Here are two excellent and free software programs for timing your meditation periods. (Sorry but since I use an Apple computer, these programs are “Mac only.” I’m sure there must be fine meditation software for the PC as well.)
Although Dejal’s Time Out is general purpose program designed to help you take work breaks throughout the day, it’s also an excellent meditation/mindfulness aid. It’s endlessly customizable. Here’s a brief description from Time Out’s web site:
Time Out has two kinds of breaks: a “Normal” break, typically for 10 minutes after 50 minutes of work, so you can move about and relax, plus a “Micro” break: a very brief pause of typically 10 seconds every 10 minutes, so you can remember not to tense up too much for long periods.
You can configure how long each kind of break lasts, and how long between breaks, or disable each kind. Each Time Out is announced via the screen slowly dimming, with related graphics materializing, and when the break is complete, it fades out again, optionally playing a sound. You can change the time these transitions take… and you can even change the color and the level of transparency during the break.
Time Out is my favorite timer program because of how customizable it is. I like how it fades your computer screen when a break time arrives so that you have to deal with the break (although you can always dismiss any break.) Also, I really like the “micro break” feature. I set it to go off periodically and play a chime sound to bring myself back to the present and to my breath when I’m working at the computer.
Time Out is free and you can find it here:
Meditation Timer is a another timer, though much simpler than Dejal Software’s Time out. Meditation Timer has a minimalist interface. You cannot use your own custom sounds as you can with Time Out or Lotus, but the three built-in sounds are nice—two struck bowl chimes, and one Tibetan bell chime, this latter being my favorite.
With Meditation Timer, you can only set a delay and a repeating chime, and of course, a duration for your sitting period. The big plus of Meditation Timer is that you can export a timing session to iTunes, so you could transfer it to an iPod, which is very handy for taking timed sessions with you when you are away from your computer.
Meditation Timer is free and you can find it here:
Both these great programs are free, although donations are certainly welcome by the developers!