When it comes to meditation people have a various questions, how to meditate, “I am a beginner, how do I meditate?”, “should I join a meditation retreat?”, join a cult, “should I be a full time or part time hippie?”, “should I go out shopping for vintage clothes and weird stones to wear to be able to meditate?” etc.
The essence of meditation is to be able to have a mind that is able to stand alone, without prejudices, judgement, not conflict with itself and no effort. It does not mean no thoughts, but the ability to see how thoughts, feelings, words distort one’s perception of the world.
For a beginner this might be a tad difficult to grasp. Especially if he/she wants to try meditation in order to fix something. In that case meditation only becomes a tool towards achieving something. Hence you are moving away from the experience of meditation.
A whole new set of attitude needs to be understood in order to approach meditation the right way. No grasping, no running, no fixing, no wanting to fix – none of that. But simply observing the inner workings of your mind – your psyche.
It is essentially to understand yourself more, not from a rulebook that you made out of others’ reactions to you, or others rules etc. It is possible by closely observing how you act and think, react in your everyday lives.
Now, talking about apps – I have selected a few apps that you can use to start your meditation journey with. I have used some for a long time (headspace- 4 years or more), calm (same amount of time, but not consistently).
Go through the list, some explain the meditation philosophy in a bit more detail like calm and headspace – others have a lot of free meditation like the insight timer app (but also has the possibility of having crappy meditation and the wrong attitude).
Stick to the basic meditations – everyone out there is a guru (I know even me), but don’t swift through the many meditations there. Stick to one or two, and that is enough.
Otherwise you are perpetuating your problem of “not enough” – but in a different way. Or doing out of the fear of “missing out”.
Everyone wants to get the best of the options out there, so they don’t recognise what is available and enjoy the present moment.
Each of these apps have various programs to do. They have courses that needs to be done in a certain number of consecutive days. Some offer one off sessions. Some of them have brilliant guided meditations. I suggest sticking to the guided ones first and then moving on to ones with lesser guidance.
These apps also tend to have other programs for better sleep, to alleviate anxiety etc. Be sure to check them out too.
Meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. Headspace is meditation made simple. We’ll teach you the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
That’s what they say on their website.
I have been using this one for years, now. It is good to pay for the subscription, that way you have access to different styles of meditation.
Headspace comes with one off sessions or packs. For example, there are one off guided and unguided timed meditations and packs for happiness, anxiety and sleep.
What I like about headspace is its design is very intuitive and pleasant, and their animated videos that comes before each pack. This is helpful for a beginner to understand the attitude towards meditation. Often metaphors are used to explain this, which is quite fun.
Meditations are categorised under certain aspects of life such as health, brave, happiness, work and performance, for students, sport and a pro course – for advanced practice. Advanced headspace pro course means there is less guidance.
Something else that is notable is that you can see your stats, how long you have meditated, and when etc.
Headspace meditation app is something that you should definitely checkout if you are a beginner.
Just get the free version first and then try it out and then you like it buy a subscription.
Headspace app cost – (The cost is in pounds)
- Monthly – £9.99/month
- Annual – £5.99/month
- Lifetime – £299.99
Another good app. I listen to this more or less often. Some meditations here do not have equivalent ones in the headspace app. I particularly like the loving kindness mediation in Calm. There are also some good progressive muscle relaxation mediations that you can do just before going to bed to release stress and sleep better.
The app has 100+ guided meditations covering anxiety, focus, stress, sleep, relationships and more.
I like the guidance in calm more, because of the instructor’s soothing voice.
Calm has sections for meditation, sleep stories and a section – masterclass.
The meditation section has different one of meditations and have series of meditations – similar to headspace. Some of these are (Relationship with the self-series, breaking habits and emotions).
Under sleep, it has several sleep stories that you can listen to before going to sleep. They are very relaxing and is one of my favourite things to do. No one says you should not listen to these things when you are an adult, right? The good thing is you don’t have to tell anyone that you do.
The music section gives you with the music much needed for a relaxing day, whether if you need more relaxation or sleep or more focus.
The masterclass section has courses from experts like Elizabeth Gilbert (Creative living beyond fear), Shawn Achor (Discovering happiness) etc.
If anything, if you are like me, take the course for Social media and screen addiction.
Is calm app free? – Not entirely, you can download and use it for free, the basic meditations are available under free. If you want access to the masterclass and most of the meditation series, you will need to purchase the app.
I have an annual subscription with calm.
How much is the calm app?
- About £46 pounds for an annual subscription- $59.99 on their website.
Waking up app
This is a new app that I am trying out, it is from Sam Harris and I am very interested in what he has to say. I got addicted to his speeches after listening to his book ‘Waking up’ on audible. He has such soothing neutral voice.
Sam Harris has extensively studied the nature of the mind and the subject of meditation. In this app, he focuses on vipassana meditation. The app itself is simplistic, there are lessons and then there are meditations.
As the names suggests, lessons are about the philosophy and the practice of meditation, and the meditation are the actual guided meditations. I have only recently started using it, so far very good. Who knows may be this app will be on the top of this list in some time. I am liking it so far.
I hope it stays this simple in the future days too. Don’t want too much stuff on a meditation app.
This app has a ton of free meditations. You have a lot of options, giving you the freedom. Which will either lead you into analysis paralysis (which one to choose) and abandon the app or you might actually like the tremendous amount of free content there.
You see, people don’t actually like a lot of choices, then that would mean that they will have to make a decision.
I use it for the timer it has, it is pretty advanced, you can set interval timings to remind yourself how far along you are, in the meditation, which is helpful if you want to wrap up the meditation towards the end. To remind you that the meditation is ending.
You have a lot of teachers here, but I am not sure which ones know the stuff they are talking about.
There are courses from some experts like Tara Branch and Jack Kornfield.
This app is worth checking out – especially when you don’t want to pay for other apps.
The one thing that I really like about this app is that it gives a sense of community as it gives a stat of how many people are meditating at a point and you can see which users are meditating to which courses. It gives you a nice support group feeling. Also, it can be a bit inspiring to do it with others.
Insight timer has over 10,000 meditations from different teachers. The only things that it might be difficult to know which meditations are actually good or in fact – meditations. Because there is so many.
You also have a talks section where you can listen to talks from Sadhguru, Sam harris etc. It also has a lot of bullshit in my opinion – (chakras and shit). Use it accordingly.
The following two apps, I have not used personally – but pops up in other articles and may be worth checking out. They seem to have no free trial option
No In-App purchases
This can mean that that is the price for the app and then you are done. This can make it the cheapest of all. But hey! you get what you pay for.
Cost – £4.99
There are in app purchases for this app. So, I am guessing you will get some basic features and then you have to pay for more.
More on the foundations of meditation
To understand the essence of meditation I suggest you check out this video from Krishnamurti.