Apps for well-being 2

Last week, I mentioned a few Mood Tracking apps for Android. As I said then, it was by no means comprehensive, but I thought it was a useful way to start exploring the apps in that category on Google Play. In this post I want to draw attention to another category of well-being apps – the more practical, therapeutic ones. Once again there are absolutely shed-loads of these apps. Sometimes it’s useful to read user reviews of apps, but also bear in mind that occasionally reviews maybe somewhat biased, or describing issues experienced with specific devices. (The same applies to my comments about the T2 Mood Tracker last week – although it doesn’t work reliably on my newer tablet, it worked very well on my previous one.)

I also mentioned that, as I have studied Eastern sacred philosophy since I was a teenager, I tend to prefer the more spiritually-based apps. The original idea of ‘mindfulness’ was a Buddhist one. It is great that therapeutic science has embraced mindfulness as valid, and also made it appeal to a wider audience that might find Buddhist or Taoist meditation a bit too ‘hippy-dippy’. So here is a brief description of the mindfulness/meditation apps I currently use.

Headspace

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This one was recommended to me by several people – people that use the app, and people in the professional field of therapy. Basically it is a subscription app, BUT you can download and use the introductory ’10 of 10′, which are 10 guided mindfulness meditations each lasting 10 minutes to practice daily. They are very good if you are very new to the idea of mindfulness, or if you have more experience. There are some fun animations to illustrate some of the concepts. I think it is a great place to start.

Mindfulness: Art Of Being

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This is another app that focuses on the ‘science’ of mindfulness, but it emphasizes bringing mindfulness into your everyday life. There is a free ‘Lite’ version, and a ‘Pro’ version. As with most of these apps, if there is a free version, it’s best to try that before buying the pro version. There a sections with guided mindfulness meditation, a lot of reading material and more.

ACT Companion

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‘ACT’ stands for ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’. It is based very much in mindfulness. There is a brief definition of it here:

http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/act.htm

The App is also based on the book ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Dr Russ Harris. There are informal mindfulness exercises as well as guided exercises; and there are also progress checks so you can see how you’re doing with the practice.

Moving onto the more spiritual/meditational apps now.

My Spirit Tools

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This is a very nice app for the more spiritually-minded. As well as a collection of exercises – some guided – from different sacred backgrounds, there is the ability to create playlists for a meditational routine. There are three sample playlists: the morning routine, the stress-relief list and the before bed list. You can also create your own. For example, I have one that starts with a session of ‘conscious breathing’ (mindfulness on the breath), then goes into a guided meditation on ‘the quiet mind’, followed by a 2-minute timed (and silent) meditation and ending with a cherokee blessing. You can also set alarms – such as setting  a time to start the ‘morning routine’ playlist. I sometimes have issues with it on my tablet, so it would be worth trying the various other functions out on it before relying on the alarm system to wake you up.

Dharma Meditation and Buddhist meditation

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These two are pretty much the same, just with a different look. Both give you a quote from Buddhist scripture to meditate on for a set number of minutes, then sounds a ‘gong’ at the end. The duration increases as you progress.

Qigong Meditation

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Qigong is a simplified variation of T’ai Chi, which in turn is a gentle exercise – sometimes martial art – which combines very fluid movement with mental concentration and energy. This app is packed full of information on mindfulness, mediataion and the practice of Qigong. There are written articles, audio (which if you have trouble streaming, you can download), video and a load of external links with more information. It is very thorough and informative this one – and another attractive feature: it’s absolutely free!

And finally, to bring all these elements together…

SATiFY Mindfulness/Sangha

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This is the one I use every day now. SATiFY Mindfulness is free, with less features, but certainly enough to work with. The thing I love about it is that it combines the spiritual, ancient, practices with modern-day mindfulness. You can set yourself goals, you can add background sounds – music, nature sounds, or mantras (if you are inclined that way 🙂 ), there are guided meditations, timers and progress charts. You can share your progress – and add quotes to the shared images. All in all, it is for me an all-rounder.

I hope this will have been useful to some people in encouraging to explore what’s out there for smartphones and tablets – this post has covered from basic to more complicated, from scientific to more spiritual.

Again I hope that maybe someone who uses Apple devices may add some comments about what is available for iPad/iPhone. I think some of the tools I have mentioned are available for both, but if there are others please comment below.

Next week I will deal with ambient background sound apps and music.

Marc

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