In 1994, Andy Puddicombe abandoned his sports science degree to travel to Asia and become a Buddhist monk. Today, his app Headspace is one of the leaders in online mindfulness. Its wide offering includes a free 10-part “basics” course, one-minute meditations, guided visualisation and downloads for children, all alongside well-laid out, illustrated content available in five languages. To help people cope with the current crisis, Headspace is offering its Weathering the Storm package for free; it combines guided meditations to deal with anxiety and stress, with sleep and movement exercises. headspace.com; free to download, subscription packages from £9.99 per month.
The meditation app founded by Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who established the Art of Living Foundation NGO in 1981, is based on Vedic principles such as patience and compassion. Here you’ll find ancient chants and mantras delivered by Sanskrit scholars alongside “blissful music to enhance your meditation journey” and mudras – “hand positions or gestures that facilitate the flow of energy in the body and release blocked energy”. In-app charts help users track their spiritual progress. sattva.life; free.
Founded by former Wall Street investment banker Yunha Kim, Simple Habit is tailored to high achievers with busy lifestyles. Its five-minute meditations range from classic guided mindfulness to motivational coaching to bedtime stories, while its roster of narrators includes mindfulness experts at Google and former monks. New sessions such as Easing Fear and Mindful Communication with Family are being launched to help users deal with states of lockdown and self-isolation; those directly affected by the crisis can email for “unlimited access to meditation, sleep, therapy and motivational content” until 30 April. simplehabit.com; free to download, subscription packages from $89.99 per year.
Instead of guided meditations, Portal transports users to happy places of their choice, from Hawaiian beaches to Swiss Alpine slopes, with the aid of the relaxing sounds such as crashing waves, summer thunderstorms, rustling palm tree leaves and crackling log fires. The sounds can be used in combination with other apps too, as a background to an audio book or a podcast. entertheportal.com; free to download, subscription $7.99 a month.
This all-encompassing meditation app offers sessions for calming anxiety, easing sleep difficulties, improving gratitude, focusing at work and boosting confidence. Its Sleep Stories are narrated by the likes of Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey, while packages include exclusive music tracks for relaxation and guided videos on mindful movement. It recently introduced a check-in feature to help users reflect on how they are feeling each day. calm.com; free one-week trial, subscription packages from £28.99 per year.
Combining mindfulness with a social network, Insight Timer facilitates group meditation sessions – either by users inviting their friends or by checking to see who is online. Named as one of the 50 best apps of 2016 by Time magazine, it offers access to a vast library of guided meditation – some 30,000 titles provided by a host of neuroscientists, psychologists and mindfulness teachers, as well as Oxbridge and Ivy League academics. insighttimer.com; free to download, subscription packages from £55.99 per year.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Targeted at under-25s, this highly customised app is designed to “help kids, teens and young adults build the emotional strength to tackle life’s ups and downs”. At the beginning of each session, it asks users to describe how they feel, both mentally and physically. Their choice of adjectives leads them to guided meditations to target their specific needs. Ten per cent of the proceeds from memberships are donated to Tools for Peace, a non-profit that teaches mindfulness skills to inner-city teens. stopbreathethink.com; free to download, subscription packages from £9.99 per month.