The art of being fully present is a tricky one. For most people, they are only present for 3-5 seconds at a time before giving in to distraction. One of the worst culprits that pull us away from being in the present is our phones, the relentless notifications reminding us about tomorrow’s work or yesterday’s social event we missed. But what if we could harness our mobile phones to make us more mindful? By assessing the best mindfulness apps out there, we will explore the answer to the question, “do mindfulness apps work?”.
Headspace – Industry leader in Meditation
Headspace is the OG of mindfulness apps. It was one of the first apps on the market. It remains to be the best-known and most successful option out there. It’s so trusted that doctors and government health organizations recommend it to anxiety patients.
With over 65 million users, Headspace delivers a series of jargon-free meditation sessions focused on breathing and meditation. There are great features like mini-meditations for when you only have a couple of minutes. It also caters to the experienced crowd with a huge backlog of sessions. You’re in reliable hands with headspace, and there’s a lot of functionality and content there.
Forest – Gamifying your focus
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be the act of meditating. It is simply the ability to be in the present moment and pay attention. One way we’re pulled out of the present moment is from distractions. This is what Forest as a mindfulness app seeks to help with.
Using its quirky animations and minimal design, Forest helps you stay focused by planting a virtual tree. From here, the tree grows, and if you leave the app before the time is complete, the tree will die. The gamification aspect is that you’re building a forest you can see with your own eyes. Simply, the habit of going on the Forest app is a good way to get into a focusing mode.
This mindfulness app helps condition us when using it, while it also plants real trees along the way.
BetterHelp – Reducing suffering through therapy
Although all anxious thoughts come from outside the present moment, it would be naive to think that mindfulness alone can solve every problem. Anxieties, depression, and other forms of suffering can have a complex source, which therapy can help with and provide practical coping mechanisms.
BetterHelp is one of the industry leaders in mindfulness apps. It has a fantastic app that provides everything from mindfulness online therapy to PTSD treatment. Signing up is fast; thousands of readily available licensed therapists and a simple pricing structure of $360 per month. However, other sites like Talkspace are also a good option and may be better for those using insurance. Bestonlinetherapy’s detailed comparison between BetterHelp and Talkspace can help you decide between them.
Ultimately, CBT therapy – which is popular among these therapy sites – aids mindfulness practice because it can help us with tools to break negative thoughts from spiraling. Both therapy and mindfulness seek to achieve the same goal: paying attention and reducing suffering.
Portal – Escaping into nature
The portal mindfulness app provides a unique angle on becoming mindful. It proposes that our surroundings are a big part of our thinking and feeling and that we should harness this. The app has over 50 immersive portals that transport us to different environments and nature – such as the Italian Alps or Costa Rican jungle. It’s always somewhere idyllic, like in a bed, by a log fire, or sprawled out on a beach.
Users can regulate their circadian rhythm with natural energizing wakeups, smart lighting, focus, and sleep timers. The breathing exercising features are particularly useful for direct mindfulness practice, but the added dynamic spatial audio is a powerful way to fuel our wanderlust.
Some people use Portal to help them sleep, as the background noise can be soothing. It also has something to say for Seasonal Affective Disorder; although there’s limited research, it could trick our brain into finding relief from our oppressive climate and environments.
Down Dog – Mind-body connection
Establishing a mind-body connection can help in the pursuit of mindfulness and enlightenment. Having been around for 5,000 years, yoga is a powerful way to practice this as it can change our body’s chemistry and encourage prana energy to flow. And, of the many yoga apps out there, Down Dog is a stunning app that covers not just yoga but HIIT, meditation, running, and barre. The app allows users to select their own time, focus, voice, music, and level to achieve the perfect flow state when de-stressing our bodies.
Down Dog as a mindfulness app appears to be very in touch with the fact that yoga is a practice with a broad range of abilities and experience. There is always something catered to both the beginner and experienced yogi, which also provides a steady track for progression. Daily yoga is a great stress reliever and can help reinforce the mind-body connection. After some practice, it can become our dominant practice of meditation in and of itself.
Insight Timer – The Meditator’s Social Network
Whilst we aren’t usually advocates of social media regarding being mindful, Insight Timer flips this notion on its head as it’s a social network for meditators. There’s a map to see how many people are meditating right now and the ability to invite friends into community groups. Meet-ups, spiritual discussions, and many other ways to bring us together to encourage mindfulness.
The app’s crux is that it’s the world’s most popular meditation timer, with over 30,000 guided meditations. This shows that it’s a useful mindfulness app in terms of immediate meditation and can lead to the development of new connections and understandings of others and their beliefs.
Reflectly – Journaling
Mindfulness isn’t just the mental state of being in the present moment. It can be the conscious awareness of something – anything! While we shouldn’t dwell too much on the past, Reflectly provides a fantastic platform to help us reflect on the day. This can help us reinforce feelings of gratitude. However, it can also help us deal with negative thoughts as they come in the present moment.
Writing down our thoughts and feelings encourages our ability to pay attention to ourselves and listen. Instead of suppressing those thoughts and distracting ourselves, we confront them and put them down on paper. Often, this is enough to prevent spiraling thoughts. But it can also be a nice exercise in noticing patterns in our behavior. Ultimately, this activity is often encouraged by therapists and can help us achieve peace when we meditate.