Mindfulness: there’s an app for that

Generally I believe that achieving mindfulness involves stepping away from your phone, but after a recent recommendation from a friend I downloaded an app called – Insight Timer.

Using it is fairly straight forward and it collates meditation sessions which different therapists and healers have uploaded. You can either listen along to a pre-existing recording or simply go into the ‘timer’ setting and do a DIY job by yourself.

There are three main reasons I like this app:

  1. It’s FREE
  2. It allows you to save your favourite pieces and listen to them anytime
  3. It shows you who else is using the app to meditate and destress around the world

I quite like one called ‘Relax into Sleep Guided Meditation’ by Mary and Richard Maddux.

What always astounds me is when you sit back and take time to breathe, allowing each part of your body to loosen and relax – it really does make you feel like a totally different person. I sometimes find it hard to shut out the thoughts of the day, but the good thing about mindfulness is that it’s not about ignoring the bad, or shutting anything out – it’s about accepting those thoughts and learning not to kick yourself for them.

It’s like exercise, it doesn’t matter if you stumble or find it hard to focus at the start, nobody’s expecting you to have a six-pack after one session. The main thing with mindfulness is that you took time to do it, even if it’s not as regularly as you’d like.

When I was at Uni (and freaking out about my dissertation in the final year), mum gave me a CD which I didn’t use enough. Now however, it’s a firm fav on my Spotify account and I wouldn’t be without it when I’m feeling drained or stressed. Be warned..it’s a bit vintage…

Ultimate Relaxation by Dr Hilary Jones

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Now…ignore the old granny on the front, it’s actually the best aid to mindfulness I’ve come across.

Part 1 isn’t essential to listen to, as it just explains the ways stress affects the body and how to recognise it. However, part 2 is the real knitty gritty relaxation stuff! Dr Hilary also has a super soothing voice…which is important for guided meditation because a whiny one will really distract you.

Here are my top five tips for effective relaxation:

Do it at night, when the house is quiet and you’re ready to unwind

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Do it naked – trust me, it’s so freeing to just feel the soft bed sheets on top of you, cocooning you from the world – and no annoying straps, elastic waistlines or rubbing from your PJs

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Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t work or you don’t feel calmer instantly afterwards – practice makes perfect

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Make sure you have done everything you need to do for the day before you begin; brushed your teeth, put the dishwasher on, been for a wee! There should be no reason to leave your bed afterwards.

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When it’s all done, DON’T PICK UP YOUR PHONE – whichever app you were using will go to sleep on its own and the screen will lock. That’s your cue to just close your eyes and enjoy the tranquillity.

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Disclaimer: I don’t have kids, so god knows how much truly quiet time you get with one of those crashing about….but it’s still worth a shot!

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