Remember how I said I wasn’t going to write themed posts anymore but would instead start writing about whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted? I’m doing that! I’ll still write about writing, it just may not be on a Wednesday. In fact, today is one of those writing-less Wednesdays.
I’ve been really stressed out lately. Actually, being stressed out is normal for me. I’ve been an anxious person ever since I was a little kid who couldn’t sleep in her own room because her lamp cast a shadow on the wall that looked like a giant nose (I have no idea why this upset me so much, but I definitely remember the knot I’d get in my stomach every time I saw it. You can’t make this stuff up, people). But recently, (as in yesterday) I heard about a couple of apps that help with mindfulness and guided meditation. I’ve tried meditation in the past, but it didn’t really work for me.
I kept getting impatient because I couldn’t make myself stop thinking long enough to feel calm and peaceful. So I got frustrated. And even more anxious.
Now, years after those hideous attempts, I’ve made a new attempt. The result? I really enjoyed it. I found an Android app called Stop, Breathe & Think. One thing I like about it is that it not only explains how to meditate in 3 easy steps — Stop, Breathe, and Think (which it expands on) — but also why and how meditation and mindfulness are beneficial. The app also drops a little science with a succinct explanation of the Autonomic Nervous System’s 2 branches, the Sympathetic & Parasympathetic Nervous Systems, how these systems relate to and effect our bodies, and how mindfulness and meditation effect these systems.
Another thing I love about this app is that it asks you about yourself. The very first thing you see when you open it is the question “How are you?” From there, you’re invited to close your eyes and get in touch with your body and mind so you can choose what state both are in. Next, you’re taken to a screen with 5 different faces (representing 5 moods/states). Beneath each face is a list of emotions for you to choose from. You can choose up to 5 emotions across all 5 face/mood screens. Then the app computes your results and gives you a list of 3 different meditations that are most likely to be helpful to you. You’re told the length of the meditation, and given a short description of its purpose. You can choose 1, 2, all 3, or go back to the main menu and choose a different meditation altogether.
A calm, slightly robotic voice guides you through each meditation, first easing you into relaxation, then asking you to consider different concepts (according to the meditation you’ve chosen) such as change, gratitude, cause & effect, etc.
I’ve done four meditations so far, and I really enjoyed them. Having a guide is especially comforting for someone like me who constantly worries about whether I’m doing something the right way. While you have the option of purchasing additional meditation sessions, the app is free to download and comes loaded with 15 different meditations to do without cost. The app is also available for the iPhone, or you could just open it on your laptop. If you’re curious about meditation, give it a try!
Do you meditate?