3 apps that help you use your smartphone to meditate, not play Words With Friends

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woman meditatingIf you’re like us, you probably take advantage of your morning commute to do really meaningful things, like, um, obsess about your to-do list, catch up on the news (Page Six counts, right?), or play Words With Friends.

But a slew of meditation apps promises to deliver a little extra calm, clarity, and well-being while you're en route. (Or, if you're driving, once you've safely arrived at your destination.) Or pretty much anywhere.

And while nothing can compete with a Sharon Salzberg or a Josh Korda for meditation guidance, the apps we test-drove here are surprisingly good for gadgets. Find out which meditation app is right for you… —Carla Vass

Calm meditation app
Calm by Calm.com
Meditation style: Agnostic

Calm.com’s free app blends predictably calming video (think sunsets and placid beaches) with lulling, nature sounds such as rain and crickets. A velvety smooth voice, vaguely reminiscent of the automated GPS dominatrix, guides you through a series of relaxation exercises and guided meditations. You pick the background video, sound, and a 2-, 10- or 20-minute meditation. Easy and no-frills (unless you count the babbling brook) relaxation.

Cost: Free from the App Store, at www.calm.com, or $0.99 for an upgraded version (with all guided meditations). App for iPhones only.


Meditation style: For the inspiration junkie or meditation DJ

Omvana is like a one-stop digital meditation library. You can choose from a variety of guided meditations and inspirational tracks. Looking for “weight-loss” meditation? Want to "grow your light” with Gabby Bernstein? You can even (randomly) listen to inspirational speeches, like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.”

Then, play DJ and customize your meditations by mixing vocal tracks and background beats. We just can’t guarantee your “mash-ups” will be a hit at parties.

Cost: Free from the App Store (includes 8 tracks); additional meditations range in cost from $0.99–$3.99


Meditation style: For when you can’t get to a quiet mountaintop…

This self-described “urban meditation app for modern life” is designed for those on the go. You put in your location to get a customized meditation for traveling, walking, at home, or the gym. You can also choose your meditation style (meditation for greater clarity, connection, stability, or embodiment) and the length of a session. And the maximum meditation time is 10 minutes, which is both respectful of your busy life and of the fact that meditation should not make you feel inadequate if you can't do it any longer.

Cost: $0.99 on GooglePlay for Android, $2.99 at the App Store for iPhone.


5 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. April 25th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Another app that is a timer but has some interesting additional elements is the “Insight Timer – Meditation Timer”. (free)
    In addition to being a time with the ability to choose specific real meditation bells and gongs, this timer lets you join groups of other meditators worldwide, allows you to see everyone who is meditating at the same time by face name and location, and allows you to send and receive messages to and from those folks. It really adds a wonderful element of motivation. Since I have begun using it, I’ve not missed a single day of meditation!

  2. April 26th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I loved this post! Such a great way to meditate and get some quality quiet and alone time!

  3. April 26th, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I enjoyed your post! I will have to try out the meditation apps!

  4. June 21st, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Loved the app at:

    Calm by Calm.com

    Downloaded it unto my iphone and I try to use it every day if possible. It has definitely helped me as I seem to be more calmer and less uptight.

    Thank you so much for the information


  5. January 2nd, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Excellent Post. Another useful app is Relaxation Breathing by agile sumo for android. It enables you to pace your breathing cycle to adjustable settings. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.agilesumo.timedbreath

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