I've only been truly practising mindfulness for the last few years, but it's truly been a revelation to me. Modern life is a minefield of distractions, each fragmenting our attention with beeps, vibrations, notifications and interruptions.
Mindfulness practice has allowed me to feel empowered when life is moving at a hundred miles an hour - offering a series of techniques to bring focus back to the present moment, stop, and take a breath. Or two.
There's something contradictory about using an anti-mindfulness device (my phone) to help improve my mindfulness practice, but there have been a host of great apps, designed to do just that. And here are my three favourites:
The undisputed king of mindfulness apps. For the price of a couple of drinks, Headspace offers a monthly subscription to help create and sustain mindfulness habits. Starting with 10 minutes a day, and building to ever increasing levels and states of focussed practice, founder Andy Puddicombe guides the listener through each and every meditation. I especially like the 'singles' and 'series' sections, offering exercises targeted to focus on health, performance, or 2-minute 'SOS' breathers.
Their 'Take 10' series is free if you want to give Headspace a try.
Buddhify, by Mindfulness Everywhere was the first mindfulness app I tried, and I've never looked back. The expanding colour wheel is a thing of beauty, and the intelligent interface works cleverly to try and guess what type of exercise you might need (fire up the app at lunchtime and it will bring you to 'work break' or 'eating', open it at bedtime and you'll be prompted with 'can't sleep'). Each of the 80+ exercises are varied with different voices, each ranging from 5-30 minutes in length. No monthly subscription here- you just buy the app and everything is included.
The new kid on the block, Pause claims to combine mindfulness techniques with tai-chi, taking advantage of the iPhone's multi-touch screen in order to deliver a calming, game-like experience, which requires you to follow a circle around the screen, super-slowly, in order to focus the mind. A gorgeous, elegant interface combines with a simple, clever take on mindfulness. Highly recommended.