Several years ago I started visiting a cognitive behavioral therapist for some mild depression issues. One of the most useful outcomes of this time was her leading me to mindfulness, a meditation technique that works on bringing your mind back in to the moment.
More and more is being written about mindfulness, especially in the workplace. It's really encouraging to see it grow in popularity, and for good reason.
It's amazing how much just settling down for five minutes to think about the here and now can bring perspective to your mind. And that's what I think mindfulness is really about. Letting go of the emotion that's controlling your thoughts and shifting to an alternate perspective.
That alternate perspective is the key. For me, it's incredibly easy to get wrapped up in my inner world, where I'm a lone wolf fighting through the turmoil the world is throwing at me. As Stephen Fry so eloquently explains:
[I]t's so simple to imagine that one is hard done by, and that things are unfair, and that one is underappreciated, and that if only one had had a chance at this, only one had had a chance at that, things would have gone better, you would be happier if only this, that one is unlucky.
He goes on to explain how destructful self-pity can be. How it can destroy relationships, destroy jobs, destroy everything but itself. There's a wonderful Zen Pencils adaption of the quote that's absolutely worth the read.
He finishes with this bit:
... it's not simple to stop feeling sorry for yourself, it's bloody hard.
That's where mindfulness comes in for me. When I get stuck in that loop of self-pity, I find a quick meditation session can really help me re-focus my vision and work out a plan to get through the mud.
Unfortunately it's not as easy as saying "meditate every day". I'm a parent of two young kids and have trouble fitting in meditation due to long hectic days. It's tough to spend time sitting around doing nothing when there's so much stuff you're not getting done. It's even tougher to find alone time. As I type this, my nine-month old son is crawling all over me and my five-year old is narrating his game playing to me.
So, I had the idea to build an app/website where you go through a mindfulness exercise that doesn't require a quiet room or being alone (in other words something you could try doing with the kids around). It doesn't require you to close your eyes or listen to relaxing music. All it asks you is to complete a few things that you could easily do in a crowded room.
I'm looking for feedback on it and was hoping you could take a few minutes to give it a try. The thing I need the most help with right now is making sure the prompts/exercises are good. As someone who has limited experience with mindfulness, I'm not entirely confident I got the exercises right.
Right now you can go through the exercise for free at http://busymindapp.com, or you can check out the Android app on the Play store or iOS app store.
Discover it for yourself
If you haven't heard about mindfulness, I highly recommend checking it out. There's solid science behind it, which is what really convinced me.
I really encourage you to try it, even just once. There are a ton of great apps out there like Headspace and Calm.com. Mine is just a different take; find what works for you.