February 20, 2018

Riding the endless hills

My recent mindfulness practice has done wonders for my mental health, but there are still some days when my anxiety gets the better of me. There are days, or moments in a day, that get my heart rate up and I feel too anxious to meditate.

On those days, in those moments, I open Alto’s Adventure on my phone, flip it to zen mode, put in my earphones, and just ride the endless hills.

Screenshot from Alto’s Adventure

I only have one game on my phone, and that is Alto’s Adventure. When it first launched, I was enthralled by the music, by the visuals, by the meditative nature of the gameplay. While I loved trying to unlock the achievements and get high scores, my real love of the game came when they introduced zen mode, a version of the game where the slopes are endless, there are no achievements or times or points, and there is no success or failure. The original gameplay was meditative; the zen mode was basically meditation.

I’ve been fairly open about my struggles with anxiety and depression, but I haven’t shared that one of my favorite coping mechanisms for my anxiety (at least, when it isn’t very bad, but still needs intervention) is to play zen mode on Alto’s Adventure. The repetitive motion, the serene landscapes, and the soothing music is often just what I need to center myself and recapture my composure.

Screenshot from Alto’s Adventure

Last week, the makers of Alto’s Adventure announced a sequel to the game, Alto’s Odyssey; I pre-ordered it without even thinking twice. If the gameplay is even half as meditative (and especially if they have a zen mode) as the original, I know the purchase will be worth it—for entertainment, and for my mental health.