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  • Dean Bainbridge

Kinda Zen Apps

There’s an app for that!

You name it, there’s a phone or tablet app that is waiting to burn hours and hours of your free time. Whilst it would be mindful to suggest you could spend that free time reciting a mantra or dogging downward, there are apps you can download that pack some serious zen. These are just a few examples of games and health apps so leave a suggestion if your favourite zen app isn’t below.

1. Monument Valley

I love Monument Valley by UsTwo Games.

It’s a cryptic puzzle game where you have to move your character Ida through a series of rooms or structures with impossible geometry. You know those M.C. Esher drawings of inverted staircases and walls that become vertical floors?

It does require a fair amount of concentration and lateral thought, but its minimalist design and utterly enchanting soundtrack by Stafford Bawler make it a great experience.

UsTwo has just released a sequel of sorts Monument Valley 2, which I’m yet to explore but it looks equally good. You'll find it in the App Store and Google Play

2. Insight Timer

Insight Timer by the Insight Network is essentially a mindful meditation app, but it’s loaded with heaps of free meditations that don’t require monthly subscriptions. We’re talking 6,000 of them!

Guided Meditations include managing stress, relaxation and sleep, and run from a couple of minutes to over half an hour. Or you can set your own timer, background ambiance and bells and just go freestyle. You’ll also find a feature on talks from a range of experts in the fields of mindfulness, consciousness and philosophy to listen to if you’ve feeling a bit more engaged.

What’s interesting about Insight Timer is that it lets you know who else is meditating with you from around the world. It’s a charming feature and really builds a sense of collective mindfulness. You'll find it in the App Store and Google Play.

3. Sky

ThatGameCompany are the true pioneers of ‘mindful gaming’ and their new release Sky is sure to redefine the category. ( Full Disclosure – their mesmerizing ‘Journey’ is an all-time favourite which I am utterly devoted too and warrants its own blog story)

Sky is due to launch very soon and will no doubt destroy my available freelance hours. The objective of Sky – like Journey – is to silently traverse a mysterious landscape in order to reach a distant goal. Simple, right? The catch is there are no weapons, no power ups, no maps and no bad guys.

The key to your progress is curiosity and generosity. Yes, your positive interactions with others will give you an advantage! Sky sees its cloaked players fly through the clouds and a land somewhere in the sky in order to collect light from around the world and share it with your team and other characters you will meet along the way. Perfect.

You'll find Sky on ios products only... iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

4. Headspace

Headspace is the go-to meditation app and it’s been leading the way for the last year or so. The voice of Headspace and the brain behind it is Andy Puddicombe, the softly spoken Brit with a very interesting story. When he was in his twenties, he abandoned his ordinary life for a soul searching trip to the Himalayas. He studied Buddhism and traveled extensively for ten years before becoming ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India.

The iconic introduction to Headspace is the 10 for 10 - 10 minutes a day for 10 days. After that, you can subscribe for a wide variety of series ranging from emotional strength and creative focus through to commuting, sleeping and anxiety.

It’s pretty slick and has become ‘gamefied’ whereby your goal becomes amassing meditation time, but it that doesn’t work for you, it shouldn’t distract you from a potentially life changing app. It's in the App Store and also Google Play.

Finding time to be mindful can be tricky.

You need to integrate it into your daily routine otherwise it won’t stick. Zen apps allow you to allocate some of your screen time to a good cause. And a few less memes or sponsored status updates a day won’t hurt you.

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