I kind of want to marry my iPhone, day planner, and computer. But, as with any relationship, sometimes I need a break. The other night I decided to leave my to-do list and phone upstairs for the night, and I had trouble sleeping. I worried about the incoming emails and Tweets that would go unanswered until morning. And, I fondly thought about a time when my phone was anchored to the wall with a cord and my sleep was uninterrupted by thoughts of hashtags, @ symbols, and perfectly crafted subject lines. Yes, life was simple then. My nights were spent reading a good book, or with my mom doing a guided meditation to help me snooze. As I thought about her telling me to inhale the spirit of the universe and to exhale stress, my mind flashed to my app store: I bet there was an app that could do that! I quickly jumped out of bed and began searching for relaxation apps and videos. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the thing that usually makes me super-productive and connected with the world could also help me meditate and block out the business (that could wait) around me. So here you go — my top 10 apps, videos, and tools for you to just be you.
Calm.com boasts a seven-step meditation process that can help you reduce anxiety, feel better, and create great ideas. The website and app are both really minimal and have beautiful imagery, music, and narration for you to find your happy place. You can choose different backgrounds to suit your mood, as well as different meditation lengths. By focusing on your breath and posture, Calm.com can help you escape the chaos around you and focus on your well-being. The yearly pro-access is available for $9.99, but the beginners edition is free.
The Pomodoro technique, named after a timer shaped like a pomodoro tomato, is a time-management system that helps you achieve maximum productivity by working in specific time intervals. A friend of mine recommended Pomodoro Pro to help me time my work sessions. Basically, according to Pomodoro enthusiasts, you should work for 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break to get up, walk around, grab a glass of water, talk to a friend, or stretch. The important thing is to block out your work and computer screen for 15 minutes. When you go back, you will be refreshed and ready to get back to what you’re working on. Sometimes it's not possible, but I try to do this every day now and swear by it!
Omvana is the life coach of meditation websites and apps. Not only will you learn how to relax and meditate, you'll sharpen your ability to focus on your work, develop a goal-oriented mindset, and feel inspired to live in the moment. It has downloadable tracks for hypnosis, guided meditation, and sleep. There is also a huge library of inspirational speaking, poetry, and music tracks to choose from. Although the app is free, the tracks are not, so your mindfulness may cost you.
MINDBODY Connect is the best app to help you find a physical place to block out the world around you. This app locates yoga classes, day spas, and meditation centers in your vicinity, and lets you book and pay for it right there on your phone. To boot, it has a user-friendly design and incorporates Google maps functionality to help you find your way to nirvana.
Headspace is another great mindfulness app that aims to make you happier and healthier mind through meditation. The app teaches you different breathing techniques and encourages you to begin by taking 10 minutes a day just for yourself. They advertise “meditation on the move” and allow you to download content in case you’re on a retreat in some remote corner of the world and don’t have access to the Internet. The app has animated videos and sound clips to cover you for 365 days.
YouTube — RainBirdHD
Whether you’re trying to fall asleep or need to drown out the audible chaos of your office, the RainBirdHD YouTube channel has a ton of sounds for you to choose from. You can get up to 10 hours of thunder and heavy rain fall, airplane cabin white noise, arctic wind, winter snow, classical music, and more. But, don’t forget to pack your headphones if you’re going to listen to this at work. (I’m sure your boss doesn’t want to hear “rain on a metal roof” while conducting a budget meeting.)
The Mindfulness Daily app allows you to set specific times that you'd like to practice your meditation: once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night. The app sends you a notification message at your specified time to start your meditation. It features a “lifelog” that will track your daily patterns, which allows you to reflect and make changes to make you more productive and less stressed. And of course, like most of the other meditation apps, Mindfulness Daily has relaxing sounds, breathing guides and imagery to help you block out the world around you.