There is something beautifully ironic about the idea of digital therapy.
The idea that the rampant pace of technology, which compounded the issues of stress and work burn-out, has now created an entire sub-market to tackle this issue brings the entire relationship of business and meditation full circle.
For some time now, companies have been searching for the golden dual partnership of increased productivity and increased happiness of their workforce.
New thinking has decided that meditation, or mindfulness, learned through the medium of digital therapy, could be the answer.
Yesterday the app Four Steps to Mindfulness launched within a space which is already highly concentrated with choice for consumers, so who else is leading the way in digital therapy?
The World Economic Forum, in Davos, opens with daily meditation sessions; Fortune 500 companies like General Mills, General Motors, and Target offer their employees contemplative programs all embracing Huffington’s message that enlightenment need not be at odds with the pursuit of profit: if the big boys and girls are making use of it, should you be too?
So in no particular order, here are 10 of the most well known mindfulness apps on the market right now, launching from places like California, Berlin and Australia.
From Irish Bio-tech firm Galvanic, Four Steps to Mindfulness is the newest self-help app to be linked to its bio-sensor The Pip.
Using your thumb and forefinger to hold the teardrop-shape device, it measures electrical activity on your skin which is linked to stress levels which, ultimately, you can control. It’s this self control using your own electrical fluctuations that sets this app apart – and if the concept sounds far-fetched, the science behind the app is actually well established.
“This app is written in honor of the teachings by Zen master Thich Nhat Nanh.” Digital therapy doesn’t get more zen than that.
The app rings a Tibetan Singing Bowl at a specified interval, or random intervals – it’s your choice – throughout the day. The idea is that when the bell chimes, you take a moment or two to concentrate on your breathing, assess your current mood and feel more relaxed.
By the way, if you can’t find the “menu button” it is the three little dots in the corner of the screen, next to the “back”, “home” and “switch apps” button.
The app costs $0.79 on iOS and can be found on Google play.
Best to concentrate here because this app just won the 2015 Webby People’s Choice Award. Stop, Breathe & Think allows you to sample the basics of meditation, featuring a range of exercises at varying lengths. It even allows you to tailor make your sessions so you can do short, intense burst at work and longer ones when you get home.
The non-profit Tools for Peace originally created the digital therapy app for students and staff in their kindness and compassion programs, but the app’s popularity in the apple store has taken SBT to a more mainstream crowd.
The app is extremely simple in its language, giving you detailed and unpretentious ideas of what meditation is and how to do it and for a small fee, you can download a pack of meditations narrated by k.d. Lang – a Canadian country singer-songwriter if you didn’t know.
A not-for-profit app launched to tackle stress for children and young adults. Smiling Mind is Australian and has tailored programmes for different age groups, all delivered in relaxing Aussie tones (no really).
There’s one for adults too as the demand from parents in particular generated more interest in the app and digital therapy becomes more popular in Australia.
Smiling Mind is free and available on iPhone, iPad and Android
Calm the company produced Calm the app. It has received around $0.5m last year through seed funding from a selection of investors including Cherubic Ventures.
Based in San Francisco, this simple to use app presents the 7 Steps of Calm running from 2-20 minutes with a range of background scenes and sounds to choose from.
Music created by Kip Mazuy, a big name in the music meditation world, is a good selling point.
Calm is not a full-blown meditation app like some others are but is quite refreshing and still counts as digital therapy by bringing some moments of calm. Free for iphone, ipad and Android but a yearly subscription of $9.99 is available.
Created by Sounds True, a major publisher of meditation books, audio and other media, this app gives you a taste of teachings from key mindfulness instructors, including Jon Kabat-Zinn, the pioneer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and others.
If you’re new to digital therapy, this app is a great opportunity to get a more intimate understanding of all the techniques.
For the more experienced meditators out there, the extra talks available on the app concerning the science of mindfulness, varying definitions surrounding the practice, neuroplasticity and happiness would be more interesting.
Designed for both iphone and ipad and requires in-app purchases to enjoy the full program.
Team Viz used to be branded as PomodoroApp, named after a timer shaped like a pomodoro tomato, and is a time-management system that helps you achieve maximum productivity by working in specific time intervals.
Basically, according to Pomodoro enthusiasts, you should work for 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break to get up, walk around, grab a glass of water, talk to a friend, or stretch.
The important thing to consider is to have 15 minutes off from any work related activities.
This digital therapy idea being aims for you to be refreshed and ready to get back to what you’re working on.
Free for all devices.
Owned by incubator Mindvalley, Oregon, Mindvalley incubates and accelerates businesses that innovate on transformational education for all ages.
Omvana recommends guided meditations based on how stressed the user is. Through the HealthKit integration, Omvana will use HealthKit data to sense the user is stressed based on their other metrics and suggest meditation exercises to complete.
It labels itself as the highest grossing health and fitness app in around 30 countries and you can choose from hundreds of guided provides inspirational speeches, binaural tracks and much, much more.
Available to download from the App Store and on Google play.
MINDBODY Connect, the leading online wellness services marketplace is based in California and is one of the leaders of digital therapy.
With over 42,000 local business subscribers in 124 countries and territories which provide a variety of services to over 24 million active consumers, this app takes the largest share of customers in this list.
It’s very different to the other apps on this list, however.
Instead of providing the learning tools for you to meditate or relax in private or at least in your own time, the app is a location search tool that tries to find nearby locations, groups, lessons and centres for you to go to. The you can book and pay for it right there on your phone. It also incorporates a Google maps functionality.
Headspace bills itself as a “gym membership for the mind.”
CEO Sean Brecker raised around $4m in Angel funding in 2014 and to start with you take part in the free Take10 programme, where Headspace will teach you the basics of meditation in just 10 minutes per day.
If you enjoy Take10 and want to learn more, you can choose to continue and get access to hundreds of hours of original meditations, including guided and unguided, ranging from 2 to 60 minutes.
This form of digital therapy has even been popular on the corporate scene: Goldman Sachs and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have bought bulk subscriptions to Headspace for their employees.
The app requires Android.