For Dr. Tina Chadda, practicing meditation and mindfulness is largely about one thing: thriving. But that wasn’t always the case.
The India-born, Nova Scotia-raised author, wellness coach, and psychiatrist, who specializes in psychotherapy and psychosomatics, had been practicing family and general medicine for years before a series of personal hardships led her to seek out relief that she found in meditation. But as the practice quickly went from being a survival tool to being a way to thrive and better herself, Chadda began to see the potential to help others through meditation. Her approach to fulfilling her mission? Creating an app.
The First Meditation
It was in 2007, after a personal tragedy, that Chadda tried meditation for the first time.
“I lost everything in a house fire on Valentine’s Day that year, and had a couple of other really awful things happen in my life,” says Chadda. “So like anybody else, I was looking for everything and anything that could help me. I started running, I started doing yoga, I cleaned up what I ate, I started studying positive psychology, I did my own personal coaching –– I just found a lot of things really, really helpful. That’s also when I really got into meditation and mindfulness.”
As Chadda began developing her own personal meditation routine, she began keeping a journal where she could keep track of the things that she was finding to be especially helpful to her. And as she continued to expand on that list, she started using the practices that she was recording in her journal in her work with her patients and some of her clients.
But when Chadda started looking for something on the market that could help her with her meditation, the lack of options that she found is what ultimately inspired her to create Akasha, an app dedicated to meditation, mindfulness, and whole-hearted living.
The Creation of the App
While it was Chadda’s own search for a helpful meditation tool that gave her the idea to launch Akasha, it was her desire to share what she had learned through mediation with others that really got her committed to bringing the concept to life.
“In recent years, everybody seems to be using a health and wellness app,” she says, “and I just thought, ‘Well, you know, I’d love for people to be able to benefit from all of this.’ And that’s sort of how I ended up putting it all together in an app.”
Despite not having a background in tech, Chadda got to work on the app concept, starting with the meditations. Beyond her own experience and journal entries, which were the perfect launching off point, she began looking into journal articles, attending seminars, and doing everything she could to expand her knowledge on the subject of meditation.
“Akasha is the only app on the market that combines positive mindfulness and meditation, and is also evidence-based,” says Chadda, adding that it was incredibly important to her from day one to create something that would make people’s lives easier and more fulfilling, but that was also totally backed by science.
The User Experience
The user experience when it comes to Akasha isn’t too far off from the underlying concept of the app itself, in that it’s all about simplicity. A super clean interface makes it easy to navigate between different modules, which are grouped under five categories: fire, earth, water, metal, and wood.
“The five elements represent different areas of our lives,” says Chadda. “So ‘fire’ is really about our need for love, or the role of love in our lives; ‘earth’ is about harmony and balance; ‘water’ is about flow and productivity; ‘metal’ is about success and accomplishment; and ‘wood’ stands for creativity and innovation because we have to access our resources and we have to be able to be innovative and creative in furthering ourselves.”
But despite the careful organization of its modules and meditations, Chadda says there’s no specific way to go about use the app to reap the most benefits. So instead of feeling the need to go into the app and complete an entire element, for example, it’s entirely possible for someone to complete just a single module or a single meditation, depending on their needs.
“Each exercise can completely stand alone,” says Chadda. “So you can do the whole element if you want to, but if you want to focus on only one thing – say you want to focus on positivity, and you want to understand how to use positivity in your life – you can just go right to that meditation. Or maybe you want to learn about how to use your breathing, then you go to that particular meditation.”
That flexibility and opportunity to use the app within each person’s individual needs is what ultimately makes it equally useful to those who are more experience with meditation, and are adamant about working it into their days, and those who may be trying it out for the first time.
The Value of Meditation
In her own daily routine, Chadda strives to meditate every morning and every evening for at least five minutes, but for up to 15 minutes when she has the time.
“I like to bookend my day with it,” Chadda says. “When we build rituals into our lives like that, it makes it easier and it has more meaning. It’s like when you put on makeup – I put my makeup on in the beginning of the day and remove it at night. Those are kinds of things that we wouldn’t even think twice about, we just do them naturally. So when we can build meditation into our lifestyles that way, it’s much more powerful.”
Still, while meditation and mindfulness practices have been on the rise for some time – growing interest in things like yoga are examples of just that – there remains a bit of skepticism in the mix for all the interest. Specifically, there are those who still question whether or not meditation can really do that much as far as promoting overall wellness. But the way Chadda sees it, the connection is pretty clear.
“Just think about the root word of meditation, medicine, and mediation,” she says. “These words all have the root, ‘medi,’ which means ‘to attend,’ ‘to heal,’ or ‘to measure.’ This idea of healing and fixing comes from that Indo-European root word: medi. So meditation, really, in our modern world is a space, place, and time to give yourself the love and attention that is healing. Of course, that’s what medicine is about, too.”
Download the app here.