I mourn the days when I had a brick phone that could be dropped down six flights of stairs and be completely fine. I miss having my black block that rang when I was called and beeped when I had a text. I miss snake, I miss the simplicity of it.
It’s taken me quite a long time to get over the fact that the world isn’t going to go back to these friendly non-invasive blocks. It’s taken me a little while to realise that I am probably being nostalgic about my old phone and my old relationship with technology. The truth is, I’m not going back…
So the question is how do I make my smart phone something that allows me to feel free and to benefit from it; without the pitfalls of the social media hamster wheel and the illusion that I am free to be contacted any time of the day or night.
For me, finding meditation apps has been a huge tick in the smart phone’s favour. I’m a big fan of them. If we are generally never too far from our phones, then having something that might encourage a sense of calm or ease stress in a worrisome situation is a brilliant thing. I suppose, like lots of modern choices we are faced with, it’s how we choose to use our devices to serve us… rather then letting our technology have dominion over us.
There are literally hundreds of meditation and mindfulness apps out there. To be honest, I find this array of options quite fatiguing so today I’m going to talk about the two big boys on the market. Calm and Headspace. Both of these platforms give us the opportunity to have a free 7 day trial to see if it’s for us.
So having used both these apps over the last couple of years here are my short summaries of each to support you in picking which might be best for you.
Headspace is incredibly user friendly and does a really good job of not putting off people who are new to meditation with pictures of smug looking people with zen blissful expressions.
Headspace also does a brilliant job of not making the app feel overtly feminine and is pretty gender neutral. I think this is actually quite important as overwhelmingly men are not encouraged to be mindful and I feel this is a huge downfall of many of the apps.
Secondly, the app is narrated by Andy Puddicombe who has a wonderfully restful voice and manner. It’s also important to highlight that he has an English accent. For some people the American accents of other apps can feel distracting or grating.
Having used Headspace I also feel that as an app it is extremely supportive in helping build a meditation and mindfulness practice with good foundations. It is pretty perfect for anyone who is entirely new to the practice and is curious. After most meditations you can watch a quick animation that supports your learning and helps explain why meditation may benefit you. I really enjoyed using Headspace and found it a very friendly app to use.
So first and foremost, Calm has mostly American voices leading the meditations. I personally don’t find this distracting, but it is something to consider and try out. One of the things that first attracted me to calm was it’s use of natural ‘scenes’ within the app. You can sit and listen to the sound of rain, or waves or a river running its course. For me, this is very soothing and instantly makes me feel more relaxed.
I also appreciate the ‘daily calm’ feature which takes all the decision fatigue out of what meditation I press play to. However, they do have extensive choices for particular topics such as stress, self-esteem and depression offering seven-day meditations for these particular issues. I’ve also really enjoyed the Calm Masterclass collaborations and sleep stories which are regularly updated. As an app I feel it offers a few more options to it’s subscribers to suit their mood.
Calm is the app I’ve decided to stick with (mostly because of the scenes and the music element) however, having used both I can highly recommend each platform.
I feel that creating spaces on our phones that act as digital sanctuaries for us can be a powerful way to counteract some of the more anxiety inducing elements of our little hand-held smarties.
Do you use meditation apps?