Meditation or therapy? This is a common confusion seeing both have eternal benefits. I have been to therapy and I have also been a regular practitioner of Yoga and meditation. So, yes, I am here to put an end to your confusion and give you valid points that will help you choose between the two. While searching for the answer, you must have read convincing stories supporting both ends while degrading the other. It is no surprise that these two different worlds with different mindsets, however, support each other’s theory.
Meditation has been in practice among people for thousands of years now. And it’s usage has increased during the pandemic by a significant number. Therapy, on the other hand, became more popular and accepted in the 21st century. Even today it holds a certain unnecessary stigma that hesitates a person from seeking help.
If you are a person who kicks off the stigma and knows both, meditation and therapy, are essential in their own ways but you cannot select which is the best option for you, keep reading!
How Does Meditation Help Mental Health?
The wall between your conscious and unconscious mind needs to be torn down for a healthy mindset. Think about it. Overthinking, high palpitation, pain in a certain area of the body, being unhappy, feeling anxious, depression, hands shivering, tiredness, irregular sleeping pattern; just breath in and breath out. The breathing technique is a type of meditation that helps a person become more aware, silence their thoughts, be more present and calm their mind and body. Quick and easy, isn’t it?
Meditation includes a variety of techniques that focus on the mind and body. These techniques ensure a calmness of mind, mental stability, and a person’s overall well-being. Meditation does not mean you sit silently in one place with your eyes close. No! As I said it includes many techniques and as per the individual’s requirements, one can choose to opt for a particular one.
Meditation helps in healing from within. Its regular practice has given positive results to people and helped them through odd hours. Best known as “the monkey mind,” the human mind tends to wander between past, present, and future bursting the meter of stress and anxiety. To give this mind a purpose and what it truly needs and wants, meditation is an excellent way.
Meditation has many mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown it had positive results in reducing anxiety symptoms, and improving depression, ADHD, Schizophrenia, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Regular practitioners also experienced controlled blood pressure, better heart function, stronger immune, and digestive systems, and managing chronic pain, etc. It also benefits the lifestyle by reducing stress, promoting better sleep, reducing fatigue, improving concentration and focus, promoting self-love and acceptance, and healthier relationships.
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The Best Meditation Apps of 2023
Based on my personal experience, I thought meditation was nothing but a breathing technique. After reading Jay Shetty’s “Think Like A Monk,” I got a deep understanding of meditation and how it works. Honestly, meditation has helped me become more aware. I didn’t know I had so much inside me until I began meditating and healing.
It is true that meditation isn’t easy. For a long time, I would try the shut my mind from constantly playing my favorite songs while meditating. But once I got hold of it, I found solace and balance. Even though I just put my phone on zen mode and meditated, let me make it easier for you with the best apps for meditation so you don’t have to wander like your mind.
Headspace is the best app for meditation, promoting mindfulness, better sleep, reduced pain, and much more. It’s a whole package and a person can easily browse this app due to their user-friendly interface. Headspace focuses on the importance of mental health and promotes it through its ease of use. And yes, it’s suitable for beginners as well with guided meditation. It has 100s of meditations to choose from as per one’s requirements and interests. Its tools are known to promote life-changing habits in its users to support healthier mental health.
With 70 million downloads in 190 countries, it does have its drawbacks. People who do not have the budget to spend $12.99 per month, cannot enjoy the app for more than 14 days of a free trial. The app also requires subscriptions to unlock the usage of most features. Lastly, with meditation guides for all levels, this app is suitable for both, Android and iOS systems.
As a child, I would enjoy my mom’s fictional stories before sleeping. To date, I find it the most calming and effective method of promoting good, deep sleep. Calm not only provides guided meditations by top instructors, but it also features bedtime stories narrated by soothing voices of particular celebrities. Its newest feature is Calm Body which includes 10-minute short videos to guide you through a calming session of stretching exercises. I guess we can say that it not only calms the mind with its exclusive features but also the whole body.
Calm App has soothing and relaxing background sounds that induce a meditative state and settles one’s mind well. This app was also ranked 2nd by Forbes Health. However, this app is a little more expensive to enjoy all its tools. The subscription requires an amount of $14.99 per month and $69.99 annually. Yes, this app is supported by Android and iOS.
Mindfulness With Petit BamBou
Ranked in the top 10 by Forbes Health, their creators had only one motive for its users, “live a happier and healthier life with more compassion and self-care.” With this in mind, they embarked on the journey of helping people access better mental health through meditation practices in the comfort of their own space. With more than 2000 guided meditations, and over 400 lessons on sleep, stress, disorders, parenting, life, etc, their online service can be accessed even on smartwatches.
The best part of this app is it has separate meditation practices for children depending on their age group. Moreover, people with a hectic schedule can enjoy the morning feature “Meditation of the Day” with three adjustable lengths. The app also consists of breathing and cardiac tools that ensure a proper practice of meditation and overall health. You can also download videos for offline sessions and purchase gift cards for membership services. With a comparatively cheaper monthly fee of $8.49, it has a more expensive annual subscription of $77.98.
Busy roads and schedules, excess pressure, increasing stress and anxiety, and little to no time for yourself is what is degrading our mental health. This app does not require much of your time thankfully! You can continue to go on with your day but only require to take out 5 minutes to meditate. Simple Habit provides its busy bee users with 5-minute guided meditation videos so that they do not have to skip another day of calmness. It also features bedtime stories to ensure a night of better sleep. It also has over 160 experts that can guide you to suitable meditation videos based on your symptoms or need.
Not just meditation, it also offers paid guided yoga sessions. It is free to use for many tools but requires a monthly or annual subscription to access premium features. It costs $12 a month and $90 annually. The app also offers a lifetime subscription of $300 for meditation enthusiasts.
How Does Therapy Help Mental Health?
Therapy is of different types depending on the condition of the person. It can vary from simply talking to consuming medications to cure an issue. Psychology has birthed conclusions that ordinally a person thinks of as “illusions,” or “sadness.”
Even if you think you are the king or queen of the world, let me remind you that the world is a lonely palace. Even when you are not alone in what you are experiencing, it’s possible you feel lonely. Confused enough already thinking “what jumbled words is this crazy lady using?” This is exactly what psychology answers best. Feeling lonely among 100s of people, sweating suddenly with flashbacks of the past, crying without any reason, maybe even hallucinations, etc; you can’t just breath in and breath out and make it all go away.
Therapy or Psychotherapy helps in understanding and treating mental health problems. It requires trained professionals – psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, or social workers, to examine the issue and find the best possible treatment for it. You can say this is a place where it is truly just all about you.
A simple act of listening can change someone’s world. Haven’t we all heard that? Therapy ensures you are heard and patiently get to the root of the problem without any judgment, pressure, or rush. Even when you aren’t there for yourself, your therapist will give their 100% to help you get through the storm.
The Best Therapy Apps of 2023
I am currently taking therapy and since then my mind has felt lighter comparatively. Even though therapy is a more expensive option than meditation, it still is a crucial step for many people. So, if you are someone who requires therapy, I am with you. I am here to help you select a suitable app to help you in the comfort of your own home.
I wanted to start with this particular app as this is the time when children are most vulnerable and are exposed to too much information they find difficult to handle. The Teen Counseling app is actually a part of BetterHelp which is another platform to access therapy online. This platform connects adolescents with licensed therapists. However, these therapists do not provide medication services if required. They cater to common issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, parent-child conflicts, bullying, confidence, stress, etc.
If needed, the therapists also ask the parents to attend some sessions with the child to understand the situation better or for an intervention. Not to worry, full confidentiality is maintained. It is only in some cases that the parent’s involvement is a must. With $60 to $90 per week, a therapist’s charges can be billed from $240 to $360 per month. This includes one video session, one audio session of 30-45 minutes, and unlimited messaging access per week with the therapist subject to their availability.
Even today the world is skeptical of accepting the LGBTQ+ community leaving them aside with partiality and pain. Moreover, coming out to the world, especially to one’s parents is hard when they are not surrounded by a broad-minded or accepting class. Pride Counseling specializes in serving the LGBTQ+ community and connects them with licensed therapists that can help them deal with mental health issues. The unique trait of these therapists is that they have prior experience with this community, hence, they understand their daily struggles better.
The app provides the option of one-on-one sessions via video, audio, or texting, the choice is yours. The weekly subscription varies from $60 to $90 with a monthly fee of $240 to $360. The subscription includes one video session, one audio session of 30-45 minutes, and unlimited messaging access per week with the therapist depending on their availability.
With thousands of therapists on Talkspace, the app connects you with the therapists suitable for your symptoms. Out of the recommended therapists, you can choose one on your own during the registration and get your therapy session booked. You can access therapy for depression, addiction, anxiety, stress, relationships, traumas, and more. You can communicate with these licensed therapists through video, audio, and messaging.
Not just talkative therapy sessions, Talkspace also provide the feature of therapeutic exercises under the guidance of the counselors and an online symptom tracker. You can click on the emotion you felt the whole day or at the moment and write the reason if there is any. This helps the therapist also to keep a track of your mindset and treat you accordingly. The subscription fee on weekly basis ranges from $69 to $129. The $69 plan includes messaging only. But the $129 subscription gives the user access to unlimited messaging along with one video session per week.
The app is itself created by clinical psychologists to help with mild to moderate mental health symptoms. MindDoc, unlike other apps, is rather a self-therapy app that helps you track your mood on a daily basis and provides you with learning sessions on the issue you are facing, for example, depression or self-esteem, etc. It also has lessons on mindfulness, forgiveness, and more. They are all in readable or audio format.
After free weekly access to the app, it charges $7 per month. It is the cheapest therapy-like experience one can opt for in case they find other therapy sessions too expensive. However, this isn’t a substitute to regular therapy. It is advisable to keep taking regular therapy sessions and access the app along with that.
Meditation Vs. Therapy
Suppose you have been through a traumatic event, maybe in your childhood. Your emotional intelligence is compromised along with other factors that are responsible for turning you into a reliable adult. So, either you begin to suppress it and ruin you, or you let it take over your life and then ruin you. There is no way out.
Similarly, imagine you are stressed about your exams or current job. You feel mentally unstable or possibly anxious. All of this puts too much pressure on you to perform well while the contrary becomes true.
These are two different scenarios with different levels of emotions. In both cases, one might feel they can handle it on their own. But it’s not true for everyone since each individual copes with problems in their own way. However, a slight push, some effort, and a reliable ear can flip these cases to healing.
Meditation is truly a way to transform yourself, re-wire your brain, understand yourself and your thoughts, focus better, etc. However, even though it can heal trauma, it cannot give a definite diagnosis of the problem you are facing. Only a therapist can examine your symptoms while patiently listening to you and giving you a diagnosis. Triggering traumas require immediate attention. There is only one drawback to therapy. It digs a hole in your pocket.
Did you know meditation and mindfulness are also a part of psychotherapy? Many psychologists believe that talking is a way of venting out but practicing meditation and mindfulness can help a person heal faster. So, it’s possible to pursue both as per your symptoms. But make sure you take any step under professional guidance only.
Why Do Young Adults Rely On Drugs To Cope With Bad Mental Health?
With a rise in depression, anxiety, suicide rate, violence, social isolation, and stress, during the pandemic, the easiest and the most reliable option many teenagers and young adults adopted is drugs. The use of marijuana increased and the reason is to cope with bad mental health. It’s no longer due to peer pressure but a choice made by each individual as a coping mechanism. Other than smoking marijuana, other popular ways of consuming the stuff are openly on the streets among these young adults.
Believing cannabis has a psychoactive effect to relieve pain or stress, they are harming themselves for temporary pleasure and cure. There are many risks to consuming cannabis like psychosis, suicidality, cyclic vomiting syndrome, and heart attacks. During the pandemic, it became a trend to consume the drug to cope with even a small stressful situation expecting miracles or transformative insight into emotional conflicts. The cannabis market flourished as per a survey due to the 46% increase in consumption in just 2 years.
SEE ALSO: 6 Powerful Benefits Of Journaling
What Is The Best Option For You?
I understand it’s not easy. Whether it’s something small, you might feel a lump in your throat and a heavy heart. It’s okay to not be okay. Speaking from personal experience, you cannot and shouldn’t be strong always. Take a break. But don’t misuse drugs or indulge in self-harm. Seek help. Just do it. Don’t think twice. No one will judge you.
So, meditation or therapy? Examine your symptoms. If you feel there is something major, you should see a therapist. In case, meditation seems like a way to your cure, your therapist will guide you with the best technique. If you are a spiritual person, you can still manage to do simple meditation along with therapy like breathing exercises or focus techniques.
The best part is you don’t need to leave your comfort zone to access either of the two. I am taking therapy online as well as meditation. You can download meditation apps and therapy apps which can help you seek help with a single, silent, non-judgemental click.
Happy healing everyone!