I don’t know that I’m a serious meditator. I’d confidently call myself a dabbler in meditation who is hopeful to be more than that one day. I’ve experimented with various apps to assist me. And I give you this brief report from the field. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t relate this back to the broader subject of appellate practice. If you’re a lawyer, I commend to you a meditation practice. It will help you manage the stress of it all, to be more present with your clients and their work, and it will help to round of some of the rough edges of living this life. If you’re a client of the family member of a client, this will help you, too. If all of this interests you, sit for a few minutes and pay attention to the breath. And if you’d like check out some of the apps listed above.
To start, I realize that the whole idea of a meditation app may run counter to the spirit of meditation and the spiritual traditions from which the practice has arisen. Whether you’re a Buddhist interested in meditation from that way of life, a Christian who considers meditation to be a subset of prayer, or an atheist who is simply interested in paying better attention, the use of an app may well be a form of heresy. You don’t need an app or a phone to meditate. And the use of such technology can easily get in the way. I find meditation apps to be helpful to be helpful as a component of situating me to time and place. I also like the tracking component of these apps. With that said, all you need is your mind and your breath to be in business. Or you could time a session with an hourglass, the timer on your microwave, or an inexpensive clock. And you could track your sessions with a pen and paper if you even track at all. Alas, if you are thinking about apps, here are my thoughts.
Headspace This is the app I come back to. The creator of headspace is a former monk. And his is the voice on all of the guided meditation offerings on the app. The user interface for Headspace is a delight. It’s easy to navigate, and it offers topics and series that cover everything from anxiety, to sleep, to peak performance. On the iPhone, you can link the app to the health app to track your sessions. I love this app and have used it for years. After a few sessions, which are free, the rest require a paid subscription.
Waking Up Sam Harris has put in a bunch of work on this app. I used it and subscribed to it for months. Sam Harris also has a podcast that I love. I’m a regular listener. While I was at first all in on this app, it wasn’t the best fit for me over time. Sam has a point that he’s trying to make. Or at least he has a pedagogical perspective about the nature of consciousness, the notion of free will as a fiction, and the way illusion of the self. While I love exploring and engaging these topics, I don’t love it being so obvious while I’m in the act of meditation. I wouldn’t exactly say that there’s an agenda in the mediations, but I started to sense something like an agenda that was getting in the way. I’m now back on Headspace. With that said, it’s an excellent app. And it keeps getting better. After a few sessions, which are free, the rest require a paid subscription. But Sam says that if you email him and tell him you cannot afford the subscription, it can be offered at no cost.
Enso Enso is a timer with many great features. There are no guided meditations there. Enso is a beautiful and wonderful app that chimes you into and out of sessions. You can adjust the time of sessions as well as the “lead in” and “lead out” to sessions. It also interacts with the phone’s health data to help you track trends over time. There’s no subscription beyond the cost of the app.
If you’re interested in meditation and want to use your phone or tablet as a guide, the above three apps may be helpful you. And, of course, none are necessary.