Meditation apps aim to lift the spirits, calm the stressful

TORONTO Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:14am IST

Mexican students of the Tibetan Buddhist culture meditate inside Tibet house in Mexico City, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexican students of the Tibetan Buddhist culture meditate inside Tibet house in Mexico City, October 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

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TORONTO (Reuters) - In a bad mood but not sure why? New smartphone apps provide short guided meditations designed to help users return to a positive state of mind.

Stop, Breathe & Think, a free iPhone app, prompts people to check how they are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically and will recommend three guided meditations between five and 10 minutes long.

"We wanted to give people a friendly and accessible tool to develop these skills - something they could easily integrate into their daily routine," said Jamie Price, executive director of Tools for Peace, a California-based non-profit which developed the app.

It aims to help people feel more grounded, calmer and happier, he added, and to recognize emotions and impulses and to react positively.

"The recommended meditations are meant to be a support, to help you deal with whatever is going on from the perspective of kindness and compassion, and with a greater sense of being positively connected," Price said in an interview.

It includes 15 guided meditations based on Tibetan teachings. Users can track their progress including how long they have meditated and how settled they feel every day.

Canadian singer k.d. lang, who serves on the group's board, said she used the app as a reset button for stressful days.

"Our goal is that after using this app people learn how to become calm, and approach their everyday life from the perspective of kindness and compassion," she said.

A similar free app called Headspace, which is available for iPhone and Android, also teaches meditation and provides a free ten-day program that leads users through short guided meditations.

It also features specialized meditations to improve sleep or reduce stress or other problems, as well as paid programs. Users can track their progress day-by-day in a dashboard and set reminders to keep on top of their practices.

Studies have shown the positive benefits of meditation, including research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that it may be helpful for reducing anxiety and depression.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Grant McCool)

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