Many people are currently looking at ways to combat stress and anxiety at home.
Doctors recommend meditation as one of the most effective ways to improve our wellbeing. Its many benefits include improving our stress levels, mood, focus and quality of sleep — all areas that can feel the strain in uncertain times.
One potential benefit of this enforced era of social distancing is that we can use the extra time at home to build a meditation habit that will help us lead happier and healthier lives in the long term. We don’t need anything to meditate apart from a few moments peace and quiet, but these apps will help to teach the basics and keep our meditation practice on track. All of them offer free trials at least, so there is nothing to lose by trying.
Headspace founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe has probably done more than anyone to bring meditation to the masses in recent years.
Andy narrates the content on the app — which has been downloaded by 66 million people — and makes what can feel a daunting practice manageable for beginners, stressing that you can’t get it wrong as long as you’re practicing, and that establishing a habit of just ten minutes a day is enough to change your life.
He introduces the fundamentals of mindfulness and offers guided meditations targeted to address specific areas of our lives from starting the day energized to unwinding for sleep, and all the challenges in between. In recent months the app has also launched its Move Mode program to help us exercise mindfully at home. And they have reacted to Covid-19 by making their entire service free for some of those in need, while others have access to a special selection of free content called ‘Weathering the Storm.’
An all-round excellent, clear and practical meditation app.
Two week free trial then $13 monthly or $70 annually.
Along with Headspace, Calm is the other best-known meditation app.
Without the guiding presence of a former Buddhist monk as a founder, Calm use celebrities to lead some of the content. For example, NBA legend Lebron James partnered with the app for a series on mental fitness and their Sleep Stories, which help to sooth listeners into slumber, are read by stars including actor Matthew McConaughey and musician Harry Styles.
The app does not guide you through building your meditation habit in quite the same targeted, step-by-step manner as Headspace. And while Headspace feels a bit more structured and uses informative short videos and audio to explain each particular meditation practice and why it works, Calm’s approach is more spa-like, focussing on soothing nature sounds and images.
Its wealth of sleep-focused resources make it worth considering for those whose main challenge is drifting off at night. And if money is not an issue, having Headspace for their instructive guided meditation content and Calm for their extra sleep content like their ASMR and Sleep Stories is a dreamy combination.
One week free trial then $70 annually.
Packed with content including more than 40,000 guided meditations and 5,000 teachers, it’s the leading meditation app which offers everything you need for free.
There is a premium service available for $60-a-year, but it’s not necessary to join to access all you need to start or maintain a meditation habit long-term as the app offers the largest library of free meditations in the industry.
It’s not quite as user-friendly or streamlined as the more premium paid-for offerings from Headspace or Calm and takes a bit of trial and error to navigate and find the best types of meditation and teachers for you. But overall it’s a useful free resource packed with guidance and inspiration.
Free or $60 annually for premium.
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