Should You Use An App To Meditate? Absolutely.
Options for Meditation in the Digital Age
Sometimes I feel like I tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and blog about my life as much as I live it, and when that scale tips too far, I find myself longing for a digital detox. Which is the perfect time to meditate.
So, how ironic is it that in my desire to break free from technology and perform an internal reboot, I would turn to technology to help me unplug?
I’ve heard about meditation apps for a while.
I’d been having an increasingly hard time focusing on my breath instead of my To-Do list in my morning practice, so I decided to give a few apps a try and find out if they could be useful tools or yet more distractions.
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways To Sleep Deeper
I started with Insight Timer
This app has a couple of free functions: You can either use a timer that chimes a bell at set intervals (presumably to help you refocus your scattered attention) or listen to a variety of recorded guided meditations, which you can select for topic, length of time, and even country of origin.
I sampled a bit of everything and had a mostly positive experience.
The timer, while simple, was surprisingly helpful.
The guided meditations were a mixed bag. Most were too long for my desired short session (I like to meditate for about 10 minutes), but I did find a few I will come back to.
Next, I tried Calm
The app Calm offered me timed meditation sessions with the sound of the lapping ocean in the background. I could have chosen other sounds too, like pouring rain or a crackling fireplace.
For guided meditations, there are free body scans ranging from 2 to 30 minutes. Guided meditations on other topics require a membership, which costs about $40 per year.
I wasn’t ready to commit to a membership but did enjoy their variety of background sounds and the soothing female voice in the body scan meditation.
Then, I tried Headspace
All of these recorded meditations are guided by the founder Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk with a British voice that reminds me of Jamie Oliver—great to listen to.
Just about everything in this app requires a subscription, which costs $12.99 per month, $94.99 per year, or $399.99 for life.
I tried the free 10-day sessions and did enjoy Andy’s direction.
I felt like his instructions were more specific than others I’d heard, keeping up a pace that kept my attention better than others.
However, I didn’t personally feel like adding this app to my monthly or yearly budget.
Lastly, I found a number of short, recorded meditations on different themes
I found these on two lesser-known apps that I’ve been returning to regularly. I especially enjoy the guided Mindful Breathing meditation on Breathe, for which I can set the number of minutes starting with only three.
And I like OMG I can Meditate!, which also has a Kids and Family section with a number of great guided meditations I’ve been playing for my Mindfulness students in elementary school.
Ultimately, while I do feel like the apps that are helpful in keeping my mind focused on breath, voice, sound, and sensations, the presence of my phone sort of makes it feel like it isn’t “real” meditation.
Unless I set my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode, I can hear emails arriving in the background, and simply the presence of the object—which is usually the source of my diversion from my inner source—can make it feel more like “work time” than down time.
However, I am glad that I’ve explored these options and have now added some new tools to my meditation toolbox. However it happens, whether digital or au natural, my goal is to remain “heavily meditated.”
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