You may be familiar with mindfulness, but what exactly is it? What makes it unique from meditation? Is meditation truly beneficial? Is it gimmicky? Are you able to learn it? Do you need to see a guru, a psychotherapist, or a camp for a week? Your phone may have the solution.
What is mindfulness?
Although most authors consider mindfulness to be one type of meditation, which also covers many other practices including visualization and contemplation, there is no clear definition for mindfulness or meditation. Being fully aware of everything that is happening both inside of you and around you requires mindfulness. Being mindful is remaining an observer without becoming absorbed in what you are seeing.
The UK's National Health Service has a useful webpage where you may learn more about mindfulness. According to the site's founders, observing your ideas come and go without becoming consumed by them is like to waiting at a bus stop and observing the passing buses without boarding one. You may watch your anxieties or thoughts as they arise without allowing them to overtake you or cause you to lose focus on the surroundings.
In-person mindfulness training typically entails spending a lot of time in silence, frequently with your eyes closed, and learning to notice what is going on in your environment, such as the sound of traffic outside, the humming of a light, or the sensation of air passing by your face from the air conditioner. It frequently entails taking note of what's happening inside your body, particularly your breath and the sensation of air entering your nose or exiting your mouth. The objective is to focus on these observations without being sidetracked by concerns about your schedule, your relationships, or a recent incident. It's common practice to begin and end mindfulness sessions with the sound of a chime, which is a custom that originated with Buddhist meditation. It is common practice to begin and end mindfulness sessions with the sound of a chime, which is a custom that originated with Buddhist meditation techniques.
You're more likely to handle stress better, experience fewer periods of depression, and experience less anxiety if you adopt mindfulness techniques, which involve paying attention to your bodily sensations and sensory perceptions while learning to notice your thoughts and feelings. The advantages to your physical and mental health may also be greater than those to your mental health, according to research.
Which app is best, and for whom?
The antithesis of mindfulness is always looking at your phone or wearing headphones. Nevertheless, the Apple iTunes app store has roughly 280 mindfulness-related apps. These seem like a fantastic way to pick up a useful skill. How then do you choose one?
Researchers from Lancaster University in the UK have looked at the most well-liked mindfulness applications. They whittled down the 280 applications they discovered in the iTunes store by only included those in the Health and Fitness category, those with 100+ user reviews, and those with ratings higher than 3 out of 5 stars. They were left with the 16 most well-liked and perhaps practical mindfulness applications, 14 of which are also accessible to Android users. (This list includes these applications). Notably, only one of the apps—Headspace—has undergone an experimental study; after being used for 10 days, it demonstrated a decrease in depression and an increase in positive feelings. Other applications may still function well; they have simply not been researched yet.
In order to categorize what the apps actually do and how they do it, the Lancaster team of two computer scientists examined the apps on a number of dimensions. This year, the team presented its findings at the prestigious Association for Computing Machinery's Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conference in Montreal. Apps basically give pre-recorded audio clips (a female or male voice leading you through mindfulness exercises) or timed sound effects, and they advocate daily practice of 10 minutes, according to their research (chimes that sound at the beginning, middle, and end of a mostly silent mindfulness practice session). They provide tools for you to record your practice sessions as well. However, none of them provide a mechanism to monitor your progress in acquiring mindfulness or its effects on your life.
Given that the core of mindfulness is paying attention to both your external environment and your internal experience, it is surprising that just three of the 16 applications highlighted intrinsic or self-directed, quiet mindfulness practice. To start and conclude your quiet practice periods, use these three—Insight Timer, Meditation Timer, and Tide—as timers with chimes. The remaining 13 applications include audio recordings of people walking you through the process of concentrating on your breathing or other bodily sensations.
Even soothing voice might distract you, making it difficult to pay attention to what is happening within or around you, as several reviewers of these applications note. Additionally, studies show that silent, self-directed mindfulness activities are more beneficial than those that are externally supervised. In reality, being guided through a breathing exercise is a type of relaxation training (learning to release tension from the body), which is similar to mindfulness training but has different benefits.
The researchers propose that in the future, physiological sensors to monitor the body's activity during practice sessions, as well as concrete items (such meditation balls or wheels, which are employed in conventional practices), may be added into mindfulness training. On the horizon, expect improved mindfulness applications.
Which app should you try?
There is no one perfect app for anyone. Try a self-guided app first; but, if it doesn't work for you, try one with voice instructions or direction. Then, when you've gotten the hang of it, go back to the self-guided silent app.
It takes discipline to be conscious, even with an app. The more you practice something, whether it's a sport or an instrument, the better you get at it and the more you get out of it. The daily 10 minutes are used for just that purpose. Whatever you choose to do, mindfulness training is thought to be quite safe and has a strong possibility of raising your level of happiness and calm while lowering your levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.