One of my goals for 2017 is to make daily meditation part of my health routine. I decided to achieve this goal with a meditation app on my iPhone.
Like many people today, I use my iPhone to read news, keep in contact with family and friends, and record personal information (including health data). With so many meditation apps to choose from in the App Store, the challenge was to find one or two apps that met my needs.
My Meditation App Journey
I am fortunate. I am very healthy and my life is relatively free of stress. However, like many of us, I get restless at times and I want to have more control over my response to stress. After a busy day, my mind frequently races at night and I have a hard time settling down to sleep.
I use the meditation apps, described later in this blog, first thing each morning before I start my day. Within a week or so of using these meditation apps on a daily basis, I found that I have a better sense of calm, am more mindful in stressful situations, and can settle my active mind so that I can settle into a good night of sleep.
The two meditation apps I chose are well worth the modest amount I spent. I encourage you to give them a try.
Seven Rules on Choosing a Meditation App
I set down seven rules before I chose my meditation app. Here they are:
- I was willing to pay an upfront cost to purchase the app to avoid in-app purchase advertisements.
- I was unwilling to sign up for a monthly subscription service. This eliminated two of the very popular meditation apps: Headspace and Calm.
- I wanted the app to have some instruction on how to meditate.
- The app needed to have a library of meditations covering a range of topics including meditation for sleep, mindfulness, stress management, and other topics.
- The app needed to present meditation in a secular fashion. I did not want any spiritual or religious content or agenda.
- I wanted the app to log my meditation history, preferably in the built-in Apple Health app in my iPhone.
- The app needed to run on my iPhone but I also looked for apps that worked on Google Android devices because many of our readers on this blog use Android.
Some Learnings on Meditation
I settled on two iPhone meditation apps that met my needs. Before I describe the two apps, here are some of my general observations about meditation:
- Meditation is a way for us to familiarize ourselves with our mind and cultivate our mental and emotional abilities to meet life, and its challenges, head on.
- Meditation has many benefits, including:
- Gaining a healthy perspective
- Strengthening the immune system
- Developing resilience
- Enhancing emotional and cognitive skills
- Meditation, as one of the instructors in the Meditation Studio app said, is “not to do but to be”. In other words, it is not a task you have to do each day but is something that you experience daily — hopefully several times throughout each day.
I started my learning experience with the Meditation Studio meditation app. Over 30 meditation instructors contributed content to the app. The app has three main courses (Meditation Essentials, Uncovering Happiness, and Changing Habits).
It also has a wide range of mediation collections touching on different topics and themes including sleep, stress management, change, anxiety, pain and more.
Mediation Studio integrates with your built-in Health app in your iPhone and, should you decide to, updates your health calendar each time you complete a meditation.
The design is clean and easy to navigate and the instructors are excellent. This app is highly recommended and I suggest you, like me, start your meditation journey with this app.
Meditation Studio is available for both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android.
Despite its name, Buddihfy is not associated with Buddha and is free of any spiritual or religious content.
Buddihfy uses an intuitive approach (with a creative navigation wheel) to explore its meditation themes. Once you select a theme you want, you choose a specific meditation session.
Its meditation themes cover a wide range of topics from being online, work breaks, difficult emotions, feeling stressed, can’t sleep, walking in the city, and many other situations.
There are more than 80 tracks to explore, so you should find something that meet your needs at anytime.
Buddihfy is available for both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android.
A Meditation Exercise Without an App
Maybe you are not ready to pursue meditation through a smartphone app.
After all, people have been meditating since the beginning of time without the help of Apps.
If you have not explored left nostril breathing, give this stress-relieving meditation exercise a try.
There is a belief that our sympathetic nervous system — responsible for the fight or flight mechanism — is stimulated by breathing through our right nostril. Conversely, our parasympathetic system — responsible for the rest and digest response — is stimulated by breathing through our left nostril.
We can maintain our emotional balance by ensuring that we breathe through the left nostril when we are stressed. Give this a try when you are feeling a bit anxious:
- Cover your right nostril
- Inhale through your left nostril as you count to five
- Hold at the top of the breath for a count of five
- Exhale through the left nostril (keeping the right covered) for a count of five
Repeat this cycle five times. This helps to activate the parasympathetic system and will give you a sense of calm.
Are There Meditation Apps You Like?
If there are meditation apps or resources that you like and have found effective, please comment below and let us know and share your thoughts and experiences with your fellow readers.
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