Our top five meditation apps
There are an abundance of mindfulness and meditation apps out there, so finding a way to school yourself in calm serenity should be straightforward. In fact, a search of your app store is likely to leave you feeling more stressed than ever, overwhelmed by the extent of the choice. So what better way of approaching this than having a trusted guide to what is out there; have a read and then make your choice!
1. Stop, Breath, Think
There is lots to like with this app; the clean and simple interface for one; the fact that the name alone tells you exactly what it is about, and that there is a really nice (without being patronising) introduction to meditation.The app is free to download and so simple to use. There are 30 free meditations available straight off and you are guided to them based on how you are feeling after answering a few straightforward questions which in themselves prompt you to assess where you are at, physically and emotionally. Where other apps might be fixed in their timings, this one lets you pick from a list which can include a short 3 minute meditation to a longer walk based meditation session. The exercises focus on the areas of compassion, sleep, depression, and anxiety and track your activities each day so you are able to review progress. If you want to guide yourself, you can set a timer and meditate to a range of sounds like a relaxing forest. Best of all, any money you do spend on extras contributes to a charitable organisation to help at risk young people benefit from mindfulness; everyone’s a winner!
This app pulled me in because the voice is a British sounding one whereas most of these apps have American voices leading the meditations. I found it reassuring to have the lovely ex Buddhist monk, Andy guide me through my meditations. Beautifully put together again with a really friendly feeling and another good interface. The introductory video is a comforting guide for those new to this world. The app is free for a 10 day free trial and then you can pay monthly, or annually (around £50 a year currently), but only if you complete the foundation level first. Then the world is your oyster, a range of purpose specific grouped meditations covering things like health, relationships, performance. Even some specific meditations for individual issues like fear of flying. It is understandable why this app is so popular and has been ranked top in a number of reviews both on functionality and user satisfaction.
This is the first meditation app that we tried in any seriousness. The name really appealed in the first instance and the soothing pitter patter of rain or the sound of crickets that form the backdrop to the visual mountains and lakes in itself engenders a sense of wellbeing immediately and effectively blocks out the commotion around you. I have even used this during my daily commute to get myself a zen like start to the day. Like Headspace there is a free seven day course of guided meditation with a monthly or annual subscription of around £100 per year. This gives you access to a range of 7 day and 21 day courses focusing on things like anxiety, sleep, and happiness. In addition there are individual sessions that can be as short as a few minutes and as long as 20; the daily calm programme you can practice first thing or last thing in your day; and an opportunity for unguided meditation with a range of calming musical or naturalistic soundtracks. A feature of particular use to those experiencing insomnia are the sleep stories you can listen do which I have it on good authority do actually work.
4. Smiling Mind
Another app with a great name, claiming to send you back out into the world with “a smile on your mind” after using it. This app is unique in that it is aimed at children as young as seven as well as adults with meditation programmes divided by age. This means if you are a parent you can create a family account with sub accounts for your children. In addition it can be used in education settings so can be useful aid for the class teacher and also has a workplace component. The adult program offers 10 modules making up a total of 42 sessions, along with “Bite Size” sessions of between 1 and 3 minutes, “Extended Meditations”, and sessions intended to complement regular sports activities. This app is completely free having been developed by an Australian non-profit company, there is an opportunity to contribute to the good cause though by making a donation to their Foundation.
The world of Welzen is populated by a series of animated creatures all representing areas for meditation and there are five on this app: managing stress; reducing anxiety, increasing focus, enhancing creativity and improving relationships. There are a number of free meditations and a five day programme as standard which offers a nice introduction with: a breathing practice, a body scan, and three types of meditations (gratitude,sounds and a kindness meditation). There is a lot more content within the paid section of the app and for the whole package you will be looking at an annual fee of around £80. Like Smiling Mind, there are sections on this app for children, and Welzen also has invested in developing its ‘Female Guidance’ section, completely voiced by women for for women. Seriously engaging and easy to use and really nice for newbie meditators who should come away from Welzen with both an understanding of the science behind meditation and a calmer persona!