Meditation is a powerful tool.
Singer-songwriter Jewel is a prime example of the practice’s life-changing benefits. In a recent interview with ABC News anchor Dan Harris, she said that learning to meditate helped her manage chronic anxiety and debilitating panic attacks, which stemmed from a tumultuous childhood.
“I learned to do this meditation where I imagined I was on a very stormy ocean,” she told Harris on his “10% Happier” mindfulness podcast. “I’d imagine myself sinking through the ocean, allowing myself to relax, I would get calmer. I would notice the color of the ocean change. I’d notice the taste of salt on my lips. I’d notice the rays of sunlight coming in and the further I got down to the sandy floor, it got calm, it got tranquil by then, and I would look up at the stormy surface and it was in the distance.”
The singer is certainly onto something: The benefits of meditation are robust. Research shows it can reduce stress, increase focus and help with the management of pain and sleeping problems.
If you’re looking to add the practice to your life, we’ve rounded up a handful of meditation apps so you can reap the rewards, too. The programs will teach you how to meditate under any condition, give you the tools to handle things that make you anxious (the stress of the political climate, anyone?) and add an overall sense of calm to your day.
Scroll through the options below and find the one that’s right for you:
meditation app calls itself a "gym membership for your brain." The best way to see if it's for you is to try a free 10-day trial, which will teach you the basics of meditating. If you like it, you can subscribe to the app for $7.99 per month. It features guided meditations in time frames as short as two minutes and as long as an hour. There are meditations for specific topics, such as anxiety and relationships. It works on a desktop, iPad, iPhone and Android.
If you feel skeptical about meditation, Dan Harris' mindfulness app, 10% Happier
, might be the right pick for you. The app's meditations are led by some of the most respected mindfulness teachers in the world, including Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg
and George Mumford.
Guided meditations cover topics like how to cope with anxiety, political stress or falling asleep. You can download the app for free with the option to subscribe for $7.99 per month. The app works on the iPad, iPhone and Android.
The Smiling Mind
app was originally built for children and teens, but adults will benefit from the program as well. Meditations are divided by age group to make it easier to select the best option.
Children can learn how to identify their feelings, cope with emotions and learn social skills. Teen meditations focus more heavily on school transitioning and planning for the future. Adults will meditate on topics such as presence, listening skills, mindful eating. It also will help you learn "how to step back and pay attention to your thoughts and emotions
," according to the Smiling Mind site.
Smiling Mind is a non-profit organization in Australia and the app is completely free. It can be downloaded on an iPad, iPhone and Android.
OMG! I Can Meditate
Meditations on the OMG! I Can Meditate
app are broken down by interest and life event. For example, there is a special series of meditations specific for people undergoing treatment for chemotherapy. Another series focuses on weight loss. Sign up for the year for $7.42 per month. The app works on the iPad, iPhone and Android.
mindfulness app offers guided meditations in sessions that run from three minutes to 25 minutes. Some topics of meditation include gratitude and self-esteem. The app also features more than 25 soothing nature sounds to listen to while you relax, work or do yoga. Users can subscribe for $12.99 per month, or $60 for the year. The app works on an iPad, iPhone and Android.
The Mindfulness App
app provides timed meditations from three to 30 minutes long. It also has customized reminders to keep you mindful throughout the day. You can get a premium subscription for $9.99 for one month or $59.99 for the year with one month's free trial included. Premium subscribers will gain access to more than 200 guided meditations on topics like calmness, focus and relationships. The app can be downloaded on an iPhone, iPad and Android.
Stop, Breathe And Think
Stop, Breathe And Think
wants you to do just that: Stop what you're doing, check in with your breath and think about how you're feeling in the present moment.
By doing so, the app aims to teach you how to observe your thoughts and feelings without passing judgment with the goal of helping you cultivate kindness and self-compassion.
Subscribe for $6.99 a month for guided meditations that connect you to your body and emotion. The app works on an iPad, iPhone and Android.
Correction: This article originally stated the Calm app cost $4.99 per month. That is the rate for the yearly billing cycle plan. The app costs $12.99 per month, or $60 for the year.