In an era of relentless deadlines, dozens of daily work hours, and lunch breaks driven by productivity optimization, peace of mind and clarity of thought are hard to come by. However, contrary to what we may think, sometimes you don’t have to turn everything upside down to make your life better. You can begin the change with your inner self, controlling your thoughts and managing your emotions.
There is nothing better to help you control your state of mind than to keep a close eye on your thoughts during meditation. Although the art of meditation can be reduced to sitting still and focusing on your breath, many people are afraid of the first steps. Whenever we start something new, many questions arise: where to start, what does it mean to meditate in the right way, what should I do and in what order?
Learn to meditate with the help of an app
For those who would like to start their adventure with meditation but are “shy to ask”, there are a number of apps that will give step-by-step directions on what activities we can do to improve our well-being. Remember that you have to train your mind, just as you train your body by playing sports or going to the gym.
Let’s start with the heavyweight competitors. Calm is perhaps the most recognizable app, supporting meditation and bringing mindfulness into the lives of millions of people worldwide. The app’s library features dozens of meditation programs that are grouped thematically, starting with an introduction to mindfulness, which you can listen to during your first session.
In Calm, you will find a series of guided audio recordings (in English) that will help you focus on what is important in meditation: breathing, controlling thoughts and emotions. I especially recommend the two introductory sessions Daily Calm and Introduction to Mindfulness to help you understand the idea of focusing on your own thoughts and breath.
Besides meditation, Calm features dedicated sessions to help us relieve stress, learn to be grateful, fall asleep quickly or increase our self-confidence. With the fast growth of the app, top-notch celebrities were invited to contribute. Thanks to this, you’ll find a coaching session on controlling your thoughts with LeBron James himself or an ASMR style bedtime story read by Matthew McConaughey.
Another benefit that may prompt parents to purchase the app is the dedicated sessions for children and teens. Furthermore, Calm offers relaxation music that will work well whenever you are looking for solace and sounds of nature that can serve as a background during meditation.
Calm has recently been very much stripped down when it comes to the free version’s features. A few basic meditation modules and audio backgrounds are available free of charge. The premium version is paid and offers access to the entire product, including programs dedicated to particular emotional states, such as Panic SOS and Yoga Nidra. The premium version currently has three price schemes: monthly for PLN 56.99, annual for PLN 314.99 and lifetime for PLN 1599.
Headspace is the second most popular application for medication available on the market, which debuted over a decade ago. Its developers assure us that just a few minutes of meditation a day can change our lives for the better. It features introductory meditation sessions that are divided into short segments of a few minutes for beginners. This is a good approach for those who are just starting their mindfulness adventure. The lessons are free from jargon and easy to follow, focusing on breathing and body observation. “Mini-meditations” help you focus on the present moment and slowly introduce you to the ins and outs of meditation, so that eventually you will be able to meditate for 10 minutes, then 20, and finally an hour.
Headspace features not only sessions that guide us through meditation, but also animations and articles that teach mindfulness, how to breathe consciously, and how to improve your well-being. In addition, we will also find relaxing sessions with music and voices of nature that will help us to fall sleep. The app’s great feature is its unique graphic style of articles and animations – the app’s signature trait.
Meditation modules are available free of charge. For access to the full content including bookmarks dedicated to mindfulness, sleep and exercise we have to pay 58.99 PLN a month or 434.99 PLN a year respectively.
Ten Percent Happier
Ten Percent Happier is an unconventional app that can be called a mindfulness platform. In addition to several hundred guided meditation programs ( complete series, longer and shorter sessions), you will also find talks and courses on reducing stress, attaining peace and being happy. Ten Percent Happier offers hundreds of inspiring conversations with mindfulness coaches and specialists.
The app guides us step by step through the modules, recording our progress in subsequent lessons exploring the art of mindfulness. Ten Percent Happier is brimming with videos, podcasts and audio lessons focused on improving our quality of life by at least 10 percent. Unlimited courses and meditations featured in the Ten Percent Happier app cost PLN 474.99.
This is yet another app that aspires to be more than just an intro to meditation, although it is the one I enjoy meditating with the most. The app has a built-in, easily accessible and fully customizable meditation timer. We can set time, sound to start and end the session, background music for exercises, , and even set up intervals to keep track of our meditation time without having to check our watch.
Here you’ ll find courses, podcasts and tips for both beginners and advanced practitioners of meditation. The app includes a mind-boggling 30,000 guided meditation sessions on board.
A premium version costs PLN 279.99 per year. In return, we will get unlimited access to the entire platform, and we will also be able to scroll quickly through each lesson to any section.
How to build good habits?
Mindfulness is not just about the art of calming down and observing your thoughts and emotions. Our well-being consists of a number of other activities and habits, such as regular drinking of water. Someone who, after 5 hours of sleep, greets the morning with a high-fat breakfast and a cigarette will feel completely different from someone who, from the very morning, drinks only water and practices intermittent fasting. It is well worth taking a look at our daily routines, to spot both bad and good habits. A few apps can also help us reach a state of “zen”, which, at least initially, will give us a signpost in which direction to go.
Aplikacja prowadzi nas przez codzienne rytuały, które docelowo mają poprawić jakość naszego życia. Na liście znajdziemy tutaj, w formie checklisty, takie zadania jak: nawodnienie zaraz po przebudzeniu, wieczorna medytacja, cyfrowy detox, spontaniczny telefon do rodziców i wiele innych.
The app guides us through daily rituals that ultimately aim to improve our quality of life. The checkilst here list includes tasks such as hydrating straight after waking up, evening meditation, a digital detox, a spontaneous phone call to parents and many more.
Fabolous helps us set further targets in the area of mindfulness and then monitors our progress. Tasks have been divided into Journeys, which contain various components to improve our quality of life. Every now and then, the journey is paused for some motivating content, a video or a text explaining why it is worthwhile to focus on ourselves and a specific issue of our choice.
The app is simple to use, but from my experience I know that it requires quite a bit of attention at first. However, it is an excellent way of setting small targets and achieving them consistently. In the free version, we can set off on one “Journey” at a time, for unlimited journeys in the premium version you have to pay: PLN 61.99 per month or for the entire year in advance PLN 245.
Way of life
A cheap alternative that personally appeals to me is Way of life, an application where we set our own goals and we can track our progress as we progress towards them. We can add our own habits or plans that we want to keep track of to the checklist or use ready-made prompts such as reading books, refraining from drinking alcohol, yoga, stretching, running, meditation, walking and many more.
The app is a very good option for those savvy about good habits who simply need a ready-made list to tick off in order to monitor their daily activities. In the free version of Way of life we can add three habits, the unlimited list now costs PLN 28.99 per lifetime.
Most well-being specialists stress how important it is to keep a diary in which we record our concerns and what we are grateful for. Viktor Frankl once said:
what makes our life unique is our experience. Keeping the diary allows us to become aware of our uniqueness and to highlight the essence of our actions.
In app stores we will find dozens of digital journals and diaries, such as Reflectly – Journal & AI or My Diary. In this case, however, I will allow myself to remain a purist. Why complicate life by installing yet another application? We can simply keep a diary with a pen and paper, Google Docs or Word. Let’s all create one file that we come back to every time we want to talk about something important to us or share concerns. Articulating our thoughts is a great way of auto-therapy. We can add writing our diary every day to one of the apps that track our habits.?
Mindfulness is an art that not only needs to be learned, but also nurtured and practised, just as we exercise our muscles by going to the gym. Beginnings can be difficult, so it’s a good idea to start exploring this field with the help of apps that can help us take our first steps. I can tell you from experience that starting a journey is like getting halfway there. I do wish you a fruitful journey into yourself. Namaste.