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Mindfulness apps are booming, especially during the coronavirus crisis last year. They’re designed to help people establish a daily meditation practice, and many offer tools like breathing exercises, visualizations, and more. While the app market can seem overwhelming, there are a handful of quality choices for anyone looking to learn or deepen their mindfulness practice.

The most popular app, created by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, offers a variety of guided mindfulness meditations for both beginners and advanced users. It’s structured in four pillars, with each featuring multiple sessions packaged by theme (for example, the Connecting pillar has five separate meditations for cultivating self-worth). Other features of the app include a sleep program, life coaching tips and videos, nature sounds, and calming music. It’s free to download, but there’s a subscription fee to gain access to the full library of mindfulness and meditation tracks, stories, and music.

UCLA’s Mindful App offers a basic education in mindfulness that includes short videos by Diana Winston, director of the university’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, explaining what mindfulness is and how to choose a meditation. It also includes a number of guided meditations in both English and Spanish. Sessions range from three to 19 minutes and teach you to focus on the breath, body, or sounds; work with difficult emotions; and cultivate loving-kindness. A separate series of mindfulness training helps you develop better focus and attention, while another focuses on sleep and well-being.

Shine, which was developed by two women of color, provides a more structured daily mindfulness routine. It prompts you to begin each day with a morning intention and daily lesson, encourages a brief pause throughout the day, and provides an evening reflection and relaxation session. Its vast array of mindfulness and meditation exercises are led by a diverse group of experts, and the app also provides a community to engage with fellow users.

Aura calls itself the “Spotify of mindfulness,” and it certainly has a lot to offer. It has an impressive library of meditations and mindfulness practices, ranging from calming anxiety to improving relationships and cultivating gratitude. It also offers guided workouts to boost productivity and a sleep program that helps you fall asleep. There are even special sessions for BIPOC, AAPI, and LGBTQ mental wellness.

One of the more unique features of this app is that it allows you to watch your heart rate during a guided meditation. It’s a great way to see the impact of your practice on your physical health and to track progress over time. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices.


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