Meditation has long been known for its powerful effects on the body and mind. Recent studies are proving that meditating regularly can decrease anxiety and depression and improve memory, concentration, and the longevity of brain function. It also enhances immune function and helps fight illness. Meditation creates a safe space that is capable of completely shifting our perspective, as well as making a lasting impact on our mental and physical health.
What is meditation?
Meditation can get complex in definition. Put simply, it’s about training your thoughts, attention and energy to achieve a sense of clarity, calm and positivity. This can be performed through breathing exercises, movement, and/or guided lessons that help promote awareness of body sensations and feelings. A meditative state may encourage you to feel fully present in a moment and in tune with your body.
Still, the thought of meditation may seem a little hard to grasp. Many find it hard to get started. There are several mindful meditation apps that allow you to take the time to be present and hone in on your breathing. Studies have found that online mindful interventions have a positive effect on mental health- allowing you to practice meditation anytime, anywhere.
Which apps work best?
These are 3 apps from a psychologist-driven categorical study which rates apps on a scale of 1-10. Categories that make up the total rating include: effectiveness, functionality, design, user-friendliness, and credibility.
Calm helps to bring more clarity, peace, and happiness into your life. Guided meditations are available at different lengths, ranging from 3 to 25 minutes long. It is free to download, but you have to pay a subscription fee to partake in the meditations. Calm’s topics include calming anxiety, managing stress, self-esteem and happiness amongst several others.
2. Stop, Breathe & Think
The title says it all. This app includes guided meditations, breathing techniques and yoga. Users have reported feeling 46% less anxiety with consistent use of the app - and a 78% increase in positive feelings after the first session. An added bonus? You can track your progress and mood to keep on top of your practice at all times.
3. Insight Timer
TIME magazine voted it app of the year, and for good reason. Insight Timer is known to help people learn to meditate, reduce anxiety, manage stress, and sleep deeper. This app features guided meditations and talks led by neuroscientists, psychologists, and teachers. One unique feature is the thousands of music tracks to help set the mood and enter a calm state.
A Longevity Fitness Staff Pick: Headspace
With gentle reminders that command you to take a deep breath wherever you are or stop to acknowledge a highlight of your day, Headspace sends the sporadic notifications you won’t mind seeing on your phone. This app offers a variety of guided meditations from stress to sleep, and with mindful exercises to further train your brain. Try Headspace for two weeks at no cost - from there, you can subscribe to the app for as little as $5 a month.
It may take some time for the art of meditation to feel natural and become a part of your regular routine. However, with practice and persistence, you just might discover a powerful tool for managing your thoughts and stress.
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