With the daily conveyor belt of Whatsapp, Messenger and email notifications popping up on our phones, it’s no surprise that our screens have become one of the most stressful presences in our lives. However, the rise of meditation apps is slowly helping reverse that and the newest addition to the fold looks set to pave the way for the next generation. Say hello to Breathe with Terrence, the first-ever chatbot-based mindfulness and meditation app that makes switching off easier than ever.
Created by clinical hypnotherapist Terrence Barnardt, aka Terrence the Teacher , the app provides an interesting twist on other guided meditation tools on the market due to its Whatsapp style design that makes the user feel like they’re talking to a friend. A friend well-versed in all things mindfulness mind you. Essentially, it provides a one-on-one meditation tutorial at your fingertips. It’s clever stuff.
“You will feel like you are connected to Terrence the Teacher daily while learning how to meditate,” Terrence tells me. “The app also has a dual purpose, it teaches the concept of mindfulness while helping to create the habit of meditating.”
It does this through a daily programme of breathing and meditation exercises that last less than one minute to begin with and get progressively longer as you go along. Meditations come in the form of audio clips and Whatsapp style speech bubbles from Terrence to keep you focussed and engaged and the timings of your practices can also be edited to suit your lifestyle and daily demands.
You’ll also get daily reminders on your phone to help keep you on track too. It’s built on the ‘21 days to create a habit principle,’ and so is ideal for those who’ve previously struggled to incorporate meditation into their routine.
“I am trying to show people how simple a practice of being mindful can be,” says Terrence. “And that a meditation of 45 seconds is as valuable as learning to do a 20 minute one. The practice should fit into their life and be an add-on.”
As well as its unique tech, the app’s backstory really sets it apart. Terrence originally created it for the staff of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). “I’ve been working with the GOSH staff now for more than four years doing group mindfulness sessions and talks,” he says. “The response was so positive that Dr Neil Bulstrode, a reconstructive plastic surgeon there and a private client of mine, asked if I would consider doing a mindfulness app. In that way, I could reach all of the staff at GOSH.”
This coincided with a meeting with Exciting Minds, an app developer passionate about providing cutting edge mobile-learning solutions that are chatbot enabled. “They suggested we could create something amazing together,” Terrence tells me. Almost a year later, work on Breathe with Terrence was complete and it was gifted to GOSH staff.
Feedback was extremely encouraging. "I found it great for creating a strong mindfulness habit which I use at work and home," says Dr Neil Bulstrode. "For my fellow colleagues in theatres, it has allowed us to be able to cope with more stressful situations in a more calm and thoughtful way which has had positive benefits for both patients and staff."
Due to how well it was received, the logical next step was to share the tech with the rest of the world. And on a personal note, I'm glad that they did. The practices can be done pretty much anywhere (I’ve taken to doing them on the train on my morning commute to set me up for the day) and once you get into the swing of things, you can change the timings of them to better suit the flow of your working week. “Doing it during the day can reset a person if the day has run away with them,” says Terrence. “At the end of the day, meditation could help an individual let go of all that happened.” If you forget to do one, it’s no big deal. Getting stressed about it sort of defeats the purpose.
After the first 21 days (which are centred around the basics of mindfulness), the app then evolves in order to take your practices to the next level. This includes a week that gives you some time to try self practice, with Terrence just checking in. In addition to this, a new group of meditations is also introduced to help people experience connecting mindfully in their day to day lives. New meditations are added every few months too.
A mindfulness app with a difference to help bring some peace of mind to the working day, Breathe with Terrence helps you not only see how quick and easy it is to make meditation a daily habit, but also how effective it can be in strengthening the mind-body connection.B
Breathe with Terrence is available to download at breathewithterrence.com . The first two days are free, after which you can choose to pay £8.99 for a month or an annual fee of £54 (which works out at £4.50 per month).