Four Meditation Apps To Help You Through Difficult Times

A girl holding a yoga pose
The Anticancer Lifestyle Team

Meditation is an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years. With busy-ness as the current default way of life in our culture, more people are instinctively reaching out to meditative practices in order to become less reactive, calm their immune systems, and better enjoy their lives in the moment.

In the Anticancer LIfestyle Program, we promote meditation and mindfulness practices as key to getting better rest, taking our bodies out of an adrenalized fight-or-flight mode, and setting our intentions to make healthful lifestyle changes. Meditation can be practiced daily, at any given moment, for one minute or one hour. Each moment presents us the opportunity to S.T.O.P.—Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed.

As we battle the daily “what’s next” and “what should I do” anxieties that pop up incessantly in our brains, we thankfully now have help in the many apps available offering guided meditations, lectures, and music tracks that can calmly guide us to a place of centering and serenity. And while we might be far from sitting under a bodhi tree to contemplate the meaning of our lives, these meditation apps can enable us to go about our daily lives with a feeling of gratitude, calm, and clear intention.

Here are a few apps we like:

The Calm app is both visually and auditorily appealing. Upon opening the app, you are reminded to take a deep breath, followed by a customizable sound, such as chirping crickets or ocean waves, that induce a dreamlike feeling. From there, you are offered to choose between Sleep, Meditate, Music and More. The Sleep function features soothing bedtime stories to help you fall asleep. Within the Meditate feature, you can choose between various topics like ‘Stress’ and ‘Self-Care’ (your choice, depending on what you want to address). The initial 7 Days of Calm includes unguided sessions, some guided sessions and tracking features at no cost. A subscription which provides access to the entire Calm catalog costs $12.99/month, $59.99/year and $299.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Headspace provides a great introduction for those who are new to meditation. If you don’t know where to begin or have never meditated before, this is a great choice. Users can choose the length of the meditation, and can opt for cute animation graphics that guide you with videos and text explanation. They feature inspiring stories and articles to help you stay motivated in your practice. The app is available for free for a two-week trial period, after which you can enroll in either monthly ($12.99/mo) or annual ($69.99) payment plans.  

Insight Timer
Insight Timer offers more than 60,000 free guided meditations, music tracks, and talks, with new content added daily. This app adopts a freemium model, with a free basic version offering limited functionality and a paid version that provides access to in-depth courses and additional services. It’s the largest free library of guided meditations in the world and has won numerous awards, including from TIME magazine and Women’s Health

Waking Up
This app was created by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, best-selling author and renowned meditator. The app’s design is simple and easy-to-use. The free version of Waking Up gives you access to five audio meditations and five lessons from Harris. If you’d like more content, the app costs $99.99 for an annual plan. (If you can’t afford the fee, you can access the app for free simply with an email request). While this is a little pricey compared to most apps, Harris also offers fascinating lectures on the theory behind the practice of meditation. Waking Up provides short daily meditations (and a 28-day course if you’d like to follow it) as well as discussions of neuroscience, philosophy, ethics and the nature of the mind on topics such as gratitude, anxiety, philosophy, neuroscience, awareness, intentions, meditation techniques, free will, and much more.

No App at All
Try simple exercises like deep diaphragmatic breathing, to calm the body and mind. See our Mindset module in the Anticancer Lifestyle Program to learn other ways to become more calm, less reactive, and more mindful in your daily life.  


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