In one of my previous posts, I shared four reasons you should try meditating – today. For those of you who maintain you still don’t have the time to meditate, fear not. Meditation is like a mind-gym, equipped with various machines according to your tastes and skill level. There’s no point diving head-first into the full Tibetan Buddhist experience if your idea of concentration is spending 10 minutes watching telly without texting. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Below are four of my favourite apps that’ll take you from mindless to mindful in just 10 minutes. Think of it: no sagebrush, no singing bowls, no vision quest; just a few pro user tools to help lower stress and bring balance to your life. Do you have 600 seconds to spare?
Headspace is the Dalai Lama of meditation apps: user-friendly, unthreatening and easy-to-understand. That would explain its increasing popularity – 6 million users and counting. Enter Bristol-born former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe who co-founded Headspace in a bid to demystify meditation and make it relevant to the masses. Puddicombe’s dedication to making meditation accessible to people with modern lives is hinged on his belief that all it takes is 10 minutes a day using proven techniques to be happier and have a bit more clarity. Expect a series of Take 10 guided meditations with Andy, who leads you through easy-to-follow meditation techniques in his inimitable voice. Each Take 10 day builds on the next, reinforcing the technique until it becomes second nature. Meditation reminders aid accountability, as does the app’s buddy system. Upgrade your subscription for packages that deepen your practice or themed packs for improving health, relationships and performance. Best suited to newbies, kids, the time-strapped and the curious but cautious. Prepare to be converted.
Buddhify puts the speaker in bespoke with over 80 custom guided mindfulness meditation tracks voiced by six different instructors. It’s designed for real-time lives and day-to-day stresses – being online, waiting around, insomnia, dealing with difficult emotions. Tracks range from four to 27 minutes, with a solo meditation timer should you wish to go it alone. The little-and-often school of thought is easier to maintain as a habit than sitting under a bodhi tree for seven days like Buddha. Measurement tools such as progress stats and a check-in system help with accountability and motivation. List Makers will love the pie chart used to track progress, including record streaks and minutes spent meditating. There’s also a community FAQ (is it normal to fall asleep? Why do I keep thinking of laundry?) of all those questions you were afraid to ask but are so glad someone else did! It also offers over 100 tips on maximising your mindfulness practice. Perfect for Frequent Traders, Eternal Bachelors and List Makers, for busy people and for times when a helpful distraction is needed (rebooting a computer, waiting for a delayed flight or walking down a crowded city street).
Jiyo is a well-being companion that vows to be ‘your better half’. It’s also the brainchild of Deepak Chopra – bestselling author, alternative medicine practitioner and de facto mindfulness guru, not to mention a close personal friend of Oprah Winfrey. His aim? To get one billion people actively working toward self-improvement with the help of what he terms ‘purposeful technology’. This is the fella who heads up the popular Chopra Center in California, where more than three million people have taken mind, body, spirit classes. Expect video content from Chopra and other experts across topics from meditation and yoga to nutrition and tackling issues like body awareness, stress and self-reflection. Its community functionality means members benefit from mutual support in pursuit of their wellness goals. The app connects to your FitBit, iPhone Health app or Apple Watch so it can personalise health suggestions according to your sleep, exercise and stress habits. It can also help you find nearby exercise and yoga studios. Yep, Big Brother is watching you – but it’s all for the greater good.
Meditation Studio makes a solid argument for its nominal download fee: it’s less than the price of a nice coffee, plus it’s open 24/7 and allows puppies. Not bad. That’s the thing about this app: it’s all about taking the complication out of a practice that aims to be uncomplicated. It doesn’t hurt that their team of top-brass wellness experts range from Zen Buddhist monks to clinical psychologists. Meditation dilettantes are guided toward a 15-day intro course of bite-size lessons that’ll take you from zero to Zen in no time; while serious punters can opt for a deeper immersion with more in-depth sessions. Meditation Studio allows users to build their own personal libraries from collections entitled ‘Be Happy’, ‘Be Awesome’, ‘Be Curious’, ‘Be Kind’ and ‘Be Healthy’. With over 200 guided meditations featuring different instructors and styles, it sounds like a recipe for option paralysis, but the navigation is intuitive and easy-to-use. Plus the app looks swanky-pants on a retina display!