Do you really need an app for Mindfulness?
TLDR: It helps you to learn the ropes, but you're better off practicing offline.
Let's face it: Mindfulness apps have gone too far.
Why is Headspace now a documentary on Netflix? Why does it cost so much to subscribe to mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm? Both costs $70 for an annual subscription!
That's 20 packets of chicken rice I could eat!
Without a doubt, mindfulness apps have been all the rage these last few years. It's brought this powerful practice to the masses - allowing you to tune out of the hustle and bustle of your daily life, and find solace at a few presses on your smartphone.
A gentle voice emerges, guiding you to focus on your breath and pay attention to your body, all the while you slowly relax to gentle tantric sounds or the therapeutic rush of the ocean waves.
When your session is almost over and you're as feeling a lot calmer and attuned to the present, suddenly you're reminded by an annoying voice or message:
"Reminder: your free trial is over. Please subscribe by making a one time payment to..."
Do you really need an app for mindfulness?
The fact is, having an app for mindfulness is better than not performing any mindfulness at all.
Headspace will be happy to show you their research on the benefits of their app. This includes:
Increased compassion and self-kindness
Reduced irritability and aggression.
Increased positivity and well-being after 10 days of using the app.
Reduce stress and job strain.
Yet know this, these are all common benefits as long as you practice mindfulness, and are not limited to the app alone.
Research has shown that mindfulness comes with all the above benefits, whether it is you practice with a mindfulness coach, an app, or simply on your own.
While you don't need a Mindfulness app, it does make the learning process so much easier.
If you're going to the gym for the first time, and there's no one to guide you, you'd probably be dumbfounded by all the machines there and how to use them.
You might decide that the benchpress is a great place to climb up on and do some jumping jacks - and you don't understand why a few body builders have gathered close by, glaring at you menacingly.
It's the same thing for mindfulness - it helps to know what to focus on, what to pay attention to during the practice, and how to redirect your attention whenever a stray thought wanders in.
The apps are really a good source to learn the ropes and can be wildly helpful.
Mindfulness really is a muscle - meaning that the more you work on it, the stronger and easier it gets to remain focused on being mindful - instead of having your thoughts wander to what you're going to have for dinner later (chicken rice).
That said, I personally don't think it makes sense to pay for a mindfulness subscription (there goes my potential advertising sponsors). There are plenty of free apps out there to help you learn the ropes.
For example, I still have Medito on my phone and use it at times. It's 100% free and it's nice to be able set aside ten minutes to plug in and do some guided meditations.
The power of Mindfulness isn't about practicing it at set times - it's about learning to focus your attention at will - especially when you're distressed.
While the mindfulness app are helpful in teaching you the practice, you're better off learning to practice it offline and through your own guidance.
It's meant to be a skill you can call upon at any time.
For example, whenever I feel anxious or have depressive thoughts floating in, the practice of mindfulness allows me to take a pause. I learn to pay conscious attention to the thoughts floating around my head, as well as the sensations in my body.
Mindfulness isn't about chasing away those negative thoughts and feelings either. This is the biggest rookie mistake!
It's about becoming more aware of these thoughts and feelings as mere processes of your mind.
A wonderful by-product is - when you become more aware of them, you also gain some distance from them.
And then they slowly disappear on their own.
Now imagine if you've suddenly found yourself in distress, like if you're stuck in a meeting and you're feeling an anxiety attack come on - are you going to excuse yourself and go hideaway in the toilet cubicle to plug in to your mindfulness app?
The occasional smell of farts aside, that's a silly way to go about it! You're better off learning to internalise how to perform mindfulness on your on.
That way, you can call upon your mindfulness skills whenever you need them, even when you're in a room full of people, instead of fumbling about on your phone.
Thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul. If you are Headspace or Calm and want me to change the contents of this article to boost subscription. Sure! It'll only cost you a million dollars. Feel free to PayNow me. Thanks!