Feeling particularly anxious or stressed out lately? Us too, so that’s why we’re looking at mindful meditation to help. Long-touted benefits of a daily meditation practise include improving mental and physical health, reducing stress, bolstering sleep and leveling anxiety – all good things in a time where we feel off-kilter. Here, we sourced our favourite apps designed to give us calmer days ahead.
Canadian meditation-technology company Muse has the solution for people who don’t think they are doing meditation “right.” Their brainwave-sensing headbands translate brain signals into the sounds of weather, providing realtime feedback on how calm – or, uh, not calm – you are. No headband? No problem. The Muse app offers meditations you can do without their devices. The brand is also offering daily group meditations on Instagram Live at 11 a.m PT/2 p.m. EST here.
Cost: $17.49/month or $124.99/year
Commit to the Headspace guided meditation practise for 10 days and the brand says you can increase your happiness by 16%. Designed specifically for the uninitiated, it guides mediation newbies through a free 10-part “basics” course which encourages you to schedule a time to meditate daily (with a notification to remind you) plus animated instructional videos that detail the meditation positions of choice (couch or cushion), breaking techniques and the length of time you’re willing to commit to, whether that’s 3-minutes a day or 15-minutes a day. People love the intimacy this app provides: you feel like you’re taking an in-person class, whether you opt for their bite-sized “mini” one-minute breathing exercises or opt for a themed session (ranging from sleep hygiene to power napping).
Cost: $13 USD monthly with a seven-day free trial, or $70 USD annually with two-week free trial. During the COVID-19 pandemic they are offering three free meditations – “reliving stress,” “walking at home,” and “feeling overwhelmed” – here.
Calm offers guided meditations taught by world-renowned mindfulness experts, soothing ambient music and even bedtime stories narrated by the likes of Matthew McConaughey and someone intriguingly called “The French Whisperer.” Whether you take their 21 Days of Calm challenge or the 7 Days of Happiness, the app’s open-ended sessions will appeal to experienced meditators who don’t require as much guidance, whereas their timer allows each one of their 3 to 25-minute meditations to increase by one-minute increments should you feel inspired to keep going.
Cost: Catalog costs $13 USD/month, $60 USD/year and $300 USD for a lifetime subscription. They are offering free resources here during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Ten Percent Happier
Meditate with Emmy award-winning journalist Dan Harris and what Tech Crunch calls the “no B.S. app for skeptics.” Offering a series of meditation courses designed especially for those people who don’t believe in the hype, the videos – all taught by traditional meditation teachers and scientists – focus on the typical topics of stress, emotional wellbeing and feeling more productive, but in a conversational style that focuses on real-world affirmations as opposed to what some might consider ethereal, hippy-dippy mantras. Apropos of, well, everything, the app recently launched the “Coronavirus Sanity Guide”: A free resource of meditations, podcasts, blog posts and talks that offers practical and actionable ways of coping with fear and anxiety.
Cost: The first seven video lessons and meditation are free. If you’d like more content and coaching, you can subscribe for $99 USD a year.
Meditation was born of ancient roots, and Sttava promises an authentic practise drawn from traditional Vedic principles of meditations, chants and mantras, all delivered by Sanskrit scholars as well as the renowned humanitarian and spiritual teacher Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The app features a plethora of guided meditations and chants like “Transforming Emotions” which starts with gentle breathing exercises and transitions smoothly towards a non-judgmental acceptance of your negative emotions, or you can opt to try their Mudras series: hand positions or gestures that facilitate the flow of energy in the body and release blocked energy.
6. Deepak Chopra
With a full catalogue of meditation chapters, from quick hits like Daily Rituals for Well-Being and Blissful Sleep to longer, more committed sessions in his 21-day Meditations, Deepak Chopra’s smooth and calming perspective is a salve for stress and anxiety. Bet you can’t listen to just one.
Cost: $9.99/month via Spotify
7. Tara Brach
Author and public speaker Tara Brach, who also holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Fielding Institute and is the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, now the largest non-residential meditation centre in the United States, blends Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practises in her YouTube meditation series where she encourages subscribers to practise mindful attention to our inner lives and a compassionate engagement within our world. A recent “Tara Talk” focuses on how each one of us can widen our circles of compassion to not only focus on the connections we have to a few people closest to us but how we can expand our scope to include all beings in the world. A timely thought, indeed. Listen to her talk on “Facing Pandemic Fears” here.
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