Despite being a mental wellbeing and massage therapist, I often used to find it hard to carve a chunk of time out of my working day to deal with my own mental health issues. I was always looking after the mental wellbeing of my clients, my family and my friends before I looked after little old me. And ironically, I would happily dish out mental health advice without actually taking it myself.
Top of my advice list was always meditation. Even if it was just for five minutes I would always insist that my clients complete some kind of daily calming practice to soothe and unwind. I’d even spent 18 months with an NHS psychiatric nurse formulating a free online 10-week mental wellbeing course complete with recorded meditations to help people do just that. But could I ever find a few minutes to do it for myself? Yeah, right. About once a week, if that.
But then I discovered a free meditation app that completely changed my life.
It’s called the Insight Timer app and it brings together thousands of guided meditations, meditation music and expert talks on a range of subjects from mindfulness to spirituality and provides help with areas such as sleep, stress and anxiety, relationships, recovery and healing. It even has meditations specifically for kids and teens. It also provides a timer with sounding chimes if you wish to meditate in silence, and a notification feature to remind you to stop your busy lifestyle and give yourself a moment of reflection.
Before I found the app I had developed a few bad smartphone habits that hadn’t helped my mental health one little bit. I’d managed to kick my social media habit by deleting my Facebook account but unfortunately instead of scrolling through ‘friends’ status posts, I would wake up in the morning and the first thing I would do was switch my phone on and scroll through the morning news to see what hell had been inflicted on the world by either terrorists, politicians or natural disasters. Negativity and fear. What a way to start the day!
But since signing up for the app, I rub the sleepy dust out of my eyes and instead of clicking on frightening headlines I click on Insight Timer instead. I set my alarm 30 minutes early and instead of being grumpy at waking early, I look forward to choosing one of the special morning meditations, or a gratitude practice or just some simple Buddhist breathing exercises to help me ease into the day. (There’s even some really out-there meditations too such as Unicorn Healing and Find Your Womb Goddess. Meditation needn’t be super serious or crunchy granola wholesome - we all need a bit of crazy sometimes depending on our mood!)
I now start the day feeling much more relaxed and calm, feeling like a can deal with any stresses that pop up during the day. I've learnt new techniques which not only benefit my personal life, but also benefit my clients. One of the wonderful aspects of my job is that I can share knowledge and see first-hand how it can transform lives.