- Sharon Thompson, PT, DPT, CSCS
The Top 3 Mindfulness Apps of 2018 (On Sale!)
With mindfulness becoming more and more mainstream, it can be overwhelming to know how to dive in. One easy way to introduce yourself is to download a mindfulness app on your phone (or apps!). Here are the top 3 that we typically recommend to patients. They each have their own pros and cons, but the great thing that they all have in common is that they are all currently on sale! I don't know how long these deals will last, but they are definitely worth the investment!
Pros: If you have absolutely no idea what mindfulness is, Headspace has a fantastic way of explaining it. The free version of the app includes a 10 day intro to mindfulness where you learn a little more about it each day as well as beginning a daily habit of practicing mindfulness. They even have cute (and informative) videos to illustrate their points!
A subscription allows you to access the rest of the content after you get through their "Take 10" series. They have themed content in series or individual content, all organized by goals or situations. They have various lengths of sessions as well as an advanced section for users who want minimal to no voice guidance.
Cons: Personally I am not as much of a fan of the voice. It is not very soothing to me, but that's a personal preference! It also does not include a "breathe" visual like the other apps in this list.
Good For: Visual learners who want to know more about mindfulness.
The Deal: $58 for one year (normally $96). Get it HERE.
Pros: Calm is one of the most beautiful apps out there. I would guess that the app's visual aesthetic is enough to lower my heart rate and stress levels just by looking at it! I also really enjoy the voice and find it easy to slip into guided mindfulness with her instruction.
The free version includes samples of various theme packs but you can access all of the material with a paid subscription. Each theme guides you through a brief portion of understanding the theme and moves on to putting it in practice. Every day builds on itself, with 7 day themes up to 21 day themes.
The app also includes some lovely features such as: soothing sounds/music with many different options to select, a "breathe bubble" which allows you to practice deep breathing by following a visual (you can even make adjustments to the visual to shorten or lengthen your breath), timed meditation and open-ended meditation in case you don't want any voice guidance, and last but not least a "sleep stories" section meant to slowly guide your mind to sleep.
Cons: The extra bells and whistles may distract you from the actual mindfulness. The visuals and the sounds can definitely be a part of the mindfulness practice but I actually enjoy turning off my display and choosing a silent background so that I can improve my awareness of what is physically in my surroundings, not digitally.
Good For: Audiophiles who enjoy using music or sounds in their meditation practice. Anyone who needs help falling asleep.
The Deal: Buy one year subscription get one free (you can gift one and keep one for yourself) $59.99. Get it HERE.
Pros: Aura is also visually beautiful. It is also very intelligent. Aura utilizes AI to tailor its meditations to complement your moods. Prior to every session you will be asked what mood you are in and after each session can mark a change (if there was any). The app will use this data to learn what best fits you the more that you use it. You can also track your progress and mood habits through the app. Like the other mindfulness apps, Aura's subscription version has themed bundles, individual sessions, or "channels" you can subscribe to. Aura uses different teachers so you get varied perspectives, styles and voices.
Aura is also excellent for anyone just getting into mindfulness who is intimidated by long periods of meditation. The free version provides you with one free 3 minute mindfulness session every 24 hours (great for if you are trying out this mindfulness thing and used up all your free Calm or Headspace sessions). The paid subscription allows 7 minute sessions as well.
Like Calm, it includes a lot of bells and whistles, including a breath visual which allows you to set reminders to take a 30 second "breather" as often as you like! This is in addition to the reminders you can set to practice the guided mindfulness sessions. Aura also has a "gratitude list" where you can add something you are grateful for whenever you like and scroll back to see the entire list. The app also gears itself towards creating a more social community. You are invited to write your thoughts after each section and post them publicly within the app.
Cons: If you want longer meditations or need a consistent voice, this app is not for you.
Good For: The easily distracted, uber busy socialite with difficulty making decisions. Anyone wanting to improve their gratitude.
The Deal: $59.99 for lifetime subscription (normally $399), $29.99 for one year (normally $96). Get it HERE.
Personally, I have a hard time choosing between these three. If I had to make a choice, I would pay for a subscription to Aura, cry about not being subscribed to Calm, and make sure I used up all the free aspects of Headspace to learn more about mindfulness. If you have some time, try the free versions of each of the apps so that you can get a feel for your likes and dislikes. But hurry because I don't know how long these deals will last
Dr. Sharon Thompson is a physical therapist at PelvicSanity physical therapy, Orange County's premier pelvic floor physical therapy clinic. Sharon combines a strong orthopedic background with her skill as a pelvic floor physical therapist. She is vocal advocate for those who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction or pain, and is especially passionate about spreading hope and awareness about these conditions. The PelvicSanity blog focuses on presenting practical, positive information to help patients beyond the walls of the clinic.