When you think of mindfulness and mediation, you may think of someone with their eyes closed, sitting in a lotus pose, getting up at 4am to practice it for several hours.
But real life doesn’t fit into this ideal and neither does mindfulness.
Whilst being active and dealing with life commitments is important, so is pausing to reflect and refine your intentions.
Mindfulness can be done in the morning before your start your day. It can be done on the train to work, or when you have a break from work. It can be done after a stressful moment. It can be done whilst walking or doing an easy paced run.
I think you get the point that mindfulness can fit in around your life and doesn’t have to done in a quiet place.
The strength of this app is gets you thinking mindfully on the go. By clicking on the colour wheel for the applicable situation and then choosing the exercise to suit.
I found that I used the app mostly when I had an easy paced run, or on the train to and from work.
The app is really simple to use. And I could bore you about the technical points. But it’s very easy to use so I’ll focus on how it helped me develop awareness around a recent challenging time.
Late March 2018 and I’m weeks away from running the 2018 Boston Marathon and earning the six star world marathon medal.
I go for my last long run over 20 miles, to replicate the Boston course I choose a hilly route. It’s tough but I finish the run. The following days I start to feel a niggle in my knee. But to be honest when you train everyday, everything hurts most of the time, so the tolerance to discomfort is high.
But the days after the pain got worse, and inhibited my running form so I had to stop.
Immediately afterwards I felt the natural anxiety of potentially not running and completing my six star journey which I started in 2010…My training had gone well I achieved PBs in 5k, 10k and half marathon distances. I felt extremely frustrated that despite being in my best running shape, that I may not achieve my six star finish in Boston.
So how does mindfulness help?
Mindfulness has helped me become more aware of my thoughts and mind patterns, so they would have less power over me.
I think back to the examples when I got injured before the 2016 New York and the 2017 Tokyo Marathon’s. Pre race I didn’t cope well with injuries in the weeks leading up to the races, as I focused on what I had “lost” which kept me frustrated and stuck pre race and even during the races.
Why you should pay attention to your feelings?
There’s nothing wrong feeling happy, or melancholy, to being angry or frustrated. But I’ve learnt that those feelings are not personalised or permanent to me as a person, but they come and go as the cycle of life.
One of the mediation’s in the app described it perfectly. I’ll roughly paraphrase it….When you look at the sky it’s separate from the weather. Whatever the weather, if it’s sunny or raining, that is the weather, but it’s not the sky.
That point on a wider scale can be translated into the micro in the following:
- You / The sky (Point of reference)
- Your feelings / The weather (Interchangeable’s)
So when I observed my feelings about injury, I wasn’t viewing them in a remote and disconnected way. I’d be aware to take the experiences more lightly. To notice that whilst I had feelings of frustration that they weren’t permanent and they would pass. It gave me the space to notice those feelings were present, face them and not run from them.
How did mindfulness help with a resolution?
Whilst we can’t control everything that happens to us, we have control how we respond to it.
Experience from injury frustrations pre New York and Tokyo had taught me the longer you hold onto the experience, the more you personalise it, the more it holds you back each day. For Boston I had two choices:
- Take the experience of frustration and hold on it for the weeks leading to Boston;
- Or express my feelings of frustration. Then quickly focus on what could I do today to help me return from injury.
I choose the second option and focused on building on daily momentum.
Now don’t get it confused that I am happy to be injured, the way that I look at it is that if I am happy to take the PBs and the good experiences that running has given me, then I have to be mature enough to take the challenging moments with equal grace and humility.
Although there has been great coverage regarding mental health. There is a big difference between mental health and mental illness. The latter falls into the range of mood, anxiety, personality, psychotic disorders, which require medical and personal help. There are cases where for some people having antidepressants is life or death situation. For those affected by clinical mental illness this app isn’t suitable.
This app is more suitable for those who feel stuck, suffer low mood, anxiety stress or depression.
As a word of warning, whilst mindfulness can help you develop awareness. The first stage of awareness doesn’t equate to certainly or an immediate solution.
It can give you an insight into a trigger, but you will have to spend time revisiting that area, before you get that light bulb shift in perspective to look at yourself and that challenge differently.
In the balance between a sound mind and body, this App is a reminder of the importance to make time daily to prioritise both. The App’s strength is showing that mindfulness is accessible, it can be done on the move, it can be done in 4 minutes or longer.
The App’s success is in helping you know how to start mindful mediation and integrating it into your life, as such I would highly recommend this App.
You can purchase the App for £4.99 from the AppStore