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This meditation app may be the best teacher out there

Headspace App

The idea of using an app for meditation seems pretty counterintuitive.

After all, many of the reasons we’re distracted and disconnected have to do with technology. We’re bombarded with screens and texts and emails and notifications (ding! buzz!)…  finding mental space in the midst of it all can be pretty freakin’ challenging.

Meditation, of course, can help with all of that, but because of all of that, it can be hard to find time to actually fit it into your day to, you know, sit still. 

There’s good reason to give it a shot, though. While meditation’s ability to reduce stress has been verified by solid research for decades, evidence for broader health benefits has been building up steadily in recent years. It’s been shown to reduce blood pressure (in turn reducing risk of heart disease), reduce anxiety and depression, help with insomnia, and potentially turn you into a happier, more compassionate person. (Yes, please!)

So if an app may help you learn something that beneficial, why not give it a shot?

Today, there are many to choose from. Inscape has hypnotic sound baths, and 10% Happier is super-practical. Buddhify builds its program around applying mindfulness principles to everyday life.

The buzziest, however, is Headspace.

In fact, the few times I told someone I was trying to learn to meditate, the first thing they said was, “Are you using Headspace?” I was, and here’s how it went.

Finding Headspace

Headspace was created by former Tibetan Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, and his approach to teaching you to meditate is unparalleled in terms of accessibility.

Sign up for the app for free to learn the basics in their 10-day program, and then subscribe if you want to continue with specialized series and minis ($12.95 per month or $7.99 per month if you sign up for a year).

His technique is simple (basically learning how to focus and unfocus your mind and counting breaths), his voice is incredibly soothing and centering (love that British accent!), and 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time when you’re starting out. AKA, it’s still tough to sit for that amount of time but you don’t feel like you’re going to go insane. Plus, the app provides fun animations throughout that help you visualize the tough parts, like how to manage distracting thoughts.

If you get through the 10 days, there are two more “Basics” programs to keep your momentum up. After that, you can choose single meditations based on your immediate need or use a “pack” based on a theme. For instance, if you’re having trouble getting to bed, you can click into a “sleeping” meditation. (I used the “Frustration” meditation when I lost my bags at the airport). If you want to make strides in a bigger realm, you can follow 10- to 30-day programs for things like productivity, self-esteem, anger, relationships, or sports training.

There are also “Minis” like “Breathe” and “Focus” that are just one- to three-minutes long and can help you reset yourself throughout the day. Basically, it’s set up to meet you where you are, and doesn’t try to inject anything religious or too “out there”… I don’t think anyone would have trouble following along. Getting it, however, is another story— that might require a lifetime of practice.

Headspace App Headspace App

Overall, I felt like Headspace really set me up to become a “meditator” in a way nothing I had tried before did. I feel like I may be slightly more Zen from here on out, especially since when I hear one of those stressful notifications coming from my phone.

Have you tried a meditation app? Did it work for you? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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