Meditation apps to help keep your calm during crisis

Living amid the risk of the COVID-19 global pandemic has emphasized the importance of dealing with stress and promoting wellness in our daily lives. Here are five meditation apps that offer all or some free features to help us build resilience to stress, which is vital to increasing our ability to thrive during these uncertain times.

  1. Headspace offers a free 10-day beginner’s basics course to guide you through and ground you in the basics of meditation and mindfulness. The app pledges to help you manage stress and anxiety, sleep more soundly, be more active and try something new. Special features include the option to choose between five different languages, to choose a male or female voice for a meditation’s narration, and to take Nighttime SOS guided exercises for those who wake up in the middle of the night. Scroll through the library of meditation courses, sleepcast stories or stress release workouts, and much more, to mine those lists for the items that are unlocked and free, such as the “Navigating Change” course found within the “Stress and Anxiety” category.
  2. Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience is brought to you by Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Chopra Center Meditation. It is divided into three programs: the Meditation Experience, Online Program and Mantras & Music. Currently, the “Hope in Uncertain Times” album, that begins with Oprah’s reassuring voice, is completely free. When accessing the free meditation within the app instead of online, open the album and instead of clicking “purchase,” select the play icon next to each of the daily meditations.
  3. Liberate is the only meditation app with a mission to empower the Black and African Diaspora, Indigenous people and People of Colour on their path to finding inner peace. Completely free, it offers a library of dharma talks and guided meditations by teachers of colour. Its general categories include the topics of ancestors, sleep, anxiety, self worth, gratitude, grief, the body, love, depression, race, micro-aggressions, mindfulness and pride. Special features include a “Gratitude During Rona” meditation (“rona” meaning “coronavirus”) and Live Virtual Sits on Tuesdays and Fridays at 12 p.m. EST.
  4. Calm is an award-winning app that promises to improve sleep, demonstrate mindful body movements and stretches, and to teach you the “life-changing skill” of meditation. Three-time NBA champion and MVP Lebron James has partnered with Calm to offer his guide to what he refers to as one of his most viable skills, mental fitness, and how mental focus makes a difference. The app also includes guided meditation, calming music and nature scenes. There are a few free features. To find them, look for the ones that do not display a lock icon.
  5. Stop, Breathe & Think is a meditation app that opens with a “How are you?” check-in that asks you to self-assess your current physical, mental and emotional well-being. Based on your answers, the app recommends a mix of free and for-purchase meditations that cater to you. Each week, the app features a weekly focus. For example, some of the themes are “Calm Coronavirus Anxiety,” “For Youth of Colour,” “For Kids,” and even “Pet Meditations.” The app’s special features also include some meditations narrated in English or Spanish, meditation and breathing timers, and the ability to sync with your phone’s health app to track your mindful meditations.

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