• Find quietness in your busy days with the help of apps. (Pexels)Source: Pexels
Mindfulness is the state of being aware of the present moment. Besides improving breathing and sleep, mindfulness meditation has now been shown to be an effective form of pain-relief. With this in mind, here are some handy apps that could help you become more mindful.
By
Jody Phan

24 Mar 2016 - 1:37 PM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2016 - 3:40 PM

A recent study by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has found that mindfulness meditation could provide natural pain relief without the use of the body’s natural production of opioids.

“Our finding was surprising and could be important for the millions of chronic pain sufferers who are seeking a fast-acting, non-opiate-based therapy to alleviate their pain,” said Fadel Zeidan, PhD, who led the study.

The study of 78 pain-free volunteers was split into four groups: meditation plus naloxone (a drug that blocks the pain-reducing effects of opioids); non-meditation control plus naloxone; meditation plus a saline placebo; non-meditation control plus saline placebo.

A thermal probe was used to heat a small area of the skin to 49 degrees Centigrade (which most people would find painful) and participants were asked to rate their pain using a sliding scale.

“Our finding was surprising and could be important for the millions of chronic pain sufferers who are seeking a fast-acting, non-opiate-based therapy to alleviate their pain."

The researchers concluded that pain was reduced by 24 per cent for the group that used meditation plus naloxone, and the group that used meditation plus saline placebo also reported a 21 per cent reduction in pain. Meanwhile, both non-meditation groups reported increased pain.

So even when the body’s opioid receptors are chemically blocked, meditation is still able to relieve pain using different pathways.

“These findings are especially significant to those who have built up a tolerance to opiate-based drugs and are looking for a non-addictive way to reduce their pain,” Zeidan added.

For most people, sitting still for even just a few minutes and paying attention to your thoughts through breath is a challenging task. These apps are here to help you in your calming practice.

1. The Mindfulness App

For the meditation expert as well as beginners, this app includes a range of guided and silent meditations, some of which can be achieved in just three minutes. Statistics based on your progress help to keep you motivated, while daily reminders notify you when it’s time to meditate.
$2.99, iOS & Android

2. Headspace

Recommended by Emma Watson and The New York Times, this subscription based app is designed with busy individuals in mind. The “gym membership for your mind” uses mindfulness techniques and bite-sized meditations to train your mind for a healthier, happier, more enjoyable life.
Free, iOS & Android

“Anxiety conditions are thought to be at least as common as depression during this time and pregnancy can often lead to feelings of uncertainty and fear."

3. Smiling Mind

Psychologists developed the app to bring modern meditation to young people. The web and app-based programs are designed to assist in improving the lives of young Australians. Different meditation programs can be chosen according to your age group, and can be used by children as young as seven.
Free, iOS & Android

4. Mind the Bump

Created by beyondblue and launched to mark Postnatal Depression Awareness Week in November 2014, this app uses mindfulness meditation to manage stress and anxiety for pregnant women and new mothers, as well as their partners. “Anxiety conditions are thought to be at least as common as depression during this time and pregnancy can often lead to feelings of uncertainty and fear,” said Georgie Harman, beyondblue CEO. “But with Mind the Bump, new and expectant parents need only a few minutes to listen to the guided meditations on their smartphones to help ease stress, clear the mind and reduce the risk of developing depression or anxiety.”
Free, iOS & Android

5. iMindfulness

Designed for those on-the-go, this app includes introductory meditation guides as well as more advanced options. Whether you’re commuting or travelling, the app helps you create a feeling of quietness and stability throughout your busy day.
$2.99, iOS & Android

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