Mindfulness is scientifically proven to be good for the soul, and that means we should be doing more of it. Your iPhone can help.
Derived from ancient buddhist practices, mindfulness has been found to be an effective tool for combatting stress, anxiety and depression among other mental maladies. The practice is surprisingly well-suited to our hectic lifestyles, particularly when paired with an iPhone or iPad and a spare five minute break.
We’ve already tackled mindfulness apps for Android, so now it’s time to see what iOS can offer.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment absolutely. This technique can be used to take your mind away from negative or bothersome thoughts, by grounding you in your surroundings through the awareness of oneself.
Mindfulness has been used extensively since the 1970s to treat a variety of mental issues, forming the basis for psychotherapy techniques like DBT while also being used in the prevention of depression and drug addiction relapses.
The practice can be beneficial to us all for maintaining inner calm, and the practice itself only takes a few minutes out of your day. Better still, there are purpose-built apps for keeping on top of your own personal mindfulness routine. Wikipedia’s entry for mindfulness further explains the key concepts and principles.
Apps for iOS
Buddhify 2 ($1.99 launch price)
“What are you doing?” is the question Buddhify 2 first asks you when you launch the app, before presenting you with a long list of activities and emotions. Once you’ve chosen an activity, the app matches you with a few simple guided meditation exercises that are purpose-built for your current activity.
You might be stressed, on the bus or simply browsing the Web – there are lessons designed for most common daily scenarios. The app also tracks your usage so you have a visual representation of your mindfulness exercises.
Mindful Mynah ($1.99)
Truth be told, Mindful Mynah doesn’t really do an awful lot – but I suppose that’s the point. Named after the noisy mynah birds referenced in Aldous Huxley’s Island, Mindful Mynah is an app that simply plays a sound of your choosing at a regular interval.
The use is really up to you – to remind you to get back to work, to encourage regular breaks and of course to get your head back in the present moment. It might not do much for $2, but it’s wonderfully minimal and purpose-built.
Transform Your Life (Free)
Transform Your Life is designed with mindfulness (or awareness, as it’s called here) in mind. The app is focused on delivering a year’s worth of inspirational quotes, encouragement and daily assignments. The quotes come from a variety of sources – both Eastern and Western philosophers, poets, writers and comedians.
Push notifications remind you to read each day’s passage, which really is the main draw of the app here. If motivational philosophical quotes are going to help you practice mindfulness, this is the app for you.
Headspace (Free to try)
Headspace is a Kickstarter-funded guided meditation program for people on-the-go. The service uses a subscription model to deliver meditations which you can download and keep offline on your phone. The app is free to download, and even comes with the free Take10 program to get you started by doing 10 minutes per day.
While Headspace isn’t specifically designed for mindfulness, the program offers additional specialized free meditations designed to increase self-awareness. There are also a bounty of other features including a reminder feature, progress tracking and nine full (premium) programs to enrol in after the completion of Take10.
Smiling Mind (Free)
A completely free guided meditation app with an emphasis on mindfulness, Smiling Mind is designed to make meditation approachable and fun for young people. Age is only a number, so there’s technically no limit to who can benefit from this app, particularly at this price point.
The app was developed by a team of psychologists with experience in youth and adolescent therapy and is designed to help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and more.
The Now (Free)
A slightly outdated but still entirely relevant mindfulness app, The Now is a free app designed to help you live more fully in the current moment. By using a technique called continuous mindfulness training, The Now periodically delivers an audible chime and encouraging message, much like Transform Your Life.
The Now is a three-week course, and the free price tag makes a perfect introduction to the world of mindfulness and self-awareness without spending any money.
The Mindfulness App ($1.99)
You’d expect an app called “The Mindfulness App” to be an app that focuses heavily on self-awareness, and you’d be right. The app is designed to help you remember and maintain a mindful routine, using reminders and guided meditations of varying lengths.
There are four separate guided and four silent meditations of 3, 5, 15 and 30 minutes in length, and a guided body scan. You can even design your own custom meditation session, with or without guiding. Unfortunately, the app isn’t optimized for iPhone 5, and received its last update for iOS 6.
There is one more mindfulness app that might be worth noting, and that’s Mindfulness Meditation ($1.99). However, it last had an update in 2010 and so I can’t recommend it will work with iOS 7 which caused a lot of problems for older apps.
The rest of this list should work fine on the latest devices running the latest software from Apple, let us know if you have any favourites or other recommendations for apps we have missed. Do you meditate? Add your own resources in the comments!