Meditation can be a wonderful tool for combatting anxiety and helping you to sleep. Here are the best apps to get started – for free!
We’ve got a lot on our minds, haven’t we? This, of course, has always been the case, but the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the world collectively experience heightened stress for well over a year now. And while lockdown restrictions have been largely lifted in the UK, you might find that your anxiety is sticking around stubbornly. When all you want to do is live life to the fullest again, it’s the last thing you need. Still, there is a solution: meditation.
The British Mindfulness Institute (BMI) cites meditation as being a “formal” practice of mindfulness, with its “informal practice” simply being “paying attention to anything you are doing as you go through the day.” So, what are the benefits of meditation? The BMI writes that “if you routinely practice meditation, it will increase the activity of genes that calm down stress reactions, thus increasing [emotional] resilience.” A study entitled 'Alterations in Brain and Immune Function' also found that participants who had undergone an eight-week programme of mindful meditation before being injected with a flu virus had better immune systems and better moods, two things we certainly wouldn’t say no to – especially these days.
But how do you actually meditate? As with most things, all the instructional guidance you could possibly need is contained within your phone. Here are the best free meditation apps.
To be honest, Aura isn’t a free meditation app or even a free sleep and meditation app. It’s a free emotional wellbeing app, meaning that it features everything from meditation sessions and cognitive behaviour therapy to hypnosis that helps with sleep and life coaching, ultimately offering an entirely personalised approach to life’s wobbles.
Headspace is probably the meditation app that you’ve already heard of. Founded by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddiscombe and Rich Pierson, an advertising executive who suffered from anxiety, it aims to offer ‘Meditation Made Simple’. While it’s possible to pay to gain access to more of the app’s content, the free stuff – which includes 10 sessions teaching you how to meditate and one of their most popular ‘sleepcasts’, amongst other things – should be enough to get you started.
A smiling mind is something that we definitely want, so it’s a good job that there’s an app called that to offer just that. Entirely not-for-profit, Smiling Mind’s sole goal is to positively impact the minds of children and adults across the world by encouraging them to meditate. They recommend using the app for 10 minutes a day to see a marked improvement in wellbeing.
If you believe variety is the spice of life, and free variety at that, the meditation app you might want to download is Insight Timer: it offers 100,000 free guided meditations, some even narrated by the likes of Gisele Bundchen and Russell Brand!
MyLife is an app that checks in with your current emotions to find mindful solutions that can help honour and then alleviate any lingering negativity. Meditation, of course, forms a large part of this, with foundational meditations being completely free.