Hi all! This is a different kind of post since I am sharing my personal opinion and experiences with some mindfulness/meditation apps.
I have been pretty stressed out lately (job searching) and have also enjoyed very low quality sleep and insomnia. So I decided to get back on track with some meditation or mindfulness activities. (For those of you who don’t know anything about mindfulness or meditation, check this brief post).
It has always been easier for me to practice guided meditations. I had been a user of Headspace a year ago and paid a subscription that never put to good use. The voice of Andy was not so pleasant for me and overall made meditating a pain in the ass instead of more pleasant. But I gave it another try and downloaded the Headspace app again. This time it wasn’t any different: all the sleep aid meditations were subscription only, and the basic meditation wasn’t helping me much.
So I did a little research and I found four alternatives to Headspace that seemed to be nice: Insight Timer, Aura, Calm, and Stop, Breathe, and Think. While most of these apps offer a paid subscription plan, I didn’t pay any so that I can give you some feedback on the free version.
The first app I tried was Insight Timer. I wanted this app for sleep induction and meditation that was more targeted to any specific need. And it does have a wide variety of meditations. I used some in the middle of the day, like a “mindfulness eating” practice, and then some sleep aid ones.
I would say it was hit and miss depending on the person that had created the meditation, but since it’s all free, I would not complain. You can save your favorite sessions for easier access next time you want to meditate.
I would use this app if you wanted a huge catalogue of various types of meditations.
Calm offers different options like the other apps, but it’s less overwhelming than Insight Timer. Right when you start you may chose to meditate, play some music, or choose from their sleep section.
For meditation, their beginner guide with 7 free meditation days is a great way to start. If you chose the sleep section, their bedtime stories for adults and children are really g
reat. They have four stories right now that are free, I don’t know if they will update this in the future.
Oh! A really cute setting of this app is the “scenes” that you use as background for your app. If you choose the Fireplace one, for example, a crackling fire will be shown on your app when you open it, accompanied with its own sounds.
I would use this app if you would like to have a daily guided meditation and bedtime stories.
From the beginning I was also using Aura daily, since it offers a free short meditation everyday. This works greatly for me if I know I am not ready to purchase a subscription, since it “forces” me to use the daily free one. These meditations were short for the free version of the app, around 3 minutes each day. And they are mood targeted, which I found very useful.
The app comes with a gratitude journal, as well as a quick breathing exercise section. Like Calm, it also offers relaxation music, but has nothing on sleep aid on the free version.
I would use this app if you benefit from brief meditation or if lengthy meditations don’t work for you.
Stop, Breath & Think is a great tool for the newbie. I had some technical issues, as the app for android is new and more unstable. I love that it has tons of information on mindfulness and meditation from the basics to “how it works”.
The app itself is really cute, and guides you to find the right meditation for you. In the beginning you may choose to do a “check in”, which is often used in therapy, specially in group counseling. During this check in you will be asked your emotional state, your physical state, and to choose 5 emotions that describe how you are feeling right now.
After the check in, you will be given three meditations to practice. They are pretty well targeted and I felt like the meditations were of better quality than the other apps.
If you decide not to do a check-in, you may chose directly from their list of meditation,
which are about 6 minutes long for the free version.
I would chose this app if you are trying to get meditation practices targeted to your emotional and physical state.
I hope that these reviews were useful to anyone. If you’ve used any other and want to include it, please comment below!
EXTRAS: I accompany my daily routines with a couple of items that have become essential to me. One is an eye cooling pad that a friend of mine got for me. I put it in the freezer for 10 minutes and then cover my eyes with it either while meditating or just while I lay for a little bit. This is specially useful for tired eyes or headaches.
The other one is an essential oil diffuser that I use with different kinds of oils. I use it daily but specially when meditating.
Disclaimer: I am in no way related or in connection with anyone working for the mentioned brands and I have no financial gain for any purchases or downloads.