Everyone knows that in this chaotic world of seemingly constant communication — whether direct, via social media, television, computer, or iPad — it’s well-nigh impossible to stay grounded, calm and peaceful. Think about the rapid growth rate of all-inclusive day spas, the introduction of sensory deprivation tank studios, the unending appearance of yoga studios on every block (they are the new Starbucks) and the meditation apps that have become available for your iPhone or Android.
People are craving inner quiet and peace, that’s clear to see. Meditation used to be a pillow to sit on and a quiet room. And you. But the lure of checking Facebook or Instagram is so fierce that we need to literally be guided by a voice on our device into relaxation. If we’ve made it this far into such a chaos-driven, information-dependent place, it’s a damn good thing we have meditation apps to soothe, motivate, calm, or lull us to sleep.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the newer (and not as new) meditation apps that, depending on what you’re seeking, give you the best experience.
Created for both experienced and beginners to the meditation practice, this app has been top-rated by a number of media outlets for its elegant and simple format. Simply Being gives you the option of experiencing a voice-guided meditation or simple nature sound accompaniment. The voice guide is helpful if you’re a beginner, as you are guided, step-by-step, into a state of calm relaxation. Choose between different lengths of time — for instance, beginners might want to opt for the shorter meditation periods to start. You also have the option of listening with or without a number of music and nature sounds, or choose to listen to those sounds alone and without the voice guide. If you’re a purist and you want something incredibly simple, Simply Being is a good choice for you.
Created by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson (one a former Buddhist monk and the other a stressed out advertising man), this app not only claims to teach you how to meditate, but includes training in mindfulness. Besides a pack called The Basics (all you need to start getting calm, this instant), the app also includes different categories, like Headspaces for Work, Headspace for Kids, Headspace for Sleep, Headspace for Focus, and Headspace for Stress.
The app does have a monthly fee, but it’s so rich with (soothing) information and customized practices that it’s really worth it — IF you use it consistently. Headspace also has a website that includes (among other things) a section for people who have trouble meditating. This can be very helpful to many, particularly those who can’t seem to ‘turn off’ their thoughts as well as those experiencing troubling emotions such as depression, irritation, or anger. So, not only does the app include meditation exercises, it helps you understand why you might need meditation, and why you might be having difficulty with the practice. Practical, insightful, and co-created by former Buddhist monk. You can’t go wrong.
Stop, Breathe & Think
This meditation app is a favorite of ours for two reasons: a) because it asks “How Are You” at the beginning of every session. Based on your answer, the app gives you a guided meditation to listen to for as long as you need, and b) the company shares ten percent of their net revenue with Tools for Peace, an NPO designed to bring the benefits of mindfulness and meditation to at-risk-youth. We also love the app especially designed for children ages 5-10, which lets kids choose a ‘mission’ to complete (and they get stickers, which are somehow the grand motivator for kids worldwide) in order to achieve maximum calm, stillness and sleep.
This AI-guided app allows you to communicate with and have your mind read by a ‘personal assistant’ who reads your mood, and then prescribes a meditation for you. For those who want their alone time, this might not be the app for you. But if you enjoy communicating (read: extrovert) and find check-ins comforting, you’ll enjoy this app. While there are a number of free meditations to choose from (a plus when considering many meditation apps cost money), you can also have access to ‘premium’ meditations for a monthly or annual fee.
Here’s the thing: You can meditate without an app. (WHAT!?) You can buy a pillow and light some candles or incense. You can visit your local Shambhala Center and meditate with other people in a calm, relaxed setting instead of trying to go it alone. If the idea of an electronic ‘friend’ helping you sleep or relax (or even find compassion) freaks you out, there are other, more unplugged actions you can take. For those who are too busy, too introverted, or just enjoy using their electronic devices, there are plenty of apps to choose from for inner and outer peace.
Journey On, Janes!