Meditation apps continue to be in vogue around the world. We have covered industry heavyweights like Calm and Headspace before, but there is a new entrant turning eyeballs of late. Waking Up is the newest meditation app that's getting popular enough to compete with Headspace.
These are difficult times as people are fighting a deadly pandemic, trying to balance life. A meditation app sounds like a good idea to relax and let go. Whatever helps, right? Well, we are here to help. While meditation can be deeply personal and different people respond to different things, we will be focusing on the overall user experience and what these apps have to offer.
Headspace and Waking Up are available as apps on Android and iOS platforms.
Starting with Headspace, it has a bottom bar navigation with five options. Right off the bat, Headspace asks you to 'Start your day with two short exercises. One is for breathing, and the other is for, well, dancing. There is a Meditate tab for following meditation courses, a Sleep tab if you have trouble sleeping and need music or story, a Move tab for exercises that you can do at home and a Focus tab for different genres of music.
Waking Up asks you to choose your difficulty level or experience level. You should choose Beginner and it would make you feel right at home if you haven't tried a meditation app before. The app asks to choose a moment during the setup process but fails to explain what it is or even does.
There are four tabs at the bottom. You get recommendations on the Home tab, while you can listen to research on meditation from the Theory tab. Practice tab is for you to get into meditative mode, and use the Timer tab set a time limit.
Headspace has a clear edge over Waking Up in terms of interface and experience. It has a colorful and intuitive feel to it.
Headspace is a combination of meditation and easy home workouts. The Basic course has 30 sessions divided into three parts but only the first 10 lessons (3-10 minutes long) are free now unlike earlier when all 30 were free.
Also, two new teachers offer the same content in two new voiceovers. While Andy's soothing voice is favorite among the most, the variety is welcome. There are other courses with some new topics like Acceptance. All locked behind the paywall, of course. A new feature is group meditation, where you meditate with a 'global community' while listening to instructions and meditating simultaneously.
Waking Up was founded by Sam Harris and he also wrote a book by the same name. It takes after another meditation app called Calm. It features some teachers, including Leo Babuta, who will share their knowledge and experience on meditation. After the short introduction, you see 28 short lessons, of which only five in the voice of Sam Harris are free.
Waking Up brings experts to the front who each have something unique to share. A story, an experience, tips, and tricks they picked over the years, and so it is more versatile that way. Several other lessons explore topics like Stoicism that are missing in Headspace.
It's a personal preference, and a lot will depend on the topics you want to pursue.
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Theory vs. Practice
Waking Up is divided into two parts. The Theory tab is where you will find lessons on what meditation is, why it matters, its importance in life, and other questions to help to ease into the journey. This is for beginners who aren't sure what they are doing or why meditation and mindfulness are important.
The Practice tab is where the action is at. There are 28 sessions to begin your journey by Sam. Just like Headspace, these are guided sessions. They'll guide you on what to do and why.
The Conversations section is a podcast-like session where a person is talking to an expert. In the Questions & Answers section, Sam Harris answers the most common questions.
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Meditation and Workout
Like Waking Up, Headspace has guided meditations on many subjects and topics. Even in Headspace, each session begins with instructions and information about the lesson. You get some time to practice the instructions. That said, each course begins with an animated video to help you understand what the course is all about. It's an intuitive way to begin a lesson.
Then there are workouts which are a series of yoga poses and movements to help reduce stress, improve focus, and more. Two former Olympic athletes teach you that in videos that span between 5-14 minutes.
Headspace and Waking Up have a freemium model where a few lessons are free. Other content is locked behind a paywall. Headspace subscription will cost $69.99 per year while Waking Up begins at $79.99 per year.
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Silence Is Golden
Both meditation apps have a team of meditation experts teaching the majority of the content. Headspace has slightly better UI, exercises and poses you can do at home, and dedicated music playlists for sleep and focus. Waking Up has recorded sessions with several experts from the field, offers a timer, and has content in other interesting formats like conversations and Questions & Answers.
You'll find an overlap of content and topics covered in both apps. So it's up to you to pick the one you like.
Looking for more meditation apps? Here is a list of 5 meditation apps for both Android and iOS smartphones.
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