“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection” ~ Amit Ray
Sometimes we use the words meditation and mindfulness interchangeably. However, they are actually two different concepts. Both have some great health benefits so today I wanted to give you a quick run down on what meditation and mindfulness are AND in particular, arm you with a list of the latest meditation apps to reduce anxiety!
Mindfulness is in essence living in the present moment in a particular, purposeful way. Mindfulness also incorporates a sense of curiosity and non-judgemental awareness.
There are two different types of mindfulness:
- Formal mindfulness – This is something we practice with intention and usually for specified amount of time. Examples include meditation, yoga and tai chi.
- Informal mindfulness – These are everyday things we do that allow us to bring a sense of presence to how we do them. Some examples are practising mindful eating, mindfully moving our body and staying in the moment when we wash our car, brush our teeth or drink our tea.
What is meditation?
As mentioned above, meditation is a formal type of mindfulness. It’s a skill that we practice (usually sitting down) that brings awareness and compassion. Although the roots of meditation have come from religion, you don’t necessarily have to follow a religion such as buddhism to meditate. The awareness that comes from meditation helps us understand what we are thinking and really make sense of it. The compassion part of meditation helps us bring an intention of loving kindness to both ourselves and others.
There are a number of ways we can meditate. We can undertake meditation that is guided by the voice of someone else or we can go it solo with periods of silence, music or sounds. There can also be a focus on the breath, parts of our body (often called a body scan), use of visualisations or chanting of mantras.
Benefits of meditation
A lot of the research about mindfulness is based on studies involving meditation. This is likely because it is fairly easy to control in a scientific setting.
Meditation has been shown to reduce the size/density of the amygdala (the stress centre) and increase the density of the front brain. The front brain (pre-frontal cortex) helps us to have empathy and compassion, learn, remember and basically make better decisions for our mental and physical health. The more regularly we meditate, the weaker the link between the stress-ey amygdala gets with the rest of the brain – BONUS!
What this means for our health is that regular meditation has been associated with a reduction in anxiety, depression, pain and improvements in sleep, ability to focus, pay attention, learn and work.
A special note, meditation is not for everyone. If you are reading this and you have a history of trauma, you should consult a trauma-informed therapist to assist you to gain the benefits of mediation and mindfulness without causing you harm.
OK. As many folks aren’t heading off to their local monastery to meditate, meditation apps can be the alternative and are a great (and effective) way to practice mindfulness. That is, you can get some real health benefits.
Here are 10 meditation apps to reduce anxiety and help you sleep:
- The Mindfulness App
- Smiling Mind
- Insight Timer
- 10% Happier
- Simple Habit
- Stop, Breathe and Think
We’d love to hear how you’re going with your mindfulness practice. Make sure to connect with us over on instagram to stay in touch!