40+ Apple Watch Mindfulness Hacks: Free Meditation Apps, Which Settings to Change, & More
Do you ever feel like you're addicted to technology? Chances are, you are — but you're not alone.
According to Wired, 90% of Americans have their phones within reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Since 2014, "more people in the world have had access to mobile phones than toilets," says Liza Kindred of Mindful Technology, a business consultancy for executives. But tech addiction isn't a character flaw, especially since scientists are busy working daily to make apps more addictive. Kindred explains what's happening is actually biological: "It’s changing the biology of our brains, getting these dopamine hits."
So, how do you disconnect?
In a world that drives us to constantly stare at our phones, what does it take to break free and get mindful? You may be surprised to hear that the Apple Watch, while being a means of staying connected to work and social media, can also provide some ways to unplug. We've gone in to consult the best blogs and gurus for advice on how to hook up to get untangled from the technology embedded in our lives, and brought the best of our finds to you — let's check it out.
Using your Apple Watch to disconnect
According to Jennifer Coyle Palandro, creator of the Hello Brio lifestyle blog, you can use some of the Apple Watch settings to help you stay mindful. For starters, Palandro recommends letting your Apple Watch ease you off your cell phone addiction, beginning by turning off notifications for certain apps.
Leave your phone at home
First, she suggests to allow your Apple Watch to ease your disconnection from your phone. With most of what you need at your wrist, you can let your phone go and relieve yourself of carrying it in your pants or in your hands. Try to leave your phone in your purse or bag for increasing amounts of time and enjoy the moment at hand.
If you have emergency mobile call capabilities from your watch, leave your phone at home. As long as you can reach out in case of emergency, leave the phone at home.
Change your Apple Watch settings to be more mindful
Turn off all notifications for anything you don't need to know about immediately — or completely turn off all notifications.
Start by turning off:
- Reminders to stand/move
- Accomplishments/rewards for moving
- Notifications that your friends finished working out (or did whatever activity)
- Email, Twitter, and other similar social media apps
Turn sound off and just set watch to give you a gentle tap on the wrist when texts are received
If you really must receive texts from at least one person (i.e. your child, if in someone else's care for the day, for example), then set to receive minimum texts.
Other settings to change include:
- Notifications from your favorite contacts only: This minimizing ensures your child's daycare, neighbor, dog sitter, or grandparents' nurse can get in touch with you if needed, but no one else can disturb your peace.
- Set Do Not Disturb: By gently swiping upward on the face and tapping the moon, all haptic notifications will be turned off and your mindfulness will be restored.
- Turn on theater mode: Just hit the little theater masks, which quiets your notifications and also helps preserve battery life.
- Use Apple Watch dictation: If you just remembered something while out and about and think you'll forget it before you can find a piece of paper and pen to write it down, just tap the watch face and speak into it. This way, you're saving your own personalized reminder to self for later.
Free meditation apps for Apple Watch
Your Apple Watch can hold numerous meditation apps, too, so take a peek at our favorite free ones first:
- Apple Watch Breathing App: This free meditation app for Apple Watch encourages breathing, breaks, and setting aside moments for full, deep breathing
- Headspace: Headspace meditation app for Apple Watch and several others allow guided meditations on the go. You can get one month free of a paid subscription with one of these Headspace promo codes.
- 3 Minute Mindfulness: Another free meditation and breathing app for Apple Watch from Zenco Limited. Featured in over 30 countries, this app insists you'll feel "happier, calmer, and more at peace in just 3 minutes."
- Omvana: Also free to download, this Apple Watch meditation app is a personal meditation trainer for all skill levels. Beginners can get started learning while those with more advanced skills can enjoy sampling a new Silva Method session or even hypnosis. Interested in the paid versions of any Omvana components? Check out our promo codes here to determine your best price.
- Centered State: Download this free Apple Watch meditation app to learn hypnotic deep breathing and help alleviate anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks.
- Centered App for Apple Watch and iOS: The Centered app is a stress management program is one of our best guided meditation apps which encourages regular mindful meditation sessions.
- Mindfulness Training App: Another of our best free meditation apps, this one comes with two free meditation courses (One has 6 guided meditations and an interview with mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn), and you can add more as you wish.
- Whil: This meditation app offers mindfulness meditation, yoga sessions, or "Search Inside Yourself" practice through video and audio to improve resiliency, sleep, and performance, and reduce stress. Goals you'll set on the app are supported by over 200 programs based on facts of neuroscience, mindfulness and positive psychology.
- GPS for the Soul: Another of our favorite free meditation apps, this one uses calming mantras, relaxing music and affirmations directed at your current mood.
- MindBody: This free app locates local yoga classes you can join and syncs with your Fitbit during the classes. Considering a purchase beyond the free app from MindBody? Take a look at our MindBody promo codes here before you pay full price on anything!
- WellBeyond Meditation Timer: This is a meditation timer for Apple Watch and iPhone. Just choose how long you want to meditate and control your session from your smartwatch. A kids' version is also available, backed up by founder Mike Sax, who explains that, "Meditation is an essential skill that can empower children to experience a lifetime of resilience, kindness, and happiness. Children spend hours every week learning math, language and science. Why not devote a few minutes each day to mindfulness training?" *Want to load up on Wellbeyond features outside the free versions? Be sure to check our Wellbeyond promo codes out here before committing to full price!
- Zen Mixer: Designed to work with the Apple Watch, this app comes with sounds to improve your mood, designed to help you de-stress and relax your body. You can enjoy all Zen Mixer features on your Apple TV as well.
- Sattva: Enjoy guided meditations, chants, mantras, a timer and a tracker on the Sattva app. If you're leaning toward buying something on Sattva that isn't free, do peek at our promo codes first here.
- Watch Me Eat - Eat Slower and Lose Weight: This app works with Apple Watch, allowing users to start a session when your meal begins. The watch will give you subtle vibrations on your wrist when it's time to take another bite.
- Take A Break!: From the Meditation Oasis podcast, this free app is similar to Simply Being (described below), offering two guided meditations.
- Mindfulness Coach: This app was designed by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs for teaching mindfulness to veterans and service members. This app is mostly focused on teaching mindfulness for the purposes of, “reducing stress, improving emotional balance, increasing self-awareness, helping with anxiety and depression, and coping more effectively with chronic pain”. Although primarily intended for use by soldiers and veterans, others might find it helpful.
- Relax Melodies: This app provides the background melodies for your own self-directed mindfulness meditation. Be sure to check our Relax Melodies promo codes here before you spend a dime on anything - we want to make sure you get your best possible deal!
- Insight Timer: This free app lets experienced users set their own timer and receive a gentle alert when their meditation session is over. If you start thinking of buying any of Insight Timer's paid features, check out Insight Timer promo codes here first.
- Meditation Timer Pro: Also ideal for iPhone and Apple Watch, this app lets you set timers for beginning, interval switching, and cooling down from your meditation session.
- Relax Meditation: Mindfulness, Sleep Sounds, Noise: Improve your awareness and maintain a peaceful presence with this free app, also perfect for Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad. Learn and practice meditation and access the 5-day introduction to meditation, features designed to help improve relationships, increase focus and productivity and improve sleep.
- Aura: Mindfulness - Stress and Anxiety Daily Relief: Reduce your stress and increase your positivity with this free app, also designed to work with the Apple Watch. Through a series of 3-minute meditations, you'll learn how to track your mood patterns and see yourself improving, receive reminders and mindful breathing, etc.
Other meditation apps for the Apple Watch
- Meditate (Watch): Another meditation timer for the Apple Watch, this app is $2.99 and offers a tracker and reminder to boot.
- Calm: After the introductory '7 Days of Calm' course, this app provides consistent guided mindfulness meditations, in addition to unguided meditative sessions. Subscribe to the paid content to unlock substantially more, including the 'Daily Calm' courses, more guided sessions, and multi-day courses. $12.99 per month gets you started, or you can pay $59.88 per month or $299.99 total for a lifetime. Be sure to check our Calm promo codes here to ensure you're getting your best possible deal.
- Just Be: Available for just 99 cents, this app lets you add your favorite quotes on mindfulness and customize the frequency at which the app shows them to you for a regular reminder to be mindful. Don't forget to search our Just Be promo codes here before you checkout to get your best bet.
- Remindfulness: Need reminders to be grateful? Get this app for $2.99 and enjoy pre-loaded inspirational quotes, customizing their frequency to your liking.
- Mindful Eating Tracking - Self-Help Journal: For $2.99, users can use this app to track food and drink, precise measurements of each, and monitor changing moods.
- Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Virtual Coach App: The Am I Hungry? app walks you through the mindful eating process each time you tell it you're hungry. Helps users learn better mindful eating habits leading to a healthy weight. Can be used alone for $2.99 or in combination with the Mindful Eating Program or the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat books.
- Simply Being: Get this app for $1.99 and customize your guided meditations to your tastes. Set up sessions of 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes, choose a guiding voice or nature sounds or music.
- Welzen: Starting with 7-day free trial and a 5-day training, this app covers several areas of mindfulness meditation, also offering hundreds of guided meditation sessions, as well as a meditation for kids option. “Premium” access to meditations can be unlocked with a subscription that costs either $9.99/month, $59.99/year, or $149.99 for a lifetime.
- Quility: This app aims to present 'mindfulness for mothers', including guided mindful parenting sessions, mindful eating, and other tools for increasing skills in mindfulness. While free to start, users can unlock further Quility content for $8.99 per month or $39.99 per year.
- Walk With Me: Next up is Walk With Me, featuring Thich Nhat Hahn. While not an app, this documentary is well worth the watch, especially if you're new to the concept of mindfulness. Enjoy the trailer here.
- Ready to give up all your earthly possessions to practice the art of mindfulness? This 1 hour, 33 minute documentary shows you how it's done. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, this journey lets you join Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh as he tours Plum Village, his residence and monastery, explaining how the process of mindfulness can help us learn to live life deeply and purposefully. Rent this for $4.99 or own for $12.99; download here.
Access Audible books on meditation via your Apple Watch
Mindfulness meditation instruction isn't complete without the guidance of American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön - which is now available on Audible - and therefore available for your Apple Watch. You can also join Audible free for 30 days, or check for more Audible promo codes here. Choose from titles like:
- When Things Fall Apart - $21.00 (Free with 30-day Free Trial)
- The Places That Scare You - $21.00 (Free with 30-day Free Trial)
- Getting Unstuck - $21.00 (Free with 30-day Free Trial)
- Start Where You Are - $21.00 (Free with 30-day Free Trial)
- Bodhisattva Mind - $48.97 (Free with 30-day Free Trial) - and many more. Check out our Audible promo codes before purchasing anything at full price, however.