Can You Learn to Meditate with an App?

Can You Learn to Meditate with an App?
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There was traffic on my way to work today, but it didn’t phase me. I just popped in my headphones and queued up a quick meditation session, choosing to focus not on how much later I’d arrive at the office than I’d planned, but on the soothing music and calm, steady voice in my ears.

I haven’t always been so zen. Usually, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the West Side Highway would have thrown off my whole day. I’d sit in a cab replaying my morning in my head, cursing myself for not getting out of bed sooner or leaving enough time to take the subway instead. But my attitude today was remarkably different, and it was all thanks to the OMG I Can Meditate! app (free;

RELATED: The Zen Commandments: Your Field Guide to Living in the Now

For the past few days, I’ve been pressing play on guided meditations, both basic (“5 Minute Meditation”) and highly-specific (“Becoming More Playful”). And along the way, I think I’ve started to find my “off” switch. Typically, it takes me fifteen to twenty minutes of to-do list making and self-coaxing to turn off my thoughts and fall asleep. But last night, after a 14-minute meditation sesh (I chose “Blanket of Love,” which claims to “increase your compassion and feelings of love for yourself and the world around you” and "leave you feeling relaxing and positive”), I was out like a light in a matter of seconds.

I’ve been waking up more mindfully, too: One of my favorite aspects of the app is the alarm function, which allows you to tie a “wake up track” to your regular phone alarm. Surprisingly, even though the session is relaxing, it feels me leaving invigorated for the day, as opposed to wishing I was back asleep.

Though the app allows you to dip your toes into the waters of meditation here and there, as I did, there’s also the option to complete a seven-day challenge. Note that this feature does require you to pony up $13 a month for a subscription, but now that I’ve seen what a difference even a few moments of calm can make in my mindset, I’m convinced it's totally worth it.

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