I like to think I am a relatively spiritual and mindful person. I have crystals scattered around my apartment and carry a rose quartz around with me everywhere in my purse. However, meditating is something I have also wanted to pursue, but always made excuses to not do.
These excuses sounded like, “I’m too busy”, “I’d rather just watch TV”, “I don’t know how”, “I can’t sit still for that long”, and as such, my only major experience with meditation was at my yoga retreat or as enforced stress management by teachers during the HSC.
The benefits of meditation have become increasingly better understood, with studies documenting its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance mood and promote better self-awareness. One study by The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, of 3,5000 people found that regular meditation can even help control pain. It documented that meditation was associated with reduced complaints about chronic or intermittent pain.
Personally, I was interested in the emotional benefits and I also had a desire for greater mental clarity. I decided that one of my new year’s resolutions for 2020 was to make meditation a habit, however, I wasn’t confident to meditate on my own. I considered taking a meditation course or going on a meditation retreat such as Mindspo Retreats in Bali but I wanted something simple and easy to get me going.
In the end, I downloaded the App ‘Bloom’, which is a wellness app co-founded by Australian Influencers Chloe Szepanowski (21) and Molly Jane (32).
According to co-founder Molly, the app came about as a means to share all the wellness tools they personally use which have changed their life for the better. She says, “Chloe and I would always talk these different tools that had helped us grow into better human beings, and we were like, ‘we have to start telling more people this’.”
“It’s just simple things, and it’s not that hard, but people don’t realise that if you just do a couple of simple things every day you will have the self-awareness and the resilience to get through whatever life throws at you,” she says.
The app contains meditations, breathwork, kundalini yoga, mindful activities such as colouring in and relaxing music. In this way, the app is much more than just a meditation app. I was very committed to making meditation a habit, so I purchased the yearly subscription for $86.99, however, there are monthly and quarterly subscriptions available too.
The app is designed to be super user friendly, in order to make the process easy and inviting.
When you open the app you are invited to log your mood (it gives you options such as happy, anxious, stressed etc) and then recommends an action based on your mood to positively benefit you.
You then arrive at the home screen where it suggests a guided meditation, a visual meditation and an activity for you to choose from. Often these correspond to your logged mood, however, if they don’t or you want to choose your own then you can do that too.
What I love about this app is that the meditations are short and sweet, ranging from something as short as two minutes all the way to 21 minutes so you can customise your mindful experience and can’t use the “too busy” excuse. The guided and visual meditations also remove the barrier of “I don’t know what to do” because you are always directed by either a meditation teacher or Chloe and Molly.
Bloom’s message that small actions can create big change is truly reflected in the way the app is designed and used.
Molly says, “I don’t think people realise how good they can actually feel. People forget that taking a huge big breath or quietening their mind for a little bit can make such a big difference.”
Personally, some of my favourite exercises are the short energy releases and the stillness visual meditation, which take no more than 5 minutes and can be done at any time throughout the day. Through my own practices, I have found that specific meditations work better for me when I am anxious or stressed, while others, like the ‘stillness meditation’ I prefer to do in the morning to start the day on the right foot.
Throughout my month of using the app, I’ve experimented with meditating in the mornings and evenings. I find when I meditate in the morning it really sets me up for a mindful and productive day, and enables me to be more intentional with my actions whereas evening meditations are more reflective or are specifically designed for sleep.
Over the last month I have meditated for a total of 11.4 hours which is crazy considering I only meditate for short periods at a time. When I first started using the app at the start of January, I was experiencing a lot of anxiety due to health and lifestyle problems I was facing. Looking at my mood log of the start of the month, I had recorded feelings of frustration, being miserable and tired.
While meditating and the mindfulness activities were extremely beneficial in the moment to calm me down, I have felt a shift in my mindset overall. In the last week I haven’t recorded a single negative emotion, instead opting for happy, hopeful, euphoric and optimistic which has been a major emotional shift for me and I am excited to see what happens long term.
Despite these emotional and mindset shifts, Bloom’s co-founder Molly emphasises that “life isn’t going to stop. I want to make it clear that, yeah you might meditate for 30 days, however it doesn’t mean that you will feel invincible. I’ve been doing yoga for around 20 years and I still have bad days.”
“The difference is, because I am doing a small practice every single day, when I have those shitty moments, I have the self-awareness and the tools up my sleeve to move through it a lot quicker without getting too bogged down in it,” she says.
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