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Meditation might once have been relegated to the periphery, a practice adored by man bun-sporting individuals and those tapped into the trajectory of their rising moon astrological phase, but in recent years it’s since come to dominate the world of wellness – and for good reason. Where in the past we placed greater emphasis on workouts that promised a physical transformation, our priorities have since shifted. Now, we understand that wellness isn’t just the consideration of the external; that to truly embody the word we need to be finely attuned with our mind. Just like we exercise our bodies, the daily ritual of mindful meditation has become a staple for so many around the world and in our fast-paced lives that grant such little opportunity to take stock of the present moment, pause and breathe deeply, ampicillin kids meditation has become a salve – not just for lockdown, but for times of stress and uncertainty. Now, Apple Fitness+ are bringing the benefits of meditation to you. 

The fitness platform has long been the go-to source for fitness enthusiasts looking for workouts that deliver results. From HIIT to dance cardio and yoga, Apple Fitness+ has continued to ensure we stay motivated in our fitness pursuits but it’s the newly-launched meditation series that proves most exciting. If you’ve enjoyed the Mindful Cooldown experiences already offered on the platform, guided Meditation promises to build on this with its simple approach to practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. As many of us continue to grapple with the current climate – one of relentless lockdown, uncertainty, and a shift to working from home that sees the line between work and leisure blurred – there’s never been a better time to make our mental health a priority and the addition of meditation to Apple Fitness+ not only helps to reduce everyday stress, but also helps users to develop a greater sense of awareness and build resilience to face life’s challenges. 

The importance of meditation can’t be overstated. If one takeaway has come out of Covid-19-enforced lockdown, it’s that now more than ever it’s important to prioritise our mental health. As many have struggled with the uncertainty of this time, others have found solace in the daily practice of mindfulness. A recent study documented in The Conversation found that a regular dose of mindfulness practice every day for 10 days provided a buffer against the negative impact of Covid-19 news consumption. As well as that, individuals who practised mindfulness were not as negatively affected by exposure to Covid-19-related news, leading researchers to believe that the practice of mindful meditation served as a buffer against stress. The best part? You don’t need to be carving an hour or two out of your day for meditation to reap the benefits. Even just brief, daily practices enhanced the positive affect of meditation.

Led by a group of Mindful Cooldown and Yoga trainers that Fitness+ users already know and love, guided meditation will offer nine themes to choose from – Purpose, Kindness, Gratitude, Awareness, Creativity, Wisdom, Calm, Focus, and Resilience. With five, 10- and 20-minute meditations on offer, the trainers will take you on an engaging video experience like no other, with a different style and approach that ensures whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, the practice is accessible to all. Perhaps it’s this that’s most striking though. For so many of us who aren’t used to meditation, the practice itself can be a rather daunting one. Images of serene individuals sitting with impeccable posture immediately come to mind and can be a source of intimidation, a reminder that we’re not doing it “right”. It’s exactly this stigma that Apple Fitness+ is looking to remove, presenting a keen focus on the beginner’s journey in the variety of experiences on offer. With the Meditation for Beginners program, users new to the practice will learn the fundamentals before diving into the studio sessions. 

Users can access the guided meditation sessions on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, but a new addition to Apple’s lineup also means you can access the classes in audio form in the new Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch. It means you don’t have to be at home to meditate. Whether you’re needing just 10 minutes of clarity on the work commute or looking to slow your breathing and relax before a big work presentation, these audio experiences mean you can take your mindful meditation with you anywhere. 

It’s thanks to the watchOS 8 update that such additions occur, with a new session known as Reflect also making its way into the Breathe app upgrade. Beginning with an invitation to “Take a moment to reflect,” you’ll be presented with a short thought-starter; a simple idea to hold and focus your thoughts. This might include something like: “Take some time to think about something you’re grateful for,” prompting users to turn their thoughts inward and reach a positive frame of mind. In training ourselves to think more positively, we might just live longer too. Studies have found that optimism is specifically related to an 11 to 15 per cent longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity” when it comes to living to the age of 85 and beyond. 

And with the ability to set “mindfulness reminders” on the Apple Watch, we can turn our mindful meditation into a consistent, daily practice. As Julz Arney, Director of Fitness for Health Technologies at Apple explains, consistency is key when it comes to our mindfulness. “It has a lot of synergy to fitness. The body loves consistency and it appears the mind does as well. Small doses of activity are super beneficial for you rather than sitting all day and doing one work out. And it turns out, it’s the same as training for your mind.”

Arney adds: “When it comes to making a healthy habit out of meditation, we really thought about that especially for Fitness+ subscribers because remember that when you set those mindfulness app reminders, if you’re a Fitness+ subscriber the first platter you’re going to see are the meditations. If you want to create a healthy habit out of meditation, you can set your reminders and then you’ll be reminded right there on your wrist that it’s time to do even just a five minute meditation.”

In light of the new features, Women’s Health heard from three of Apple’s guided Meditation trainers – Jessica, JoAnna and Christian – to find out why the addition of guided meditation to the fitness platform is such an exciting one and how we can utilise such workouts to carve out time for our own mindful practices. 

Women’s Health: Apple Fitness+ has quickly become a platform delivering a well-rounded health journey in terms of physical fitness and mindfulness. What excites you most about the addition of guided meditation?

Jessica Skye: One of my favourite parts of Fitness+ is the team’s passion for building an accessible platform for fitness and wellness that is welcoming to all and suits you wherever you are on your journey to live a healthy life. The same applies with Meditation, and having it as part of the Fitness+ experience will not only mean you have it at your fingers tips (for both video and audio experiences), but you can easily start with just 5 minutes. Even on your busiest days, a 5 minute Meditation can really do wonders as you begin to explore being more mindful and are guided by the themes we’ve curated, such as Gratitude, Kindness and Wisdom. Meditation has been such an amazing tool to help me live a happy and healthy life, so I’m beyond excited to share our work with the Fitness+ community. 

For those who are new to mindfulness and meditation, what advice would you give them in terms of starting out?

JoAnna Hardy: Be gentle on yourself and don’t give up! It’s easy to start something new with excitement and then soon start to think that we don’t have time, or we’re not “good” enough to keep doing it, but I encourage you to keep at it! By taking the time to look inside, we can begin to see ourselves in a way we never have before. We designed the guided Meditation in Fitness+ for those at any point in their journey, whether it’s the first time they’re meditating or they’re a seasoned practitioner. We have Meditations for Beginners to help people learn a few techniques as well as a Getting Started video so people can watch a little first before trying it themselves. You will definitely bump into moments when it seems too hard, either physically or emotionally, but it’s worth it!

What are some of the benefits that come from guided meditation as opposed to doing it alone?

Christian Howard: Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t simply “staying present” or even spacing out, meditation actually includes many specific instructions and techniques that are time-tested to keep you connected and on track, and includes ethics and principles that help us cultivate constructive mental qualities. Guided meditations make it much easier to express and absorb this expertise because we don’t have to worry about doing it right or wrong, we have someone we can trust communicating clearly and right there to help us. The beauty with the Fitness+ library is that it provides people with many different methods, each of them carefully crafted with audio and visual experiences to be accessible whether you are new or already engaged. Guided meditations are really there to help each person build a habit, and through repetition, master each meditation technique. Once people have embodied the principles of meditation, they can feel free to guide themselves if and when they need. 

Fitness+ subscribers will be able to tune into Guided Meditation videos on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, with audio versions of the same classes also available via the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch. For those who are subscribed to the platform, the guided meditation classes are accessible today, while those who aren’t subscribers can sign up for $14.99 per month, or $119.99 for the year. 

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