Mindfulness and Meditation Apps
By Patrick Baker ~
People 55 and older face many stress-inducing challenges, such as chronic health conditions, financial worries, caregiving, relationship challenges, loneliness and isolation, and significant lifestyle changes like retirement, relocating, or losing a loved one. Learning to manage stress is one of many benefits of meditating.
Despite recent trends, mindfulness and meditation are ancient traditions and practices that exist in many forms across numerous cultures. At its most basic, mindfulness is about paying attention, and meditation is the technique for achieving that.
Meditation isn’t limited to sitting with legs crossed and eyes closed, either. Some activities considered meditation include walking, hiking, drawing, painting, calligraphy, birding, prayer, yoga, tai chi, gardening, or sitting and silently observing the world around you.
Meditation is any activity that places you in a focused flow state. In this month’s post, I review some popular mindfulness and meditation apps available for iPhone and Android.
This series of posts focuses on wellness apps in essential areas of health and well-being: health and nutrition, guided workouts, mindfulness and meditation, and mental health. While not comprehensive, they will highlight apps reinforcing positive habits for living your best life.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation, regardless of form, has numerous physical and mental health benefits for older adults, including:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Increasing focus and concentration
- Managing pain
- Improving mood
- Increasing self-awareness
- Improving relationships
- Cultivating empathy for others
Here are some apps to help you get started or continue practicing meditation.
Headspace features include expert-guided meditations, a meditation timer, courses, and mindfulness exercises for managing stress and anxiety and building resilience. Choose from short three-minute focus sessions to longer meditations and access to sleep, focus, and mindful movement exercises. You can also receive personalized recommendations based on your interests and mood.
Stories, calming sounds, music, and joyful movement exercises are designed to improve sleep, reduce stress, and enhance focus. Headspace also has a social dimension with live group meditations and friending other users. Multiple languages supported.
Headspace has a free trial and an annual $69.95 subscription. Family pricing plans are available.
Calm aims to help manage stress and mood, improve sleep, and refocus attention using expert-guided meditations, celebrity-narrated sleep stories, ambient sounds, breath work, stretching, and mindful movement.
Other self-care features include a meditation timer, emotion and mental health tracker, 7- and 21-day mindfulness programs, ambient music and sounds, and breathing exercises. Multiple languages supported.
Calm is free, but some features require an annual $69.99 subscription. Also available: a lifetime subscription for $399.99.
Insight Timer features include guided meditations, a meditation timer, sleep music tracks, bedtime tales, and talks from experts in mindfulness, neuroscience, psychology, and teaching from leading universities. It includes traditional meditation and secular mindfulness practices.
The free version of the app is feature-rich. It includes thousands of guided meditations, ambient music tracks, and sounds for calming, focus, and sleep. The app has a customizable meditation timer, a social dimension with discussion groups, stats, and milestone tracking, and you can follow your favorite teachers. Multiple languages supported.
Insight Timer is free to use. Advanced features require an annual $59.99 subscription.
Ten Percent Happier
The Ten Percent Happier app is a companion to the book and podcast by Dan Harris, which strives to improve your sleep, mindfulness, and relationships using meditation. The app features instructional videos and exercises for learning meditation, a library of over 500 guided meditations on various topics presented by experienced meditation instructors, and a timer for unguided meditation.
The sleep section has relaxing meditations to help you fall asleep and remain sleeping, and brief, “bite-size” stories, wisdom, and inspiration for when you’re on the go and need to recenter. Weekly content updates help keep your meditation routine fresh.
Ten Percent Happier has a seven-day free trial but requires a $99.99 annual subscription. Your subscription also includes commercial-free access to all Ten Percent Happier podcasts.
The apps discussed are a curated sample of the most downloaded meditation apps. Don’t hesitate to search your app store for something that aligns with your meditation preferences and needs. The final post in this series will discuss apps for helping manage your mental health.
Patrick Baker is an IT consultant and founder of Prime of Life Tech. Learn more about his services at PrimeOfLifeTech.com, email info@PrimeOfLifeTech.com, or call (720) 319-7145.