More than ever, we need to meditate.
With every text message, every email, every viral video, every binge-worthy show, every buzz of dopamine from Facebook comments, Twitter replies, and Instagram likes, we’re drowning in a haze of distractions that’s leaving us overwhelmed.
Take a deep breath.
There is an answer.
Just like yoga, the practice of meditation is making a resurgence in popularity to ease our digital distress. But gone are the old clichés of sitting cross-legged, burning incense and reciting “Om.” Today’s meditation fights digital fire with digital fire, harnessing smart technology to help you add focus, clarity, and well-being to your modern life.
Here are three apps that allow you to dip your toe into modern meditation and can put you on the path to mindfulness.
“When did you last take any time to do nothing?”
That’s the question Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe asks to kick off his TedTalk, “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.” Puddicombe’s story is a unique one – he was so overwhelmed with events in his life he actually became a monk.
He channeled his learnings into the Headspace app which reportedly has 8.5 million active users, including the likes of Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson. Puddicombe himself narrates 10 free meditation sessions in a very soothing British accent. These sessions teach you the ropes of meditation in a digestible way with simple, supplemental animations that help you understand the principles of mindfulness.
For instance, most people think meditation is about thinking about nothing. In fact, meditation is about focusing on the present. It’s about being aware of how our bodies are feeling right now and familiarizing ourselves with the moment. Best of all, you can use the app at home, in your office or even in your car if you feel especially stressed.
You can continue your Headspace journey with a paid subscription to unlock advanced sessions and record your progress.
STOP, BREATHE & THINK
The Stop, Breathe & Think app allows you to gamify your meditation without having to pay for a subscription. You can record your minutes of meditation, how many “check-ins” with your body you’ve logged, daily streaks, and even graph your emotions.
The interface is busier than Headspace, but that’s because it features more options and a more playful presentation. For instance, there’s a counter on the home page that tells you how many people are meditating on the app (10,379 today). It also features paid premium content that you can unlock.
Not to be outdone by Headspace’s 10 mindful minutes, the Calm app offers “7 days of Calm.” When you open the Calm app – touted as the “#1 App for Mindfulness and Mediation” on its website – you’re immediately immersed in the soothing sounds of nature and a tranquil image of a peaceful lake. It’s a more sensory experience than the other apps, but its functionality is similar, with helpful lessons, tallies of your meditation stats, and paid premium content.
So, turn that smart phone, which is the source of so many distractions, into an instrument to filter those distractions out. Choose the app that’s right for you and you’ll be on your way to a less anxious, more focused mind.