By Annie Rosemurgy
A consistent meditation practice has tremendous benefits for our physical and mental health. People who regularly meditate experience less stress, sleep better and bring stronger focus to their work.
The recent influx of meditation app-based programs puts the power of this practice in your pocket, allowing you to engage your mindfulness training whenever and wherever life allows. Here are some apps worth checking into that make meditation easy and approachable — even if you haven’t tried it.
This uber-popular app was launched in 2012 with a bold ambition: to democratize meditation, improving the health and happiness of the world. Supporting a huge library, Headspace is great for the seasoned practitioner and newbie alike. With such a broad catalog available, users can individualize their session, deciding exactly how much time they’d like to devote to a mindfulness session. If having a wide range of choices is an important part of your meditation practice, Headspace may be a winner for you. Free trial available; annual subscription $69.99; monthly subscriptions start at $12.99/month.
Designed with simplicity in mind, this app focuses on guided breathwork. Users are prompted to engage their breath in intentional ways. When confronted with an anxiety-provoking life situation, users can re-engage these breath patterns to restore mental harmony. If you are looking for an actionable tool to combat daily stress, this breathwork app is a good choice. Free; premium paid versions available.
Download on: Apple
Geared toward easing anxiety and ushering you into restful sleep, Calm is another app that boasts bountiful content. Everything about the Calm app is oriented toward achieving a state of relaxation, from its, well, calming interface to its collection of soothing music and lullabies. Users can choose from a range of experiences aimed to bring on tranquility, from guided, full-body meditations to having a lulling sleep story read to them. Free seven-day trial; monthly subscriptions $14.99/month.
Kids experience stress and anxiety, just like adults. Luckily, meditation works just as powerfully for them. Mindful Powers is a simple and fun way for kids to learn to use mindfulness to release negative feelings and bring focus to their academic tasks. Free; premium paid versions available.
Download on: Apple
While Smiling Mind does offer structured programs and longer, traditional meditations, what sets this app apart is its collection of “bite-sized meditations” — ultra-short, focused mindfulness meditations that can be incorporated into even the busiest lifestyle. This app is perfect for people on the go, turning even a sliver of time into a moment of zen. Free.
HEALTHY MINDS PROGRAM
The Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison was created in 2014 by founder and director Dr. Richard Davidson. Healthy Minds Innovations, a nonprofit offshoot of the center, was started as a way to translate the center’s scientific discoveries into tools that support wellness. Part of that includes the Healthy Minds Program App, which draws on insights from emerging neuroscience with teachings from contemplative traditions and skill-based learning. With a combination of podcast-style lessons, and both seated and active meditations, you’ll learn what science says about the brain while developing skills to tap into these learnings for a healthier, happier you. Free.