow or blanket to diminish the buzzing sound of the vibrating mechanism.
For this price range, this is a very nice option for meditation. It's small size also makes it portable. One bit of feedback, though, is to be sure all the signals are turned off before transporting the timer. The Start button is easily pushed and, if the timer goes off in your luggage, it could run the batteries down. Also, if an airport employee were to hear a vibrating sound or beep coming from a piece of luggage, it could cause a panic.
Digital Zen Alarm Clock - Available at Now & Zen
This beautiful, chiming clock is a big leap in meditation timers. The best features of this clock are the beautiful solid, wood cases and the true sound of a chiming metal bar. The digital display is large and lights up with the touch of a button or can stay lit constantly when connected to the included AC Adapter. The clock also has battery backup and can work exclusively on batteries for travel.
The clock can be set to chime hourly like a Grandfather clock and, as it's title suggests, it has a full function alarm. The countdown timer can be set with separate hour, minute, and second buttons. The ending signal is a single ring of the metal chime. The signal follows a Golden Mean Progression of successive chimes. This means that the time between chimes becomes progressively shorter until the chime rings every 5 seconds. The chime sequence can be stopped at any point with the press of a button. This signal pattern is the same for the alarm clock.
This clock has additional functions, but is not as programmable as the Invisible Clock. It can be set to repeat a certain interval of time over and over until interrupted. But, it cannot be programmed to ring at variable intervals of time.
Zen Timepiece - Available at Now & Zen
The Zen Timepiece is a variation of the Digital Zen Alarm Clock in that it has the same functions as the Digital Zen Alarm Clock, but features a Tibetan style gong bowl in place of the metal bar chime.
The mechanism in this clock strikes the bowl at the end of the countdown and the ring of the bowl has an authentic Tibetan Bowl sound with a long, sustained resonance.
This timer is not very easy to transport, but it runs exclusively on two "C" batteries so it can be placed anywhere. The batteries will last for several months to a year depending on how it's used. Obviously, using the hourly chime will use up the energy more quickly, but it will still run a long time.
Tibetan Phone Bell and Timer - Available at Now & Zen
If you like the idea of a gong bowl, but you want a simpler timer, then the Tibetan Phone Bell and Timer may be a better option over the Zen Timepiece. The reason for the "Phone Bell" nomenclature is that this device features a telephone line connection that allows you to connect it so that you will hear a gong chime instead of a phone ring in your space.
This timer can only be set in 1 minute increments using a simple knob on the side and the telephone ring can be silenced when using the timer mode. It's a very simple timer to use and has the same beautiful sustained ring of a Tibetan Gong.
We hope this review has been helpful in choosing a more gentle meditation timer.
Thank you for reading,
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