One of the best ways to live a joyful life is to be centered. As a black woman, I have to work hard to maintain a true sense of peace. There are all kinds of things that can steal your peace and the world offers a lot of fabricated knock-offs to restore it. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself chasing false security and conditional happiness. The real thing takes intentionality, honesty, and consistency.
You can find your center in a number of ways, but I want to share with you the three apps I use to maintain my sanity and centeredness.
Be the calm, centered version of yourself. This is the most productive and inspiring version.
I have made a regular practice of meditation and being still over the past few years. I’m not perfect at it. In fact, me being still is nearly impossible. When I was in a freshman in college, my roommate used to bet me I couldn’t be quiet and still for five minutes. Ya’ll, I never won that bet — not one single time! It’s cool though. I’m good at other things.
In the beginning of my practice I found myself being super antsy. My legs would shake, I was constantly shifting in my seat, and I would forget to keep my eyes closed. My mind was always wandering off to something like my to-do list, what I watched on tv, or even previous conversations I had that day. I was able to do anything but be focused and centered. And then the App store came through with the remedy. It’s the plug for real for real.
I have tried a few different apps in my quest to become a mindfulness convert. Here are the three that made the final cut. These apps are the real MVPs in my wellness practice.
The Simple Habit app is designed to help you “stress less, achieve more, and live better,” their words, not mine. I like this app because it has a huge collection of guided meditations with people like me in mind. You can find a topic relevant to what you need right now, such as meditations for test day, winding down for bed, living a life of gratitude, and even boosting your creativity. Seriously, there are hundreds to choose from. Like most apps, they have a freemium model that allows you to access some meditations for free but others are behind a paywall. You might find that you can start a meditation plan but only get so far before having to pay. The cool thing is you can try most plans out to see what you like before making an investment. If you choose to invest, they have three plans ranging from $7.50 to $12 a month. The app is gamified so you can track your meditation practice, see your streaks, and even participate in meditation challenges. Yes, even meditation can be competitive!
The reason I like the Headspace app so much is the constant encouragement. This was my first meditation and mindfulness app because it started with the basics. I told you about my wandering mind. Well, Headspace has built-in exercises and reminders to help you come back to your breath once you start getting lost in your own mind or the activity around you. You can even do one-off sessions throughout your day. These come in handy when you’ve had a tough meeting or an unpleasant run in with a coworker. Just grab your phone and head to the bathroom for a quick session to help you refocus. You can even set up little notifications to get encouraging messages all day long. The sessions are organized according to common struggles and places of stress in most people’s lives. You can focus on family, relationships, work, school, or health. There are even meditations for kids! This app also follows the freemium model with three plans to choose from including $13 a month, $95 a year, and $400 for a lifetime subscription!
Last but not least, there is Calm. This app is amazing because it incorporates audio and visual effects to help you find a moment of calm in the midst of a busy day. I personally can’t get enough of the rain. I know that is crazy since I live in Seattle and we have rain for 8 months out of the year. But there is just something incredibly calming about the sound of rain. When I hear it playing through my headphones, I am transported to a still place in my mind. Unlike the other apps, the Calm app has bedtime stories you can check out to help your brain shut off at night. This is a challenge for me because my ADHD is particularly powerful at night. I can be super tired and barely keeping my eyes open, but the moment my head hits the pillow I suddenly think of 10 scenarios in response to a problem or thought I encountered during the day. It’s maddening. With Calm, I can shut it down with a bedtime story, a quick meditation, or even soothing music. To get the most use out of this app, you’re going to have to cough up the $60 annual membership fee because most of the resources are behind a paywall. You can try the first session for free but then you have to pay. Consider checking out the 7-day free trial and see how much value it adds to you during that week. If you’re like me, you’ll find it is more than worth the cost of one night out!
Ok, now you know my secrets to being a centered person. I use technology. But as a techie, it only makes sense that I would rely on the power of technology to help me unplug from it all. No, this is not an oxymoronic argument. I know there are a ton of apps and websites out there helping to fuel the mindfulness movement. Comment below and share some of your favorites with me! I’d love to know what’s working for you and what I should consider adding to my list.