Mobile mindfulness

The top five meditation apps to help you chill out

Has the phone you have in your pocket turned you into a prisoner? It can also be the tool for liberation—even from your phone itself.

Meditation apps have taken off lately, and mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve focus and emotional stability, which are good things for studying and dealing with life.

Here’s my top five, and yes I actually tried them all.

 

Headspace

Headspace is the app that kicked off the meditation app craze. It’s has a nice, stripped down interface, with different courses that start at three minutes a day. There are little cartoon videos briefly explaining meditation concepts, but it’s mainly co-founder Andy Puddicombe walking you through it. Puddicombe studied meditation as a Buddhist monk for 10 years, mostly in Tibet. The intro course is free but it’s $10 to $15 a month to access everything. This is the app that got me building a meditation practice and I’m still super happy with it.

10% Happier

This is the YouTube channel of meditation apps. If you want lots of info, a nice walled garden full of fun videos and information along with some really amazing meditation instruction, then 10% Happier is for you. It’s part of the whole 10% Happier empire by TV talking head Dan Harris, which includes two excellent books and a podcast. You also can chat with a live meditation coach. This is a great app if you like videos and want a curated selection of meditation coaches and courses that’s not overwhelming. The intro coach Joseph Goldstein is amazing, he’s the real deal. Again, the beginner course is free but it’s $8 to $15 a month to access everything.

Calm

There are two kinds of people in this world. People who are inspired by inspirational posters, and people who hate inspirational posters. The Calm app is the inspirational poster of meditation apps. People who love it really love it and people who hate it, well you get the picture. It has atmospheric background music and standard meditation instructions, and also focuses on content for sleeping. Lots of the features are free, but you can subscribe for $4 to $14 a month.

Insight Timer

You want to meditate and you already know how? Insight Timer is the app for you if you got this down, but you want a little help and a nice timer. It’s a good second-level app after you’ve finished with a beginner one. They have nearly 7,000 free meditations and the timer is free so this is a good one if you hate paying for things on principle, or don’t have a credit card, but you could get overwhelmed by choice.

Consciousness Explorers Cub

Okay, this isn’t an app, this is a club that meets up in real life on Monday nights at various places in the city, mostly in the west end. Some of their exercises are a bit wacky, but it’s also grounded in a very serious exploration of different meditation traditions. Sitting with other people is a great way to learn meditation. The community and real-life guided meditation mean that you might actually sit for longer than when you’re alone in your bedroom, and you can talk to people about whatever issues you might be having. Visit cecmeditate.com.

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Mobile mindfulness