I first started using guided meditation apps to fall asleep. My boyfriend knew I was having trouble sleeping and introduced me to the “Relax with Andrew Johnson” app. It was life changing. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but seriously, Andrew Johnson helped me out a lot over the past few years. When drunk kids ran through my dorm late at night, I’d just turn on the app and tune them out. I became dependent on his app for sleep like little kids are dependent on their teddy bears.
While at first I only used the app to sleep, eventually I started using it in the middle of the day for quick relaxation breaks. After twenty minutes, I’d wake up feeling refreshed and clear-headed.
I thought that whatever problem I was having, surely Andrew could fix it. I went a little meditation-app crazy. I downloaded: Power Nap, Deep Sleep, Positivity, Build Confidence, Stress Free, Visualize Success, Don’t Panic, Exam Support, Disconnect, and Infinite Relaxation.
One time my boyfriend actually had to explain to me that the Exam Support app is not a substitute for studying. I called him in a panic: “Andrew Johnson is stressing me out! He keeps telling me how much I studied, but I didn’t study enough and my test is tomorrow!” Yeah…so meditation can’t magically feed you information you haven’t read. But you probably already knew this.
Here’s what it can do, though:
– enhance your immune system!
– help cope with illness
– improve overall health and well-being
– increase energy
– provide a sense of calmness and physical relaxation
– increase blood flow
– fight off headaches
– relieve insomnia
– improve self-esteem
The list goes on.
There are many different forms of meditation but basically, it’s about awareness and non-judgement. You learn to acknowledge and accept your thoughts as they come. Ideally, you empty your mind and only focus on your breath. It’s learning to sit quietly with your mind, which is incredibly difficult because our minds are far from quiet.
I’d like to learn how to meditate for real someday but for now, I use guided meditation apps on my iPhone. I find that they take the pressure off. I lie down with my headphones and I know that it’s time to relax, and that the app will do most of the work for me.
Of course, you can get MP3 downloads or podcasts for your phone, but apps are great for their customizable meditation sessions.
Here are a few I’ve tried:
If you want therapy: Relax+ with Andrew Johnson
You’ve heard me rave about Andrew Johnson enough now, but what’s great about this app is that there are eleven therapy topics to choose from, including Visualize Health, Build Creativity, and Let Go of Negativity. You can change the settings so that your session is different each time.
I should note that he has an incredibly soothing Scottish accent. Yes, it’s possible this is my favorite app because I’m biased towards people with accents.
Cost: The app is free, and comes with the stretching induction and Deep Relaxation therapy topic. All other inductions and therapy topics are in-app purchases, priced at $1.99.
If you want a few moments to relax: Simply Being
This woman’s voice is very soft and kind. She put me to sleep in five minutes. She simply tells you to relax; and let your thoughts come and go. Every so often she gently reminds you to come back to your breath.
If you want to practice meditating: Mindfulness Meditation
This app — unlike the others — really stresses a focus on the breath. So it’s great if you want to practice meditating.
There’s also a “Relax” option. The man will do that thing that yoga teachers sometimes do at the end of a lesson. Starting at the feet, he moves throughout the body, telling you to tense and relax your muscles. By the time he’s done, you feel like you’re floating. It’s awesome.
This app also has short audio guides with meditation tips.
If you just want to go to sleep: Pzizz Sleep
I was hooked on Pzizz for a while before I got into Andrew Johnson. The guy tells you comforting things to help you sleep. The great thing about Pzizz is that you’ll never listen to exactly the same program twice. It’s random and different every time.
Cost: $5.99. A little more pricy, but worth it, in my opinion. Pzizz helped me to go sleep so many times when I thought it would be impossible to do so.
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Have you experienced the benefits of meditation? Do you like guided meditation, or do you prefer to meditate on your own? What do you think of meditation apps? If you’ve tried any of these, or have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments!
Amanda Ippolito-Autoimmune Allyby
Amanda is a junior at The College of New Jersey, pursuing a degree in journalism. She is from northern New Jersey but in the summer, she prefers to spend her time at the Jersey Shore. In her free time she likes to read, write, nap, do yoga, and hang out with friends. And her cat, Uno. She also plays way too many games on her iPhone. Amanda has been inspired to make a difference in the autoimmune community ever since her dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago.View all Amanda Ippolito posts.