To receive the Luxiders newsletter, sign up here.
Probably the most trending apps after social media, mindfulness and relaxation apps promise to help you excel in your ability to leave the mind blank. This is key to manage the stress peaks and anxiety that many people suffer from in their daily lives. Even though sports like yoga and pilates help winding down, mindfulness apps come in handy if you want to work on your meditation anytime, anywhere.
According to Greater Good Magazine, from Berkeley University of California, the term mindfulness means maintaining a moment – by – moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. It also involves acceptance, meaning we won’t judge our feelings and / or thoughts. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the moment without replaying the past or imagining the future.
It is rooted in Buddhist meditation. However, partly thanks to the Jon Kabat – Zinn’s Mindfulness – Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme launched in 1979, it’s become mainstream in recent years. Studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness. Now that it is more available than ever, we’ve made a list of the 5 best mindfulness and relaxation apps.
You probably already know Calm, since it is the relaxation and meditation app of choice. Backed by its numerous awards including Apple Best of 2018, Apple’s App of the Year 2017, Google Play Editor’s Choice 2018, and named “the world’s happiest app” by Center for Humane Technology, it’s available for iOS, Android and Desktop.
The app provides guided practices for meditation and sleep, where you can choose from daily mindfulness exercises with music or gentle stretching for mind and body. Their immersive in-app experiences let you enjoy nature scenes and sounds, and their easy tracking allows you to keep track of your mood and your activities.
It’s built in a freemium model, which means that you can access some of their content free of charge. The 7 day free trial unlocks over 100 meditations, the complete sleep stories library ( yes, the one featuring Harry Styles as well) , exclusive music tracks and masterclasses. After the free trial, it costs $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year.
Available for iOS and Android, it’s developed by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and offers about a dozen types of different meditations in English and Spanish. For the newbies, they have a Getting Started section that guides and informs you on the basics of mindfulness: meaning, how to choose a mediation, best posture for practice and researched benefits for each of them.
It also offers longer meditations called “podcasts”: half hour-long audio recordings of meditations that contain talks, usually by Diana Winston, UCLA Director of Mindfulness Education.
If you’re looking for a science backed app, this one’s for you. Oh, and by the way, it’s completely free.
The non – for – profit app is one of the most complete ones. It features hundreds of meditations organised into structured programs you can easily follow: Mindful Foundations, Sleep, Digital Detox and Stress Management. Even though it offers fixed sessions you can choose when to start and when to finish. Most meditations range from 5 to 15 minutes, but there are also some practices up to 45 minutes (more suitable for advanced meditators).
It also has programs directed at families, children, teens, healthcare workers and educators for whom the app includes activities they can use in class. All of them developed with the help of psychologists and health professionals. The app was originally created for kids, so the selection of kid and youth appropriate sessions is formidable.
Smiling Mind is entirely free so you can enjoy each and every bit of their programmes available for iOS, Android and web.
If you’re looking for endless content, Insight Timer is the right app for you. Available for iOS, Android and web it offers over 80,000 free guided meditations from more than 10,000 teachers. The app covers topic like stress, relationships, healing, sleep, anxiety, creativity and more.
You’ll be joining a worldwide community, since the world map on the home screen announces how many people have downloaded the app and how many of them are using it at the moment. Right after finishing a meditation session, it will let you know how many people were following the lesson. Insight Timer also offers live events every hour of the day, so it feels more real.
Circle for Teams, one of their latest updates, gives you the option to create groups to meditate in real time with friends and family.
This app is available for Android, iOS and web, and it follows the freemium model; by paying ($ 60 a year after a 30-day free trial) you’ll get access to courses with teachers and will be able to download meditations to listen to even when you don’t have an internet connection.
The app is aimed to help you develop the skills for a healthy mind with practices such as: strengthening mental focus, decreasing stress, growing resilience, compassion and better immune health.
It is founded by Dr. Richard Davidson, neuroscientist and founder of the research institute Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and it compiles neuroscience and research-based techniques with meditation lessons. Healthy Minds Program is organised in four pillars: Awareness, Connection, Insight and Purpose. Each of them consists of 3 to 5 parts that contain multiple sessions within.
The app is available for iOS and Android and it’s totally free. This one’s for the thinkers, since it encourages more self - reflection than the previous ones. But, for those who truly seek awareness it may be the one.