In the past, if you have ever heard the word ‘meditation’, you would probably associate it with a skinny bald man sitting on a cushion with his legs crossed at a distorted angle and with his eyes closed, making strange loops with his fingers and humming: maybe someone like this guy? Maybe you are like many people who struggle to grasp the concept behind it at first? Traditionally, it has been labelled as a discipline practiced by happy-clappy hippies who were trying to be at one with nature. So, naturally, many of the DMC coaches and students are initially quite perplexed when they are encouraged to practice mindfulness as part of their daily routine.
It’s normal to be skeptical in the beginning or to ask questions like:
- ‘What is this going to involve?’
- ‘What is this going to help me to achieve?’
- ‘What will my friends/family think if I had to excuse myself for 10 minutes to go and ‘meditate’?’
- ‘Will I look ridiculous?’
Instead of writing it off before you’ve even given it a go, approach the concept with a more open mind, try it out and see what happens. Do some research and learn about how widely meditation is practiced all over the world. Even celebrities are getting in on the action and raving about the associated benefits of taking 3-20 minutes out of your day just to chill out and concentrate on breathing.
Maybe you work long hours? Perhaps you feel stressed out from time to time? Possibly the answer to this is ‘yes’. If you feel under a lot of pressure with not a lot of ‘you’ time, it can really play on your mind and get you down. Meditation is a fantastic way for you to step out of the storm caused on a day-to-day basis with all the tasks and responsibilities we have and the amount of traffic that goes through our minds. Being able to look above the storm to see the blue sky whilst sitting, relaxing and doing nothing except listening and breathing is a brilliant way to achieve this.
There are a number of meditation apps that can be downloaded via your PC, tablet or smart phone that we recommend to our students and social media followers. These are detailed below.
A staple app among us mindfulness fans is Headspace. The creator, Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and is massively skilled in the art of meditation. So much so that Headspace was voted the top Health and Fitness app in 2013. A student of DMC passed it on to Davie to have a try and the main journey of Davie’s progression through mindfulness techniques began. The initial Headspace programme is called Take 10, lasting just 10 minutes and designed to break you in gently. There are lovely videos and animations to watch, too, and a whole source of information on their website. Once you finish Take 10, there is a progression in programmes, yet these need to be purchased following the inductory Take 10. This is a great programme for beginners and more advanced meditators alike.
Here is what Davie has to say about the Headspace app:
I fully enjoy and look forward to being mindful on a daily basis. I have tried many different apps and depending on how I feel or what type of meditation I want to have, I will choose the correct app. I only have this ability due to the fact I went through a detailed programme of mindfulness development via Headspace. Heasdpace provides you with all the techniques that you need to be able to be mindful without a follow along in the ears. Andy Puddicombe is an absolute genius. His voice tickles your ears like a cold breeze on a hot summer day and through each stage of his programme, you develop greater skills and further knowledge. He also has some fantastic animations and VTs for those who are visual to enjoy. Not only is the Headspace app and awesome piece of kit; it was also voted top Health and Fitness app in 2013. The website has a whole host of relevant mindful information and for me, anybody who is interested in doing this seriously has to start with Headspace.
Blissify Me is another good app for beginners. There is calming music playing in the background which immediately helps you to relax. You are encouraged early on in the meditation to choose a focus word or phrase to help you remember what your goal is and why you are taking the time to meditate in the first place. This app does involve a bit of the kind of silliness you may associate with meditation – such as smiling whilst repeating positive phrases internally – but it makes it fun. This app is designed to make you feel a lot more positive, confident and relaxed on a daily basis.
Kirsty admits that she was skeptical of using apps at first but now sees amazing results from mindfulness:
I remember being mildly horrified when Davie first suggested that I consider daily meditation. I had pre-conceived ideas of what it would entail, all of which turned out to be very wrong. After trialling a number of apps, I have finally found the one that works best for me: Blissify Me. It really helps to calm me down and I find it works best when I use it first thing in the morning. Some days this involves me getting up at 4.30am but the benefits are well worth it. It reminds me of all the amazing things in my life and to be grateful for each and every one. I know I can turn to my app if I am feeling down, stressed or a bit pissed off and I will feel ten times better 30 minutes down the line.
Davie also used this app when he was first trying out mindfulness:
Blissify Me is groovy and funky and I understand why Kirsty prefers this one. It was actually the app that taught me how to buddha breathe (breathe from the belly).
Once you become a more experienced mindfulness practitioner, there are a selection of ‘I Can Be’ apps: I Can Be Fearless is the main one, with sub categories such as I Can Be Motivated, I Can Be Confident, I Can Be Healthy, I Can Be A Sound Sleeper etc. Their website has a list what apps are available. Each one of these has a free introductory download available which is fantastic on its own but when you go further into purchasing specific routines, the programmes are tailored to help improve the areas that you feel you personally need to work on. “The voice” is a Scandinavian hypnosis and NLP therapist practitioner; this is as much as we can find out about him and the voice does take a bit of getting used to. However, the benefits that you feel after 20 minutes after one of his guided meditations are absolutely phenomenal and there is something for everybody at any stage during an emotional or mentally-pressured, stressful time. The importance behind allowing yourself to relax every day through meditation is explained in detail. There is no chanting, no dancing around with sticks and no silliness involved. It’ll give you a chance to focus on what your goals are and shift your perspective. It’ll chill you out, relax you and give you confidence in your abilities.
Laura had to say the following about the I Can Be Fearless app:
I started using mindfulness after being advised to by Davie but found it to be more useful than I thought it was going to be. It is particularly helpful because you can tap into it throughout the day if you are feeling stressed or uptight. It is important to remember the lessons it teaches you about stopping, breathing and taking your mind somewhere else. Breathing immediately reduces the stress of many moments. Personally, my app of choice is I Can Be Motivated (from the creator of I Can Be Fearless). I find this sets me up really well for the day and getting my me into the right headspace. There are other guided apps from this range and I would advise you check these out until you find the one that’s most effective for you.
Davie encourages that you use this once you have tried the beginners apps first:
Once you know how to be mindful, apps like I Can Be Fearless (give his voice a chance, you’ll get used to it after a while. It’s a bit like drinking green tea.) This is great for times when your head is full and you just need to de-stress.
Julie enjoys a mixture of different apps and has seen massive improvements in all areas of her life since she introduced it to her daily routine:
Reluctantly, I decided to start using a mindfulness app after being encouraged by Davie, namely I Can Be Fearless, but straight away I started to see the benefits and soon forgot all my apprehensions. This really helped me to unlock my potential, sleep better, understand me better and just feel better in general as I no longer had the cloudy, traffic-congestion feeling going on in my head on a daily basis. I now go between several apps and I would recommend to anyone just starting out to give this a chance and find one that works well for you. Mindfulness has not only become a massive part of my life but that of my students, too, and I am sure they will all agree with the above comments from me.
If you are feeling nervous, worried, upset or stressed out about something, tune in to one of these meditation apps and we guarantee that you will feel a whole lot better in half an hour’s time. We would encourage anyone and everyone to take some time out of their day to relax and focus on themselves and nothing else. We live in a world dominated by technology to the point where it is rare to see someone sitting by themselves without some sort of electronic device in their hand. That is part of the beauty of meditation – it allows you to do nothing for 3-20 minutes of the day. How often do you just do nothing? Ask yourself this: when was the last time you just sat and did nothing? When was the last time you took some time just for you away from everybody and everything else to re-energise your cells with the first and most vital component of human existence i.e. oxygen? Stop, sit still, connect with yourself on a physical, spiritual and emotional level and just be still in the moment, mindful and relaxed. I guarantee you will feel amazing and there are thousands of positive studies regarding the benefits of daily breathing. In fact, there are no registered or recorded negative effects on the human mind of body from doing this. Don’t be fooled by the stereotypes like and give it a try. You never know what you might learn about yourself or what you are capable of achieving.
For those who love more detail, here are 5 links that you can check out for more information on the practice of mindfulness and meditation:
Let us know how you get on.
To health, happiness and “Strength for Life”,
Davie McConnachie, creator of DMC Fitness and Dynamic Mind Conditioning, is an expert health and wellness coach, multi-award winning motivational speaker, award-winning gym owner, writer and published poet.
Athletically, Davie has competed nationally in MMA, Boxing and Thai Boxing, and internationally in kettlebell sport. Davie enjoyed the London Marathon, several half marathons and is a regular mountain trekker.