The trouble with viewing meditation as separate from daily life is that it implies a dualism between spiritual life and everyday life. It builds a wall of separation between the sacred and the profane. The goal of meditation should be to look upon every act as sacred, to see every moment as holy, and to view each person, place and thing as a manifestation of the divine” – David Dillard – Wright
First of all, why meditate?
We can get so busy within our lives, rushing around, saying yes to this, travelling here, working there, without ever really stopping to re-evaluate our ‘why’, how we feel inside, our intuition, our connection to our bodies that carry us around all day, our health, our mindfulness, our peace, and our joy. Meditation helps to connect us back to all of that. How beautiful and amazing we really are and how we have this light within us that connects us to everything beyond ourselves. Meditation also allows us to disconnect ourselves from all of the external ‘noise’ and connects us to a much bigger purpose and insight into our lives. If you are religious you might be familiar with praying – which recognises perhaps that you are flawed or lacking and that you might need help with certain areas of your life. This is one important level of connection to many people.
In meditation there is no lack there is only oneness, connection and love. The goal is to sit in silence and over a long time eventually, you might experience complete union, love and oneness. There is no ‘done’, you are already perfectly whole and complete. You will never be done with meditation, it will be hard, it will be lonely at first to sit by yourself in silence, you might feel massive discomfort, you might feel pain, you might cry sometimes. But over time you will realise that everything ‘out there’ is already within you and there is simply nothing to be found outside of yourself.
Check out nine of the most popular, calming meditation apps below!
I personally have used headspace a lot in the past. It is a really good app if you are new to meditation and need a lot of guidance on how to meditate and how to train your mind to constantly bring it back to the present moment. They have a free ten session foundation for meditation course which is brilliant! Headspace was developed by former monk Andy Puddicombe and is indispersed with beautiful, visual clips that make meditation really simple and easy to understand. Even if you go on to use another meditation app. the free headspace basics course is a really good meditation plan to start off with. Basically, by the end of the ten sessions, you will be a lot better at meditating by yourself. Also if you fall off the wagon you can easily go back to the start again! They also have a lot of subscription courses (Headspace is 40% off at the moment for a paid subscription!). Guided meditations cover health-related topics, confidence dealing with emotions, developing happiness and gratitude, along with career and fitness performance. You can also try the first session free for all of these topics on the unpaid plan!
Calm is really a really visual, pretty app! (lots of pretty visuals and pictures which make it good for kids also!). You can set timers and reminders to meditate. You can choose the screensaver which you choose to meditate to from many different, gorgeous designs. They are all ‘come to life’ like mini video clips. You can also then choose and set music to your backdrop. They have a ‘seven days of calm’ starting meditation course and also a ‘twenty-one days of calm’ course to deepen your practice. They also have great body scanning and compassion sessions. Calm has a wide range of non-subscription content and the app. is really beautifully designed. They also do sleep stories! Practicing meditation before you go to bed can enable you to get to sleep much faster, sleep deeper and wake up feeling more well rested. Upgrading to a paid plan unlocks a wide range of guided meditations and sleep stories (including ones for children).
Mindfulness tracks your meditation and has free six-session ‘get started with meditation’ course. It also has a timed session where you can set a timer and also listen to background noise at the same time. You can save any meditations that you use frequently to a favourites section. Upgrading to a paid monthly plan allows you access to many guided meditation programs for motivation, mindfulness while studying or learning, travelling, sleep, beginner practices, stress release, emotional health, body scanning, focus, and relationships. The app interface is really simple and easy to use. Mindfulness also tracks your progress and total time spent meditating on your profile.
4. SMILING MIND:
‘Smiling mind’ is an Australian non-profit organisation that aims to make mindfulness accessible to everyone. Being mentally healthy is of huge importance because your emotional health effects everyone else around you. Depression and mental disorders are now affecting children and teenagers to a much greater degree than ever before. Smiling mind has a wide range of mindfulness training programmes for kids of different ages and they also have a few programmes for adults. This is a fantastic resource for any teacher or parent and I definitely plan to start using this app with my kids each night. All of the programmes are designed to be downloaded to your mobile so you can also access them when offline or flying etc. which is great. They also have a new ‘digital detox’ programme. It is important every day that we take a regular break from technology for our mental health!
Sattva helps you to time and track your meditations. Every day, they have a new featured meditation and mantra. Before you begin each new meditation session you can set a timer, select music (you can also upload your own tracks), track your heart rate and choose your emoticon 😉 . There is also a wide range of free guided meditations, chants, and music. Upgrading to Sattva premium will give you access to many more meditations, chants and music plus group meditation, virtual lounges and motivating meditation challenges. Can’t wait to try out one of their chants!
6. STOP, BREATHE & THINK:
Stop, breathe and think is a really simple, easy to navigate meditation app. It starts off with some short, informative sections to read on meditation. They also talk you through each meditation that they offer on the app. discuss when to do it and how it might benefit your mind and body. I really recommend reading through the ‘learn how to meditate’ section even if you decide to do your main meditation by yourself or with another app. They have a range of free guided meditation sessions on a variety of topics including body scanning, engaging your senses, walking mindfully, gratefulness, and building compassion. You can also purchase extra meditations for a small fee. This is a really simple app. – great if you are not so good with technology and just want something really quick and easy to get you started! It also tracks all of your meditation progress!
Welzen is mainly a paid subscription meditation app. They do have a free five-day meditation course but all of their other meditation courses require a subscription. Compared to some of the other apps I have looked at their subscription is not cheap! However, every day they send you a new daily ten-minute meditation. Their paid subscription unlocks meditation specific for stress, anxiety, depression, pain, focusing, sleep, and creativity. They also have special programmes to increase daily happiness and mindfulness in the workplace where they will send you a new 10-minute meditation and daily life lesson each day. If you want a meditation app that is really customised to you and you don’t mind paying a bit extra for it this app is great. It is a really simple, bright and colourful app. and you can easily save all of your favourite meditations in one place.
Aura is a really simple meditation app that starts off with asking how you are feeling today. It then gives you a short meditation to do that is specific to your mood. You can then rate it and Aura will track your progress! Aura connects you to a wide range of different guided meditation teachers so that over time you can find which style of meditation works for you best and it will allow you to deepen your practice. Many of their first meditations are free and it also encourages you to follow different meditation teachers on the app if you like their guided practices. They cover a wide range of meditations for mindfulness, awareness, self-love, happiness, and compassion with more focus on spirituality and developing insight.
Tide is a really simple app based on the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is based on research by Francesco Cirillo that says that our brain can only focus on a task for around twenty-five minutes without needing to take a break. Tide basically incorporates a twenty-five-minute timer with nice visuals and background noise. You can scroll through to find your favourite (mine is the rain!). You can then use this for work, for study, for activities of deep focus, for yoga or even your meditation practice. Tide is great if you are not a beginner and you prefer to do self-guided meditation for a longer period of time. You can also set goals and it will track your progress. Tide is great if you are looking for something super simple but with a really beautiful interface ♥
(Slider photo credit: Headspace/City Refinery, Calm/Brit+Co, Mindfulness/Brit+Co, Sattva/The Fashion Spot, Smiling Mind/University of Melbourne, Stop, Breathe & Think/Pinterest, Welzen/Redbook, Aura/iTunes, Tide/FreeAppsForMe)
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(Photo: Timm Fleissgarten)