Meditation is something I have been practicing for several years now. I began practicing yoga about 10 years ago, which is how I discovered meditation, and it’s truly changed my life.
Even though I love meditation, I am very sporadic with my practice. I go through periods where I meditate every day and then I will fall off the wagon when life gets “busy.” And usually it’s the moments when we “don’t have time” to meditate, that we need it most.
Recently I was going through a little bit of a slump. I had low energy, my mindset was off, and I wasn’t feeling like myself. I decided I wanted to do something that could help me get back on track. Since there are so many cool meditation apps out there that I’ve been wanting to try, I decided that I would spend one week trying them all and meditating every single day.
The scientific research on meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and is now finally validated by scientific research. We see the benefits of meditation across multiple studies.
A 2008 study published in the academic journal PLOS ONE, found that just 15 minutes of meditation each day can actually influence gene expression. This study showed a change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms, and glucose metabolism. The researchers also found that consistent meditation resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the participants’ blood pressure.
We see again and again in the research that meditation positively impacts both our brains and our bodies and how they work together.
My 5-day experiment
My goal with this challenge was to meditate for just 10 minutes per day using a different app each day. Hopefully I would find one that I could use to continue with a more consistent meditation practice.
The first app I tried was Headspace. Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps out there. I absolutely loved the design and user interface of the Headspace app. It’s very well designed and organized, making it easy to find exactly what kind of meditation you’re looking for. I also loved the animations that it includes, which offer educational information about meditation and different techniques, in an easy-to-understand way.
I think that Headspace is particularly helpful for beginners or anyone looking for a way to easily add meditation to their life. You can even choose meditations that are just three minutes long, which surprisingly can have a huge impact on your day.
The next meditation app I tried was Calm, another popular app on the market. Calm is particularly helpful for sleep, with an entire library dedicated to meditation for sleep.
Calm also had a whole section for mindfulness at work. I loved that Calm has 7-day programs such as “7 days of gratitude” and “7 days of self-esteem.”
Insight Timer was so cool because of the community-oriented nature of the app. As soon as you open it you can see how many people around the world are using the app and meditating alongside you. This made me feel really connected to a larger global community of meditators.
Another great feature of Insight Timer is that meditation teachers that can upload their own meditations for users around the world to follow. They have so many categories as well, everything from meditation for depression, anxiety, confidence, and motivation.
What I loved most about the Unplug app is how connected I felt to the teachers on the app who are guiding the meditations. It was also organized really well with a wide variety of topics. I liked that you could sort by the length of time of the meditation.
I did feel that their design could use some work. The app was definitely not built for mobile viewing and could definitely use a tech update and better user interface. But the meditations themselves were really nice.
Even since hearing the story of how this app was created, I’ve been excited to try it out. 10% Happier was created by this guy named Dan Harris who is an ABC news anchor. He actually had a panic attack on live television during Good Morning America and was motivated to find a way to address the build-up of anxiety he was feeling.
After this experience, he tried meditation and found that it helped him immensely. He has now made it part of his mission to spread meditation with others. He wrote a book called 10% Happier and later created an app as well.
The app is not only providing guided meditations, but also educational interviews with different experts, so you can actually learn about meditation and apply it to your practice.
10% Happier says it’s a meditation app for “fidgety skeptics.” So if you’re someone who feels like you can’t meditate because you’re too “fidgety” or skeptical whether or not it will actually work, this is definitely the app for you!
My Favorite App
I enjoyed all five of these meditation apps for different reasons and would definitely recommend any of them to try.
However, I’d have to say that Headspace was definitely my favorite. When it comes to design, user interface, the meditations themselves, and overall effectiveness, I think Headspace is the clear winner. Also, you really can’t beat the guy’s voice who guides the Headspace meditations. It’s one of the most calming voices I’ve ever heard!
If you are looking to try meditation for the first time, or you want to make it a more consistent practice in your life, I definitely recommend trying out Headspace. It makes it super easy to learn how to meditate and it’s perfect for all levels of meditators.