Simple Habit, Mindfulness, and the Golden Age of Meditation Apps

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Today I signed a contract to be a meditation teacher with Simple Habit, an upstart meditation app that launched this summer and has collected over 100,000 users since. Oh, and they just got launched by Y-Combinator. So that’s pretty cool.

Anyway, turns out I love the Simple Habit app. It’s sleek and friendly and the teachers are great (more info below). So I started looking around at other apps.

Here’s a gloss of four of the best:

10 Percent Happier

Full disclosure: My wife is a meditation coach for 10 Percent Happier. So take the following with the requisite bag of salt. Still this app really pops. What’s to love? Well, first there’s Dan Harris, the ABC Nightline News Anchor turned mindfulness advocate. He’s funny, irreverent, and nerdily obsessed with mindfulness practice.

Then there’s the teachers. Joseph Goldstein is one of the great living meditation masters. And Joseph Goldstein is the main teacher on 10 Percent Happier. The app also boasts talks and meditations by Sharon Salzburg, Anushka Fernandopulle, Alexis Santos, and others.

Finally – and this is no small thing – every 10 Percent user gets their very own meditation coach. So if you have a question, you can ask it. Your coach usually responds within 24 hours. And most of these coaches have spent literally years on meditation retreat, so their answers are answers you can trust.

 Headspace

Headspace is another good option. With upwards of two million active users, Headspace is a giant success. The reason? Big marketing, a super efficient and colorful interface, and Andy Puddicombe.

Andy cut his teeth as an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk. He did a boatload of retreat during his 20s. By the time he dropped the robes and moved back to London, he’d spent thousands of hours on the cushion.

In London he met Rich Pierson, an exhausted business guy. He taught Rich meditation. Rich got excited. They put this app out. And the rest, I guess, is history.

Headspace is divided into Packs. Packs are usually topical. Topics include Health, Relationships, Performance, and others. Each pack contains a bunch of meditations. All meditations are led by Andy. Most folks find his English accent comforting and his instructions concise and clear.

Calm

Then there’s the Calm app. Which, as the name implies, is all about helping you get calm through meditation. It’s another behemoth. More than 11,000 users have rated it on the iTunes store. And nearly all of them have given it five stars.

On the Calm website, users may access a range of guided meditations. The menu includes body scans, lovingkindness, calm light, forgiveness, and many others. Each meditation is available in increments of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 minutes. There are also courses (7 Days of Self-Esteem, 7 Days of Happiness, etc.)

All the meditations on Calm are guided by the same woman. A quick search of the site didn’t reveal the woman’s name. However, she’s definitely an experienced teacher and a great resource.

Simple Habit

Now, for some more blatantly biased reporting. Granted, I only downloaded the Simple Habit app this morning, but I’m loving it. The designers did a great job putting this platform together. Within minutes, I knew exactly what was available and how I could access it.

My favorite? ON THE GO, a tab that features sections like Morning, Taking a Break, Commute, Walking, At Work, Big Event, and SOS!, among other pertinent possibilities, all of them arrayed in a well-apportioned and visually pleasing circle for easy access.

This morning, I tabbed into Walking and listened to a 5-minute meditation as I made my mindful way to the bus.

Once I’d boarded I clicked on a 10-minute meditation specifically designed for a bus ride and meditated (eyes open). It changed my whole experience of being body-to-body with 50 or 60 souls. I felt . . . happy. Also connected. Like I was just riding into town with a few friends.

Other benefits: Simple Habit has gathered a great cast of teachers. John Prendergast, Shauna Shapiro, others I haven’t heard of but who are equally adept at dropping a listener into a state of alert concentration.

 Conclusion

All this to say, the golden age of meditation apps has begun. Or it began a while back and I missed it. But now I’m liking what I see. And I’m looking forward to putting some meditations for therapists up on Simple Habit soon.

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For information about upcoming mindfulness workshops with Craig & Devon, please click here.

Craig Hase