Founded by Andy Puddicombe, Headspace is an app that presents guided meditations, animations, articles and videos. Their mission is to improve the health and happiness of the world, and with users in more than 190 countries, they are well on their way! The app’s simple interface allows you to browse sessions easily. There are three 10-day meditation packs to help users learn the basics through 3, 5 or 10-minute meditations. You can also find pre-recorded meditations on more specific topics such as productivity, mindful eating and managing anxiety.
Our favourite aspect was the single sessions for different situations. Falling asleep, taking a city walk or cleaning your home. These help to fit new behaviours into existing routines which is dubbed as one of the best ways to make sure new routines stick.
Smiling Mind developed by an Australian non-profit, offers mindfulness training programmes with audio lessons that range from 90 seconds to 20 minutes. The app offers programmes for both children and adults which are designed to assist in dealing with the pressure, stress and challenges of daily life. Each programme also features a charming Australian accent! Our favourite aspect of the app is the dashboard which helps track improvements in your mood, which you are asked to report on before each session.
Aura works alongside a variety of visionary leaders and organizations to spread mindfulness across the world. This app differentiates itself as it focuses on short bursts of meditation that are easily integrated into a busy lifestyle. Each session is delivered by any one of the 30 mindfulness instructors and all are voiced over calming music. Each day you are encouraged to log your feelings and make notes alongside them, so this one is not the best for a beginner! The information you feed in is made into a graph where you can visually track your mood. Our favourite aspect of this app is the exercises such as ‘belly breathing’ and ‘time alone in nature’.
Founded by British entrepreneurs Acton Smith and Alex Tew, Calm has the ambition to become ‘Nike for the mind’. The app certainly doesn’t waste any time, as upon opening it up you are immediately prompted to ‘take a deep breath’. There are a range of voice-led meditation exercises for free including a 7 day beginners programme designed to help you find your feet. Our favourite feature of the app is the library of ‘sleep stories’ including some narrated by Stephen Fry! These might not necessarily calm you down but they certainly help with dozing off!
Wanting to integrate traditional mindfulness with the realities of daily life, Rohan Gunatillake came up with Buddhify. Its aim is to use ‘mobile meditation’ to inspire every moment to be an opportunity for mindfulness. Unfortunately, rather than backing the free trial trend, you pay for Buddhify up front. However, the paid app comes with many unique USPs. Our favourite aspect is the ‘wheel’ which is a colourful disc divided into segments. Each represents a mindfulness and meditation exercise you can click through to. Each one is designed for use on the go and themed practices such as ‘Walking’ and ‘Work Break’ can be easily slotted into your day. The added benefit of Buddhify is that you get more guidance than other apps as there are sections dedicated to ‘foundations of mindfulness’.
But what’s the best?
For a clear introduction to mindfulness practice we recommend Headspace. The voiceover is clear and unintimidating and the animations give a great job of explaining the various techniques. With the free trial package you can experience the system first then build upon it with the paid elements. For more advanced meditators we recommend Buddhify as it has a huge variety of segments for users to delve into.