Experimenting with 4 meditation apps for a week

Hi all! This is a different kind of post since I am sharing my personal opinion and experiences with some mindfulness/meditation apps.

I have been pretty stressed out lately (job searching) and have also enjoyed very low quality sleep and insomnia. So I decided to get back on track with some meditation or mindfulness activities. (For those of you who don’t know anything about mindfulness or meditation, check this brief post).

It has always been easier for me to practice guided meditations. I had been a user of Headspace a year ago and paid a subscription that never put to good use. The voice of Andy was not so pleasant for me and overall made meditating a pain in the ass instead of more pleasant. But I gave it another try and downloaded the Headspace app again. This time it wasn’t any different: all the sleep aid meditations were subscription only, and the basic meditation wasn’t helping me much.

So I did a little research and I found four alternatives to Headspace that seemed to be nice: Insight Timer, Aura, Calm, and Stop, Breathe, and Think. While most of these apps offer a paid subscription plan, I didn’t pay any so that I can give you some feedback on the free version.

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The first app I tried was Insight Timer. I wanted this app for sleep induction and meditation that was more targeted to any specific need. And it does have a wide variety of meditations. I used some in the middle of the day, like a “mindfulness eating” practice, and then some sleep aid ones.

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I would say it was hit and miss depending on the person that had created the meditation, but since it’s all free, I would not complain. You can save your favorite sessions for easier access next time you want to meditate.

I would use this app if you wanted a huge catalogue of various types of meditations.

 

Calm offers different options like the other apps, but it’s less overwhelming than Insight Timer.  Right when you start you may chose to meditate, play some music, or choose from their sleep section.

For meditation, their beginner guide with 7 free meditation days is a great way to start. If you chose the sleep section, their bedtime stories for adults and children are really g

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reat. They have four stories right now that are free, I don’t know if they will update this in the future.

Oh! A really cute setting of this app is the “scenes” that you use as background for your app. If you choose the Fireplace one, for example, a crackling fire will be shown on your app when you open it, accompanied with its own sounds.

I would use this app if you would like to have a daily guided meditation and bedtime stories.

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From the beginning I was also using Aura daily, since it offers a free short meditation everyday. This works greatly for me if I know I am not ready to purchase a subscription, since it “forces” me to use the daily free one. These meditations were short for the free version of the app, around 3 minutes each day. And they are mood targeted, which I found very useful.

 

The app comes with a gratitude journal, as well as a quick breathing exercise section. Like Calm, it also offers relaxation music, but has nothing on sleep aid on the free version.

I would use this app if you benefit from brief meditation or if lengthy meditations don’t work for you.

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Stop, Breath & Think is a great tool for the newbie. I had some technical issues, as the app for android is new and more unstable. I love that it has tons of information on mindfulness and meditation from the basics to “how it works”.

The app itself is really cute, and guides you to find the right meditation for you. In the beginning you may choose to do a “check in”, which is often used in therapy, specially in group counseling. During this check in you will be asked your emotional state, your physical state, and to choose 5 emotions that describe how you are feeling right now.

 

After the check in, you will be given three meditations to practice. They are pretty well targeted and I felt like the meditations were of better quality than the other apps.

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If you decide not to do a check-in, you may chose directly from their list of meditation,

 

which are about 6 minutes long for the free version.

I would chose this app if you are trying to get meditation practices targeted to your emotional and physical state.

 

 

I hope that these reviews were useful to anyone. If you’ve used any other and want to include it, please comment below!

 

EXTRAS: I accompany my daily routines with a couple of items that have become essential to me. One is an eye cooling pad that a friend of mine got for me. I put it in the freezer for 10 minutes and then cover my eyes with it either while meditating or just while I lay for a little bit. This is specially useful for tired eyes or headaches.

The other one is an essential oil diffuser that I use with different kinds of oils. I use it daily but specially when meditating.

 


Disclaimer: I am in no way related or in connection with anyone working for the mentioned brands and I have no financial gain for any purchases or downloads.

 

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Types of therapies: Humanism

It has taken me some time to continue this mini-series about counseling or psychology theories, but here I am, back with a new post, this time about Humanism. If you are new to the blog or can’t remember, part of the objective I have is to close the gap between therapy and people.

I believe therapy should be for everyone, and I think by talking about it openly we can reduce the stigma around it. In this series of posts, I try to summarize my perspective in different counseling theories, so that people can choose and know a little more when choosing a therapist.

So…as I did with Psychodynamic theories, my aim here is not to do an academic review of this orientation, which can be found anywhere else, but to give an idea of what you can find on a Humanist therapist and therapeutic setting.

Briefly

As a response to their predecessors, humanists wanted to, very simply, humanize the therapeutic setting. The psychoanalyst methods were too solemn and serious for some, and argued that it did not take into account the personal perspective, as it was based on the therapist’s interpretation and ideas of determinism.

Humanism escapes from that by acknowledging the uniqueness of each person, which would make this approach phenomenological. It is the person who is in possession of the truth, and therefore, of the solution, and not the therapist.

Predecessors of this orientation are Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who worked towards the creation of a new style that would differ in techniques and understanding of therapy.

The therapist

The humanist therapist will not always be identified as such because of the many directions that humanism has taken along the years. Other orientations encompassed on Humanism could be: Person Centered therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Existenitalism, Gestalt or Positive psychology, among others. Although they may all fall under the category of humanism, they may differ greatly from one another.

Some general ideas of the humanist therapist:

  • Therapist focuses on quality of therapeutic relationship
  • Therapist is genuine, integrated, and authentic
  • Therapist openly expresses feelings and attitudes present in relationship with the client
  • Therapist does not use techniques designed to get the client to do something (this is more of a person centered approach)
  • There are no roles in relationship
  • Empathetic, understanding, non-judgmental

The Client

The client will be expected to work towards a desired goal. The client is mostly understood from a here-and-now perspective, which differs from other theories that focus more on the past experiences. From this idea, the client will talk about current life, life goals, and ideas of self and self-improvement.

Since the expertise is put on the client, it will be them who are responsible for deciding what they need, and may expect to have autonomy over deciding on scheduling, the issues to work on and style. However, as previously said, this may vary when working with a Gestalt therapist, or a Person Centered one, for example.

Resources

The Association for Humanistic Psychology https://www.ahpweb.org/

Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Find a therapist with a humanist approach.

 


Anything you want to add? Comment bellow!

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Mini series: types of therapy and therapists

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Hello everyone!

Wow, it’s been a long time! If you are wondering why it took me so long to write more, the reason is, I am in a master’s degree and that is taking so much time! Related to that, now you can check the about page, where you will find general information about this blog and about myself.

That said, today I am bringing some fresh ideas. It occurred to me- better said, to my partner- that there was a real need for people who decide to go to therapy and don’t know what kind of therapist they should search for. Based on that, I would like to create a series of posts that will mainly concentrate in the style of therapy that each theories have. Today I am going to talk about why having this information is important-at least to me.

Why is it important to choose a (good) therapist

The truth is, it might not be so important to you. If you think you could get along with any kind of person, or if you are very open to try different styles, or if you have the security that any person with good will is able to help you, then you don’t need anything else!

However, many people who go to therapy end up not liking their therapist, or the style of therapy, and stop going to therapy and never try again. The reasons can be several, but in many cases I will dare to say that the connection between therapist and client wasn’t working. Therapist and client need to connect, in my opinion, as friends, classmates, partners or coworkers do.

But the truth is, you are not going to know your therapist before the first session. In fact, even after many time you may not know your therapist at all. So how are we suppose to choose with which therapy to go? Here is where knowing his or her theoretical orientation will help. Theoretical orientation is the base in which therapist base our treatments and actions. When we subscribe to a theory, the theory guides us in how to treat the client, the treatments to follow, techniques to use etc.

How the mini series will contribute

I am not going to mention every kind of therapy (there are around 300 different therapies out there) but the most relevant ones or the ones that are gonna make a difference in how the session is held. However, if there is any therapy that you heard about and you would like to learn more about just let me know, I will be glad to help.

My idea is that knowing the theory will let you know a lot about how things might be in session.

What if I don’t know the theoretical orientation?

Many therapists will not disclose this information. Well this might be a bit controversial, but they have to tell you. There is no possible good way of working in therapy without having a theoretical orientation. It is where we base not only treatment but also ethics.

It might happen that the therapist says he is integrative. Many professionals integrate more than one theory to they work, that is usual and completely fine. They will still probably subscribe to one theory, if you have any doubts, just ask them.

Other things to take into consideration

I am not going to be a snob and say that theory is everything and that you should be only guided by that. There are plenty reasons to choose a therapist. For example, she lives near you, she is a woman, he is black, he is older than you are, has cheap sessions or can conduct therapy through Skype. If any of these reasons or others are good enough for you to choose a therapist, just do it!

Before the first session you are going to be able to collect some information. Call this person, take a look at their website if they have one, ask them all the questions you need before the first day. I think that therapist fail to share this information in a way that is understandable and transparent.

After having this information you will be able to know more or less if this is the right therapy for you, or not. The truth is that not every therapy is for everyone, and you don’t have to like every therapist either.

In the next post I will talk about Psychoanalytic therapy, subscribe to receive the post as soon as it’s published!

Thanks for reading!

Psychology for dummies: 10 misconceptions about psychology.

Este post en Español

Although starting the first post of the blog insulting my readers may not sound like a good idea, let’s face it: we don’t know much about psychology!

If you are a psychologist you probably already know the typical sentences with which everyone comes to you after knowing your profession. If you are not here are some examples:

  • I don’t believe in psychology
  • Every psychologist s crazy
  • Are you gonna read my mind?
  • Psychoanalyze me!
  • If the psychiatrist can give you medicine, why go to the psychologist?
  • I dreamt… what does it mean?
  • Psychologist must be rich!
  • Only crazy people go to therapy

After dealing myself with people that don’t know what psychology is, rather than being just mad at them, I thought, “why not explain what it really is?”. So I ended up picking up some of-in my opinion- the worst misconceptions about psychology. of course they are not the only ones, and this is no official parameter, it’s my own opinion. Let’s go step by step. Continue reading

Paradox of choice

Picture by Amnesiac86 from Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered what could you do to take your life easier? Let me give you a small piece of advice: reduce the choices you have to make everyday.

To be honest, this idea is not originally mine. The idea belongs to Barry Schwartz. Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist that has been working and researching in the field of social psychology. He has published some books, among them The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less Continue reading

Psychology in the movies

 

Image by Holger Ellgaard on Wikimedia commons

Movies reflect situations and parts of the human life. Sometimes they reflect our desires and fantasies, others our fears and worst realities. They are not always realistic, and neither their characters should be taken as role models. But I think they have succeeded in this struggle that I have, to bring psychology and therapy closer to everyone.

Therefore, as I am a big movie buff, I could not hesitate to create this post about movies about psychology and therapy. I ordered them alphabetically. You can find the year, director and the theme. Hope you enjoy it and if you want to add any, comment below!

Continue reading