I suck at meditation. If you’ve given that as reason you’re just not into it, here’s some breaking news: being “bad” at meditation is not a thing.
Meditating is the practice of being mindful, or training yourself to pay attention to the present moment. Your mind will trot off, thinking about your laundry or wondering whether that sound means you need to change the battery in the smoke detector—you’re actually making progress when you notice that’s happening and then gently come back to the present. In other words, it’s not that your mind wandering makes you suck at meditation—that’s what minds do; the fact that you notice and return until it happens again (which it will!) means you’re doing it right.
Every expert we spoke to gave this one a big thumbs up. “When I am suggesting it to clients, the fact that it’s free is a really good perk for someone who’s just starting out and doesn’t want to sign on any dotted line,” explains Andrea Wachter, a licensed therapist and author of several books.
Meditation teacher Lodro Rinzler, author of Love Hurts: Buddhist Advice for the Heartbroken, adds that “it cultivates a sense of community.”
Indeed, you can send messages to other users and read reviews of 15,000 meditations of all styles. If that sounds overwhelming, it’s not, says Wachter. Insight Timer features “really user-friendly ways to search out recordings based on length and topics of interest,” she says. There are also talks and courses, some of which are free.
Filled with soothing, guided meditationsa—from breathing exercises to body scans—Headspace makes living mindfully extremely approachable, especially if you’re trying it for the first time. It even has courses to teach you what meditation is all about with basic exercises that run for 3-5 minutes (you get to choose how long you want to stay).
Atluri says her first experience with meditation was with the Headspace app. “I love how user-friendly it is,” she says. “When you have something laid out so nicely like this, it makes it a lot easier to try it out.” The app also has fun graphics and a clean aesthetic that makes it truly unique from the competition.