Mindfulness Mondays 3/23: On Change and its Many Facets

Today, I tried out a new Mindfulness App recommended on Mindful.org. I was skeptical at first but after reading the article and noticed one of them I’ve used before, I decided it was valuable to share. I enjoyed the criticisms it gave on the second app Calm, which I’ve used before but haven’t in a while (mainly because of the length of the 7 meditations and its tone). The first one sounded much more promising than the third, so I checked it out. Stop, Breathe & Think is offered on iPhones, Androids, and the computer- and the best part is you can update your account through all three and it will show up in real-time! I loved how it only takes a minute (or less) to check-in with your current emotional and physical state (5 options are given). Then after checking in, a few meditations are offered with varying time sequences, all relevant to the emotional and physical state you entered. There is a substantial list of meditations offered that you can choose from in your account, as well as check your progress in an easy and readable display format.

Front page of the app Stop, Breathe & Think.

Front page of the app Stop, Breathe & Think.

After my check-in, where I identified most of my emotions were related to feeling anxious and worried, I decided to try the recommended 6 minute meditation: Relax, Ground and Clear. I sat on the couch in my department building and was able to successfully complete the meditation without interruption until the last 30 seconds. This sequence provided some time to sit with my current emotional state, recognize how grounded I am to the Earth through my seat, and then envision myself on the top of a mountain and feel my grounded footing at its peak. Since I then had more time than I originally thought, I gave another sequence a try from the list of offered meditations: Change. I didn’t know what this one would entail but I thought the idea was appropriate. Change was a bit random since it was very philosophical on the subjects mentioned (the Earth changing over time, cells in the body changing). However, when it then prompted me to come back to my body and feel myself in the seat, I saw that it had successfully gotten me to think about these changes.

Though the topics were very philosophical, the app did just what it says: Stop, Breathe & Think. Despite the topics within the matter of change, they still were examples of kinds of change, even if I thought they were random or too theoretical. Both sequences got me to stop in my day, breathe through the sequence, and think about what the sequence prompted! Furthermore, after the sequence I was able to reflect upon my emotional and physical state in response to the meditation. Some mindfulness apps do a lot of promising and then you’re left dissatisfied at the end of using the technology. Stop, Breathe & Think gave everything it promises in its name!

On the topic of change, it’s the first day back in school after a week of Spring Break, so I’m a little out of my routine. Not to mention the season has changed officially to Spring! This unfortunately has brought weather changes, allergies, unpleasant bodily responses, and many more deadlines approaching! Over break I took a two-day vacation with my boyfriend and another couple to Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was gorgeous and just plain humbling. I allowed myself throughout the trip to surrender to my routines and also to loosen from them. I was able to be social with friends and take time to savor with my boyfriend with hardly any distractions (we couldn’t use our phones and barely looked at our emails). This was pure bliss. The life of living simply, without the many bounded strings we have to maintain to others or the responsibilities (big and small) that we chip away at daily, was extremely refreshing. Coming back to my regular life as a graduate student, having to read the many emails I had ignored, make necessary phone calls, tend to animals and bills, and just simply THINK about the many things I think about in a day has been overwhelming.

Photo from the observatory deck (it was dark but I like the edging on this)

Photo from the observatory deck (it was dark but I like the edging on this)

Going on spontaneous or even planned trips has always left me in a state of shock once they’re through. It’s like you’re a bit sad that reality can’t make accommodations to make living life a bit more simple- less chaotic, less inter-webbed, less noisy, less busy. I’ve never handled change well, and so I thought today’s guided meditation could be helpful. Despite the many thoughts that arose in my brain throughout that sequence, one repeating thought has stuck with me. I can’t run from change, and neither can anyone else. Change is the ebb and flow in our daily lives, it’s always going to be there. So the fact that I was able to work the first part of break, have a vacation, and now am back at school is part of it. In a month it will be the busiest time of the semester during finals, and then a few days afterward it will be all over. Noise to Quiet. Madness to Serenity. It’s part of change, which is a constant feature of life. And after today’s change of mindfulness app usage, I’m motivated to meditate in the future on the topic of change, and just see how my responses to it can change over time.

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