In this day and age, being mindful is essential to leading a healthy and—hopefully happy–life…
Our mind wanders all the time—24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—whether it’s reviewing the past or pondering about the future. Especially in these unprecedented times, our minds wander even farther away, then often gets caught in stress and anxiety. Some people find it hard to relax their bodies and calm the mind, which can then lead to depression, heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. There are, of course, various treatments that might help. There’s talk therapy, antidepressants and so on. But Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Depression Clinical and Research Program, highlights another approach: “Individual cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for many people; antidepressant medications help many people. But it’s also the case that many people don’t benefit from them as well. There’s a great need for alternative approaches.”
In other words, the practice of mindfulness can be a valid alternative to fight stress, anxiety and depression. From exercises to yoga to meditation, it has become the hottest thing in the wellness universe. Mindfulness teaches the skill of paying attention to the present by noticing when the mind wanders off and guiding it back to the breath, a place to rest and setting our minds. Other benefits that people are beginning to appreciate is the chance for self-reflection and learning about new ways to be in relationships with themselves.
It’s not difficult to find meditation and mindfulness practices nowadays. Whether as self-practice or together in a community, the options are widely available through both online and offline platforms. If you like to start learning about meditation or keep up the practice, having a meditation app on your phone can be a good choice. Here are a selection of apps that offer great experiences with excellent guided course along with short meditations on the go.
Founded in 2010 by former Buddhist monk Andi Puddicombe and Richard Pierson, Headspace aims to improve the health and happiness of the world. With millions of users in more than 190 countries, it offers a personal meditation experience and helps to maintain the habit through guided practices. It also offers short meditations for emergencies or the occasional random quiet moment. The warm interface and fun illustrations make the mindfulness practice feel much less intimidating. Also, the well-organized library makes it easier to find suitable practices and courses.
Driven by a passion for mental fitness, relaxation and sleep, the Calm app boasts more than 50 million downloads and over 700,000 5-star reviews. It was also named by the Center for Humane Technology as “the world happiest app.” Founded by Alex Tew and Michael Acton Smith, Calm offers guided sessions and more individual exercises like breathing visualization, guided sleep stories, flexible times and large selection of ambient music. It has a less streamlined design and is suitable for more experienced users who don’t need a structured sequences of classes.
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