Can an app make you mindful?

(CNN)Traveling: It should be a chance to unwind, but often it just winds you up.

From canceled flights to tube strikes to lost luggage, plenty of potential in-transit problems threaten to disrupt your Zen.
    Even if your journey is hassle-free, in today’s age of hyper-connectivity it’s hard to focus on the now.
    How can you forget your work woes if your phone is buzzing every five minutes?
    How can you appreciate the beauty of your new locale if you’re just viewing it through an Instagram filter?

    What is mindfulness?

    Mindfulness has become an omnipresent buzzword: from the burgeoning adult coloring book market to the growth of yoga as the exercise class du jour.
    The art of mindfulness is defined as living in the present — arguably the most rewarding thing about being on vacation.
    Advocates say that practicing mindfulness on trips away can allow you to remain calm in the face of unexpected turbulence — both literal and metaphorical.
    Jamie Bristow, director of the Mindfulness Initiative and a consultant to the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC), champions this link between mindfulness and travel.
    “One of the things people often say mindfulness helps them with is being comfortable when they are uncomfortable,” says Bristow.
    “Practicing mindfulness allows long queues, long-haul flights to be manageable.
    “Rather than being very distressed you’re more able to […] see the best in the situation, to step out of the difficult thought patterns.”


    At the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC), founded in 2008 as part of Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, a team of professionals conducts regular research into the potential benefits of using mindfulness to deal with depression and memory loss.
    The OMC has its own YouTube Channel, which features free guided meditation videos.

    The app pack

    Bristow is in the process of designing an OMC app.
    Meanwhile, a quick search on iTunes proves that mindfulness apps have become ubiquitous.
    I’m a curious skeptic when it comes to mindfulness. I find traveling occasionally stressful and wonder if these apps could be the answer.
    I decide to test three mindfulness apps during my daily commute.
    Traveling to London on the 7:02 a.m. train isn’t exactly a vacation in an exciting locale, but many of the same stresses abound: delayed trains, busy stations and long queues.



      Stress-free travel tips


    The apps are particularly appealing — and effective — on days when I’m feeling stressed.
    I haven’t deleted any of them and continue to experiment with the three.
    Buddhify app creator Rohan Gunatillake explains that practicing mindfulness whilst traveling is key because “few of us have the luxury of lots of quiet and calm time for formal sitting meditation but since many of us spend so much time traveling […] a few minutes meditating while traveling can be just as valuable as the same amount of time in more traditional meditation.”
    Therein lies the appeal of meditating while traveling: rendering the unavoidable process of getting from A to B an easier, more enjoyable and more valuable experience.

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