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Do you live a busy, hectic life that stresses you out? Many of us do, and we often fall into the trap of believing that if we were only more efficient, life would improve. But we’re not machines, and this approach isn’t likely to lead to feelings of happiness or contentment.
There’s much to be gained from slowing down (if only for a few moments) and being active in the present moment. If you can carry feelings of calmness throughout you for the rest of the day — even better.
Some people may find this more difficult than others. Whether you struggle with anxiety or find relaxing easier done than said, there are quite a few great meditation apps available for Android that can help you slow down and change your approach to life.
1. Stop, Breathe & Think
Stop, Breathe, & Think asks how you’re feeling both mentally and physically. After you select five adjectives that characterize your current mood, the app suggests a series of meditations to improve or sustain your feeling of wellbeing.
A session consists of more than you sitting, monitoring your breathing, and waiting for the gong to ring. A narrator guides your thoughts. I sat through one session on gratitude, and by the end, I did feel grateful having thought back on the positive things that have happened in my life. Being able to write for MakeUseOf just so happens to be one of those things.
The app isn’t really a game, but it does have elements of gamification. It tracks your usage each day and rewards you with stickers. Since I only took part in one session, I can’t speak to how repetitive the narrator might get if your emotions remain pretty steady.
The app is free to download and use, but it does prompt you to create an account that allows you to sync your information across devices. The app requires an online connection even if you opt out of registering an account.
Download: Stop, Breathe & Think for Android (Free)
Calm’s goal is to teach you how to meditate. I know, sitting still in one place may not seem all that difficult (though I can hear some of you saying: “Speak for yourself!”), but there is more to it than you might think. If your thoughts are as hectic during your break as they are during the rest of the day, you may not be doing yourself much good.
Calm guides your thoughts, getting you to focus on breathing in different parts of your body. The introductory session won’t feel unfamiliar to anyone who has attended a yoga class and had an instructor guide them through Shavasana (the Corpse Pose) at the end. Closing your eyes and breathing slowly is enough, but having instructions to listen to can keep thoughts from wandering too much, especially when you’re first starting out.
Most of the content is locked away behind a subscription plan that costs $9.99 a month or $39.99 a year. But you get the first set of seven meditation sessions for free to listen to as often as you want. Non-paying users can also turn to the app as a timer for unguided sessions that provides soothing background noise. I would consider that alone to be useful.
Download: Calm for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
3. Prana Breath
As I’ve learned from practicing yoga and martial arts, a big part of how you feel comes from how you breathe. The same is true as you go about your day-to-day activities. Being conscious of your breathing can remove tension and give you greater control of your thoughts.
One way to work on breathing is to actively practice taking breaths. During a yoga practice, this is known as Pranayama. You can do this on your own, but an app can be helpful, especially for people coming across the concept for the first time.
Prana Breath is a great tool for the job. You can set a time for each session, choose a difficulty level, and pick a goal such as clearing your mind or relieving stress. The app raises the bar by giving you control over your breathing cycles and how long you hold your breath.
Plus, you can set up reminders to make sure you don’t forget to fire up the app a second time.
Download: Prana Breath for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
4. Meditation Music
I have a collection of instrumental music on my computer and phone that I can play when I’m doing yoga, writing, sleeping, trying to relax, or trying to concentrate. I find many of these tasks are easier with this sort of aid than working (or not working) in silence.
If you don’t already have a library built up, starting from scratch can cost quite a bit of money. An alternative option is to download an app that comes with a collection of suitable songs and sounds for free. And if you’re picking one out, you might as well snag one that looks great on modern Android phones.
Meditation Music is one option that scratches both itches. The app provides you with soothing melodies and lets you adjust the sounds that chime as you ease in and out of meditation. It also serves as a timer, so you know when to open your eyes.
Download: Meditation Music for Android (Free with $1.49 in-app purchase to remove ads)
5. Insight Timer
Think of Insight Timer as a social network for people who meditate. The first thing you see when signing in (an account is required to use this app) is a map of the world with dots marking the location of users.
When you switch tabs, you can browse through a list of audio sessions that others have uploaded. Insight Timer shows the length, who uploaded the clip, and how many times people have listened.
Under each one you can find a list of reviews from other users. As of right now, there are over 1,000 such guided meditations to listen to.
Even if you ignore the social aspects of the app entirely, there are still reasons to give Insight Timer a go. As the name suggests, the app comes with a useful timer that lets you pick between various “bell” sounds (wooden blocks are one option) and select the exact duration of your meditation.
If you opt to unlock the extra features by making the single $4.99 payment, you can get six additional bells and have them chime at specific intervals during your session. You will also be able to keep a daily journal, activate a battery saving mode, and more.
Download: Insight Timer for Android (Free, $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock everything)
In 2010, Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson founded Headspace, an online service that guides you through the act of meditating. The site and apps now have over a couple million users.
Headspace introduces you to the concept of meditation and helps you implement the act into your daily life. It is filled with guided sessions related to specific activities, such as cooking and working out. A general overview of what’s covered is available on the Headspace site. The service tracks your progress and finds digital ways to reward you for staying committed.
Headspace requires an account to use — even to get access to the sole free meditation course. Everything else requires a paid subscription. Prices start at $12.95 a month and go up to $95.88 a year or $419.95 for unlimited lifetime access.
With such a costly barrier to entry, Headspace is only for those who find tangible benefits from having someone guide them through meditation and want to turn to a service that really made the concept popular.
Download: Headspace for Android (Free, before subscription)
What Do You Think?
There’s more to life than moving quickly and getting things done. I would hate to look back from my deathbed and see only a long list of accomplishments. What good were they if, in decades of living, I never stopped to appreciate what it was like to be alive?
That, and reducing stress comes with enough health benefits to potentially push back when that day of reflection will come.
Are you trying to take a more mindful approach to life? Is meditation one way you try to get there? If you have an iPhone, we’ve covered a few apps for that platform that can also calm your mind. And regardless of whether you prefer Android or iOS, there are more options where that came from.
But there are bound to be some we missed, so share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Image Credits:lying on couch by megaflopp via Shutterstock