Meditation Apps: Not Good, Not Safe, Not Worth It
In this article I will share the actual truth about meditation apps. We will look at:
- Are meditation apps good?
- Are meditation apps worth it?
- And are meditation apps safe?
You are probably going to be shocked by some of the secrets I spill in this article. Because mindfulness apps simply are not what you think they are.
Now don’t get me wrong, they work in a say, but they also fail horrible in important ways.
So how do they work and not work? Well Well, that depends what you use them for.
We generally use meditation apps for a few different reasons. Some people use them just for relaxation. Some people use them for serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression. And some people use them to learn meditation.
Meditation apps are good for relaxation.
When you listen to a meditation app, you generally practice mindful breathing and perhaps focus on positive mental images. And both are good ways to relax.
Most people do indeed find meditation apps relaxing. And if all you want is just to chill out a bit, then yes, meditation apps are good. Although, there are better options.
If you are seeking help for a serious mental health issue such as stress and anxiety, meditation apps are not effective. Indeed, some ste even dangerous, as I will discuss in a moment.
If you want help help a specific issue, then you will need to take both your mental health and meditation seriously. And using an app is not a serious solution.
Meditation apps are also not good if you are legitimately interested in learning meditation. Proper meditation usually requires silent focus, and this has been the case for thousands of years.
The reason why guided meditation apps do not work is because they split your focus. Half the time you’re focusing on your breath, but the other half of the time you are focusing on the guided meditation teacher’s voice. This means your mind is never really still, which is why it doesn’t work.
The entire nature of meditation is about focusing on one thing. You cannot do this when you are also listening to the instructor’s voice. And that is why meditation apps do not work.
But beyond this, I hate to say it, we have all been lied to.
How Meditation Apps Lie To You
Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “but there’s tons of research behind meditation apps”. However, that isn’t really true. It’s all about the way meditation app companies twist research to suit their marketing.
Meditation apps twist the science. And they do this in a few key ways.
Firstly, meditation apps pay for their own research. This is inherently problematic because it turns science into business.
Companies pay researchers to prove that their apps work. And researchers do everything they can to give the companies the results they want so that the company wants to work for them again.
Because of this, researchers deliberately twist their results. Let’s look at an example of stress.
So let’s day a meditation app developer is paying a researcher to prove that their app helps with stress.
There are many ways that stress can be measured. Let’s say there are 10 different ways of measuring stress. So the researchers test the apps using all those 10 criteria. They then report the results back to the company.
The company’s marketing team then looks for ways to turn the science into effective marketing. They do this by only sharing positive results. So let’s say that 9 out of 10 of the research measurements show that meditation apps don’t work. The marketing team will then only tell you about the one measurement that suggests the app does work.
Apps misrepresent the science
Another way in which the marketing teams at mediation apps lie to you is that they misrepresent the science.
You’ve seen the slogan “Based on science” on all sorts of apps, right? So what does that mean? Well it means “based on science” the same way that some movies are “based on real life”. In other words, there is some loose link to science.
What manufacturers do is that they take science based on actual meditation and apply it to apps.
For instance, let’s say that research on actual mindfulness meditation (done without an app) shows that mindfulness helps with anxiety. The meditation apps then say “Aha. We have a recording that it about mindfulness, so we can say that our recording helps with anxiety.”
It’s a misrepresentation of the facts. Just because mindfulness, when done properly, helps with anxiety, does not mean that mindfulness apps help with anxiety.
Some apps are actually dangerous
Finally we come to the absolute worst part of meditation apps. Some are outright dangerous.
For instance, there’s an app called Trataka. It’s named after, and based on, yogic Trataka meditation. Traditionally, Trataka is done by focusing on a candle in a dark room. And it works because holding the eyes still also stills the mind.
The app works by making you focus on a dot in the middle of the screen while flashing images are displayed all around the rest of the phone.
This is a huge problem. Why? Because when you meditate your mind becomes hyper aware. And when a hyper aware mind is subjected to overstimulation (such as by looking at flashing lights) there is a greatly increased risk of epileptic seizure, even in people with no history of seizures.
So yes, this app could give you a seizure. Yet it is readily available on the App store and Play Store.
Why is an unsafe meditation app available for download? Because apps are not checked for their effects on health. Google and Apple test apps to see if they are dangerous to your phone, but not to see if they are dangerous to your health.
That plus the fact that most meditation apps are built by software developers with no qualification in either mental health or meditation.
Do you want to trust your mental health to a developer with no history or qualification in either mental health or meditation, someone who really just wants to make you pay for a membership and / or show you ads?
So no, meditation apps are not good, not worth it, and some meditation apps are not safe.
And that is why meditation should be learned properly, with professional tuition, and not on a phone.