Keep these apps handy for dose of daily calm or a lifetime of mindfulness

Updated: Feb 04, 2018, 09:32 IST | Gitanjali Chandrasekharan and Benita Fernando

Among the many apps on your smartphones, whether it is food spots around town or dating sites, ever tinkered with the idea of downloading a meditation and mindfulness app?

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Among the many apps on your smartphones, whether it is food spots around town or dating sites, ever tinkered with the idea of downloading a meditation and mindfulness app? While there are those who would prefer to have a meditation guide light the way, if you prefer to be more experimental, or have a work schedule that doesn't allow you to take up regular classes, these apps may help. Here are personal reviews of three apps to get you started:

Quit smoking mindfully
Friends promise to stay by your side as you quit smoking, but honestly speaking, how often can they be by your side or even an IM away when that all-familiar craving arises? Here's where Craving to Quit: Learn to Surf Your Urges becomes your quitting buddy.

Smoking

Designed by Dr Judson Brewer, Director of Research, Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the app (initially a free download but which has a pay wall after Day 4) acts as that friend. The idea behind mindfulness is not to escape the craving, but rather understand where, when and how it arises and overcome it. Each time a craving hits, hit the Want-O-Meter and register your trigger.

Short exercises - from noting sounds in your surroundings to raising your arms as a relaxation tool - provide you with tools to reach and meet your 21-day challenge. There are daily check-ins to see how close you are to achieving your goal. If clean lungs were your resolution this year, this mindfulness app might be the buddy you're looking for.

Get some Headspace
If your workday is split into many parts, from the time you wake up till you hit home again, then you need an app that understands just that. Let's say you are grabbing a quick breakfast, or standing in a crowded Mumbai local train. Headspace has you covered. The app, available on both Android and iOS, comes with the promise of making meditation simple.

Headspace app

Headspace is co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, whose cordial and conversational tone you hear on the app's meditation routines. His voice serenely takes you through the steps of the various 'packs' and 'singles' that are available on the app. What are these? So, a pack requires you follow a certain number of sessions, while a single is just one session. What we have come to like over the months is that you get to choose how long you want your sessions to be, five minutes or even 15 minutes.

Headspace also addresses major life changes that we might be expecting in our lives - leaving home or facing cancer - and emotional issues, say anger management or self-esteem. No matter how big or how small the challenge, it makes you focus on your breath, whether you are waking up or falling asleep (yes, there are techniques for these, too). The thing about Headspace is that it leaves you with some homework to do, and that means carrying the mindfulness techniques they teach you through the rest of your day. And, that takes some practice.

Log in for Calm
Meditation is hard to do. The monkey mind jumps from one branch of a tree thought to the other, even as you try and focus your attention on the resonance of Om inside you. Calm, however, is a meditation app that sets you on the path to mindfulness. Start with its 7 Days of Calm tab. You will be led through a 10-minute guided meditation each day, with a different agenda. For instance, non-judgement, non-reactiveness to sound, thought etc.

Calm

The guide's voice that urges you to be gentle with yourself, as much as others, is what you need in a rushed day. It starts with 10 minutes per session, increasing as your level increases. There are practices for better sleep and better relationships, too. And you can log on at any time of the day, in office, when you're stuck in a cab in traffic or right before you sleep.

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