Have you been wanting to be more regular with your quiet time, your meditation, or just figuring out how and when to create a chill habit for yourself? You are in luck! Especially if you are a person who keeps a smart phone handy. I have found apps to be really useful in providing the support structure as well as some “gamification” techniques that motivate me to stay with it. They collect data and have various ways for you to interact (or not) with other users.
Here are three that I can recommend. Each one is quite different – so I hope you can find one that will will help you return to the present moment. It is such an awesome place to be and it is available to you 24/7. Do you use any mediation apps? I’d love to hear about them so please share your experiences below or on my Facebook page or Twitter with me.
I love this app. Don’t judge it by the web interface, which I find very data-centric with very little thought to design – though the real time updates I find very cool. The app is very simple to use, it lets you save your own customized meditation profiles (I have 5, of varying lengths, from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.) I can literally open the app and be meditating within 5 seconds – trust me, sometimes time is of the essence! But mostly I like the “no muss, no fuss” approach of this app. It is designed for the traditional practice of sitting in silence. However, it also includes many guided meditations from several leading meditation teachers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn and Tara Brach that you can access with a simple one-time, in-app upgrade. It tracks your time (number of sessions, amount of time, etc), reminds you of ongoing milestones, and will let you auto-post to Twitter and Facebook. After a session, the screen tells you how many people you just meditated with, and you can click on those who share their profiles and leave a sweet simple message, “Thanks for meditating with me” or “I like you profile.” There is no need for any other connection, though users can post a link if they want. The focus is on meditation. At its most basic, you can use this app as a timer for other activities such as writing your best-selling novel. I would say in addition to finding yourself, you will find and feel many long time meditators here. It is perhaps a more traditional energy but with modern tools.
Insight Timer website
Insight Timer Facebook
I just discovered this app and website. It is music-centric, which I love because sometimes my head can be so noisy. Music gives my brain something to focus on so my mind can relax into a deeper or more focused place. It also has beautiful visuals (the animated gifs are stunning in the browser) for when you want a multi-sensory experience. There are several “processes” built in to the free version of the app and you can purchase additional topic-focused programs, such as Anxiety Release, Compassion, and Creativity, for a one-time upgrade in-app. I also really like how they provide a link to the music that is playing so you can purchase it and support the music artist. I have quickly built a habit of opening a tab to calm.com when I want to let go of the “irritation du jour.” Like a good Pavlovian dog, my nervous system was easily and quickly trained to drop right into the joy and ease of this present moment. I am typing to it now, in fact. They offer programs to get you started, such as the 7 Days of Calm, with the option of silence or soothing environmental background sounds behind the female narrator’s voice. I would say you will simply find yourself with this app. It really stops the outside world in a moment for me.
Headspace is an app plus membership community. It is run by Andy Puddicombe, who narrates the guided meditations. The sight features a lot of the science, so it offers something to those who are curious about meditation but are also skeptical. Time Ferris, the popular lifehacker, is a fan and as such, is getting many techies to discover that meditation can help the digital stress enormously without sending you down a religion rathole. It is a more controlled experience, something akin to providing bumpers to keep new meditators on a proscribed path to support their staying with it. It does allow interactivity, if you invite buddies. The interface is very graphical, with animated characters to walk you through the help docs as well as navigate the app and the website. I would say the geeks really love this one and it has the strongest community features.
All three apps let you set reminders to come back home to yourself and meditate. Visit each website to get links to their mobile apps or just search in the App Store. They are all popular and easy to find.
May the silence be with you.
UPDATE on May 22, 2015 – Buddhify:
I just finished a conversation with social media and mindfulness author and consultant, Janet Fouts. She recommends the Buddhify app for mindfulness, so now you have four apps to check out!