There’s plenty of research to suggest that meditation can help reduce stress – particularly important during the anxiety of an ongoing global pandemic – but establishing and maintaining a regular meditation practice can be daunting. Fortunately, new apps, tools and technology mean there are more options than ever to cater to beginners and experienced meditators. From EEG headbands to smart homes, here are some of the ways technology is transforming the way we quiet our minds.
Smartphone and tablet apps offer an easy way into meditation for those curious about the practice. Apps like Insight Timer offer features from simple meditation timers to guided meditations, while the subscription-based Headspace is one of the most popular sleep and meditation apps, boasting millions of users across more than 190 countries.
Smiling Mind, an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a goal of equipping young people with the integral skills they need to thrive in life, offers a free app with which you can practice daily meditation and mindfulness exercises from any device. Developed by psychologists and educators, the app features programs for adults, children, workplaces and schools, with guided exercises focussing on topics such as sleep, stress, concentration, wellbeing and even mindful eating. The app also allows you to set reminders and track your progress.
Creating a dedicated space to meditate can help you get the most out of your practice. By using smart home technology you can transform any room into a new space – without having to move the furniture around. Using smart lights and playlists you can create your own customised meditation routine in a smart home integration app like Yonomi – whether you prefer gentle lighting and ocean sounds or a sunnier vista accompanied by the sounds of the rainforest. Apps like Headspace can also be summoned with voice commands through Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri.
Headbands that use electroencephalogram or EEG technology to monitor brain activity offer new opportunities for meditation. The Muse 2 Headband, for instance, is a Bluetooth multisensor meditation device that provides realtime feedback on the wearer’s brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements. Connected to the Muse app on your smartphone or tablet, the technology guides your meditation by responding to your brain waves in real time – the sounds of peaceful weather accompany a calm mind, while stormier weather is a reminder to draw your attention back to your breath
Why imagine scenic vistas when you can immerse yourself in one thanks to virtual reality technology? VR headsets allow you to leave your home and meditate beach-side with apps such as Guided Meditation VR, which features 20 breathtaking environments, a custom soundtrack, and meditative lessons. Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams allows you to explore imaginary environments – from a magical forest to a fairy underworld – with a soundtrack featuring music by the likes of Ennio Morricone and Brian Eno. Australia’s own AtOne meditation app, founded by high performance and wellbeing expert Edwina Griffin, uses the Oculus Quest virtual reality headset in an immersive program designed to target anxiety, stress, recovery and lifestyle habits with meditations and visualisations.