With attention span on the decline and stress on the rise, we have started looking for meditation apps. These apps claim to help you be mindful and reduce anxiety and stress using guided sessions. Inspired by the success of leaders like Headspace and Calm, a new player has emerged on the scene. 10 Percent Happier is based on Dan Harris’ real-life encounters with drugs, war, depression, stress, and finally, meditation and peace. Some journey, huh?
I have used and recommended Headspace before several times. Andy Puddicombe was a monk who is well versed in the art of meditation. He will guide you through the entire process.
Dan Harris, a journalist by profession and writer of the book with the same name, claims to have found a meditation technique for the ‘rest of us’. That means people who are skeptic about the whole thing but still want to try because deep down, they know it works.
Headspace has a beautiful UI with lots of animated characters and videos to help you get started. There are four tabs at the bottom which are self-explanatory. Despite the number of courses, the UI is easy to navigate and a joy to use.
Not surprisingly, 10 Percent Happier follows suit with animated characters and videos. It will ask you why you want to meditate and use that info to create a suitable course guide for you. Once the app saves your preferences, you can sign in using Google or Facebook.
Dan Harris will greet you with a short video message at this point. The video is about how he suffered a panic attack while being live on TV, and how he received help from meditation and self-care experts.
There are five tabs at the bottom that we will explore in more detail below.
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2. Meditation Sessions
Headspace comes with 30 free sessions, divided into 3 Basic courses, designed to last an entire month. Each session is about 10-15 minutes long and opens with a one minute video explaining what to expect and do. Andy Puddicombe has a British accent with a soft voice, ideal for a meditation teacher. They also have a female voice now, but I haven’t heard her.
10 Percent Happier also has a Basics course but with only 7 free sessions. You then have to subscribe to unlock the rest. They also have many teachers apart from Dan himself who have their courses available in the app. 10 Percent Happier is a teacher-course platform. You can view their profiles to know more about them. More teachers mean variety but also inconsistency between style and voice.
Andy Puddicombe is a Buddhist monk who learned the art of meditation during his travels in Asian countries. He later founded Headspace and became an entrepreneur. Dan Harris was called to build a course for the platform, but they retained him as a co-founder after finding his techniques effective, and experience vast.
In both apps, sessions will guide you through the process with brief pauses in between for letting you follow the instructions which are simple commands like do this, think about that, and so on.
Headspace’s library has grown since the last time I checked. There are some new courses like parenting, sports, and a dedicated course for students.
Because 10 Percent Happier follows the course platform formula, each teacher has something unique to offer. They are all experts in their own niche, which makes the content rich, and the courses diverse. There are dedicated courses with sessions on topics like health, stress, focus, happiness, emotions, and even waking up.
Both Headspace and 10 Percent Happier have a dedicated section for sleep sessions. I find someone talking when I am trying to doze of annoying and disturbing. That said, parents do tell stories to put children to sleep, and many adults who have trouble falling asleep might find these sessions helpful. To each, his/her own.
These sleep sessions include tricks to relax before sleeping and meaningful bedtime stories.
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4. Singles and Talks
10 Percent Happier offers a number of Singles or one-time meditations that you can listen to depending on how your day is going. Can’t focus? Feeling restless? There are hundreds of sessions from different teachers on different topics to try.
Then there are Talks which is meditation ‘on the go’ for you. It’s supposed to be for people who are in a hurry and don’t have the time for meditation. You may think of them as podcasts. There is a new podcast or single released every day.
5. Platform and Pricing
Headspace is available on Android and iOS, and the annual plan will cost you $94.99. Similarly, 10 Percent Happier is also available on both the platforms and is priced competitively at $99.99 per year.
Headspace offers less choice making it easier to choose, especially good for beginners who can be overwhelmed by too many options. 10 Percent Happier has a lot of variety, and the Talks can help people let some steam off. More suitable for intermediates and experts but beginners seem to be equally happy by the results.
Respond, Not React
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, came up with the Cockroach Theory, which is simply beautiful. You cannot control external forces, but you can control internal reactions and learn to respond rather than react. That's one lesson I took away from meditation.
I would recommend you to begin with Headspace and then move on to 10 Percent Happier. In the end, you should be able to meditate without any guidance. True meditation means complete focus with no interruptions, and that means no mobile!
Next up: Looking for some apps to listen to relaxing sounds while you meditate or workout? Click on the link below to find 4 such Android and iOS apps.