By Brittany Perrodin
Although the use of an electronic device may seem counterintuitive to achieving a good woo-sah, meditation apps are designed to be hands-free, customizable and more convenient than a guided meditation class. Whether you’re on a woodland retreat or just need a quick breather before your next job interview, these apps make it possible to experience the benefits of meditation anywhere. The following apps are available for both iOS and Android and are free or low-cost, user-friendly and succeeded in guiding a frantic novice like myself to clear-headedness and relaxation.
The main qualities I focused on while testing 7 different meditation apps were:
Content: variety of activities and features
User-Friendliness: clean, easy-to-use interface
Effectiveness: promotes relaxation, stress-relief, deep state meditation, better sleep and other benefits
Without committing to a pricey subscription, I found that the following apps either nailed all three categories or did an exceptional job with at least two of the three.
Stop, Breathe & Think (App Store/Play Store)
Great for: Guided Meditation
Price: Free (subscribe for $10/month to unlock all features)
This app provides a variety of short exercises that are designed to navigate different physical and emotional feelings. For me, this app did a great job in mimicking a real-life class by providing an instructor that thoroughly directs me through each exercise, helping me to really focus inward and improve mindfulness of my body and mental state. Self-guided meditation and breathing timers are available for independent activity, albeit limited in customization. While the free version has a good amount of content, you can unlock more exercises and longer sessions by subscribing.
Breathing Zone (App Store/Play Store)
Great for: Stress-relief
Price: $3.99 (iOS)/$2.49 (Android)
What Breathing Zone may lack in features, is made up for by its sleek, simplistic interface and highly-customizable settings, allowing you to create a breathing exercise that is never the same as the last (unless you want it to be). The eponymous “Breathing Zone” page of the app features an expanding and contracting flower that is calibrated to the breathing rate you set to guide your session. This visual makes the app easy to use without any sounds, giving it extra mobility and convenience, which will come in handy for me right before that dental procedure I’ve been putting off for months.
Insight Timer (App Store/Play Store)
Great for: Deep Meditation
Price: Free (pay $4.99 to unlock all features)
Insight Timer contains a diverse library of guided meditations, sounds, music and courses submitted by thousands of spiritual gurus, musicians, psychologists, scientists and more. Although I was initially taken aback by the vast library format, this app ended up being my favorite. With access to lengthier (30+ minutes) pieces of content, this app is a great tool for practicing deep meditation. In addition, the self-guided meditation timer has a beautiful, high-quality sound selection that has helped me to drift to sleep faster, sleep deeply and even enjoy more vivid dreams.
Take advantage of the wide availability of meditation apps by using more than one. You may love one app’s guided meditations but prefer the breathing exercises in another. Experiment a bit like I did, to create your ultimate relaxation regimen.
Brittany Perrodin is a writer based in southern Louisiana. When she’s not busy freelance writing about home, health and wellness, she’s exploring local restaurants and events to write her kickass Yelp reviews and food blogs.