Why I wean my clients off of meditation Apps

Why I wean my clients off of meditation Apps

There were no Apps when I first started meditating, there weren’t even smart phone and, as you know, for thousands of years people have been meditating without Apps. 

It’s time for a bit of straight talk on the Meditation Apps.  So here goes….

While I think some Apps can be a helpful bridge for total newbies beginning to meditate, and the popularity of Apps has dramatically improved the reach of meditation {such a good thing!}, meditation gets so much better post-App and I am a strong advocate for giving them up. 

Here’s why
Here’s what a few of my ‘weaned’ clients have to say….

1.  We are on the small screen way too much.  We have given our phones too much of our attention & power ~ and whilst you can’t send an email without your phone {or laptop}, you can definitely meditate without them. 

*Please be aware ~ there are neuroscientists in Silicon Valley who are literally hacking into your brain through App design.  The objective is to make the Apps as sticky and addictive as possible.  Let me repeat that….as addictive as possible.  This is no joke, we live in the ‘Attention Economy’ and the currency is your time & attention…which is basically your life.

Not using our phones for things we don’t need them for is essential if we are going to have a sane relationship with the tech in our lives.  I have a blog, Why I Bought My Phone a Sleeping Bag, that goes into this more deeply ~ it’s one of my most read blogs.  

Let’s not reach for the phone when we don’t need to.

2.  Your meditation practice and the benefits it brings will deepen significantly when you meditate on your own rather than rely on guided meditations or get hooked into ‘banking & tracking minutes’. 

Meditation is an encounter with yourself and doing it by yourself will provide the richest experience.  Going App-free is an empowering step ~ it creates a sense of agency and even creativity.   Meditation is a powerful tool for taking responsibility for our lives, for connecting with ourselves and trusting ourselves.  Practice independence, rather than being unnecessarily dependant.

As well, tracking your minutes may motivate you at first, but I have seen with clients how this creates diminishing returns and tips them into guilt if they miss a day or drop in minutes.  Our culture can be overly obsessed with extrinsic measures of  success and worthiness ~ meaning we look outside of ourselves for validation & permission ~ this is a tiring, precarious and disempowering way to go through life.  Our value, worth & source of permission are all intrinsic ~ within us.  Grabbing the phone, deferring to a guided meditation, tracking minutes and so on may help keep you motivated at the very beginning, but I advise to either start without the Apps or ditch them and trust yourself. 

It’s easier than you might think.

Here’s what a few clients I’ve weaned off Apps have to say:

~ They were using 10% Happier, Buddhify, Headspace & Calm and found them helpful.

~ They had not thought about ditching Apps before I suggested it.  “Thought all meditation was equal.”

~ They were a bit reluctant to meditate without them.  One client said he was “addicted to them”.  Another was “fearful, skeptical…used to structure & reassurance of a voice…struggles to find a beginning, middle & end without a guide”

What convinced them to try without an App?: 

They tried it at my suggestion having not come across a reason to do so before.  One client also went on to do a little research into how the benefits are “considerably deeper/stronger without Apps”

How easy did they find weaning themselves off once they decided?: 

“It was surprisingly easy. Since I started the course with Meredith, I haven’t opened Headspace and am about to cancel the subscription/ The transition was pretty instant/ I enjoy the open ended unguided meditation much more.”

“was easier than expected. only a couple of practices.”

“I continue to use a mixture of App and non guided meditation but initially went cold turkey to allow my practice to develop. But for tricky days or tired days or when the meditation habit isn’t strong they are an easy re-entry point.”

What are the benefits & drawbacks of not using the Apps?: 

“The drawback seems to be that I am occasionally skipping a day, but the advantage is that I am no longer time limited and spend longer in meditation and enjoy it far more. It is no longer a chore!…Occasionally I miss days, but don’t beat myself up, and can spend much longer in the meditation and enjoy it more. I am now weaning my clients off the apps as well!”  {this client is a counsellor & psychotherapist}

“Benefits are self empowerment and self motivation. Drawbacks are a greater sense of disappointment if you don’t do it….I’m thinking less about the ‘run streak'”. {run streak being the ‘banking’ of time on the App}

“Deeper meditative practice BUT that takes more effort!”

What advice would they give a friend about Apps and meditating?

“I have the opportunity with clients to take them through a meditation and would not generally recommend an app….I would suggest stop using Apps and be self-guided…opened my eyes to much greater depths than I had experienced before.”  {from client who is a counsellor & psychotherapist}

 “Maybe start with an App, but you get greater benefits not using one…Its a good idea to take a basic Meditation course where with an experienced practitioner”

“I would say use an App unless you can join a meditation course as I think you need some small group focus to get started…be be brave and give it a go without an App!” 

Just to be clear, I am not totally anti-App, for some people it can really help ease them in, but the Apps will stunt your experience with meditation. 

I am also not against using a guided meditation or sound bath from time to time.  It can be nice to carve out a bit of me-time, put on the headphones and bliss out or join group meditations.  But your daily regular practice is the powerhorse and ideally it’s something you provide for yourself.

So what do you think?  Do you use Apps?  Have you done much meditation on your own?  Any questions?  I’d love to hear in the comments.



Meditation Masterclass ~ online self study structured course of 5 sessions with loads of practical wisdom + all you need to know to meditate on your own {blog on what you gain from this course & how it works HERE}

Why I Bought My Phone a Sleeping Bag  ~ understanding the science and strategies used by tech to keep us stuck to our phones is the first step to freeing ourselves & having a more conscious relationship with the technology in our lives 

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