Meditation is becoming more and more popular everyday? It that because of its effectiveness or it is just because of the high potential of monetization. Right now, there are two super hot meditation apps that seem to have attracted both investors and end users. Who, ten years ago, would be able guess that you will see so many meditation related ads everywhere. I am guessing that many of you have already seen the amount of ads that Headspace has on Youtube. For a curious person like myself, it is not uncommon to wonder whether this heavily invested app can really make meditation more effective or improve meditation in any way. Therefore, I have spent some time to look at these meditation apps which the loved children of capitalism and meditation.
Meditation Apps are Basically Guided Meditation
For those of you who have not heard of guided meditation, go to Youtube and search for the term “guided meditation” and you will find a touch of videos. They are usually sound clips with an instruction telling you to “now, focus on your breath”, “focus on your surroundings”, or “you feel so relaxed now”. You get the point. There is a little different from the breath meditation (or mindfulness meditation) and mantra meditation that you made have heard about. Meditation mobile apps like Headspace and Calm are basically guided meditations well organized into an app with some nice-to-have functionalities. Let me briefly explain the difference between guided meditation and un-guided one before continue to drill deeper on this subject of meditation app.
Brief Introduction of Un-Guided Meditation
I don’t do guided meditation while a lot of other people do. Let’s me briefly talk about un-guided meditation before we get into the guided ones. A un-guided meditation is the type of meditation that most people hear about. How it works is that you assign a small task to your mind to do in an attempt to stop your mind to thinking intensively. Breath meditation and mantra meditation are the two most common methods of un-guided meditation. For breath meditation, a person would close his or her eyes and observe the breath for over 10 minutes. For mantra meditation, the person would instead repeatedly read a mantra in his or her mind. The big idea is to make the mind do something simple for a period of time so it doesn’t do intensive random thinking.
Guided Meditation Vs Un-Guided One
Because everyone is wired differently, some find un-guided meditation easy to learn while some find it very difficult to focus for even 10 minutes. For those of you who have a hard time focusing, there is a good chance that guided meditation is better suited for you. If you think about it, guided meditation still uses the same principle as un-guided meditation. Remember, the point is to make your mind do some easy task to allow it to rest. And a guided meditation uses a voice to guide you to focus on a certain, e.g. your breath, your surrondings, your stomach, etc. When thoughts flow from your subconscious mind to your conscious mind during meditation, with the voice guiding you, it makes it easier for you to put the focus on the thing that you are supposed to focus on instead of begin to process your random though intensively. At the end of the day, the voice is guiding you to do some easy things with your mind for a period of time which matches the big idea behind how meditation works. So, for those of you who think guided meditation is not meditation, that’s not correct. Guided meditation is legit.
Headspace Vs Calm
Headspace and Calm are probably the two most popular meditation apps right now. I may have to disappoint you here by saying that, to me, these two apps are roughly the same. To me, the most important part of the apps is the guided meditation lesson. Other seemingly useful extra features are nice to see but don’t contribute much to my actual meditation. Both apps come with a lot of daily guided meditation sessions. It is really up to your personal preference to decide which voice or which type of guidance help you clear your mind better. Both apps are paid apps the last time I checked. To me, honestly, guided meditation works. And since Headspace and Calm are a collection of pretty well-produced guided meditation sessions, they can clear my mind pretty effectively as expected.
Value Vs Popularity
The cool thing about capitalism is that the more popular product that is mostly due to the amount of investment and advertising usually works pretty well, but very likely not the best. It’s like you are almost guaranteed a good tasting burger if you go to McDonald’s and you can expect the same result every time you go in. But the best burger usually comes from a small-brand restaurant where the chef is probably the owner. Headspace and Calm are the McDonald’s in this space. They both work well and consistently, but the small-brand restaurant in this space is actually an app called the Insight Timer App. It is a free app and this is not sponsorship related content as you see no links here.
Why Do I Recommend Not to Use Guided Meditation?
Although I think both guided and non-guided meditation work, I really think that my mind is usually more clear after having a non-guided meditation session. There is no doubt that it is a little harder to learn when I first started but things significantly got better after a few weeks. If you just stick to either breath meditation or mantra meditation for two to three weeks, you will find it not that challenging to focus for only 10 minutes. Having said that, if guided meditation or meditation apps give you good results, you can feel free to stick to it too. In fact, I sometimes use long walks as my meditation. In detail, I find that taking a 45-minute long walk can help clear my mind roughly as effective as my 10-minute mantra meditation.