Talk with anyone who meditates regularly, and they’ll gladly tell you about the benefits to the mind, body, and soul. It’s an effective way to reduce stress, control anxiety, sharpen your focus, and improve self-compassion.
Who doesn’t want that?
But despite all the upsides, many people are hesitant to give meditation a try. They may be reluctant to join a class, lack free time, or even be concerned about the cost of instruction. This is where guided meditation apps come into play. Using your smartphone, you can now enjoy your own private class whenever and wherever you like. All you need is a pair of headphones, and a few minutes to sit quietly. Here are some of the best meditation apps on the market:
If you’re new to meditation—or even skeptical about whether it’s right for you—Headspace can be a good place to start. With colorful graphics and playful animation, it almost feels more like a game than a meditation app, and has proven very popular.
With classes between three and 30 minutes, Headspace can help you to be more mindful in your daily life, and stay on top of stress. There are even ‘SOS’ exercises you can do if you’re feeling nervous, anxious, or struggling to maintain willpower. Classes are split into a range of categories: including health, work and performance, and happiness. Within each category, you can focus on specific goals—such as self-esteem, pain management, patience, and generosity.
The ‘bite-sized’ nature of Headspace is perfect if you’re short on time—or want something to fall back on if you’re having a tough day. It has found its way to the top of many people’s lists, including in this review by Wirecutter.
Neuroscientist and best-selling author Sam Harris launched the guided meditation app Waking Up in 2018. Featuring a 50-day intro course, Waking Up guides you through a series of basic meditation practices. Once you complete the introduction, it unlocks a new list of daily exercises.
This app caters to all comers—from beginners, to advanced meditators looking to expand their daily practice. Sam Harris personally guides you through the classes in a pleasing, neutral tone. Waking Up differs from some other apps by having a strong focus on structure and routine. Instead of ‘one-off’ classes, there’s more emphasis on making meditation part of your daily life.
The Mindfulness App
Created in Stockholm and used in over 130 countries, The Mindfulness App can be a great way to clear your mind during a busy or stressful day. A 5-day guided course provides an introduction to meditation, after which you can start your own classes—ranging from three to 30 minutes each. The lesson guides speak in a soothing and relaxing tone, similar to a yoga instructor. You can either stick with guided classes, or choose silent classes as you become more advanced.
The Mindfulness App also features tools to help strengthen your motivation. These include reminders and alerts to keep you on track, and statistics that record your progress. It’s an easy way to monitor your results, and work to improve your practice. Check out this thorough review for a good sense of how the app works from day-to-day.
Calm has received heaps of praise: as the world’s happiest app, and as Apple’s 2017 app of the year. This app tilts more towards beginners, but includes plenty of classes for intermediate and advanced users. These include over 100 guided meditations, covering areas such as stress, anxiety, relationships, and focus.
As its name suggests, Calm is focused on relaxation. Upon opening the app, you will be met with animated nature scenes—accompanied by the sounds of falling rain or chirping birds. This can put you in a better frame of mind, even before you start a class. Calm has also added a ‘Sleep Stories’ feature, which blends soothing music with gentle narration. Not only can this app help you learn to meditate, it can help you reduce anxiety and stress across the board.
Why Meditation Apps Can Make a Big Difference
Daily life in the 21st century can place a person under a lot of pressure. Starting a regular meditation practice can help you move toward greater well-being and day-to-day happiness. With new technology, it is now easier than ever to find the inner balance you need, on a time frame you can manage.
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