As meditation keeps growing in popularity, there has been a flood of meditation apps in the app market. With new scientific evidence on the benefits of meditation, these apps are becoming increasingly relevant.
But Do meditation apps actually work? Are they really helpful? Is it worth buying meditation apps?
To answer these questions, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about meditation apps in this article.
Are Meditation Apps Worth It?
You can use meditation apps to learn the basics of meditation and use them for guided meditation practice. Research has shown that it reduces stress and increases positive emotions. But once you learn how to meditate correctly, meditating by yourself without any guided voice brings the best results.
There are few things you need to consider before drawing conclusions about these apps.
So, read on to discover how meditation apps work, the scientific evidence behind them, and whether you need them at all.
How Can Meditation Apps Help You?
It is easy to get started with meditation by listening to audio recordings of teachers guiding you through each step.
Secondly, all popular meditation apps have separate sections for sleep stories, music tracks, nature sounds, and binaural beats, which can be beneficial if you’re struggling with sleep or want to relax listening to soothing music.
Some apps (like Aura) are designed for busy people who want to take a quick break and be relax with a short breathing exercise.
These types of short meditations or guided sessions allow us to relax and help us de-stress at work or handle a panic attack.
Hence, using meditation app gives many benefits to us.
So, Rather, investing time and money in meditation classes or mindfulness-based therapy, you can learn meditation from the comfort of your home.
Related Post: How To Meditate In The Morning
Scientific Research On Meditation Apps
There has been some research suggesting that using mindfulness apps could cause psychological and emotional benefits.
A 2018 study revealed that practicing meditation using the Headspace app results in reduced stress and more positive emotions. The effects were noticeable after just 100 minutes of meditation practice. (1)
Mindfulness training through apps can also change the body’s response to stress. The participants in the meditation group practiced 20 minutes a day for two weeks. Researchers found that they had lower blood pressure and cortisol levels during and after stressful tasks. (2)
Another popular mindfulness app, Calm, was able to reduce stress and increase self-compassion and mindfulness in stressed college students just by meditating 10 minutes a day.(3)
Can Meditation Apps Help You On The Spiritual Path?
This is an interesting question!!
One can practice meditation as a self-development technique or as a tool to progress on the spiritual path.
In the former, you’re only concerned with practicing meditation for a few minutes a day to reap its benefits. Whereas in the latter, you gradually align your entire life toward your spiritual goal and try to make meditation a part of you.
I like to distinguish them as “feel-good meditation” and “the path of meditation.”
Are mindfulness apps good for feel-good meditation? Of course, that’s what they’re made for. Can they help you on the path of meditation? Not really.
These apps are designed to help you benefit psychologically and emotionally. The techniques taught in them are good for relaxation and stress-relief, but you probably won’t find lectures about Buddhist or Hindu scriptures.
In fact, core concepts like mindfulness are also misinterpreted and taken out of context if you compare them to Buddhist texts.
However, you can still use a meditation app to help you keep track of your practice.
Related Post: 11 Tips To Make Meditation A Daily Habit That Sticks
A Note About Meditation Apps
The crux of mindfulness is to notice and accept what’s happening in the inner and outer world with no judgment or indulgence. Once you know how to meditate, you don’t really need an app.
If you still want to use one, you can set reminders and timers, start and conclude sessions with the sound of a chime, and perhaps provide a journal to assess your sessions.
We see that most mindfulness apps emphasize having an instructor guide you through the session, telling you to focus on your breath or other physical sensations. But, being talked while breathing exercises is not mindfulness meditation; it’s a form of relaxation training.
Don’t get me wrong—releasing tension from the body has its benefits, but it’s different from practicing mindfulness.
You can use these apps as a starting point to learn different techniques of meditation.
But, once you’re familiar with the basics, it’s better to switch to an app that just tracks your meditation time and allows you to journal your sessions. Silent meditation sessions are more effective than externally guided practices.
For these reasons, I use Black Lotus. It’s a free meditation app similar to other ones. There are lots of tabs like quotes, articles, etc. but I mostly only use Timed Meditation or Free Timer. The great thing about this app is that it allows me to journal my mood, posture, and mindfulness during the sessions.
There are probably better apps in the market with the same functionality, but I’ve been using this one for a long time now, and I haven’t felt the need to switch.
Which Meditation App Should You Use?
There’s no fit for all meditation app for us. But, to begin with, you can try a guided meditation app and then perhaps switch to a self-guided silent meditation app once you get the hang on it.
A 2015 study tested 560 unique apps that come up for the search term “mindfulness” in iTunes and Google App Market. And They found that all apps, except 23, simply reminded the user to meditate, timed their mindfulness session, or provided guided meditation tracks. Of those 23, Headspace was the top-scoring app, followed by Smiling Mind, iMindfulness, and Mindfulness Daily.
So if you’re new to meditation and want to try meditation apps, you could start with Headspace or Smiling Mind, or Calm.
If you’re looking to get lots of free guided meditations, Insight Timer has a huge library of soundscapes and audio recordings.
Mindfulness apps are a good way to familiarize yourself with the basics of meditation and other practices using guided audio recordings.
Research has shown that using apps to meditate can improve your mood, increase positive emotions, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Headspace and Calm are two of the most popular meditation apps as of now. They’re easy to navigate, and you’ll be introduced to different concepts and techniques of meditation.
If you only want to use apps for things like anxiety or productivity, I’ll recommend Insight Timer and Smiling Mind for their immense library of free guided meditations.
I also believe that once you learn the fundamentals of meditation, it’s better to meditate by yourself and stop using audio instructions. Because the guided voice usually hinders if you’re trying to focus your mind on something.
I hope you found this article useful.
Good luck and happy meditating! 😊
|Economides, M., Martman, J., Bell, M. J., & Sanderson, B. (2018). Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1584–1593.
|Lindsay, E. K., Young, S., Smyth, J. M., Brown, K. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Acceptance lowers stress reactivity: Dismantling mindfulness training in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 87, 63–73.
|Huberty, J., Green, J., Glissmann, C., Larkey, L., Puzia, M., & Lee, C. (2019). Efficacy of the Mindfulness Meditation Mobile App “Calm” to Reduce Stress Among College Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(6), e14273.