Who is bringing meditation to the masses?
If you want a quick dip into meditation to see what it’s all about, classes are easy to find in most parts the country. But to get a first taste, you have to be curious enough to find the nearest class, when you’ve found one you’ll wonder if it’ll be any good, and then you have to make the effort to show up. For those who are not all that sure about the whole thing, that’s a lot of barriers.
Unsurprisingly in this age of apps, some bright people have already thought up how to bring meditation to the masses at the touch of a button. Search for “Meditation” in the Apps store and there will be a plethora of options.
As usual, some are better than others. bidushi picks out the best, and comments on some of the rest.
The best online and on-the-move app by a long way, Headspace is equally good for those new to meditation and those who have started it but simply need a daily guide to help them develop.
The proposition is simple: 10 minutes of guided meditations, for 10 days, for free. After that daily 15-20-minute guided meditations are available for monthly, yearly, two year or “forever after” subscriptions. The yearly subscription is $7.99/month with a 30-day money back guarantee, and separate recordings are made for every day of the year.
What makes Headspace great is that its founder has gone to a lot of effort to create a journey for people to understand what meditation really is, citing the theory, referring to research, and for every day of the year, leading them through a variety of meditations organised by topic, such as “Discovery”, “Mind”, “Creativity” “Heart”, and “Smart”.
Andy has a great story. While in the midst of his Sports Sciences degree at age 22 he left England and took off for Asia to become a Buddhist monk. About a decade after he was fully ordained at a Tibetan Monastery in the Himalayas. He returned to the UK in 2004 with a mission to “demystify meditation” and make its benefits accessible to everyone. Headspace is doing such a great job of it that they’ve now set up a second office in sunny Los Angeles to target the hungry audience there.
Listening to a stranger’s voice every day for weeks and months is likely to get tiresome. Andy takes a casual, friendly, “it’s no big deal” tone of voice that makes Headspace not only bearable, but “sticky”.
It’s new on the block, and the visual interface is ever so slightly similar to their “friends over at Headspace”. They have a charming FAQ on “Meditation 101” but the recordings are on the flat side, and the programme lacks the depth or breadth of the Headspace guidance. It’s less than two years old and may develop with time. Founded by Glaswegian Rohan Gunatillake, an ex-management consultant now entrepreneur and blogger.
According to the Evening Standard last month, it’s one of “London’s best meditation apps” recommended by the likes of NY Times and Yoga Journal. It’s a simple enough guide with options to have 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes meditations with voice plus background music of sounds of nature, or voice only. Unfortunately the thin wavering voice sounds either sub human or from an alien species. Best for listening to nice nature sounds on a busy street, or falling asleep.
A San Francisco start-up backed by angel investors including founders of Bebo, Flixter and Rotten Tomatoes, Calm actually has beautiful visuals that are pleasing to look at and tune into for a little break in the day. The voice guidance is fine, but like the other apps listed here in “The Rest”, it fails to be a real “guide”, lacking the depth of a strong meditation practice.