For just one minute, calm your mind and breathe.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. And one more time, inhale. And exhale. Feeling calmer?
You, and millions like you, may have recently discovered meditation, an age-old practice dating back to the 1st millenium BCE.
In 2013, meditation was front page news, catching the attention of not just holistic health enthusiasts but business leaders and celebrities across the Western world. Google meditates. Facebook meditates. Arianna Huffington meditates. Oprah has her own mediation program with Deepak Chopra. Even Rupert Murdoch meditates.
Deriving from the Latin word “meditatio”, meaning to think, contemplate, devise and ponder, meditation takes various forms and can mean different things to many people. Whether you’re staring into a flame sat atop fifty pillows or just zoning out on the G Train, the benefits of meditation are reportedly pretty magical, including increased focus, concentration, creativity, patience and even immunity.
As technology moves to the forefront of both our professional and personal spaces, it’s no wonder that we’re all desperately trying to find ways to disconnect and calm the “monkey mind”. But if you don’t have a wellness center in your office or a meditation room in your apartment, it can be tricky getting started. While all you really need is a timer and a place to rest your mind, a guided meditation can help break down the initial barriers of hesitation and stop you from wondering, “Am I doing this right?”.
To get started, here are seven iPhone apps to help you start meditating right now and on the path to a more peaceful existence.
The cleverly named Calm.com, a startup out of San Francisco and London, is one of the top meditation apps to launch in the last year. The app lets you begin immediately with its free “7 steps of Calm”. Each step focuses on a different part of the guided meditation practice such as “breath”, “posture” and “mindset”. After you’ve completed the beginner’s program, you can unlock yearly pro-access for $9.99 which includes dozens of guided meditations ranging from 2-20 mins with relaxing nature scenes like forest rain and an ocean beach. (Free iOS)
2) Buddhify 2
Can’t sleep? Just waking up? Taking a break from work? The UK-based Buddhify has dozens of options for nearly every life scenario. Built for busy city-dwellers with less than 10 minutes to spare at a time, Buddhify is a carefully-designed app that offers both guided meditations and solo practice. While terrific for beginners, more serious meditators might find the 10-minute meditation maximum limiting. To track your progress, the app neatly saves your weekly stats, record streaks and percentage of app content consumed. ($1.99 iOS)
Once you get past the introductory animations, the popular Headspace app’s free “Take 10” offering includes a new guided meditation each day for 10 days. Once you’ve finished the intro offer, Headspace’s most popular package costs $7.99 per month for a year. While more expensive than other apps, Headspace’s co-founder Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and claims to have one of the most comprehensive packages on the market. Hot tip: You can also catch Puddicombe’s lessons for free on any Virgin Atlantic flight! (Free iOS)
Founded by global wellness company MindValley, Omvana is oft-referred to as the “Spotify of meditation apps.” To get started, simply login with Facebook and browse through the eight available free tracks—some “new” and some “hot”—or check out the Omvana store and choose from thousands of tracks to add to your meditation mix. Tracks cost $1.99 and up. While this is a great app to see what’s out there in the world of meditation, the app lacks focus (pun intended) and any sort of measurement of personal progress. And with such a large library of offerings, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. (Free iOS)
5) Simply Being
A woman’s slow, calming voice eases you into relaxation with 5, 10 or 15 minute guided meditations. You can choose from voice-only or add music and nature sounds like ocean, rain and stream. Simply Being is as simple as it gets and a great free app to download if you’re just wanting to test the water. ($.99 iOS)
6) Breathe Sync
If just remembering to take deep breaths is one of your hurdles, get your practice off to the right start with Breathe Sync, an app that measures the quality of your breath using your iPhone’s camera. Claiming to be one of the world’s first biofeedback breathing apps, Breath Sync provides you with your well-being or “WQ” score, which is based on your pulse rate variation. Here’s a quick guide on how to use the app, which explains that the higher your WQ score is, the more relaxed you are! ($9.99 iOS)
Can’t seem to quiet your mind from the comfort of your own home? MINDBODY Connect is one of the best iPhone apps to help you locate the nearest yoga or meditation class near you. As long as you’re in a metropolitan area in the U.S., simply open up the app, update your settings and search for “yoga” or “meditation” and hit Discover to find your next yoga or relaxation center. You can save favorites and also book and pay right from your phone. (Free iOS)
Today, more than ever, we are forcing our brains to be multi-taskers. We’re checking Instagram, typing emails, eating meals with family and watching The Mindy Project on television. How crazy is it that we need to read about the importance of meditation in the news to finally inspire us to sit down, relax and think about nothing?
With these grab-and-go meditation apps in your pocket, you’ll always have a great excuse to take a moment to pause throughout your day and reconnect with yourself. After all, if you aren’t giving yourself the time of day, who will?