Why Games Can Help Your Mindfulness Practice
Growing up, I was into math and logic and facts. I majored in computer science in college, and afterwards I made educational science video games for kids. I was really in touch with my brain and thinking my way through problems. I was not in touch with the rest of my body. I got a lot of headaches.
I started meditating to help with my headaches and get in touch with my thoughts and feelings. Rather than distract myself from discomfort with my phone or TV, I’m learning to sit with what’s going on inside me without resisting.
As a beginner, I’m trying to be more mindful throughout my day. I meditate in the morning, and as great as it is for me, it’s not always an option to sit for 15 minutes when I’m stressed out at 3 pm.
Now I’m making mindfulness games to help people calm down and get in touch with themselves wherever they are — physically and mentally.
When most people think of video games, they think of mindless distractions. However, here are 5 reasons why they’re actually wonderfully suited to bring a dose of mindfulness into your day:
1. Games are super quick.
Starting to notice my breath when I’m in line at the grocery would be great, but I’m not there yet. What I can (and do) do is pull out my phone. Maybe you’re in the same boat. What’s great about mobile games is that a single play-through can take as little as 30 seconds. Just 30 seconds to remind myself of my intention. I definitely have the time (and wherewithal) for that while my spinach is being scanned.
2. Games are funny.
Sometimes we can all get too uptight about our lives — our relationships, our work, and even our meditation practice. We need to let go of seriousness.
Games, though… games can be silly. They can blip, bloop, zoink, and splat. They can gently remind you to ease up a little bit when things feel heavy and even make you laugh. And sometimes that’s the perfect reminder that our thoughts and feelings are just that — just thoughts. Just feelings.
3. Games are easy.
For a lot of people, meditation is intimidating. Sitting still for fifteen minutes can seem really hard. But playing games on your phone? I’ve seen all sorts of people on the subway in all sorts of mental states playing Candy Crush! Games are easy.
If you’re not sure how to start a mindfulness practice, games can be a gentle introduction to a new way of calming and getting comfortable with your mind.
4. Games give you a strong mental image.
Visualization can be a helpful meditation technique. I often think of my headaches as a car slowly passing by to remind myself to just let it pass and not resist the pain.
With games, this type of visualization can become tactile. You can actually practice with the image right at your finger tips. You can feel the visualization to help focus during the game and more easily recall it later.
5. Games can change your relationship with your phone.
Phones are addicting. Quitting cold turkey or limiting our usage through awareness may not be realistic for all of us.
But having calming, centering games to reach for instead of alarmist news or distracting puzzles can turn your phone into a helper. The desire to reach for our phones is real — so let’s be gentle with ourselves. Instead of being ashamed and harsh about this desire, let’s find a way to use it to help and love ourselves.
Mindfulness games can do just that.