“If you truly want to change your life you must first change your mind.” ~Donald Altman
If you’ve been following me and my personal story, you know that in 2011 I woke up feeling like a cliché victim of burnout.
That marked the beginning of my extensive burnout recovery journey. Over the years, after completely revamping my diet and lifestyle, I came to the astonishing realization that I had undergone a truly miraculous and awe-inspiring transformation. A substantial part of this transformation can be attributed to my commitment to a daily mindfulness practice. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of mindfulness, allow me to share this insightful quote by James Baraz that encapsulates it beautifully.
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – Mindfulness and meditation teacher James Baraz
During the initial stages of my journey towards self-discovery, I must admit I clung to a hint of peculiarity that seemed intertwined with concepts often linked to the new age movement – think mindfulness, consciousness, and awakening. These notions conjured up mental images of solemn Buddhist monks living lives of celibacy and silence – an image that felt worlds apart from my own reality. To be candid, I wasn’t even certain if Buddhist monks practiced celibacy or silence; it was simply a stereotype embedded deep within, attempting to hinder my personal growth. But remember, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be trapped by such limiting perceptions. It’s essential to push past any reservations and explore whether mindfulness could be a fitting addition to your life. Who knows, it might just help you rediscover your center – unless, of course, you happen to be a donut. 🍩
After surmounting those initial stereotypes, I have transformed into an impassioned advocate for the integration of mindfulness as a pivotal strategy in combating stress and recovering from burnout. This is particularly crucial for individuals within helping professions, who I firmly believe stand in greater need of it than ever before.
My conviction rests on the imperative of making mindfulness a mainstream practice, accessible beyond the confines of high-end yoga studios. I genuinely perceive this to be essential for fostering the health and wellbeing of our community.
The vast expanse of the internet is brimming with an array of studies and research spanning decades and encompassing diverse demographics. This collective body of evidence serves as a compelling testament to the efficacy of mindfulness – a practice that undeniably works.
Here is what some of the research is telling us about mindfulness for stress reduction if you aren’t yet convinced:
Mindfulness facilitates an adaptive response to daily stressors and that mindfulness produced less avoidance and more approach coping as a response to stress than relaxation. (Donald, Atkins, Parker, Christie, & Ryan, 2016).
Mindfulness can improve emotion regulation, leading to a better mood and better ability to handle and improves both explicit and implicit mood regulation. (Remmers, Topolinski, & Koole, 2016).
Mindfulness can improve restless legs syndrome (Bablas, Yap, Cunnington, Swieca, & Greenwood, 2016).
Mindfulness in parenting is “associated with lower levels of parenting stress, higher levels of authoritative parenting style, and lower levels of authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.” (Gouveia, Carona, Canavarro, & Moreira, 2016).
Mindfulness for healthcare professionals “showed significant improvements were also found in physician empathy, serenity, burnout, sense of self” (Bazarko et al., 2013)
Veterans with depression and/or PTSD showed “there were clinically significant reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms…”(Felleman, Stewart, Simpson, & Heppner, 2016).
Mindfulness for Police officers“demonstrated that discrete facets of mindfulness accounted for significant differential variance in the reduction of organizational stress, operational stress, and anger” (Bergman, Christopher, & Bowen, 2016).
Other touted benefits have included…
- Increased attention and focus
- Increased clarity in thinking and perception
- Increased memory function
- Increased relationship satisfaction
- Lowered anxiety levels
- Experience of calm and internal stillness
- Experience of feeling connected
- Higher brain functioning
- Increased empathic response
- Increased immune function
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered heart rate
- Increased awareness
Mindfulness is as uncomplicated as setting aside a mere few minutes each day to engage in focused breathing, embracing the present without judgment, and relishing in silence. Anticipate your mind to stray (as it invariably does); your task is to gently steer it back to the present moment, redirecting your focus to your breath. This elementary concept is so straightforward that even 5-year-olds can grasp it. Granted, the execution might not feel effortless at the outset, yet with persistence, you’ll swiftly grasp its rewards.
Whether you’re embarking on your initial journey into mindfulness or aiming to amplify your existing practice, the array of apps at your disposal can lend a helping hand. Here are a few recommendations…
MEDITATION & SOUNDS
Meditation & Sounds by Verv provides a comprehensive suite of meditation offerings, ranging from goal-oriented meditation courses to quick 5-minute “911” meditation sessions. It features an array of soothing sounds and essential how-to guides. What sets it apart is the personalized touch, tailoring meditation courses to align with your objectives—whether it’s enhancing productivity, boosting self-esteem, improving sleep, managing anxiety, nurturing relationships, shedding weight, and a plethora of other programs.
The app boasts over 50 distinct sounds that can cater to your mood, encompassing a dedicated KIDS SLEEP pack and diverse relaxing music packs, each tailored to address specific needs. In terms of meditation content, the app is an invaluable resource. It offers meditations that span across a spectrum of purposes, including alleviating anxiety, fostering creativity, cultivating happiness, managing stress, enhancing productivity, nurturing relationships, promoting self-love, facilitating better sleep, stoking sport motivation, and even aiding in weight loss.
Calm, a prominent mindfulness app, specializes in guided meditations that are designed to induce relaxation. This multifaceted app serves as a comprehensive toolkit for cultivating a calmer state of mind. Its repertoire includes a variety of features such as guided meditations, a dedicated sleep function aimed at enhancing the quality of your rest and facilitating a refreshed wake-up, a soothing music feature, video lessons centered on mindful movement and gentle stretching, and a trove of audio masterclasses taught by globally renowned mindfulness experts. Additionally, Calm includes a captivating nature scenes feature that envelops you in sounds that encourage relaxation.
The app’s guided meditations come in varying durations, ranging from brief 3-minute sessions to more immersive 25-minute experiences. What sets Calm apart is its emphasis on building a consistent mindfulness practice. Alongside its extensive collection of meditations, the app also offers breathing exercises, unguided meditation options, sleep stories to ease you into slumber, and an array of soothing sounds—all meticulously designed to enhance your sleep quality and overall well-being.
Buddhify, not only boasting a unique and intriguing name but also an app that’s serious about fostering a consistent mindfulness practice. With Buddhify, users gain access to an extensive library of meditation programs, collectively spanning over 11 hours. This comprehensive collection caters to a wide spectrum of needs, from meditations specifically designed to enhance your sleep quality to those tailored for taking a break from work-related stress.
One standout feature of Buddhify is its ingenious check-in system, a tool that empowers you to track your progress over time. This element not only facilitates an awareness of your journey but also encourages a sense of accomplishment as you observe your growth in mindfulness. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, better sleep, or a reprieve from work tensions, Buddhify provides a versatile selection of meditations to help you achieve your desired state of well-being.
Encompassing an extensive array of resources, this app provides access to a whopping 4,500 free guided meditations, each led by over 1,000 experienced meditation guides. Alongside these guided sessions, the app boasts a collection of captivating music tracks, adding an extra dimension to your mindfulness journey.
One standout feature is the app’s customization options, which allow you to tailor your meditation experience to your preferences. With the ability to incorporate background sounds and meditation tools, you can curate an experience that resonates with you on a personal level. This adaptability ensures that your mindfulness practice remains not only effective but also uniquely attuned to your individual needs and preferences.
Especially suitable for children, this app stands out as a fantastic option. It offers the flexibility to tailor the mindfulness experience to different age groups, underscoring the fact that it’s never too early to embark on mindfulness training. With its user-friendly interface, the app enables you to create individual accounts for various family members, making it a versatile choice for households.
Moreover, educators, teachers, and youth care practitioners will find this app a valuable tool to introduce mindfulness to children. Its adaptability and wide-ranging features offer a seamless way to incorporate mindfulness into the lives of young ones, ensuring that they cultivate these essential skills from an early age.
MEDITATION PRO TIMER
Meditation Timer Pro is a valuable tool that offers uncomplicated exercises designed to elevate your mindfulness practice. With this app, you can immerse yourself in meditation without the distraction of keeping track of time. Much like the other apps, Meditation Timer Pro empowers you to monitor your progress, helping you stay motivated and engaged.
One of its standout features is the freedom to practice meditation at your convenience, anytime and anywhere. This versatility ensures that you can infuse mindfulness into even the busiest of schedules, making it a great companion on your journey to a more mindful and balanced life.
SATTVA MEDITATIONS & MANTRAS
Embracing mindfulness daily becomes effortless with this app’s motivating features. Offering a diverse range of exercises, including timers and chants that many find soothing, this app makes mindfulness a comforting routine. Beyond that, it even invites you to check your heart rate using the app and engage in challenges alongside fellow users, fostering a sense of community and shared growth.
Moreover, the app goes beyond the practice itself by providing valuable information about the benefits of mindfulness. This additional insight enhances your understanding of how mindfulness positively impacts your well-being, reinforcing your commitment to this transformative practice.
STOP, BREATHE & THINK
For those seeking a wealth of guided meditation options to diversify their practice, this app is a true gem. With its extensive library, you’ll find a plethora of choices to suit your preferences and needs. From soothing sleep sessions to meditations focusing on compassion, depression, and anxiety, this app covers a wide spectrum.
Notably, the app allows you to personalize your experience further by adjusting sounds to align with your preferences, creating an environment that resonates with you. Additionally, the app’s progress tracking feature empowers you to record your journey throughout the year, providing tangible evidence of your growth and dedication to mindfulness.
In Closing: Nurturing Mindfulness Through Technology
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can be a transformative journey towards greater mental clarity, emotional well-being, and overall stress reduction. With a wide array of mindfulness apps at your fingertips, you have the tools to start or enhance your practice, regardless of your level of experience. From guided meditations and soothing sounds to customizable features, these apps offer the flexibility and support needed to embark on this powerful path to mindfulness.
So, whether you’re new to the world of mindfulness or looking to deepen your practice, explore these apps and find the ones that resonate with you. Remember, mindfulness is a personal journey, and with dedication and consistent effort, you can cultivate a greater sense of inner peace and balance. Here’s to your journey towards a more mindful and harmonious life.