If you want to start meditating, you will soon come across meditation apps. But do you really need an app to meditate? And which one is best?
Here we compare the two most well-known meditation apps and will give you our opinion on what is ultimately the best choice.
Why Use a Meditation App?
If you want to start meditating and look online for more information and options, it quickly turns out to be quite difficult to choose.
There are plenty of meditation teachers, Buddhist groups, yoga classes, mindfulness coaches. And of course also self-help books, instructional videos and meditation apps.
And all claim to offer the best method, guidance, and so on.
Between all those offers, how do you determine what is really worthwhile? For many, the question will begin there, but soon turn into a different question: what is the easiest to do?
Here the meditation app offers a solution.
The handy thing about a meditation app, of course, is that you always have your phone at hand, from the time your rise in the morning to the moment just before you go to sleep in the evening.
So it is the ideal medium to always have access to meditation.
Take the basic human tendency to want to do it all by yourself and not need anyone else, and the meditation app is increasingly becoming a tempting starting point.
Even the choice process between the different meditation apps fits seamlessly with our busy lives. After all, you can just take a quick look at which one is most popular in the app store, compare some features and maybe read some short reviews, and then download the app and try the free version for a while.
It doesn’t get any more accessible then that.
The 2 Most Well-Known Meditation Apps Compared
The two most well-known meditation apps are Headspace and Calm.
Let’s take a closer look at these two.
Both apps are aimed at the ‘beginner’ who is looking for less stress, more relaxation and better sleep.
Headspace and Calm are both very popular (downloaded over 10 million times), offer access to some basic features if you choose the free version, and give access to a large arsenal of guided meditations when you subscribe, ranging from short sessions or daily exercises to longer programs with specific topics.
Headspace was founded by someone who lived as a Buddhist monk for a while. This experience gets quite a bit of emphasis although the co-founder seems to have a purely commercial background.
In addition to guided meditations, Headspace also has a program aimed at better sleep for yourself and, if applicaple, your children.
Headspace also has its own Netflix series about meditation and better sleep. And they fund research into the effectiveness of their own app.
Calm’s founders don’t seem to have a connection to meditation at all, but just appear to be smart entrepreneurs.
In addition to guided meditations, Calm has a varied program from trauma processing to yoga videos to sleep stories voiced by great talents like Matthew McConaughey.
Calm also finances research into the effectiveness of their own app.
Effectiveness, Cost and Alternatives
You read it quite right, they both fund research into the effect of their own app. It will come as no surprise to anyone that this research shows that the apps work, as both regularly and emphatically point out.
They also both regularly enter into partnerships with large organizations such as the NHS (National Health Service) in the United Kingdom and the MLS (Major League Soccer) in the US, but that says more about marketing strategy than about its actual effectiveness.
As befits a good app, the ultimate costs for Headpspace and Calm are a bit more difficult to find. You will be persuaded to try the free trial first and are guided to a subscription from there.
Headspace turns out to cost 57 Euro per year and Calm costs 50 Euro per year. Calm also offers the option to buy a lifetime subscription for 350 Euro. Calm’s revenue model therefore gives the impression that you are not expected to stay a member for much longer than 7 years.
Aren’t there free alternatives? yes. Let’s Meditate, unlike the above, is completely free, and also free of ads. It does offer much less meditations and options. But you can always make a donation in the hope that the features will be expanded in time.
The Best Choice
Of course, it says something that offering meditation and mindfulness as a service is so suitable as a business model that there is a whole market for it.
All the way to a Netflix series and spoken texts by Matthew McConaughey, and funded research.
But let’s face it.
You don’t need an app to meditate at all.
You don’t need a phone to meditate.
Do you experience sleep problems? Then turn off your phone well before you go to bed, screen time is disastrous for sleep.
Are you experiencing stress? Then take an attentive walk in nature, take a few deep and mindful breaths, or have an attentive conversation with someone. Do what you are doing with attention. This pretty much means without looking at your phone every moment of the day.
Want more relaxation in the rat race of your busy life? It might be better to just turn off your phone for an hour. Or even better, a day (or a week?).
And if you really want to start meditating, if you really want to work on inner peace and more contentment, then you have to get to work.
Not by the occasional 1o minute guided meditation if it happens to be convenient, but by daily effort, year after year.
Meditation is not a simple process. Meditation is not a short process.
Meditation requires patient effort, time and discipline.
Meditation is also a personal process that deserves and needs personal attention and guidance.
Not an automated program, but truly personal attention, aimed at you with all your qualities, pitfalls and nuances. That kind of guidance is only possible by another human being, through direct contact.
So don’t be taken in by fancy marketing promises, partisan research or by the tempting claim that the ‘easiest way’ makes on our brains.
Ask yourself what you really want.
Do you really want to spend more time with your phone? Or do you want to start on the path of personal development and transformation?