For some reason, I've always viewed meditation as such an an unreachable state of zen. Probably my naivety kicking in, but for many years, I never thought I could be included in the elitist equation of meditation that involved people like experienced yogis and buddhists. To give myself a little credit, this was before the whole "wellness" wave took over the millennial generation. Over the years, the practice of meditation has transformed into a more approachable practice that everyone can do everywhere.
Studies show that meditation has the power to help reduce blood pressure, flare-ups with ulcerative colitis, and more health conditions. It's also been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
My mind never calms down, to the point that I've started to accept stress as my norm. (I know, it's not healthy.) In an attempt to calm my nerves, I decided to try the best meditation apps for the first time and share my experience below.
Meditation App: Calm
I've heard so many amazing things about Calm. For starters, it's free, and it has rave reviews for its ability to ease stress and help you sleep better. There are endless features, ranging from sleep, stress, and anxiety to relationships, happiness, gratitude, and more. I chose the Daily Calm program, which is just 10 minutes. I wanted to start with a shorter time.
The first two minutes were really hard. I tried it in the morning, and my mind was crowded with my to-do list for the day. The next few minutes didn't get easier, and the first day just simply didn't work. The next day, I tried the same program before bed because I have trouble slowing down my mind when it's time to sleep. I immediately began to focus on my breathing and eased right into the meditation. After trying this for a week, I realized I was able to meditate better in the evenings. It's because I feel somewhat fulfilled by my accomplishments from the day and don't feel like my tasks are attacking me.
Meditation App: Insight Timer
This (free) app feels like a community. I love the social media aspect of Insight Timer. As soon as you open the app, it notifies you of how many other people are meditating at the same time as you, so I didn't feel alone. While meditation is typically about solitude, it's comforting to know that others are practicing it at the very same time.
While meditation is typically about solitude, it's comforting to know that others are practicing it at the very same time.
This was week two of meditating from the Calm app every evening, so I felt in a groove. What really hooked me with Insight Timer is that it's only 10 minutes as well, i.e., beginner-friendly. There are over a thousand music choices, so I didn't get annoyed by the pre-set, basic music choices. I chose melodies that felt calming to me personally. After trying this app for a few days in the evenings, I seriously slept like a baby. I didn't pick up my phone afterward, and I felt ready to take on the next day. This download will be a permanent fixture in my phone.
Meditation App: Aura
Aura felt like the most personal meditation app of the bunch. You can track your mood and learn about your different mood patterns throughout the day, which was really helpful for me, and the app suggests different meditation practices based on how you're feeling.
When I first started the app, it asked about my stress and optimism levels. It also asked about my approach to mindfulness, so I love how the app shaped its meditations around my personal preferences. I also signed up for daily reminders that encouraged me to be more mindful. I loved seeing these positive little messages pop up on my phone.
I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm an experienced meditator now or anything, but I'll definitely be practicing this more in the future. My anxiety and stress come in waves, but they're not permanent—and I'm happy about my growth.