It does not take much to lose focus during working hours – a text message, an interesting Tweet, or breaking news in your feed. With so many information channels pouring loads of data on users every second of their lives, no wonder sometimes they feel exhausted. I like to spend a few days with everything turned off – TVs, phones, computers, tablets. It helps me restore my inspiration pool in the short run. Meditation, however, offers more advantages than just a short-term withdrawal from the informational field, provided you do it right.
A recent study reviewed a lot of mobile apps that offer peace of mind, mindfulness, breathing techniques, concentration techniques, guided meditation, tracking, analysis and countdown timers wrapped into a single ‘meditation’ niche, and found no evidence the meditation apps were useful at all. It seems we have turned meditation, a path to spiritual enlightenment, into something as mundane as cooking a morning omelet with bacon, and its true purpose escapes us. Meditation has become mainstream, and for convenience, marketers replaced it with the term ‘mindfulness’ and started selling it as a product.
Having said that, if an app, even if it is a placebo, helps you restore your focus or cool down after a fight with your spouse for a while, why not use it? Here is our roundup of mobile apps and content you can access from your smartphone for meditation. Even though some apps on the list are paid (we have to pay tribute to the largely acknowledged ones), our goal was to find an app that is close to what meditation is supposed to be and does not rip you off.
- By 21awake Ltd
- Price: $2.99
- Requires: iOS 7
- Rating: 4.5 starts with 39 ratings
If mindfulness is your objective, Buddhify 2 might just be the right app, featuring neat UI, 40+ guided meditation audio tracks ranging in length from 5 to 20 minutes, a solo meditation timer, stats and check-in system for those who don’t feel the progress unless the pies show it, and 100+ advice for better mindfulness practice. Its adepts say the app helps them meditate anywhere, and the app’s 14 location settings allow them to meditate literally on the go. Seriously, it says you can meditate while walking in the city, or working out in the gym. I can accept the idea of meditating while commuting, but walking along a highly urbanized location and meditating?
Users can choose a track ‘flavor’ and a male or female voice, and a single or two-player meditation mode to invite a friend for a session.
Headspace.com – meditation [Android, iOS]
- By Headspace
- Price: free trial, then $12.95 monthly
- Rating: 4.4 stars with 7.150 ratings
Another attempt at making meditation simple, Headspace lures you with a 10-day free trial Take10 that teaches the basics of meditation. You are supposed to make up your mind during that time, and if you are satisfied, purchase the rest. The monthly subscription costs $12.95, the yearly $7.99 per month, two years will set you off $6.24 per month, and a forever subscribership costs $419.95.
This might be the app that will get you started with meditation, and it has some great content. Some users, and I understand them, dislike the whispering manner of the male narration, ‘Why can’t men just act like normal men anymore? What’s with all these hypnotist sounding so effeminate?’ Other than that, the app is a graphical and inspirational delight, with guided and unguided meditations as long as 2 to 60 minutes long. As you would expect, the app tracks your stats and progress, has social integration for you to boast off to your friends, reminds you to practice and offers content for download and offline practice.
The developer is a former Tibetan monk, and a celeb in the UK, consulting for the government – a classic case of a talented Anakin Skywalker turning into Dart Weder. The press, celebs and app’s users love his program, so if Emma Watson’s endorsement means quality meditation – go ahead. If anything, it might help you fall asleep.
Osho Books or Audio Books [any platform]
- Price: varies
- Source: Amazon, or wherever you find them
- Requires: audio player, or eBooks reader
There can be no true meditation if you do not wish to work on it, and reading, or listening to, Osho makes you work without even realizing it, simply because it’s an engrossing read. He is a spiritual leader to millions of people worldwide, and his aim was to make people meditate in their quest to individual spirituality (recognize the key word?) It is the spirituality that is primary, while meditation is only a means of achieving it, besides de-stressing and other short-term trivial goals. Named ‘the most dangerous man since Jesus Christ,’ Osho does not use complex verbiage aimed at theologians. He is straightforward about human nature, and each chapter is a discovery, provided you are willing to hear.
Without further ado, here are a few links:
- The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within – $12.49 on Amazon.
- Being in Love: How to Love with Awareness and Relate Without Fear – $11.84 on Amazon.
- Meditation: The First and Last Freedom – $6.59 on Amazon.
- Everyday Osho: 365 Daily Meditations for the Here and Now – paperback on Amazon.
Pranayama Free [Android, iOS]
- By Saagara
- Price: free, has a paid version
- Rating: 4 stars with 347 ratings
If you do not wish to make things unnecessary complicated, how about learning how to breathe first? Pranayama, or Universal Breathing is a part of a bigger project, but the standalone app is free, as well as some other apps in the series, such as Health Through Breath free. The app guides you on your breathing exercises, and if you really want to feel positive effects of any meditation-related app on your physical health, start with Pranayama breathing. The app shows you how to inhale, exhale, counts time for you and sound-indicates the right time to breathe in and out. It’s a hassle-free and quite enjoyable way to relieve stress and feel better almost immediately. It features relaxing music and some nice animated UI elements to teach you breath slower, deeper and relax.
OM Meditation: Mantra Chanting [Android]
- By PANAGOLA
- Price: free
- Rating: 4.5 stars with 4,391 ratings
If you are familiar with meditation basics and could use a little helper app, OM Meditation: Mantra Chanting is a free and no-nonsense timer and trainer for anyone practicing OM mantra chanting. Vedic mantras are great for relaxing your body and elevating your spirit. The app comes packed with features and configurations, and most importantly, it provides wording and meaning references for each mantra. No ads, no special permissions.
Besides the basic Om chant, the app features a slew of other mantras for removing obstacles, gaining energy, power and wisdom, paying tribute to Vishnu, Savitr, Shiva, the sacred Lotus flower, Krishna, Rudra. Meditation beginners will appreciate instructions for a 15 minutes meditation basic routines.
The app features pause/resume buttons, sleep timer, start delay feature, set pause between chants or have them play automatically one by one, optional bell sound. It’s small and installs to your SD card, but better yet, it can run in the background without killing your battery.
Meditation Music [Android]
- By MeTapps
- Price: free
- Rating: 4.2 stars with 4,210 ratings
If what you lack is an accessible source of meditation music, this app offers you just that. It contains six high quality melodies perfect for meditation, beautiful background imagery, smooth UI, timer and individually adjustable sounds. The sound tracks include Heaven, Inspiration, Convent, Seaside, Mystic and Temple in the Hills sounds.
This may not be the best-bestest music of your life, but it works, and that’s what counts. Some users praise it for healing their insomnia – once you press the play button, you don’t have to think about it anymore. Just set the timer and it will shut down without waking you up. Well, falling asleep is not exactly meditation, but if that’s what you need, who cares? It is not invasive with your personal information and access requests, and users love it.
Audio tracks, guided relaxation, meditation, empowerment
The Global Awakening of Humanity is the goal of this institute that dedicates its studies to human psyche and latent abilities hidden dormant inside each of you. They study consciousness, expanded awareness and encourage discovery of self. The Institute offers free audio tracks you can listen to directly from your browser, but mind you – you need stereo headphones since some sounds stimulate different areas of your brain hemispheres to synchronize them. In fact, there is even a detailed instruction on how to listen. It is not recommended for listening to when driving or walking, so no, this is not a meditation app you can digest while working out in a gym.
The meditations are guided, in great detail, and if you really want to achieve expanded awareness but have trouble doing so on your own, give it a try – it’s powerful, scientific and has plenty of free content:
- Explorer Series
- Forgiveness Meditation
- Gateway Voyage
- Healing Journeys
- Intro to TMI Audio Guidance
If you have something valuable to add, an app suggestion, or any content users can easily access from their smartphones, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.