As students, we’re used to relying on our smartphones to help us with everything. From paying bills to reminding us of deadlines to keeping tabs on our social life, smartphones have become a necessity of the busy student’s schedule, especially with apps.
Over 500 apps are dedicated to mindfulness or meditation practices specifically. Mindfulness is a practice that involves concentration on the present moment in order to gain peace. Mindfulness or meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, amidst other mental illnesses. It’s not fully clear if these same benefits can come from using a mindfulness-based app; however a scientific study from 2016 tracked users for 10 days of using mindfulness apps and showed that users experienced more positive effects and decreased depressive thoughts.
While apps will not solve problems, they prove opportunities to help refocus your mind and encourage you to pause. Here are seven free apps for iOS and Android users that can set you on the right track to a sound mind, body and soul:
This is geared towards the beginner, as highlighted through the app’s main page with the Basics pack, a free 10-day beginner’s course that explains mindfulness essentials. Think of it as a mindfulness coach in your pocket. According to the company’s website, even actress Emma Watson approves this app. If it’s good for Emma, it’s good for us!
This app is helpful in providing you with an overview of what mindfulness is and educating users before they dive in. One section, entitled “Learn to Meditate,” defines mindfulness, its benefits and the neuroscience of mindfulness. The app features roughly 30 free sessions (about 11 minutes each) with different voices and themes such as Breathe, Connect with Your Body and Be Kind. You can also opt for strictly relaxing sounds instead of a theme.
With this app, you can choose from an assortment of three- to 25-minute guided meditation experiences. You can choose from sounds of rain, a fireplace, crickets or even white noise. With Calm’s 10-minute program, you can unwind before beginning your day or before bedtime. The app also includes sleep stories, breathing exercises, unguided meditations and soothing sounds to help ease you to sleep.
Insight Timer is one of the most popular apps and features over 4,500 free, guided meditations from over 1,000 meditation practitioners. There are also 750 meditation music tracks. The app feels more like a community as from the beginning you log in, it informs you of how many other users are meditating at that time. You can even set your location and see meditators nearby, as well as what meditations they’re listening to. This makes the user feel less isolated and part of a team. Additionally, Insight Timer allows the user to customize their intervals and background sounds so that the meditation session fits exactly what they are looking for.
While many apps are more general in their sessions, with Aura, the user receives a new personalized, three-minute meditation. Meditations are not repeated, as new tracks are constantly being created. To make your experience more personalized, Aura asks your age, stress level, interest in mindfulness, etc., before making suggestions. Aura targets stress, anxiety and depression. You also have the choice to listen to relaxing sounds or try the Mindful Breather feature, where breathing is synchronized to an animated circle that gently expands and contracts. Aura brings more specialized attention to the table of mindfulness apps.
The app has a popular feature called “6 Phase Meditation” that, according to the co-founder, Vishen Lakhiana, is used by over 50,000 people around the world. The app is specialized for people who prefer morning meditations, which is the recommended time for intermediate practitioners. The app’s library holds thousands of meditations, with 75 being free.
As you can see, each app offers its own pros and cons. Test them out and see which works best for you and your own routine. Happy meditating!