Meditation is a mind-body practice believed to provide numerous benefits. While it gets most often associated with anxiety and stress reduction, it's also believed to reduce blood pressure, as well as symptoms of IBS, depression, and insomnia. Some researchers even consider guided meditation a viable option for pain reduction and a tool for smoking cessation. For those of you striving for mental sharpness, meditation may even streamline information processing in the brain.
There are several popular meditation styles including enlightenment-reaching Transcendental Meditation, consciousness-raising Heart rhythm meditation, energy-raising Kundalini, positivity-increasing Guided Visualization, calm-inducing Qi Gong, thought-clearing Zazen, and the very popular Mindfulness Meditation, which uses a variety of techniques to encourage the meditator to stay in the moment rather than rehashing the past or worrying about the future.
No matter which meditation style you prefer or would like to explore, you'd do well to find a quiet spot to meditate in, sit or lay comfortably, focus your attention on a mantra, an image, the breath, or other physical sensations, and have an open attitude. But this is easier said than done, as it's only too easy to get distracted by intrusive thoughts about our difficult day at work or how we're going to tackle all our errands later or the pain we feel in our elbows or knees, for example. These seven meditation apps can help keep your mind on your meditation and your meditation on your mind. Also, since many find it difficult to stick with their meditation practice after a while, these apps offer the continued encouragement we need to keep up with it.
One of the best meditation apps on the market today is the Headspace app for iOS and Android, providing hundreds of guided meditation sessions of varying lengths to help with stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and more. Led by former monk and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe, the app's mini-meditations are perfect for when you're short on time. (Free-$399.99)
The Calm app offers hundreds of guided and unguided meditations on a variety of topics from anxiety, stress, and sleep to mindful eating, breaking habits, forgiveness, gratitude, and increased self-esteem. Ranging from three to 25 minutes long, Calm's meditations are great for neophytes, longtime practitioners, and everyone in between. If daily meditation is not your thing, then the app offers more than 80 adult bedtime stories, breathing exercises, and nature sounds to help you unwind. (Free-$69.99)
No matter which meditation style you prefer, you'll find it on the free app Insight Timer. Insight Timer offers a lot for free, including thousands of guided meditations of varying lengths to relieve stress and anxiety, promote happiness and sleep, and overcome addiction from the foremost mindfulness meditation teachers, including Tara Brach, Ph.D., Jack Kornfield, and Ram Das. To complement your meditation practice, you'll also find thousands of music tracks from world-renowned artists to help you relax. (Free-$35.99)
Meditation becomes a simple habit once you get the hang of it and reap the benefits. Until then, the Simple Habit app encourages you to make meditation a part of your busy daily routine with quick five-minute meditations to help you alleviate stress and increase relaxation and focus. If you don't know how to meditate, the in-app expert-driven meditation guides with step-by-step instructions can help get you on your way. (Free-$95.99)
Based on ABC News anchor Dan Harris's No. 1 New York Times bestseller 10% Happier about learning to disentangle his mind from intense emotions and negative self-talk, the 10% Happier mindfulness app offers daily videos and guided meditations on anxiety, political fatigue, and other topics to help get your mindfulness practice underway. (Free-$79.99)
Breethe's mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg teaches users easy-to-learn mindfulness and meditation techniques that they can practice in just 10 minutes per day. Explore hundreds of daily meditations that take you from day to night, as well as a wide variety of more specific guided meditations around weight loss, insomnia, work stress, increasing happiness, finding love, and so on. (Free-$399.99)
When you're lost in spiraling thoughts, it's easy to forget that there's another way to handle the situation, if you can only stop, breathe, and think. Thankfully, the aptly titled Stop, Breathe & Think app reminds users to check in with their feelings, and then provides short, personalized guided meditations on anxiety, stress, mindful breathing, improved sleep, and so on to help. (Free-$70.99)
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