[App Fridays] Hello peace and calm, bye-bye stress and anxiety with mindfulness app Insight Timer

If stress and tension are getting you down, it’s time to put yourself on the happiness track. We review mindfulness app Insight Timer, which offers the largest free library of guided meditations with more than 24,000 titles.

In a world that’s always on the go, how can one find time to smell the roses? Or, less ambitiously, at least take a break that clears your mindspace? Your smartphone can help, if you stay away from social media and designate those five-to-10 minute breaks to the right mindfulness and meditation app.

Enter Insight Timer, a free meditation app that promises to “calm your mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, enhance deep sleep, and improve happiness”.

Insight Timer, which has been voted “the happiest app in the world”, stands out for not only its quality sessions but for being able to provide short meditations on the go, and making it a daily habit.

The company claims that across the world more time is spent meditating on Insight Timer than all other meditation apps. According to the website, people spend 63 percent time on Insight Timer, as compared to 17 percent on Calm, 13 percent on Headspace, and seven percent on other mindfulness apps.

Insight Timer has a 4.8 rating on Play Store and has been downloaded more than one million times.

Let’s explore the app to find out if it actually scores over others and makes you more mindful.

On Insight Timer, you can start meditating without creating a login. You can log in to see which of your friends in the online world are using the app. It also lets you set language separately for both interface and content. The app is available in two Indian languages as well, Hindi and Punjabi.

The homepage also tells you how many other users are meditating right at that moment. Early mornings and late nights see the highest numbers — like we meditated alongside 10,000 people in the morning. When we opened the app, there were 10.9 million meditators on the app; of these, 564,000 used it that day and some 10,000 were meditating across the world in real time.

The UI of the app is impressive, as it shows a graphical representation of users across geographies. If nothing, it helps in motivating you to practise this habit and show you that you are not alone.

The bottom strip of the homepage has five tabs: Today, Meditation, Timer, Courses, and Profile. Timer is the most useful feature if you are using this app during your breaks in a busy day. Just set a time and sit in silence. If you want, you can add interval bells, ambient sound, and an ending bell. This is an impressive feature, especially if you don’t want to choose a particular track and are just looking for five minutes of deep breathing or mindfulness.

Time to meditate

The app offers around 24,000 free meditations to choose from, under various categories like guided and unguided meditations, calming music, talks, sleep, beginners, stress etc.

It seems to have the largest free library of guided meditations by top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists, and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more, and music tracks from renowned artists. It also has talks by Sadhguru. On the App Store, Insight Timer says it adds more than 100 free guided meditations every day.

The app also offers short meditations for emergencies or the occasional random quiet moment.

What sets this app apart is that you can choose your meditation based on the time you have and your need. One can choose between time spans of zero-five minutes to 30 minutes-plus. You can also opt for a customised meditation track. For example, you can put on music, choose a female or male voice for audio, put in preferences like high spiritual content or religious content, and can filter by benefit, practice, and even origin. We have used a host of meditation apps, but found this this level of customisation only in Insight Timer.

The app has courses such as “how to restore sound sleep”, a 10-day course that needs you to put in 16 minutes each day, and others  like “getting over overeating”. While the app is absolutely free and comes with some basic courses, premium courses need subscriptions. The Rs 5,000-per-year subscription unlocks a special catalogue of courses and will allow you free offline downloading of the meditations.

The app also shows charts and milestones on the progress of your meditation to ensure that you stick to the activity. The profile shows your activity, friends, groups, and stats. Some countries also have offline Insight Timer groups for mental wellbeing activities and discussions.

The verdict

We think Insight Timer offers the best experience from among the many top meditation apps available these days. The best part is it is free and lets you use its wide library based on various needs for mental wellness.

The app gives you the experience of taking an in-person class, but one that you can do anywhere. It is sure to get beginners started and help them stay the meditation course. We also like Insight Timer’s design, which includes a neat interface that has subtle illustrations and a well-organised library of courses.

So, starting today, we recommend that you use this app to calm the mind, manage stress, and enhance happiness. Yours, and that of others!

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)