July 20 2018
Smartphones and watches now make tracking and managing stress easier than ever.
In an effort to begin my runs feeling relaxed and not just end them that way, I started doing just three minutes of guided mediation before every run I took for two weeks.
I have to admit that during the first week, I did not want to even take those three minutes of time before I headed out the door. As a busy mom of 7 year-old twins who gets up at 5:00 a.m. to jump start the day, I didn’t feel like I had three minutes to spare before my run.
That, in and of itself, was the precise reason I needed to make the time to do it.
Like any other technology addicted runner, I consulted the interwebs for the best meditation apps. I was woman enough to admit I needed help to guide my mind through even three minutes of daily stillness. Obviously, the search results were overwhelming but, based on the functionality of Mindfulness and their offering of timed (read: as short as possible) sessions at no cost, I downloaded it and prepared for the calming relaxation that was sure to follow.
Not so much.
At first I was distracted but, the angel-like voice flowing into my ears told me a wandering mind was simply to be acknowledged and then moved past, back to a focus on the breath.
As I mentally scanned my body and focused on my breathing, I became more and more relaxed. Before I knew it, the three minutes was over…and I wanted more.
After the first week, the beginning of my runs started to feel more like the middle since I was walking out the door with a clear head and relaxed breathing, as opposed to rushing out in a panic and thinking about how many miles I could tick off and still have time for my endless to-do list.
I slowed down in my mind but my legs kept their pace.
I slowed down in my post-run shower, work, chores, cooking dinner and even in time spent with my kids. The trickle down effect is real!
At the end of each of my guided sessions (I’m still only doing three minutes, don’t judge) I’m reminded that I can return to my breath whenever I need to, throughout my day. It’s centering. It’s calming. Breathing to me is now the eye of my storm. All hell can be breaking loose around me and as soon as I become aware that I’m in the storm, I move back to the calm center of it, to the eye, to my breath.
It doesn’t always work but, it’s almost a way for me to bring my runs home with me, to stay in the afterglow of a hard effort all day long…or just three minutes.
Mindfulness: Like a little meditation assistant, this app alerts you when it’s time to step back and take a breather. In addition to setting a particular time and day, the app also allows you to set GPS reminders telling you to meditate when you enter a certain location.
Meditate: The timer lets you set multiple chimes, intervals and even a cool-down session. Sounds including bowls, tingshas and bells give your practice an authentic tone. The app also provides statistics including sessions completed, average session length and total meditation time. Plus, its online meditation timer is free to try.
Stop, Breathe and Think: Feel the calm in 5 minutes, explore over 50 meditation and “emotion-based” activities, select your current emotion to find the right activities for you (happy, sad, frightened, etc.) and track your progress day by day.
Breathe and Relax: Get into the habit of connecting with your breath in a natural, relaxed way with this app. Many of us hold our breath when stressed and could use a moment of zen in the middle of the day. Short, guided exercises will remind you to just breathe.