A new app from Sam Harris offers a simple way to integrate mindful practice into daily living. Harris is a well-known neuroscientist, thinker and writer. Recently, he published a book, ‘Waking Up’, with the same name as the app and his excellent podcast.
There are many mindfulness and meditation apps, so what makes this one different?
There are a number of features that I like about this app. At first glance, it is easy to use with two primary interventions: the daily mindfulness practices together with a series of short lessons. Understanding the practice of meditation and mindfulness is important. With the rise of popularity, the true purpose has been lost within promises of what the practices deliver to sell them as a commodity.
Each day a meditation practice is encouraged to build momentum. The bite-sized sessions are appealing because we all have 10 minutes we can dedicate to ourselves (in a kindly way). The meditations are simply numbered: day one, day two, day three etc. The first 3 come with the app, and as you progress, further practices are unlocked. I think this is rather motivating.
Learn to use your mind instead of your mind using you
Ajahn Brahm speaks about greeting mindful practice like an old friend across the street who you have not seen for years — that feeling. The daily practices being unique and building on the last creates a sense of learning, growing and development. The user is learning and becoming familiar with the way that his or her mind work. That is the essence of mindfulness. To know one’s mind is a valuable life skill; if not the most valuable.
To gain full access a subscription is necessary. This can be monthly (£7.49) or yearly (£55.99).
Harris’s approach is non-spiritual. Some people are concerned that to practice mindfulness is to take an alternative spiritual path. Whilst indeed many do practice as part of a spiritual journey or dimension to their life, this is not necessary. And you do not need to wear anything special either.
In the Pain Coach sessions we typically practice mindfulness to become familiar with the way your (embodied) mind works. We know that focus and attention can improve along with emotional flexibility. To this I would add the notion of ‘seeing things for what they really are’, or being in touch with reality. It is certainly not about relaxing or thinking happy thoughts or trying to achieve or fix something. It is about being and seeing, letting go and being open, curiosity and noticing.
Usually I will send a recording of the session to the person so that they can practice at home. However, there is immense value on having different quality resources, alternative angles and voices to which to listen. The Waking Up app is most definitely that, so if you like, give it a go.