Meditation apps are great. I learnt to meditate around a decade ago, using Headspace (in the glamorous setting of my work toilet cubicles at lunch). I’ve even written an article about how meditation apps have helped millions of people improve their mental wellbeing. And have even helped to slightly (but not completely) improve meditation’s frustratingly esoteric and ‘New Age’ reputation.
Here comes the “but”. There often comes a point after using apps for weeks, months, or even years, where they begin to feel state. And you want to take things to the next level. It’s usually at this point that one-to-one meditation classes can be a profound alternative to the apps. Not better per se, but a compliment to then. Which offer the chance for you to take your meditation deeper. Or as a beginner, helping you accelerate your progress from the outset. And this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is something I’m happy to offer to individuals and corporates. This article – in a totally unbiased way – delves into seven potential benefits of meditation classes over apps. Here we go.
1. Expert Guidance
At the core of the benefits of meditation classes over apps lies in expert instruction. The teacher’s wealth of experience, you’d hope (I certainly would), can surpass what a digital interface can offer. You can’t ask meditation apps personal questions (at least for now, although AI will one day change this I’m sure). The benefits of meditation classes over apps can become clear when teachers provide their students with unique, personalised, and tailored direction. Perhaps you’re stuck, facing blockages, and your meditation practice is getting stale. In this situation, a teacher can step in. Offering tips and tricks to help you fall in love with meditating again. Indeed, my goal is to get my clients addicted to meditation. I’d say it’s one of the best addictions out there (most are bad, obviously).
Research consistently underscores the effectiveness of having meditation lessons. Individuals under expert instruction are more likely to establish and maintain a sustainable practice. The benefits of meditation classes over apps are thus anchored in the depth of expertise that instructors bring to each session. And hopefully, this fosters a more meaningful and enduring impact on practitioners. In my own practice, periods of one-to-one lessons have had a profound impact on my progress, whenever I could feel blockages or my practice getting stale.
2. Connecting With An Actual Human
Beyond individual practice, the benefits of meditation classes over apps extend to the dimension of social connection. In today’s word, engaging with an actual human can be depressingly rare. Numerous studies highlight the positive impact of social connections on mental health. This can reinforce the benefits of meditation classes over apps as a means of not only personal growth, but also communal wellbeing. The relationship you build with your meditation teacher, will hopefully, be more enriching than spending yet more time staring like a zombie into your device. This connection allows lessons to be tailored to your needs, to head in a direction that you’re happy with. It can be done in person. But even in online sessions on Zoom, the face-to-face contact can make a big difference.
3. Real-Time Feedback: A Pillar in the Benefits of Meditation Classes Over Apps
Real-time feedback is another benefit of meditation classes over apps. While teachers aren’t clairvoyant (although I’m sure some ‘woo-woo’ types claim to be), teachers can observe their students. They can then provide immediate adjustments to their meditation technique, tailored to the individual’s needs. This dynamic interaction contributes significantly to the benefits of meditation classes over apps; you might not waste needless time practicing in a way that’s not benefitting you. A few small interventions from a teacher can make a big difference.
4. Experimenting With Meditation Techniques, To Find The One You Love
Meditation classes often embrace a variety of techniques beyond basic breath awareness. Body scans, loving-kindness meditations, visualisations, and mindful movement contribute to a more comprehensive approach; and these are the tip of the iceberg. This marks a further distinctive feature in the benefits of meditation classes over apps. While the apps cover many styles of meditation, they might struggle to help you truly find the one you might like the most. This experimentation hopefully helps the student find a meditation style that they really connect with. One that they might even fall in love with. With the hope that it can become part of their daily routine for weeks, months, and hopefully, years. Becoming a meaningful, lifelong pursuit.
5. Learn Techniques To Deal With A Busy Mind
We all have neurotic, busy, and chaotic minds. Your mind, frankly, is a pain in the arse. Learning to meditate helps you see what thoughts really are: just thoughts. There’s a variety of techniques that can help you take your thoughts less seriously. From journaling, to positively reinforcing the “aha” moment when you notice the mind wandering, among many others. It’s about training your mind to become more present. And when you aren’t lost in thoughts about the past, or worries about the future, life’s more enjoyable. Working with a teacher, you can outline which particular anxieties and neuroses you face (I’m sure there are many), and then come up with solid strategies to deal with them.
6. Become Enlightened, With Minimal Effort!
Nope, sorry. Effort’s required. But with guidance, you’ll learn that relaxed and consistent effort is the path to success in meditation. A little bit of practice, daily. The reward is a calmer, happier mind. And ultimately, a slightly better life. A few lucky souls might achieve enlightenment, but this most likely requires meditating in a cave for thousands of hours. So, settling for a bit more happiness might be a more realistic, but still noble, goal.
7. Bringing Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life
One of the key benefits of meditation classes over apps is in the integration of mindfulness into various aspects of your daily life. You can learn that beyond the meditation cushion, you can apply mindfulness principles in everyday situations. Indeed, the goal is to be as mindful as you can, not just when you practice, but in your everyday life too. Apps help with this. But everyone’s life is different. We have different pressures of work, family, and so much more. So devising strategies to do this requires a uniquely tailored and personal approach; one that teachers can help with.
It’s my belief that nothing can change your life for the better more than learning to meditate can. And I don’t need to repeat the thousands of scientific journals which show just how good meditation is for your physical and mental health (you can read this post, instead). Apps are great. Don’t get me wrong. But lessons, in my experience, can be the intervention which takes your meditation practice to the next level.