Taking Time for Meditation
I started meditating, off-and-on, about two years ago. My anxiety was getting difficult to control and I was having trouble falling asleep. Using a Meditation App was a great way for me to get started without feeling silly or like I was doing it “wrong”.
Just to clarify, I’m not using meditation to fall asleep. I’m using it to quiet my mind. It’s a good way to practice mindfulness. At night, my brain is often in overdrive. Sometimes I struggle with controlling negative, unhappy and anxious thoughts.
These are the best meditation apps I have found (I use them on my iPad but I will indicate whether they are available only on iOS or also for Android). If you want to try them, you can click on the title of the app and it will take you to the apple store so you can download! (These are NOT affiliate links, I’m just recommending them because I use them and like them).
Best Meditation App to Use to Learn:
This is the first meditation app I tried. It is phenomenal. The beginner’s series is the perfect place to start if you’ve never meditated before. It consists of 10 guided meditations that are the perfect building blocks. These meditations are free, and you can listen to them as many times as you want.
The only downside is, if you want to continue your meditation journey, this app gets very expensive, very quickly. After the first 10 free meditations, you have to subscribe to either a monthly or yearly plan.
The upside to a subscription is that you gain access to an extraordinary library of meditations on lots of subjects. I subscribed to this app briefly and continued the beginner’s meditation series. But eventually, I decided I didn’t want to have to pay for the content, no matter how good it was. It was a monthly expense that I couldn’t justify with our tight budget.
- Upsides: great for beginners who don’t know where to start. High quality content and easy-to-use interface.
- Downsides: content is not as “customizable” as some of the other apps (no timers, varying lengths, etc.), expensive after free content is completed.
Best App for Specific Guided Meditations
breethe is another terrific Meditation App. It also includes a 7-day “Getting Started” series, which is very good.
Another great thing about breethe is that many meditations come in a few different lengths- for example, 12, 14, or 20 minutes. This is really convenient if you want to include it in a specific part of your day- naptime, right when you wake up, etc.
While you meditate, the app has absolutely gorgeous landscapes you can look at on your screen. The recordings are super high-quality. The amount of free content is slightly limited, and the subscriptions are wildly expensive, but every meditation I have tried has been stellar. A great variety of lengths and content.
This is a terrific app for people who enjoy meditation and want to continue with some guidance, as well as try meditating on a few different subjects.
- Upsides: Varying lengths of meditations, great sound quality, beautiful graphics, variety of topics. Good for beginning-intermediate meditating.
- Downsides: VERY expensive to access paid content.
Best “Quickie” Meditation App:
Aura is a decent Meditation App, but it does not compare to Headspace or breethe. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that people can upload their own recordings of meditations to the app. I say this because the sound quality between the different meditations varies from good to not-so-good.
The free material consists of a daily 3-minute-long meditation (I am doing the “learn mindfulness” series right now). However, if you want a break from your “scheduled” meditation, you can click the “I’m feeling” button, and the app will select a different meditation for you based on the feeling you choose.
I tried this once when I was feeling particularly anxious, and the meditation I was given was perfect to help me feel better. Another time, I tried the same thing and the meditation that played was totally useless, so it seems to be a bit of luck of the draw.
I love using Aura when I want to do a quick meditation. The 3-minute length is do-able no matter how tired I am or how crappy my day has been.
Added Bonus: Gratitude Journal
I also love it because I am able to keep a “gratitude journal”; a section of the app on which I can record what I am grateful for that day. It has been really valuable for me.
What I’m not as thrilled with is the opportunity to “respond” to a meditation after I’ve taken it. It feels a little too much like homework. There is a “Community” element to the Aura app that I have not explored at all.
- Upsides: Great for busy people who want to take a quick breather in their day, easy to use, gratitude journal.
- Downsides: “Busy work” meditation responses, sometimes very poor sound quality, random element of the “I’m Feeling” library.
- Unknown Upside or Downside: Ability to connect with the community of users. Could be great, could be not-so-great.
Best App for Unguided Meditations
This Meditation App has an awesome ambient sounds library. There is also a library of guided meditations. I will freely admit, I haven’t explored much of it.
This app was a little frustrating at first, because the first time I opened it, it immediately launched into the “Introduction to Meditation” program. I had no idea how to change what I was listening to, or how to work any of the customizable options for sounds, etc. I was instantly totally overwhelmed.
Luckily, after listening to the first guided meditation, I was able to access the rest of the app content and figure out how to work everything.
If you don’t like guided meditations but have trouble focusing on your thoughts, I think the many different ambient sounds could be really helpful for you. You could listen to the sounds and make that part of your meditation. Or try focusing on your own breath and use the sounds to “drown out” any distracting noises. Honestly, you can just use the ambient sounds to help you fall asleep after you’ve meditated!
- Upsides: Fantastic library of free ambient sounds, another good app for beginners who have never tried meditating. Also good for more advanced users looking for a new experience.
- Downsides: Could be initially overwhelming until the interface is mastered, meditations feel long and could be boring for more experienced users.
What is Your Biggest Obstacle?
What prevents you from practicing daily mindfulness, meditation, or gratitude? My anxiety can spiral out of control quite easily, and meditating is something that has really helped me stay on top of a healthy mind and attitude. Write to me and tell me what’s holding you back, or if you decide to try one of these apps, let me know which ones!