Connect to disconnect? It might seem counterintuitive at first, but these five soothing meditation apps are designed to reduce stress and focus the mind. Managing stress can help reduce acne, slow down the aging process, and promote general well-being. If you’re new to the world of Zen or already practicing regularly, these apps provide a range of levels and techniques, from guided meditation to simple mindfulness exercises. Keep track of your progress or connect with friends, but don’t forget to relax.
Nicely designed with animated graphics and ten free guided meditation sessions, trying HeadSpace is a no-brainer. If you like what you hear and see, this “gym session for the mind” starts at $7.99 a month. Membership includes “headspace SOS,” two-minute meditation exercises designed to “take the heat out of difficult situations,” and basic courses on the fundamentals of meditation with guided exercises that build from ten to 20 minutes. It’ll help if you like English accents, as the instructor on your meditation journey, Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, is verry-verry British. If this isn’t your cup of tea, then you could become a head case, but I found his voice soothing and lovely.
2. Buddhify 2
An update of Buddhify Classic, this nearly-year-old app offers a choice of male or female voices and 40 guided meditation tracks from five to 20 minutes long. These include “A Meditation for When You are Traveling,” “For When You Are at Home,” and even one for “When You Are Online!” The app, which costs about $3, comes with a timer, and 100 meditation tips for improving your practice.
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3. Relax, Now
This free app gives you “50 Reasons to Leave Your Unblissed State Behind,” with tips such as this mini hand massage. Andrew Johnson, a “qualified clinical hypnotherapist,” taps into something called “binaural beat” technology that helps the meditator enter a deeper state of relaxation. Some users have complained it isn’t very relaxing to download the free videos. You may choose a “wake up” ending to your meditation session, or a “sleep” ending, and even an alarm that goes off when you are sufficiently Zenned-out.
4. Simply Being
This simple app has a range of guided meditations varying from five to 30 minutes that you can set to several music choices, including silence or one of five nature sounds (calm ocean, rain, forest brook, evening birds, or surf)—and it’s only $1.99.
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Be guided by a voice, or sit and listen to the soothing sound of bells with this versatile app, which includes a five-minute body scan as part of a mindfulness practice. It allows you to set daily reminders so that you can commit to your practice. Explore other ways of meditating by checking the app’s store, where you can buy meditations by famous teachers. It only costs $1.99 and one reviewer says this was the only app that rocked bells.
WORDS: Karen Bruno for Aloha