The glowing trend of achieving mindfulness through technology and mobile apps couldn't have come at a better time. With National Relaxation Day coming this weekend (Saturday, Aug. 15), it's worth taking a moment to find your inner peace.
Over the past few years, a stream of research suggests that practicing mindfulness isn't just smart, it affects your body and brain in positive ways--especially for all of you stressed and busy entrepreneurs.
Meditation can thicken the gray-matter in your brain, which is centered around the hippocampus. It not only promotes your learning and memory skills, it also strengthens your ability to empathize, according to a 2011 study from Harvard University.
The practice has been shown to improve focus, reduce anxiety, depression, and activity in the default mode network (DMN) in the brain, which is responsible for all of your self-conscious thoughts.
For those who have a grizzly weekday schedule, consider a weekend detox using the apps below.
This free app presently boasts nearly 3 million users worldwide. Headspace will take you through a guided meditation in as little as 10 minutes. With features like a buddy system, a page to track your personal progress, and recordings specific to your given mood, achieving relaxation won't be a challenge.
Founded in 2010, the London-based company expanded to its first U.S. location in Venice Beach, Calif. in 2013. Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe was inspired to start the company after a 10-year stint in Asia, where he was initiated as a Buddhist monk.
"The sad fact is that we're so distracted, we're no longer present in the world in which we live," noted Puddicombe at a 2012 TED Conference in London. "Meditation is familiarizing ourself with the present moment."
Rohan Gunatillake ditched his pursuit of chemistry, in which he obtained a master's from the University of Oxford, to focus instead on building an app called Buddhify.
Buddhify bills itself as your on-the-go mindfulness companion, and currently sells for $4.99. Features include 80 guided meditations, optimized for your daily schedule: choose from scenarios like "working online" or "waking up," for example. Other perks include graphs to track your process, and voices to guide you through each meditation.
3. 21-Day Meditation Experience with Oprah and Deepak Chopra
Some of the world's most formidable entrepreneurs, such as Arianna Huffington, Russell Simmons, and, of course, Oprah Winfrey, have publicly touted the significant role that mindfulness plays for anyone who is running a business.
In 2013, wellness sensation Deepak Chopra and Oprah launched the "21-Day Meditation Experience."
"The energy of attraction is about much more than getting the things you want. It's about aligning in order to get the things you want," said Winfrey, in an audio clip announcing the 8th version of the guided session, which began on July 13 this year.
The free iOS and Google Play app is made to accompany the session, and it includes a digital journal in which you can document your progress and thoughts at any time.
"This meditation experience will be heartfelt journey of discovering the grace already present in our lives through the eyes of gratitude," Chopra said of the challenge, which counts around 4.1 million participants globally.
4. The Mindfulness App
Swedish duo Martin Wikfalk and Magnus Fridh are the brains behind the Stockholm-based company that develops digital meditation solutions. The Mindfulness App is downloadable for $2.99 and will allow you to create the meditation experience that's right for you: Choose your desired length (ranging from 3 to 30 minutes) and the mode of guidance (voice, gentle bells).
Interestingly, the two identify themselves as meditators first, and entrepreneurs second. "We probably would not have run a business if it was not within this area," says Wikfalk. "Having said that, mindfulness is a really important practice for us and it has helped us to form our vision and core values of our company."
This free app integrates with the Apple HealthKit, a complimentary health tracker on your iOS device, to offer guided meditations and exercises that are tailored to your stress levels.
Omvana was developed by the 11-year-old online education company MindValley, which is headed by founder and CEO Vishen Lakhiani in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and counts more than $20 million in annual revenues.
If you're truly serious about committing to relaxation, you can look into other alternatives that operate on biofeedback.
For instance, Thync, which will be available to users later this year, is a radical new app that delivers "intelligent waveforms" to your brain via Bluetooth sensors.
Another unique product is Pplkpr. Its wristband will identify contacts from your smartphone who may be contributing to your anger or stress. Over time, it will even delete those contacts for you. Think of it as a sentient (if slightly creepy) best friend--whose main priority, of course, is to eliminate your anxiety.