A guide to wearable mindfulness technology

I’ve talked about apps that can be downloaded to your phone which can promote mindfulness.  These apps are great! I use plenty of them myself!  However, sometimes using our phones too much can get in the way of being mindful.  What do we do if we want to practice mindfulness and use our phones less?

I’ve discovered a solution: Wearable mindfulness gear.  These gadgets serve a variety of purposes, but all allow you to be more mindful.  Many of these devices sync to your phone, but you don’t necessarily have to be using your phone to reap the benefits.  Even if it does have you use your phones, the time spent on your phone is minimal.

Now the question is, which gadget do you get?  I’ve checked out a few of the top gadgets, and I’m going to lay out some of the features and benefits of each!  I don’t actually own any of these gadgets, but a couple of them are certainly at the top of my wish list.

 

Spire

Spire is advertised as a breath and activity tracker, and the combination of these two things really allow you to be mindful.  The device can be conveniently hooked either on your bra or on your waist.  The sensor on the device monitors the expansion and contraction in your body when you breath.  Then, according to the product’s site, this data is used to tell what state your body is in.  In it’s simplest form, they have three different classifications of breathing: Calm, Tense, and Focused.  This information will all be recorded on your phone for you to view whenever it is convenient.  The great thing about all of this data is that it is personalized.  Obviously not everyone has exactly the same resting rate of breathing, so this device takes all the guesswork out of these calculations.  The app tracks your breath. activity, steps, and calories for the day.  It is also equipped with a variety of guided meditations to use when you’re tense.  The app is also compatible with your smart watch which makes it even more convenient.

 

Bellabeat Leaf

The Leaf is described as a health tracker, but I think this tracker has the widest variety of uses.  Similar to the spire it can either be clipped to your clothes or worn as a bracelet or necklace.  It monitors your sleep, activity, meditation, stress levels, and your period.  So basically it is your all in one tracker.  It also has a variety of alarms and settings to help you be more mindful throughout the day.  You can also set goals for each of these categories, which can really get you motivated if you’re a beginner.  Not to mention it has a variety of designs to fit your style and needs.  Overall this device really allows you to be mindful through multiple aspects of your life.

 

Lumo Lift

While the Lumo lift is actually a posture coach, I’d say it can certainly help in your mindfulness journey.  The device sticks to your skin, and you calibrate it while being in the straightest posture possible.  Once it has a baseline of what your perfect posture is, then it will vibrate whenever you slouch.  Not only does this correct a bad habit that many of us are guilty of, it gives us a chance to be mindful.  Whenever it vibrates, look at it as taking a moment to be mindful.  Once you correct your posture, you can take notice of how your body is feeling in the moment and take a few mindful breaths.  Doing simple check-ins like this can really improve your day.  It also tracks your steps, so it doubles as a fitness tracker!  While this is a much more simple way to be mindful, I think that is sometimes preferred, but I’ll be discussing simplicity, minimalism, and mindfulness at a later date.  All in all, this app is a simple but great choice.

 

These are the three mindfulness trackers that I am most familiar with, but there are plenty more available.  Each one has different qualities, but all serve the same purpose: to help you become a more mindful and better you.

 

I hope one of these trackers has piqued your interest! Have you used any sort of tracker before?  What do you think of the ones I’ve talked about today? Let me know in the comments!

 

Remember: Everyone starts as a beginner, if they can do it so can you!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness.

 

 

Minimalism and mindfulness

I’ve talked about many different approaches to understanding mindfulness.  However, maybe these ideas just haven’t resonated with you yet.  That’s perfectly okay, everyone have different preferences.  That’s what makes us unique and human.  But what if I told you that there’s another way to connect mindfulness to your everyday life?

That’s right folks, there is yet another way.  I’m talking about minimalism.  Some of you may be familiar with the term, and others not so much, but thats okay!  Today I will be breaking down what minimalism is and explaining how its practices can relate to mindfulness.  Then I will be referencing another source’s minimalist mindfulness challenge, explaining how it works and the different activities involved.

In the words of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, minimalism is, “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”  Many of these components are similar to mindfulness.  First of all, excess distractions cause us to not focus at the task at hand.  In these circumstances we are not being mindful of our actions.  I’ve mentioned this before in reference to multitasking.  By using minimalism to weed out excess distractions, we can become more mindful.  Mindfulness is also about focus.  Focus is also mentioned in the definition of minimalism.  We could argue that by focusing on what’s important we are being mindful of our values, which is very important to our mental and spiritual well being.  The one thing I’d really like to focus on from this definition is freedom.  Minimalism really capitalizes on freedom.  When you let the unnecessary things go, whether it be possessions or habits, you allow the rest of your life to fall into place.  This can be a freeing feeling, very similar to the freeing feeling you get from meditating or living in the present moment.  I think that once you connect all of these ideas together, that’s when you find the happiness and fulfillment.

From here I’d like to discuss the minimalist mindfulness challenge and how we can seamlessly incorporate minimalism and mindfulness into our everyday lives.

The thirty day challenge was created by Anuschka Rees.  Many of these minimalism challenges directly relate to mindfulness.

One of them is staying offline for a day.  This allows you to eliminate multitasking.  Think about how many times you’re on the computer while doing something else.  Probably a lot right? By staying offline you would be able to be more focused at the task at hand.

One of the challenges is to actually meditate for fifteen minutes.  This just proves that mindfulness and minimalism go hand in hand.  Getting rid of the clutter in your mind can motivate you to get rid of the physical clutter in your life and vice versa.

One of the challenges is about identifying your priorities.  As I’ve mentioned before, when you narrow down what’s important you can more easily eliminate distractions.  This is certainly important when it comes to mindfulness.

A couple other challenges are about cleaning out various areas of your home.  Again this relates to the clutter concept.  Cleaning out the clutter in your home will allow you to be more mindful.

Practicing single tasking is also part of this challenge.  By now I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that this is a huge part of mindfulness.

There’s also a challenge to go on a mindful walk.  This can really help to clear your head, which is beneficial for both mindfulness and minimalism.

There’s even a challenge to practice gratitude.  Gratitude is an important part of mindfulness as well.  Being grateful for what you have can really put you in a better mood, and put some of your anxieties in perspective.

Leaving a whole day unplanned is another suggestion.  This could be a great way to just live in the present moment and not worry about what’s going to happen next.  I know I find this very difficult, and I’m sure many others feel the same.

These are some of the many different challenges available on the thirty day mindful minimalist challenge.  It’s a great opportunity to try and link the concepts together.  I hope this has inspired you to take a stab at both mindfulness and minimalism.

Have you ever tried minimalism? What do you think of these ideas?  Let me know in the comments!

Remember: Everyone starts out as a beginner, if they can do it then so can you.

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness.

There’s a triathlon for mindfulness, and it’s as cool as it sounds.

We’ve all heard of a normal triathlon right?  Some of the most talented athletes compete in these three part competitions, but what about the rest of us?  What if we want to have an exhilarating experience like these athletes do?  Well, today I’ve discovered an extremely cool event that gives us the best of both worlds.

This event is hosted by Wanderlust, an organization dedicated to promoting mindfulness in all of its forms.  They host events like these all over the world.  The event is titled Wanderlust 108 Twin Cities.  It is taking place at Harriet Island Park in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 1st.  Wanderlust has a variety of activities prepared from 7:30 am-3:30pm.  The tickets are $45, but there is a bright side: some of the money does go to No Kid Hungry.

The main segments of the triathlon are as follows:  First there is a 5k that you can walk or run.  This is great news because it means that we don’t have to train for a marathon prior to attending this event.  The next segment is a yoga flow session, and based on the description, it basically sounds like it just turns into a huge dance party.  They even have a DJ playing music during it.  Make sure to bring your yoga mat with you!  The final segment is a 30 minute meditation.  Their website claims that these meditations are conducted by world renowned professionals.  The meditation session for the event will be conducted by Noah Levine.  I’d imagine this could give you a real sense of community in the world of mindfulness which is super important if you’re a beginner.

After the triathlon, there are also a variety of bonus classes that you can take.  There’s an acroyoga class, meaning it combines acrobatics and yoga.  Apparently there are a lot of partner moves in this class, so this would be a great one to try out with a friend.  There’s also an AlReal yoga class.  This is essentially an aerial yoga class where you do everything in mid-air! It certainly would be a unique experience.  There’s an essential oils workshop where you can learn the basics of how to incorporate essential oils into your everyday life.  They have a flow and restore yoga class, which is a type of cool-down yoga.  This would be especially beneficial if you’re one of the brave souls that actually ran the 5k!  My favorite exercise would have to be the hooping session.  The instructor would teach you how to hoop and you’d learn a few tricks.  You don’t even have to bring your own hoop!  I’ve recently gotten into hooping and I absolutely love it! I’d highly recommend it to anyone.  There will also be a discussion regarding how music is selected by the DJs that work the triathlon.  This is a great way to learn how to make your own playlists for when you practice yoga.  There’s a session called OM walking which will basically be a walking meditation.  I would highly encourage people to try this one out because I’ve always found walking meditations to be really satisfying.  The final workshop is a photography workshop.  Personally, I’m not exactly sure how this relates to mindfulness, but if you’re like me and find photography interesting, I’d imagine this would be a cool class to take.

You can pick from the four different time slots of these classes to take after the triathlon.  If you’re thinking about doing this I would register online for these classes quickly because spots are already filling up!  There’s also a Kula market you can visit.  There will be vendors selling a variety of items from essential oils to yoga gear.  There’s also plenty of places to get food including the True North Cafe.

This event is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I think it’s a great opportunity for someone who wants to deepen their mindfulness practice and meet people with similar interests.  If you end up going to this event and want more from Wanderlust, they have four studios worldwide, they have an online shop, and they provide instructional videos on their website.

What do you think of this event? Have any of you been to an event like this before? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Remember: Everyone starts as a beginner, if they can do it so can you!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness

Athletes Take Note: Mindfulness can improve your performance

I’ve been talking a lot lately about how mindfulness can relieve daily stresses.  It is certainly beneficial and something that should be incorporated into your every day life.  However, what happens when you’re an athlete, and it’s game time?

Many athletes experience stress or anxiety during crucial moments in a game.  We’re human; that’s completely normal, but that’s not what you want to happen when you need to concentrate.  This is where mindfulness comes in to play.  There are many different ways in which mindfulness can help your athletic performance.

Today I’m going to talk about different ways athletes can use mindfulness, and I will also explain how and why they are effective.

Mindful Warmup

If you have a moment to yourself before your game starts I would highly recommend meditating.  However, I realize that many people prefer privacy when they meditate and that’s not always possible.  So, if you don’t have the chance to do a full blown meditation, I would use your  warmup as a time to be mindful.  While using your warmups, try to be in the moment and just focus on the task at hand.  This will help get you into the mindset you will need to be in for the game.  If you do any stretches beforehand try breathing into them and focus on the breath.  That can help relieve any preliminary tensions you might have.

“Get your head in the game”

I’m sure many of us are familiar with the old High School Musical song, but seriously it helps.  When you’re in the game you really should be in the present moment.  No matter the sport, focus on what you need to be doing at that moment.  Also, when you are on the bench, don’t stress about what you need to do when you get back in, and don’t dwell on any mistakes you might’ve made earlier in the game.  It’s best to just be aware of what’s happening in the game right now and cheer on your team.  There’s no sense in stressing about what’s already happened or what might’ve happened.

Leave it on the field

Whether we like the outcome of the game or not, we as people tend to be very critical of ourselves.  Again it’s just human nature.  However, it’s important to silence that inner critic.  Regardless of the mistakes you’ve made, you did the best you could.  It’s important to recognize what happened, but with mindfulness it’s also equally important to just let things be as they are.  Likewise, it’s also important to not stress about the next game; just let it happen when the time comes.  Meditations can be very helpful with both of these.  I’d personally recommend any meditation that has an emphasis on grounding.  Breathing meditations can often serve this purpose.

 

Now I also think it’s important to note that these sorts of techniques can apply to more than just athletes.  I myself have been on stage many times, and I’ve found that these techniques can also be applied to this situation.  Doing meditation or breathing exercises prior to performing can help relieve anxiety.  However, While performing sometimes I find it easier to focus on the audience’s reactions.  If I focus too hard on what I’m doing sometimes it can make me trip up.  However if I find it more difficult it usually helps to focus, but if I already know what I’m doing sometimes it’s just best to trust my gut.  However, everyone’s different so choose the strategy that makes you the most comfortable.  I’ve also found that leaving it all on the stage and letting your performance be what it is can be extremely helpful.

 

I hope all the athletes who’ve read this have found something that may help with their game anxiety.  There really are ways to be mindful for every stage of the game.  Feel free to use these strategies through a tough practice too.  Of course the stresses of being an athlete are much akin to being a performer.  So I hope performers of all sorts can also take something from this article.

Are you an athlete? Wav you tried any of these techniques? Do you have other techniques you like to use? Let me know in the comments.

If you’ve never been mindful before, make today the day you start your journey.  Remember: Everyone starts as a beginner, if they can do it then so can you!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness

Ways to be mindful during summer

We all know that mindfulness is extremely beneficial.  We also know that in order to get the most out of it, you have to practice it daily.  This might be all fine and good in the beginning, but after doing it for so long it can get difficult.

In my own experience, I can say that this has certainly happened to me.  Last semester I was really invigorated by getting a new mindfulness app.  I was so excited to use it since it had so many series to choose from.  Each of the series lasted about a week long.  I figured it was perfect and that I’d never get bored because there were so many options.  Unfortunately after about a couple weeks, I was already bored with just using the app.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, but I just needed something else to keep me motivated.

Are you looking for something else too? Well this is the perfect time to do so.  Even if you’re not, summer is a great time to meditate.  So in honor of the first official day of summer, I’m going to talk about some ways in which you can incorporate mindfulness into your summer routine!

Meditate Outside

I’ve found that doing this can be so relaxing.  Just put on your favorite meditation track, and let nature be the perfect background.  You can even do an unguided meditation and just focus on being one with your surroundings.  I realize that sort of sounds cliche, but it can be very powerful!  Feel the breeze on your skin, notice the birds chirping in the distance.  Notice the brightness of the sun and how it bounces off the leaves on the trees, and just breathe in the warm fresh air.  You’ll be amazed at how calm you will feel.

Bonus: it can be a great way to get going on your tan.  Especially if you’re like me and are still pasty white in June!

Go for a walk

Walking can be a great way to clear your mind.  There are actually meditations specifically designed for walking! I’ve found that this can make you feel more grounded and make your problems seem a little bit easier to deal with.  Even if you don’t have a guided meditation, I’ve found the best technique for mindful walking is to just notice how it feels to walk.  It might sound strange, but I’d be willing to bet that you’ve never thought about it before.  This really trains you in keeping your attention focused.  Not to mention this can be a great way Even if you don’t have time to just go out on a walk, you can incorporate this into any walk you might take throughout the day.  Whether it be at the grocery store, at work, on your commute, or wherever else you might be!  All it takes is being in the moment and noticing how you’re feeling.  I’d recommend starting with just planned walking sessions in order to build the habit.  Before you know it, you’ll just start incorporating into your daily life naturally.

Make a trip to the beach

If you are able to get to one, the beach is a great place to meditate.  Why bother using nature sound effects when you have nature right in front of you?  Just lay out in the sand and listen to the waves.  This can be a good opportunity to practice a breathing focused meditation.  See if you can sync your breathing with the sound of the waves.  Don’t think too hard about it.  Just concentrate on what you hear and you may end up synching with the sound of the waves.  If counting is more your style, you can always count the breaths.  This can actually be a good way to time them as well.  Many different meditation programs use counting breaths for relieving anxiety, and what would be a better place to relieve your anxiety than at the beach?

Also, you still have the bonus of getting a great tan if that’s something you’re interested in.  (Can you tell I really want to go get a tan?)

Well those are just some of the many different ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into summer fun!  I hope I’ve inspired some of you to start practicing mindfulness, to get out of a meditation rut, or maybe even just gave you some new ideas to try.

Have you ever done any of these ideas? What do you think of them? Do you have any other summer mindfulness ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Remember: Everyone starts as a beginner, if they can do it so can you!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness.

 

How to practice mindfulness with yoga

Today yoga is often associated with fitness.  While it’s true that yoga has many health benefits, it can also have many mental health benefits.  It’s also important to note that yoga was originally a spiritual practice.  Many people use it in combination with meditation to relax and find inner peace.

When people first hear of mindfulness they often hear about its relationship to yoga, but they might wonder: How do you go about doing it? How is it different from fitness yoga?  It can be daunting to just try and pick it up on your own.  So that’s why I’m going to give you some tips on how it works and show you how it can help with anxiety.

The first thing that’s important to point out is that there are many different types of yoga and each serve their own unique purpose.  You may have heard of some of the more aerobic types like bikram or hot yoga.  The one that will be most beneficial for mindfulness is known as Hatha.  Bonus: It’s the best type for yoga beginners according to Daily Burn, since it’s relatively low impact and just focuses on the poses and positions and maintaining correct form.

Well, that makes sense doesn’t it? Recall that mindfulness is about being in the moment, focusing, and training the mind not to wander or linger on troublesome thoughts.  What would be a better way to do this than to essentially contort our bodies into different positions and focus on maintaining correct form?

Another important component of yoga: There is a big focus on breathing! One of the most basic mindfulness techniques is to focus on the breath.  I think yoga provides an even better opportunity to do this because when your body is in different positions you can really feel the breath differently than you might when you’re just sitting or standing.

Another way that yoga is connected to mindfulness is that it allows you to practice being nonjudgmental.  Of course, we are all at different fitness levels, so when trying out these intricate poses for the first time, it can be daunting if you feel like you don’t look exactly like the video or instructor you’re learning from.  This is where mindfulness comes into play.  Mindfulness is all about letting things be as they are in the moment without judging anything, this includes yourself and your own thoughts.  Doing this while practicing yoga can help to boost self confidence! Not only will it be great to feel comfortable in your own skin, but this can also help with reducing anxiety if self criticism is a potential trigger for you.

As far as other ways mindful yoga can be used to reduce anxiety, I think it’s important to look at the more physical aspects of yoga.  Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that improve your mood.  This can help tremendously with relieving your anxiety.  According to yoga teacher Jade Garratt, “[Yoga] help(s) lower stress levels, improve the quality of your sleep, and ward off anxiety.”  What makes it even better is that unlike some workouts that involve high exertion, yoga is low impact.  So even if you’ve had a long day you can still take some time out of your day to benefit both your mind and body.

In speaking of a long day, have you ever come home from a long day of classes or work and felt so tense in your shoulders and neck? I’d be willing to bet that some of that tension is due to stress.  Yoga would be the perfect solution to release some of that tension.  Garratt states that yoga is able to “unlock” tension in the body.  Many different yoga poses provide great stretches with allow for this tension release.

All of these different components come together to allow you to enter a relaxed, focused and meditative state while practicing mindful yoga.

I hope this article has helped you understand the connection between mindfulness and yoga.  I also hope you see how it can be a stress reliever and I hope I’ve inspired you to try yoga if you haven’t already done so.

Try it out and let me know what you think.  Remember: Even the most experienced people in mindfulness were once beginners, if they can do it so can you!

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness.

Mindful Eating: It doesn’t have to be as weird as it sounds

I’m sure most of us could at least give some sort of a guess as to what mindful eating is.  Essentially it’s all about being more aware of the processes involved with eating. Now personally I find this to be a bit awkward, but that could also be due to a previous experience.

Let me explain.  When I was taking a mindfulness class at my university, one of the classes was all about mindful eating.  I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it I was a little skeptical.  It just sounded weird to me.  During the class my teacher had us close our eyes.  We were then handed a piece of food.  We were asked to observe what we felt and what we smelled.  I knew immediately that I was holding an orange, but that’s because I don’t really care for the smell of oranges.  After a few minutes she had us take a bite with our eyes still closed.  Of course not really being a fan of oranges, I was’t thrilled when the teacher asked us to linger on how the food felt in our mouth.  Regardless I still find that notion quite odd.

Now while you might not have had quite the experience that I did, you may be slightly familiar with this idea of mindful eating, or you may have never heard of it at all.  Well, I have good news: It doesn’t have to be nearly as weird as I just made it sound.  Time Magazine came out with a special edition on mindfulness, and they gave their own insights on mindful eating, and it was completely different idea than what I was presented in my class.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the method I was taught in my class may work very well for some people, and if it works for you then that’s great.  However, today I’m going to present an alternative perspective of how to tackle mindful eating, and elaborating on a few points from the Time article.

Essentially, Time talks about mindful eating in terms of “eating in the moment”.  In other words, focusing solely on the activity of eating.  This can work without using some of the sensory techniques I discussed earlier.  However, as I said before, if those techniques work for you then go for it.  Here are some of the tips mentioned in the article, and how we as beginners can incorporate these into our everyday lives.

Don’t eat where you work!

This falls in line with the whole concept of multitasking.  Studies have shown that no one can truly multitask.  Even the people who think they’re good at multitasking actually struggle with it.  When we try to kill two birds with one stone by eating while trying to get work done, we will end up not focusing on one of those things.  Most often we will end up not focusing on eating.  This can lead to eating more than you plan on eating.  I’d like to encourage as many healthy behaviors as possible, so by not multitasking you will be killing two birds with one stone for your health! So, the takeaway: Don’t eat where you work, do one then the other, each in different places.

Sit down when you eat!

Again this relates back to multitasking.  Most often when we are walking we are doing or focusing on a multitude of different things.  If we eat during that, once again it is likely that we will not pay attention to what we are eating, causing us to either overeat or not feel full.  I feel it’s also important to not that just sitting down isn’t enough.  It also means that for best results you shouldn’t be on your phone or watching TV while you eat either.  Now I know that this can be really hard for some of us (myself included), but it is possible and will be very beneficial.  The best way I’ve found to do this is to just enjoy what you’re eating. Be in the moment and just enjoy it! Don’t think about what you have to do afterwards, just enjoy your meal and take in the scenery.

Cut your plate in half!

This is something Time Magazine refers to as a “food speed bump”.  Once you eat half of the plate, you should check in and see how full you feel.  If you feel satisfied then save the rest of your food.  By stoping halfway through, you are making sure you remain in the moment and are paying attention, much like a checkpoint or speed bump on a road.  I used to do this all the time at restaurants.  The portions are so big anyway, but if you’re not paying attention you could end up overeating.  Using this speed bump can certainly prevent that.

Those were just a few of the tips mentioned in the article, but hopefully this gives you a sense of how mindful eating can actually be very simple and something you can incorporate into your daily life.

What do you think of these tips? Have any of you ever tried mindful eating?  What was your experience?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!  Also be sure to share this with friends.  That could really make a difference in someone’s eating habits and potentially change their life.  Remember: everyone was once a beginner.

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness

What you need to understand about people who are against mindfulness.

As I’ve been online recently, I’ve noticed a couple articles that shocked me.  They degrade mindfulness as a practice.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to their opinions.  I just think people need to back their opinions up with facts in order to truly sound credible.

What makes matters worse is that the sources spreading this information are some very well known sources.  Some of their information is very likely to highly influence viewers, and I just want to make sure everyone understands all sides of the issue.

Well I guess that’s enough of a disclaimer, I’d like to discuss some statements made in an article from the Washington Post.  Before I get in too deep, I’d like to say that their point made regarding mindfulness being more or less effective than antidepressants is valid.  They have done plenty of research to show that there isn’t enough evidence to make a clear correlation.  What I want everyone to keep in mind is that treatments for mental health issues should be approached in a very individualized manner.  If you prefer not taking medication, and would rather use a mindful approach, then you have every right to do so and vice versa.  The same concept applies to using both medication and mindfulness (which is what I do).  There’s nothing wrong with any of these options so long as they work for you.

Later on in the article there was a statement that I personally had a problem with.  I’d like to share it with you all, then discuss my personal take on (and rebuttal to) the statement.

“Is it the meditation itself that causes the positive effects, or is it more to do with learning to step back and become aware of our thoughts and feelings in a supportive group environment? And why does it only work for some?”

I’m going to break this statement down into parts.  Based on the beginning part of the first sentence, it seems that they are trying to claim that mindful mediation is separate from awareness.  If that’s the case then they couldn’t be more wrong.  The whole point of mindful meditation is to use the guidance to increase our awareness of our thoughts and feelings.  So I would say that both of those things are what cause the positive effects.  Another thing I want to make note of is that in this article they are discussing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  This is essentially set up like a group mindfulness class.  So in this quote they ask if the supportive group environment is actually more effective than the mindfulness itself.  I’d like to say that this isn’t necessarily true.  There are many people who practice mindfulness alone, with or without audio guidance.  And many of them find just as much success as the ones who take classes.  Therefore I think it just depends on what works best for the individual.  Also, they ask why it only works for some.  Well, as I said before everyone is different.  Many antidepressants don’t work for everyone, so it’s only natural that the same goes for mindfulness.  Treatments for mental illness are so individualized, and I think more people need to realize and accept this.

At the end of the article they even make note that mindfulness is not very individualized, however I think this is inaccurate.  Many meditations allow you to really take it however you want.  Also, they make the claim that mindfulness can be bad because it brings anxieties to the surface, but I think one of the first steps to getting over anxiety is recognizing it.  Now, I’m not a therapist, but I have been to therapy, and a lot of my initial sessions were about uncovering the roots of my anxiety.  A lot of times this was painful, but I can confidently say that it was extremely helpful.  A lot of these sessions involved mindfulness as well.  I personally feel that bringing up what scares and upsets us is super important, and that’s exactly what mindfulness allows us to do.

There you have it folks that’s my take on this article.  Again I’m not a licensed professional.  I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m simply sharing mine with you.

What did you think of the article? What do you think of my interpretation?  I invite you to share your opinions with me in the comments.

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness

Everyday Mindfulness or Mindfulness Everyday?

In a previous article, I discussed how to incorporate mindfulness into your day.  It’s great that we know how to do that, but I’ve found that brings on another question: Do we have to do it every day?  I’ll start off by saying yes, as hard as it can be to keep a consistent schedule, it’s really important to practice mindfulness every day.

I found another mindfulness blog that did a really clever play on words regarding this topic.  They explained that mindfulness is both every day and everyday.  This essentially means that not only should it mindfulness be practiced often, but it is also making the point that mindfulness is a common practice.  This is a really powerful message, but I think it’s also a hard one to grasp when you are just beginning your journey.

As I stated before it’s extremely important to practice mindfulness every day.  This is because in order to make the practice a habit, it needs to be repeated consistently.  According to an article in the Huffington Post, a behavior needs to be repeated for roughly two months before it becomes a habit.  Two months can feel like a really long time, and even the best of us struggle with keeping a habit like this consistent.

I’ve found that setting alarms can be really helpful with keeping a habit like this.  Some mindfulness apps even have built in reminders where you can choose the time when it goes off every day.  It can also help to pick a certain time of day to practice mindfulness, because eventually you will begin to associate that time with mindfulness.  Choosing one of the times I mentioned in the previous article can really help.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that there will be days when you slip up and that’s perfectly okay.  The important thing is to just get right back into your routine, and before you know it, it will become a habit.

The part of the other mindfulness blog that I found particularly intriguing was the concept that mindfulness is everyday, or as the other blog likes to put it “nothing special”.  What they’re saying is true, it’s not like you have to have a certain special qualification to be good at mindfulness.  No fancy degrees, no expensive equipment to buy; you just need to be yourself, and be willing to learn more about yourself.

This can be harder for beginners to grasp than you might think.  Many people, myself included, have felt like they have to rely on special “signs from the universe” in order to understand mindfulness.  For example, I remember when I first tried meditating I expected to feel like a changed person after I was done.  Of course, I didn’t notice any big change right away, but that’s totally normal.  It’s really just an everyday action.  It’s just like working out.  After you’re first work out do you have a six pack? Of course not! Mindfulness is the same way.  You won’t notice a change right away, but give it some time and you’ll start to notice the little things.  I can speak from experience and say that now whenever I meditate I really do notice a difference.  There have been days where I’ve been extremely stressed and meditation has helped me return my heart rate and breathing to normal.  Now don’t get me wrong everyone’s different, but it’s definitely true that everyone can reap some form of positive benefit through mindfulness.

All in all, I’ve discovered that these ideas really go hand in hand.  Mindfulness is an everyday practice for everyone.  However, just because it’s an everyday practice, that doesn’t mean you should expect to see change right away.  That’s why mindfulness needs to be practiced every day in order to form the habit of being mindful.  Once that habit is built then you may begin to notice some really positive changes in your life.

I hope you have enjoyed this interpretation of mindfulness, and I hope it has helped you better understand mindfulness and the importance of practicing it every day!  Be sure to share this article with your friends so that they can be inspired to practice everyday mindfulness every day!

What did you think of this article? Have you struggled with any of these issues before? Any questions? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness

Comparison of Mindfulness Apps

In my past posts you’ve probably noticed I’ve mentioned that I used apps from time to time.  While using apps is not the only way to practice mindfulness, it can be very helpful for beginners.  They allow you to learn the basic techniques of mindfulness.  What’s even better is that a lot of these apps (or at least some of the features of these apps) can be used for free.

Now sure using apps is all fine and good, but then your next question arises: Which one do you get?

It’s true there are many different options to choose from.  I have tried many of these different options, and each has their own unique qualities to offer.  Obviously trying out each of these apps can be a lot of work, and many of them just may not be the right one for you.  So to save you the trouble of having to try out all these apps, I’ve already done so and took the time to outline the features of each of these apps.  It’s important to note that while I will give my personal opinion, I will also do my best to be unbiased while explaining the details of these apps.

 

Centered

This is a simple app but it’s really great if you’re also into fitness.  The idea of the app is to balance your physical well being with your mental well being.  The app tracks your steps everyday for the physical health portion.  For the mental health portion, it provides a short list of meditations that you can choose from.  This app also allows you to track your mood throughout the day.  You can also set goals for daily steps and weekly meditation minutes.  The one thing thats kind of cool about this app is that the mental and physical portions are each represented by two circles.  The closer you are to meeting your goals the more the circles will overlap.  The goal is to get the circles to completely overlap and be “centered”.  This is a great app if you’re a goal oriented person and like seeing those goals come to life.  This app even has a watch app which makes it even easier to track your steps.

The best part of this app? All the content is completely free!

Simple Habit

This app is divided into different sections, and each can be used for a different purpose.  The section the app opens with is titled “Series.”  It gives suggestions of series of guided meditations that can be used for a variety of purposes.  There are a variety of meditations with topics ranging from morning, to work breaks, to students, to improving sleep.  The next section is titled “on the go.”  This is probably my favorite part of this app.  In this section, the app asks, “What are you doing?”  It gives you a list of options including: morning, commute, at work, tough day, sleep, and SOS.  From here it asks more specific questions about your situation to come up with a single meditation that fits your situation.  You can also choose how long you want the meditation to be.  There is also another section called “teachers” where you can search for meditations based on who’s guiding you.  The app also keeps track of your sessions and allows you to challenge your friends to be mindful as well.

Some of the meditations are only available with the pro subscription, however a lot of the content is available for free.

 

Stop, Breathe & Think

This is actually the first mindfulness app that I used.  This one really focuses on being aware of how you’re feeling.  Before doing a meditation, it has you dim the screen for ten-seconds and think about how you’re feeling.  Then you are asked how you are feeling both physically and mentally, and it asks you to select up to five emotions to describe how you’re feeling.  From there it selects specific meditations to fit your needs.  This app also offers a tutorial on how to meditate so I would certainly recommend it for beginners.  Of course, if you have a favorite meditation you can also go straight to it in the “explore” section.  The app even keeps track of how you’re feeling, your meditation streak, and gives you stickers for achieving different goals.  They even have a special app for kids which includes special shorter meditations.

The only downside is that this app has a much smaller selection of meditations that are available for free.

 

There are many other apps out there, but these are three that I’ve tried and currently have on my phone.  I encourage you to try out one of these apps today.  Also, be sure to share this article with your friends so that they can learn about these great apps.

 

Have you tried these apps? What did you think of them?  Have you tried other apps that you really liked? If so, what were they?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Mindful Musings

A mental health journey through mindfulness