Monthly Archives: May 2016

Another App that Helped me: Buddhify

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I wanted to talk about another app I have found really helpful. Buddhify is an app that focuses on meditation and bringing mindfulness into your everyday life.  One of the best parts about Buddhify is the amount of different techniques that are available, so you can do a specific meditation depending on what your mood is that day.

I have found the multitude of techniques  helpful because it means that there is always something new to explore. At the same time, if there is a technique I am comfortable with, I can go back to it as many times as I like. For example,  the one I have probably used most often is the Rain technique  in the ‘Feeling stressed’ section. (R.A.I.N. = Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Non-Identifying)   which is extremely helpful when there is something making me feel anxious.

One of my other favourite meditations  is a technique to help deal with critical thoughts. (found in the ‘Difficult emotions’ section)  This takes you through a  process where you are encouraged to give your everyday inner critic silly names. As in Doctor Who naming the monsters that you have to fight, making them weaker and giving you more space from these negative ideas. As you may know from previous posts anything that encourages the use of Doctor Who to help with meditation practice is going to get a thumbs up from me.

The Loving Kindness Technique. (Found in the Just meditation II section) This Meditation can seem awkward at first and they acknowledge this at the start of the guided meditation, which oddly helped me feel more comfortable more quickly. However awkward this is to begin with I have found it an important one to come back to because as well as practising loving kindness towards others it also focuses on developing loving kindness towards ourselves, something that we probably all need reminding of, especially when going through tough times.

As well as the techniques to use in  more traditional sitting meditation there are also techniques  that you can use  throughout the day.  One of the most useful areas that Buddhify has  techniques for is working online. I spend a lot of my time online so it would be good for me to be able to try and develop more mindfulness in this area. The techniques encourage you to think about the people connected to technology, whether users or developers, which seems a great way to try and widen awareness.  The tip to use blinking as an opportunity to  re-focus when you are working on the computer  is something that I am  definitely going to be trying to use more.

Although this is another paid app I have found it worth the money   just for the sheer variety it provides. Whenever I feel like I need a moment of calm this app will have something that can help me. I always find the meditations in this are both informative and soothing. I have probably only covered a fraction of what Buddhify entails in this post, the longer I have it the more I discover. On top of what I have discussed it includes techniques  for waking up, sleeping, waiting around and pretty much anything you can think of and in my opinion it is well worth the small upfront cost.

Buddhify is £2.99 on Google Play (Android) and £4.99 on the App Store (iPhone)

Mindfulness: Small Actions, Big Changes

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Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation, it’s also about remembering to look after yourself when you need it most. For me, this mostly takes the form of making a small change. Once I have noticed that I’m in a bit of a bad mood, trying to find something I can do that will change that, whether it’s  reading a chapter of a good book or talking to a friend, I try and do something that will lift my mood. it won’t always work but sometimes that small shift can be enough  to make my day go that little bit better

I had a lovely surprise in the post this week, I received a Buddy Box. The Buddy Box is put together by The Blurt Foundation  who are dedicated to helping people affected by depression. This month’s box was all about taking the time to just ‘bee’. It’s full of little things that made me smile. Particularly the Koala magnet with the slogan: I give Koality hugs

This box  also contained YOU, a book which is full of small ideas to bring little but effective changes to the day. One of my favourites is: listen to a powerful song, in my experience listening to music is always a good idea, especially if you want to lift your mood. I will probably revisit later and let you know whether it has been helpful. I hope that it will be. I know that I am not the best at making changes, so breaking things down into smaller more approachable ideas seems like a good place to start.

One of the things I have been learning as part of my mindfulness practice is that doing something good for another person can take your mind off things if you are having a bad day. I’m not saying it will work for a long period of time, but I’m saying that sometimes it is good to try and make connections with other people. This box encourages that in a random sort of way, as every box I’ve seen includes a postcard for you to leave with some positive thoughts for another person. I love the idea of leaving things for other people to find, whether it’s postcards with something positive on or sharing books that you have loved.  (Bookcrossing.com is a good way of doing this.)

Doing little things for yourself and those around you could start to make a big difference and for me trying to put that into practice as much as possible is what mindfulness is about.

 

Body Scans: Observations and Ideas

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It might be expected that it would be more difficult for disabled people to do body scans. In my experience,I am more aware of sensations in my body and I think it might be possible to use this to an advantage in meditation. When the body tries to make a movement such as a spasm or some other unwanted sensation then I  try and use this to my advantage by focusing on the sensations and breathing with it for a few seconds. In that way instead of these things becoming frustrations they can actually become really helpful and an important part of the development of practice.

The one negative I have found of being hyper aware of the sensations that I experience on a daily basis can mean that it’s harder to  sink into awareness rather than trying to analyse every sensation for some deeper health meaning.

Most body scan instructions advise you to do a body scan while lying on your back. However this is my least comfortable position and therefore, I don’t find it conducive to relaxing or meditating. I personally do a lot of my body scans in my wheelchair as part of my meditations. I have also been working on doing one before I go to sleep at which point I am on my stomach. My point is that you can do a body scan in any position as long as you are comfortable and can focus on the sensations that are occurring at that moment.

When I am doing a body scan I normally work from head to toe. However if you feel it works more naturally for you the other way then that’s the way that you should do it. I would advise going slowly at first, as long as this doesn’t mean that you are stopping to analyse what is behind every sensation. I normally do a body scan at the start of my meditation, but doing a quick body scan can also be a good way to bring yourself back to the present at any time throughout the day.

Starting from the head (Or at the feet if you prefer) simply hold each area of your body in your awareness for a few seconds and then move on. If there  is any pain or uncomfortable sensations be aware of it but  try not to resist it. The same goes for if you have any spasms or other involuntary movements, be aware of them but just let them pass.

It took me a while to not get frustrated when my body felt like it was interrupting my meditation by doing things that didn’t want it to or couldn’t control, (and I still find it difficult sometimes) but I now believe that this has added another element to my practice.

Thank you for reading, I hope this has been helpful. I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but I’m hoping to get back to posting regularly over the next couple of weeks.

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.