As a modern-day meditator, it can be hard to maintain your practice in the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of it all. Ultimately, it is best to cultivate a pure practice that relies on the simple pleasures of space and solitude. However, for those who cannot sit down to meditate without their iPhone, there are a few apps that you may find useful.
All apps are not created equal, so it’s smart to focus on the best qualities and features to look for in a meditation app to meet your needs.
This is the most basic feature to any meditation app. If you already have a practice that you follow, you may value an app that allows you to set your session time. The Chopra Center has a wonderful meditation app, called Ananda, which allows you to do just that. This is great for more advanced meditators. Many other meditation apps have programmed set time sessions that are intended to help you build your practice. Most of these pre-programmed sessions are no longer than 10 minutes, starting with some as short as two minutes. You may, of course, choose longer guided sessions, but these sort of meditations are normally geared towards those who have trouble sitting in silence for long periods.
They are normally categorized by the specific intention of your meditation. For example, in the popular app, Stop, Breathe & Think, you are given meditations based on activities. Some of these include ‘Gain Resilience’, ‘Be Kind’, ‘Breathe’, and ‘Sleep’. For those who are just starting to learn meditation, categories like this can be helpful and fun because they make it easy to focus your intentions. However, you are limited to the time allotted for the guided session.
Most meditators would agree that your practice benefits from flexibility. Some days you may want to go longer than usual, while others need just a few minutes of mindfulness. Be sure to check out the specifics of how an app deals with time before locking into one program.
Many meditation apps utilize sound to enhance your experience. There are apps that use chimes and Tibetan singing bowls, which are always a nice addition to meditation. Transcendental music or chanting can also be enjoyable. A good meditation app will incorporate these elements without being too distracting. The Ananda app provides great flexibility by allowing you to choose your sounds, creating the perfect background to fit your mood and the guidance of Dr. Chopra. You can also adjust the volume, which is an added bonus.
Other apps, like Calm, allow you to choose from a variety of soothing sounds, which can serve as meditations themselves. Sounds like thunderstorms, rain on leaves, and ocean waves can be picked to set the mood and intentions of your meditation. Just remember that when it’s all said and done, you want to tap into your inner stillness and silence through meditation.
Another category of meditation sound technology includes apps that use brainwave tuning. This is a very interesting field, in which practitioners and researchers are using specific soundwaves to place one’s consciousness in meditative states. Apps, such as Beyond Meditation, allow you to purchase different brainwave sounds from Alpha to Gamma. The intention is to listen to these tracks while sitting in silence as you would in normal meditation, except you would merely listen and allow your mind to tune into the energy of the sounds. Some have found this to be a very useful technique.
Since this technology is primarily sought out by beginners, many apps have their own built-in system of learning. Most will start you off with a free introductory session or two, but then encourage you to purchase more advanced levels as you use it. Typically this ‘progress’ is measured by the length of time you are spending in meditation and your commitment to the practice.
Stop Breathe & Think, for example, offers a detailed, measureable means for you to track this kind of progress. It keeps count of your sessions, allows you to note your emotions before and after your meditations, and lets you know how many fellow meditators are using the app daily along with you. Whether you’re a new meditator or simply someone who has tried and failed at maintaining a consistent practice, these kind of apps provide accountability, goals to reach, and, to some degree, journaling.
Meditation traditionally is not about any particular, measureable progress other than your own subjective experience. The goal of meditation is to advance inward and expand your awareness, which is not dependent on goal setting and time-keeping. So while these features are useful in the beginning of building your practice, it is not recommended that you train yourself toward dependency on this kind of westernized thinking and analysis. Use it for what it’s worth, but aim to eventually be independently grounded in your practice.
Who are you listening to while meditating? What kind of insight or wisdom would best suit you and your spiritual journey? This is perhaps the main ingredient to any app and should be inspected before settling on a particular one. Some meditation apps are more mindful of this than others.
Omvana, for example, has collaborated with teachers and authors such as Gabrielle Bernstein, Sonia Ricotti, Bob Proctor, and Bradley T. Morris to provide meditation and hypnosis sessions. The Insight Timer meditation app offers thousands of guided meditations from teachers all over the world, including some favorites like davidji, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mooji, and Tara Brach. As a follower of Dr. Deepak Chopra’s work, you can get a dose of his wisdom daily through the Ananda app.
Your meditation app can, not only serve as a way of deepening your practice, but also as a way of strengthening your connection to the teachings. Being aware of this, you’ll notice that some apps do not give much information on the voices you’ll be hearing or what their guidance is based on. You may find it reassuring to know that you can access the familiar and trusted guidance of some of your favorite teachers through the right app.
All in all, a meditation app may be a good move for you if you need a little help with building a practice. However, it is important to remember that your practice is ultimately dependent on you and your commitment to your own growth. By using the technology while keeping the truest purposes of meditation in mind, you will be able to build a health-promoting routine and bring more stillness into your life. If you search through the app store with a little discernment and self-awareness, you have the opportunity to gain a useful tool on your spiritual journey.
Get Deepak Chopra’s strategies, insights, and tips to experience the benefit of ancient healing practices within the fast pace of modern life at Seduction of Spirit, our six-day meditation and yoga retreat. Learn More.