My Top 3 Meditation Apps
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I’ve been wanting to start meditating for months and months and after reading Gretchen Rubin’s AMAZINGLY helpful book, “Better Than Before”, I realized what was standing in my way. Gretchen talks about 21 different strategies we consciously and subconsciously use when making or breaking habits – one of which is the Strategy of Convenience. Essentially, the easier something is to do, the more likely we are to actually do it. (And the reverse is also true – the less convenient something is, the less likely you are to do it. She identifies that one as the Strategy of Inconvenience.) So for example if you wanted to stop eating cookies after dinner but your family insists on having cookies in the house, you could keep them up on a high shelf that requires you to get out a step-stool in order to reach the cookies. Just by introducing that one small hassle, you’ll just naturally be less tempted to get yourself a cookie. But if you keep those cookies on the counter in a glass jar, where they’re highly visible and easily accessible, you’ve made it ~convenient~ for yourself to grab a cookie anytime you walk past the jar.
I don’t really have an issue with overeating cookies, but I did really want to start meditating, so I decided to implement Gretchen’s habit suggestions to get me started on my goal! Meditation has tons of health benefits, most of which relate to the fact that it teaches you to be in tune with your body and your thoughts, to live mindfully in the moment, and to find calm in the face of stress. The slow, deep breathing associated with meditation helps your body produce more dopamine (a happiness hormone) and reduces your production of cortisol (a stress hormone), leaving you feeling happier and more capable of handling your life and responsibilities! The more often you meditate, the more you’ll naturally resort to meditation techniques even when you’re NOT meditating. You just have to teach your body how great it feels first.
Also keep in mind that your lungs are one of your body’s 7 detoxification pathways, so meditative breathing helps clear out stagnant air/toxins and bring in fresh oxygen/energy to help all your billions of cells carry on with their important cellular processes. Meditating is a very personal, relaxing, explorational activity, and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks but I’m already learning things about my inner self and feeling more grounded in daily life!
The easiest possible way to meditate is to have someone else guide you through it…and there are hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube so I started there. But YouTube doesn’t hold me accountable or remind me if I haven’t meditated in a few days, so then I thought “I wonder if this exists in app form!” And sure enough, OF COURSE IT DOES because there’s literally an app for EVERYTHING!!! I downloaded several right off the bat and tested and tried them all out before narrowing it down to my top 3 favourites.
There were a few main criteria I was looking for in a meditation app.
- free (or maybe a one-time purchase under $5, but preferably free!)
- lots of variety of meditation length (sometimes I just need a quick 3 minute reset, sometimes I want to push myself to commit to a longer session)
- lots of variety of topics (gratitude, hurt feelings, frustration, depression, etc.)
- pleasant voices to listen to (I’m weirdly really picky about this)
- easy to find favourite meditations again
- optional reminders/trackers
My Top 3 Apps for Meditation:
- Insight Timer
-THOUSANDS of free guided meditations and the quality of them has been awesome so far
-search by topic/emotion
-wide variety of meditation lengths, and times are displayed under each title so you know how long it is before you select it
-you can bookmark your favourites, and you can also save your “Interests”, which are topics/emotions/themes/music styles that you love within the app.
-music selection is also amazing (I like to just throw on one of these relaxing audio tracks as background sound for my daily tasks).
-if you just want to do a non-guided meditation you can set a timer for yourself with optional soothing backgrounds and a gentle notification when your time is up (I haven’t played around with this feature much)
-there’s also a well-constructed community component to this app if you want to use it to have friends, see who else is doing the same meditations as you, etc etc, but this is not a tool I care about right now so I don’t have much feedback other than it seems really comprehensive!
-extensive tracking of sessions (charts, average mins per day, total time, etc)
-Highly, HIGHLY recommend this app.
-very detailed “how are you feeling” feature that has you check in with yourself before AND after meditating and identify your physical, mental, and emotional status with an in-depth list of adjectives (this is an excellent and quick self-awareness practice)
-very cute app icon and cute design elements within app
-helpful, simple tutorial about how to start meditating and what it can do for you
-a lot of optional premium content, maybe about a 50/50 split with free content
-awards you stickers for various achievements
-tracks emotional states before/after meditation, as well as daily streaks and total meditation time
-I like the layout of this one
-meditations are great quality
-searchable by topic/emotion
-free content is VERY limited and the subscriptions are pricey.
-has a little “radio station” type player for focus, relax, or sleep music
-good variety of meditation length, but it’s not obvious until you select one how long it’s going to be
-not as much content variety as the previous two apps
It’s SO convenient having the ability to bring a meditative practice with me on my phone! I often set one up in the car for a super-calm drive, pop in headphones for a mental ‘reset’ while walking my dog, and relax into sleep with meditative breathing!
Let me know if you try any of these apps (or other ones!) and how it’s helped you find balance!