Self-Help Critiques

The three articles I was assigned to read was “The Mindful Revolution” by Kate Pickert,” The Mindful Conspiracy” by Ronald Purser and “ The Problem of Mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake. These 3 books were somewhat interesting. The first article I read was “The Mindful Revolution” by Kate Pickert. What comes to mind when I hear the word mindful people ask. Well my answer to that is when I hear the word mindful I think of the phrases be aware because I was always told to be mindful but I never knew of what. The article mostly talks about her taking a curriculum course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) where they would meet every Monday evening for eight weeks.  This course was developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-educated scientist. In the course she learns about meditation and mindfulness. This relates to what me and my classmates are doing. We are doing a 2 week meditation to cope with whatever we are going through and it really helps. Kate writes, “One evening, we were introduced to mindful walking. In our small meeting room, we formed a circle and paced together. “Feel your heel make contact with the floor, then the ball of your foot,” said Paulette. “One foot, then the other.” Anxious feelings about planning the week ahead and emails in my inbox that might be waiting for replies crept into my head even though my phones were off and tucked away. Mindfulness teachers say this kind of involuntary distraction is normal and that there’s no point in berating ourselves for mentally veering away from the task at hand”. I can relate to this quote so much because sometimes when I meditate I know I’m getting notifications and text messages and I just feel that urge to grab my phone and see what’s the update. My phone is so important to me that I need to be on it 24/7 although it takes me away from the outside world. 

 

The second article I read was ” The Mindful Conspiracy” by Ronald Purser. Ronald used a quote from “The Mindful Revolution” by Kate Pickert and then talks about how it connects to what he was saying. In the article the author talks about reduction in stress and increases in personal happiness and well-being. The author writes,”Instead, the practice is being sold to executives as a way to de-stress, improve productivity and focus, and bounce back from working 80-hour weeks. They may well be “meditating”, but it works like taking an aspirin for a headache. Once the pain goes away, it is business as usual. Even if individuals become nicer people, the corporate agenda of maximising profits does not change”. This quote is using a metaphor to compare that “meditating” is like taking an aspirin for a headache. I agree with this quote because when I meditate I’m relieving all the stress and I’m becoming more relaxed so when I take an aspirin my head becomes more relaxed. 

 

The third article I read was “ The Problem of Mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake. Sahanika explains how mindfulness was in the air when she studied for a master degree in Philosophy at the University at Cambridge. The author writes,” One technique in Buddhism, for example, involves examining thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, and noting that they are impermanent, both individually and collectively. Our thoughts and emotions change rapidly, and physical sensations come and go in response to stimuli. As such (the thinking goes), they cannot be the entity that persists throughout a lifetime – and, whatever the self is, it cannot be as ephemeral and short-lived as these phenomena”. This quote reminds me of another self help book we have read called “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle because he talks about how Buddha uses a negative definition of mindfulness. So that the mind can choose weather to believe in or into superhuman accomplishments.

Meditation

I’m looking forward to starting this assignment so I can get back into meditating more often. Maybe a few years ago, I made it a habit to meditate as much as possible, some weeks I achieved every day, other weeks I only did it a few times a week. But the good thing was I was doing it and keeping up with it. Eventually, I lost touch with that habit, so I’m hoping this assignment brings me back into it.

The first app I looked at was the calm app because that’s the app we’ve been using in class https://www.calm.com. Before when I was looking for different apps to use, I came across the calm app before. As I took a look at it again I realize why I was not a fan. To really get the benefits of any meditation they have, you have to be subscribed. I do realize that most meditation apps have some sort of subscription involved with them, but calm just did not provide enough for non-subscribers.

The next app I took a look at was Headspace https://www.headspace.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrs_Ki-Tu7wIVGI_ICh26igBqEAAYASAAEgI8EvD_BwE. Headspace is the app I started with in the first place when it came to meditation, so I was somewhat familiar with what the app had to offer. But since I hadn’t been on in a while I figure I should take another look. I’m glad I did because I realize that they were pretty much similar to calm if not worst, to use the majority of the courses you have to pay for a subscription. I do not remember it being so few options for non-subscribers so I’m assuming they changed the app around.

Lastly, I took a look at the app Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com. Once again I’ve been through this process before of looking for meditation apps, so I have come across Insight Timer before. But once again, I wanted to take another look. And I’m glad I did. I think before I avoided Insight Timer because I felt that their app had too much talking during the meditation. Though I like guided meditation, I’m not a fan of constant dialogue because it does not allow me to relax. But the app has so many options, I knew I was bound to find a meditation that I like for each day. So Insight Timer is the app I’m choosing. My goal is to meditate in the evenings because that is typically when I feel the most stressed with so many thoughts running through my head from the day. So about 6:00 PM is my goal for every day, and I will be doing it in my room because that’s usually where I can get the most peace with no distractions. The specific meditation I’m choosing is the “Learn How to Meditate In Seven Days meditation under the “Learning to Meditate” category”. Once those seven days are up I will do a mix of meditations from different categories such as “Self-Love”, and the “Managing stress” categories. (Those are the two categories I’m looking at but if a different one seems more fitting on that day then I might try that out.)

 

 

 

 

Meditation

I am looking forward to doing this meditation assignment because after a session of meditation I feel re-energized and less stressed. I have also tested out a bunch of meditating apps. I was looking through a bunch of meditating apps that I felt would benefit me but I had to narrow it down to the top three so I can pick the right fit. The three meditating apps that I felt would benefit me were MyLife, Headspace and Dare. So far these apps were the best apps that I felt would benefit me the most. With MyLife according to Google it says”MyLife Meditation is an award-winning meditation and mindfulness app that offers daily wellness check-ins and suggests activities personalized on how you feel. … Destress with a meditation guide to gain a better, calm mindspace”. When you first open the app it asks you what goals do you want to achieve in this app. This app includes a daily check in and based on what answer you chose for the check in they give you options on what meditation session you should listen to. They ask how you are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically before listening to anything. MyLife gives you an opportunity to choose whether you want to meditate with a female voice or a male voice. With headspace according to Google it says.”Headspace is an app that teaches you how to meditate”. Headspace gives you an opportunity to choose whichever teacher you would like. I feel like this app doesn’t cover that many topics of meditating. But it does help you find your sense of balance and to give up old ways. With Dare according to Google it says,” The DARE app is an evidence based training program to help people overcome anxiety, panic attacks, worry, and insomnia. You can track your progress daily with the mood journal. … Included are also a collection of meditations and sleep guides to tackle insomnia”. This app tackles on a lot of topics I tend to struggle with and that’s what I love about this app. When you first download the app it asks you what are your mains goals and whatever goal you picked they ask if you want to listen to a 10 min meditation session. You can either skip or you can listen. I chose to listen and it was very relaxing and I loved the tone of voice. It wasn’t too loud or ghetto. It was very calming. The app I chose to use for this 2 week meditation assignment is Dare because I feel that this app will benefit me. I feel it would perfectly address what I’m going through. Dare is a good reminder and a way to stay on track. I hope I am able to use this app if not I’ll go for my second choice.

Meditation

  I’ve always used meditation as a sleep aid, nor have I used guided meditation. It is my fear that certain voices with cause anxiety other than relaxation. While on the other hand other voices may be too relaxing. I am however excited to try this new experience. Meditation for me has always  consist of laying back and hugging an arm pillow and watch YouTube videos such as posted below.   This mixture of videos included anything from a lullaby to some calming music. Anything with a display you can get lost in. Closing my eyes will definitely be a challenge I am hopefully ready for.  When this experience is over I want to take away the ability to use meditation on a variety of thing in order to organize my life and inner strength. 

The three applications I choose are Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps, Calm Meditation, Sleep, Relax by Calm.com, Inc., and Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness by Olson Meditation and Mindfulness Apps. I choose the Apps at random and tried each of them for one meditation session each and evaluated the rest of the content by skimming. 

Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps has a menu of nine categories to choose from which leads you to sessions under each selection. The duration of the audibles vary as do the voices even under the same topic. You have the ability to shuffle and put the playlist on repeat. There are however a lot of adds when changing menus . 

Guided Meditation & Relaxation – Apps on Google Play

 

Calm Meditation, Sleep, Relax by Calm.com, Inc is an application I would not advise for anyone unless you would like to pay for stories told by different people from what you can actually preview. Most of the application is locked that tries to get you to purchase a year membership so it can be hard to judge an application based on limited clips available. I was however delighted to see “How are You Feeling” check in on the application. The application also has more content than the previous app and this includes music. 

Calm – Meditate, Sleep, Relax – Android app on AppBrain

Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness by Olson Meditation and Mindfulness Apps is a forced completion application which I found very interesting. Based on the limitations I am not sure if you can move from “Foundations” in the app to “Work” unless completed because of the required membership. Lesson one basics gives you tools on how to meditate. I have to admit even though the app is very limited I like the voice the app choose to use even though it’s a voice with an accent.  This however is the only application that doesn’t seem to play if you minimize the application from your screen. 

Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness – Apps on Google Play

 

I decided to use Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps because you have more flexibility , there is no pressure to sign up for a membership each time you click something, and I can shuffle playlists. The ability to choose different topics and start where I want is amazing! I would use this application for ten to fifteen minutes a night as I work overnight. So about an hour after I wake up I will engage in a session. The pillow I just purchased for a Japanese style dinning set will be perfect to set up against the wall . Mindfulness and Deep Muscle options in the menu looks like an interesting place to start. I plan to choose from different categories based on the subject that would help me most that day. Also I would determine audible choice based on narrator’s voice.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog #7: Meditation

For this meditation assignment, I do not have any worries, hopes or fears. But what I do hope to get out of this is clarification, along with being calmer, relaxed and thinking more positive. I am also really curious to see the results of being committed to the daily mediations. I personally think that doing a meditation practice every day for at least 10 minutes for two weeks straight would really help me to realize some stress and tension that I have inside me. We were assigned by professor to pick any program of our choosing, but we each needed to explore at least three different apps and make an intentional choice. Therefore, I evaluated three meditation apps before making a choice to which one I will use for the two weeks.

The first mediation app that I chose to evaluate is call Calm. As stated in their official website, “Our mission is to make the world happier and healthier.” I frankly enjoyed when professor used this app in class for meditation. The Calm app consists of 6 features or elements. The first one is Meditate, where you learn the life-changing skill of meditation. The second one is Sleep, where you get more restful sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. The third one is Music, where you get exclusive music to help you focus, relax, and sleep. The fourth one is Body, where you get video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching. The fifth one is Masterclass, where you get audio programs taught by world-renowned mindfulness experts. The sixth one is Scenes, where you get nature scenes and sounds to enjoy while relaxing, sleeping, working, or studying.

https://www.calm.com/blog/about

The second mediation app that I chose to evaluate is call 10% Happier. As stated by their official website, 10% happier consists of features that focuses on the basics, stress, happiness, and sleep. As stated by The Basics, “New to meditation? Get fidgety just thinking about it? Our expert teachers will walk you through the basics, one breath at a time.” As stated by Stress, “Life can be stressful – but meditation is scientifically proven to lower your stress levels. We’ll help you stay balanced when chaos reigns.” As stated by Happiness, “It is possible to increase your capacity for joy, gratitude, and love, no magical thinking required. Our meditations will help you enjoy your life more.” As stated by Sleep, “Our sleep meditations will help you quiet your mind at the end of a long day, so you can get to sleep quickly and wake up refreshed.”

https://www.tenpercent.com/

The third mediation app that I chose to evaluated is call Headspace. As stated by their official website, “Headspace was officially launched in 2010 as an events company, but attendees wanted to take what they learned home with them. Andy, Rich, and a small team decided to make Andy’s techniques available online so more people could experience the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere. And that blossomed into the Headspace you see today: guided meditations, animations, articles, and videos, all in the distinct Headspace style.” The website also goes on to say, “Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, we are well on our way. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, we also have offices in San Francisco and London. You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with our free Basics course. If you enjoy it, then it is time to subscribe. Once you do, you will have bite-sized minis for when you are short on time, exercises to add extra mindfulness to your day, and hundreds of meditations on everything from stress to sleep.”

https://www.headspace.com/about-us

The meditation app that consists of guided meditation that I chose to use is Headspace. This app allows you to start a 14-day free trail before paying $5.83 per month, but the app will instead be billed annually for a total of $69.99. I also found that after reading their official website, their story was very moving and touching from the other mediation apps that I evaluated. Therefore, I decided to use this one for the assignment, where I will do one mediation every day for the two weeks and then cancel the subscription right after before it charges my card. I will try a different mediation for at least 10 minutes or more each day, where I will then keep a log of my meditation sessions and reflect the before and after by journaling. When it comes to my schedule for the daily mediations, I cannot say fully because besides doing school full time online, I work full time on the evenings. I hope to do them in the mornings before I get ready to leave for work, although I am not a morning person, or do some during my break at work. I say this because work is somewhat stressful as it is when I work 8 hours a day for 5 days out of the week, along with how I have recently started working double shifts one or two times a week.

Meditation

I am really excited for this upcoming meditation assignment! Lately things have been a bit chaotic and stressful and I feel like this assignment will push me to set aside time for myself to reflect and relax. I have chosen the meditation app called Sakeenah it combines meditation with islamic approaches. I think this will suit me best because it will have a double positive, it will help me relax as well as integrate my religion and its unique approaches to meditation. This upcoming month is Ramadan the holy month for muslims in which they reflect and give thanks to all that we are blessed with. In the month of Ramadan muslims are meant to deeply reflect within themselves and try to take the month to better themselves, what a coincidence that this assignment has come about in the same time that Ramadan is approaching. Im excited to integrate this assignment with this upcoming holy month and really reflect and hopefully introduce a new beneficial approach to meditation. The app Sakeenah has many different features and specific meditations for anxiety, sleep, organization, and emotions. It also has religious approaches like moral sleep stories which incorporate historic stories in islam that help you sleep better as well as losses and saber which is meant to help you learn to deal with whatever befalls you through the teachings of islam. All in all I am very excited for this assignment and the timing of it. I hope to benefit a lot and improve on organization and de-stressing.

This is the link to the Sakeenah App https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sakeenah/id1488712495

I looked at many different apps including

Calm (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/calm/id571800810),

Headspace https://apps.apple.com/us/app/headspace-meditation-sleep/id493145008,

Breethe https://apps.apple.com/us/app/breethe-meditation-sleep/id920161006

They all are very popular and from what I read very useful to their users. I chose Sakeenah because it had aspects of these apps but also included a personal aspect for me that the others dont have. Sakeenah integrates the approaches of common meditation apps while also including islamic approaches.

I am currently traveling at the moment so there isnt a single place I plan on doing my meditations rather whatever setting I am in I’m going to try to find the beauty and peacefulness and really ground myself. I feel like not having one set place to meditate will help me because I am person who likes consistency and I sometimes get anxiety in new situations so hopefully this will help me be more comfortable in new situations. The app has many different categories so depending on the day and how I am feeling I can choose a specific category for that day. I am looking forward to this 14 day experiment and hopefully its something I can continue on doing post the 14 days.

Meditation

For this upcoming assignment I am actually really curious to see how it will affect me. I never really believed in all that spiritual stuff so that’s probably why I never meditated in the first place but because I have to I am interested in seeing how it will actually affect me. If I’m being honest, after meditating I expect to open my eyes to a brighter and much happier seeming world. Of course it may seem brighter because my eyes were closed for so long but at the same time I expect a feeling of bright happiness to take place. For the first time ever I will continuously practice meditation and if it really does work and I do it properly, my mental state should change drastically. 

I looked through the mobile apps, Headspace, , Mindfulness and Insight Timer and decided on Insight Timer. The reason I chose this app was because compared to the other apps it not only had a lot of options for guided meditations which is what I was supposed to be looking for, it was very fast and simple. The other apps didn’t seem to have that big a catalog and it didn’t feel all that simple. The insight app even lets you pick how much time you expect to meditate so you can look through meditations that range around the time of your choice. I already know what i’m going to use for my log and journaling. 

The only thing I fear is I hope I don’t lose interest too fast which I tend to do. I can see myself letting 3 minutes pass and thinking to myself “MAN HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT IM BORED” or “If I stop now no one will be able to tell” or even doing the whole thing and feeling like it was so much of  a waste of time I never want to do it again and I struggle to find the motivation to go again. But to avoid this I will not only turn off my phone but I will schedule a time to do it so I have no excuse to tell myself to just do it later.

Meditation

With this upcoming meditation assignment I’m hoping I will become a more relaxed and positive person. The app that I hope I can use is called Dare. https://dareresponse.com/dareresponse-app/ 

I might be more biased in choosing this app because I have used it before and I already pay for the premium membership, but after exploring the guided meditations section I still think it’s the right fit for me. I’ve found it to be very helpful during times where I felt really stressed or anxious and my mood changed completely after listening to a recording, so I think it’s perfect that I also realized they have a section for guided meditations. I find the person’s voice very soothing, so I know I can handle these guided meditations that are around 20-29mins. I also like that I can journal everyday if I wanted to on the app. There are even other topics I can browse if I am going through something one day and want to listen to other clips. In the future however I do know I will need to use a different app if I want to listen to more guided meditations than the 20 they offer here, these will only last me for our two week project. I plan on just listening to each one in order. These guided meditations are all found under the Guided Meditations folder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other apps I had downloaded and gave a try were Calm
(https://app.www.calm.com/meditate) and MyLife (https://my.life & https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.stopbreathethink.app&hl=en_US&gl=US). With Calm I do like that they ask specific questions to personalize your experience but a few things I wanted to try out I would need to have a premium subscription. On MyLife there was no specific section for guided meditations, but they did have a handful meditations for certain topics. I noticed that there was an option for a male or female narrator before playing each audio recording. The app even includes a daily check in, which also tells you what you should try to listen to based on your logged emotion, and it lets you track how you feel before meditating and after meditating. If I couldn’t use the Dare app for this 2week meditation assignment, I would rather give MyLife a try.

During the two weeks, I plan on just meditating every night before bed.

Mediation

For the upcoming assignment on Meditation, I hope to have as many positive outcomes that lead to motivation throughout my day not only a positive and clear state of mind. Some things I plan on doing different while I meditate for this project will be changing the times I meditate and the locations all around my house because why not, but I hope to explore the different outcomes of it meaning, testing out how my day is before and how it turns out after I mediate. Maybe It will leave me feeling worse and groggy or I will feel refreshed although I have never felt groggy after meditating before, but again you never know. It can also depend on the day. If my day is very busy, it can leave me feeling energized or if my day is long and exhausting, the mediation can put me into an energized phase, or then again it can put me to sleep leaving me worse than I was before. I am excited to experiment and log on this.
I have tried Headspace, Mesmerize, Breethe, My life, Insight Timer and Ten Percent. I am going to use two. The two that I choose is Insight timer and Breethe.
This two I believe will work best for me because the app lets you choose different setting for your individual comfort. The Insight timer app checks in with you, how you are doing physically, mentally and emotionally. It has different setting of comfort for what kind of exercise you’ll like to do. It has live events where you can attend and listen to a live instructor which I think is pretty cool.
The Breethe app has three different settings as well, go to sleep, take a break and Start your day. It lets you set your top goals and has different meditation settings. It also asks you about your personal life, Health issues, dealing with difficult situations, trouble falling asleep and also gives you the option to choose different Therapies. This is why I choose these two apps. I feel I can benefit from them the best and get the most out of them. Although I will be using two apps for the majority of the time, I am going to experiment with spiritual music for a couple of days and see where that goes. I plan on doing the whole nine, folding my legs like a buddha. Even cross my fingers at the end. This should be fun and relaxing.

Class Discussion: Meditation Reflection

Today in class we practiced self-awareness and reflection through journaling, spending time to write mindfully about our feelings, thoughts, embodied experiences, behaviors, and responses. During this freewriting loop, we even intentionally called to mind challenging (or “negative”) thoughts and experiences, and reflected in writing on the emotions that arose in response to them.

As a class, we then embarked on a shared experiment by doing a guided meditation. For this practice, we used the the Calm App and today’s Daily Calm on “Optimal Anxiety.” I know that this can be an uncomfortable and stretching experience in the best of circumstances, and especially so in class and over Zoom (!). Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to this experience, and for sharing this meditation practice with me.

As many of your mentioned, this was your first time practicing meditation. The freewriting we did immediately afterwards hopefully was useful for capturing your embodied response to this practice.

Both journalling and meditation are generative conduits of self-awareness, and here will will combine the two. Please share your reflections on your meditation experience in class today by commenting below.