The benefits of daily meditation have been widely documented in scientific journals, but according to Bryan Lindenberger only a small fraction of adults actually do it regularly, despite the health and wellbeing advantages.
As with most things these days there are apps that you can download that help, can be personalised to your particular mental wellbeing goals. Some apps track your wellbeing progress and can adapt to your changing circumstances. Meditation has been noted to have helped millions of people to overcome depression, relieve stress, sleep better, develop mindfulness, reduce anxiety and increase focus.
If you’re new to the whole thing, some apps offer guided meditation, helping you through the techniques of basic relaxation, breathing and mindfulness exercises. There are free apps you can download from your app store whilst others have limited free content before they start to charge for deeply personalised approaches.
Lindenberger evaluated some of the main apps that are available:
Headspace – makes your happiness its goal, leading you through mindfulness, resilience and happiness.
Calm – the most popular app for meditation, sleep and relaxation, designed for beginners and advanced users.
Insight Timer – teaches self-love through guided and unguided sessions. With 100,000 meditation and music tracks it has the largest free content, but you can pay for offline sessions.
Balance: Medication and Sleep – our moods change all the time and this app promises to adjust with you. Each day you answer questions that allow the app to choose the right meditation for your mood.
Ten Percent Happier – This was number one in the New York Times meditation guide. This app is for the beginner and helps with stress relief and finding focus.
Breethe – includes meditations, hypnotherapy, nature sounds, masterclasses and more. You can set morning alarms and reminders too. Ideal for those new to mindfulness and meditation.
MyLife Meditation – mostly free, offers guided deep breathing and meditations focusing on relieving stress, with a series on eating and journaling.
Aura – designed for the busy. Meditations can last all night, or as little as three minutes, including life coaching, hypnosis and bedtime stories.
Buddhify – a low single cost app for beginners, with a colour wheel to help choose your meditation intuitively.
Healthy Minds Program – 100% free with decades of research to back it up, to help you gain focus, improve resilience, reduce stress and stay motivated.
Medito – also 100% beginner and intermediate courses specifically dedicated to stress, work-life balance, sleep and stories.
Meditation by Soothing Pod – totally free, no subscription with calming stories, soothing music, and nature sounds.
Mesmerize – for the more visual person with hypnotic images and calming music to guide you to peace and relaxation.
I have Calm on my phone and have done some of the free, very short meditations whilst hiding out in the toilets at work, but most of it required payment, so I usually just use it to check in with how I’m feeling. My Fitbit also has a Relax mode which you can set to three or five minutes and breathe along in rhythm, which is supposed to help lower your heart rate. I’ve done the three minute one a few times, but honestly, just keep forgetting about it.
What apps do you use to help you stay calm, focussed, relaxed and motivated?