Have you seen all the news reports of people who are choosing to unplug from their smartphones, and all the dopamine spiking alerts and notifications that come with them? Despite strong intentions, these boycotts don’t last long because we’re addicted to our smartphones.
Perhaps a better solution is to add more peace and clarity to our lives.
How do we do that? With an app, of course.
Mindfulness apps are all the rage on both iOS and Android platforms. They help millions of people improve their meditation skills and aid with mindfulness, clarity, stress relief, and a deeper connection with oneself.
1. Insight Timer
If you want to learn how to meditate or improve your existing meditation skills, Insight Timer is a great app to help you get started. This free meditation and sleep app feature a massive library of guided meditations that include over 15,000 titles. You’ll find courses from nearly 3,000 teachers on topics like stress, relaxation, self-confidence, depression, and more.
What makes Insight Timer so impressive is its community of nearly seven million meditators around the world. When you log in, you’ll see how many people are meditating today, which is usually over 400,000. Insight Timer shows you how many of those people are meditating right now.
There’s even a social feature that shows what everyone is currently listening to as they are meditating.
Once you complete a meditation, you can see how many people were meditating at the same time as you. And once you set your location, you can discover meditators nearby.
Insight Timer is free with in-app purchases. Courses are $5 each. A great place to start is their free course, Learn How to Meditate in 7 Days.
What do you do after your app wins Apple’s 2017 App of the Year? If you’re Calm, you improve your app and win more awards, like Apple’s Best of 2018 and Happiest App in the World from the Center for Humane Technology.
What makes Calm so great? As its name suggests, it helps you stay calm. From the moment you open the app, you start to feel, well, calm. You hear the rain falling in the background, but you can choose lake ambiance or birds chirping as your greeting if you like.
The free version comes with 25 different mindfulness meditations. You can also start with 7 Days of Calm, which is a week-long beginner series that introduces you to meditation practices to cultivate awareness.
Calm is free, with in-app purchases. Or you can opt for a $60 annual subscription for full access.
Headspace is a popular mindfulness app offering a great introduction to meditation as well as guided courses and impactful meditations for busy people.
Its structured courses give you the feel and experience of an in-person class. But these courses are designed to take anywhere, which will help beginners develop the habit of meditating. You will even find quick meditations for emergencies, such as panic, stress, and anger, or for when you have that rare quiet moment.
Headspace’s interface is warm, fun and intuitive as you peruse their well-organized course library and over 350 hours of guided meditations.
But what makes Headspace so popular is that the app grows with you by reducing the vocal cues in your courses as you progress. This is one reason why people tend to use it for the long term. When reading the Apple Store reviews, you’ll find numerous people who report using the app for six months or longer.
Headspace is free with in-app purchases or $12.99 per month for unlimited access.
4. Stop, Breathe & Think
One reason many fail to stick with meditation is that they’re not sure if they’re doing it right or if it’s even working.
Stop, Breathe & Think is the perfect meditation app if you need to understand why you’re meditating and if you want to know how it benefits you. For example, the Learn to Meditate section details what mindfulness is and provides scientific and neurological reasons that support its effectiveness.
Another cool feature of Stop, Breathe & Think is that it delivers meditations tailored to how you feel.
When you open the app, you answer questions that rate how you’re feeling on a scale from “rough” to “great.” You can also give the app five emotions you may be feeling. Once you’re done meditating, you can check-in and rate your feelings once again.
The progress page allows you to track what your mind and body have been feeling over time. This is where your check-ins become valuable as you can see what your most common emotions are both before and after meditation.
Stop, Breathe & Think will then recommend specific meditations and videos to help improve your mood and well-being. You’ll find 34 free sessions which are usually 15 minutes or less.
Stop, Breathe & Think is free or $10 per month for full access.
5. 10% Happier
The tagline for 10% Happier tells you who this app is for: “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.” In other words, if you prefer educational apps to spiritual apps, give this no-nonsense app a try.
The first thing you notice when you open the app is that it comes with a tour guide, Dan Harris. Harris is an ABC news anchor who famously endured a panic attack on a live broadcast of Good Morning America. The experience led him to seek meditation to reduce his anxiety.
Unfortunately, not much is free with 10% Happier, except for the seven-day introduction to mindfulness. But if you don’t mind paying for top quality content, you’ll find outstanding instruction inside.
Harris provides numerous courses to learn how to feel happier and enjoy a higher quality of sleep. Particularly helpful are meditations that help you control the voice in your head.
Reviews of the app, many people mention they like how scientific ideas are broken down into actionable, everyday language. They report feeling calmer and more relaxed after using the app. We found several users comment on the surprising results they’re achieving, despite having initial reservations about downloading the app.
If you’ve ever thought about starting your own mindfulness or spirituality app as Harris did, you can get started with Church App, which allows you to use your own branding.
10% Happier requires a $99.99 annual fee, except for the free seven-day orientation to mindfulness.
Improve Your Well-Being with the Best Mindfulness Apps
When it comes to using the best mindfulness apps, the key is to develop a daily meditation habit. When you become adept at meditation, you can do it effortlessly at any time. Meditating once in a while will deliver short-lived results, but frequent and consistent practice will bring about meaningful and lasting results.