Your Phone is Your Friend!

My sister just returned from an intensive with meditation teacher Jack Kornfield, who invited the group of 300 attendees to turn on their cell phone ringers and listen mindfully! She said it was an amazing experience. Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn invites students to use the ring of the phone as a call to mindfulness. Ring! Pause...Breathe...Notice what's going on inside and out...Answer the phone...Mindfully!

Technology has quite a well deserved rap for increasing our stress levels, but as these teachers show us, there are ways to use it to support our well-being. Below are some amazing apps that help bring your temperature down. The advantages? Inexpensive, portable, unobtrusive, there whenever you need it in the moment, and effective! Here are three of my favorites. Press the buttons and chill!

Respiroguide Pro by Vital-EQ, $1.99, (iphone and android)

The Respiroguide Pro app is a terrific guide to breathing techniques. Based on neurological research from the National Centre for Stress Management in the Netherlands, this program guides you through breathing exercises that help you slow down your heart rate while reducing tension. Fast, effective, easy.

I love the wavelike motion of the graphic and the background sound of the ocean on this app. I find that my breath becomes more effortless, fluid, and wavelike as I follow the movement with my eyes. It is like breathing on a a little ship that is being rocked in the ocean. Just lovely.

Relax & Rest Guided Meditations by Meditation Oasis. $.99, (android and iphone)

Made with busy people in mind, the Relax and Rest Meditations app guides you through effective meditations and they give you options for different session lengths. They are each 5, 13, and 24 minutes long. You can choose from three classes to suit your schedule: Breath Awareness Guided Meditation, Deep Rested Guided Meditation, and Whole Body Guided Relaxation. This app even allows you the option for music along with the audio guide during each session.

Brain Wave ™ - 30 Advanced Binaural Brainwave Entrainment Programs with Relaxing Ambient Background Sounds, Gentle Alarm and iTunes Music Integration for Sleep, Focus, Energy, Memory, Meditation and More, $2.99 (iphone)

I love this app and can't recommend it more highly!! Binaural tones are combined with nature sounds or music (or you can add your own iTunes music) to stimulate specific brainwave patterns.

How it works: Brain Wave synchronizes your brainwaves with a specific frequency by sending two different audible frequencies to each ear, which, which are perceived by the brain as matching the target brainwave frequency. Various states of mind are associated with these different frequencies, ranging from an alert and focused state of mind to deeply relaxed, all the way to deep sleep. All of these states can be induced with this technique, when Brain Wave recreates these frequencies, allowing your mind you to relax and synchronize with your desired state.

I love the creativity wave, and paint with it on my earphones. The dreaming and meditation waves are amazing, and I find my dream life is more vivid when I listen to them before sleep. They all just feel good, like a brain massage, and I feel refreshed after listening.

Breathe2Relax, Free, (iphone and Android)

This app provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn diaphragmatic breathing. This is a very effective stress management tool and also helps with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management.

The “Settings” button allows you to choose specific visual and audio features during your guided exercise. They include a choice of background music and various non-intrusive audio prompts which talk you through the exercise. In “settings” you can also set the duration of your exhalations and inhalations, and the number of breathing cycles in each guided exercise. This is adjustable during the exercise, which I really appreciated.

Hit "Breathe", then “Start” and you’ll be guided through the entire process, breathing in and out in synchrony with the app’s pleasant recorded voice and this little blue graphic. I found that my breathing deepens significantly during the exercise, and it has strengthened my concentration as well as helping me to "reboot!"

All of this is to say...why not find ways to use technology to enhance our own well-being. It's in our hands!

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