Well-known meditation apps like Headspace and Calm have their place, but they might not be right for everyone. When looking for an alternative to build a regular practice for management of chronic pain, I took a look at FreeMind. Read the full FreeMind app review to find out how it compares to other meditation apps on the market.
What is the FreeMind app?
If you search your phone’s app store for meditation, you’ll likely be inundated with results. Although there are a handful of high-profile apps, it’s hard to know which to use if you’re after an alternative. The FreeMind app, founded in 2018, offers 15 free meditations that can be accessed within the app. After creating an account, I was able to use these forever-free offerings without entering any payment information. For times when you may not have access to a reliable internet connection, you can download meditations for offline access.
If you’ve used Headspace, you’ll know that the app offers a run counter to incentivise you to build a regular practice. Personally, I find this to be a useful and motivating feature, so it’s important that any alternative I use also includes some kind of habit or goal tracking. FreeMind does this: after my first meditation, FreeMind increased my run streak counter, with badges for one, 10, 50, 100, and 250 completed meditations, while counting each consecutive day I meditated.
If you find sharing your goals helps you form a consistent practice, you can also share the details of your streak to friends, family, or on social media. During my time with FreeMind, I didn’t use this feature, but there’s no requirement to, either.
FreeMind app review: how does it work?
FreeMind offers a selection of free meditations, with a comprehensive library available to premium subscribers. The always-free and repeatable sessions can be found within the central ‘Peace’, ‘Power’, and ‘Purpose’ categories. You can identify these meditations as they have an unlocked padlock icon, while premium sessions display a locked padlock. Alternatively, you can find the free meditations all in one place by opening the app, tapping the settings icon, and selecting Free Meditations.
The sessions vary in length, with some as short as five minutes and others totalling 45 minutes. Selecting your preferred session opens a colourful screen with playback controls, a brief description of the meditation, a heart icon to favourite the session, and a download button at the top right. The time remaining is displayed at the bottom of your screen. The FreeMind playback controls are available on your lock screen, too.
Each meditation is based on a specific topic, including peace, gratitude, positivity, and motivation. Gentle music plays in the background, while a spoken male voice guides you through the meditation and offers background on the topic and some additional tips for continuing your practice throughout the day.
Although you can use the free meditations however many times you like, they also provide a teaser for the premium content. If you find yourself enjoying the free sessions, you could consider taking out a premium subscription for access to a much bigger library. You can opt for monthly, annual, or lifetime subscriptions. The monthly and annual options require recurring payments, while the lifetime package is a substantial one-off payment.
My Experience with FreeMind
Having previously used Headspace for long stretches, and a few other apps over the years, I found it surprisingly easy to transition to FreeMind.
Most meditation or mindfulness apps follow a similar design, with a timeline showing your progression and bubbles or dots to represent meditation sessions. FreeMind is slightly different, although no less straightforward. The meditations are arranged by themes: Peace, Power, or Purpose. In each of those categories, you can find sessions on a range of topics.
Overall, the app was easy to browse, and the playback screen was uncluttered and clear. However, I did find that some of the visual elements didn’t sit so well next to each other. This was particularly the case for some of the coloured areas, which often obscured the text or made it harder and less intuitive to navigate.
Thinking back to my first experiences of meditation, I think that FreeMind might be best suited to those who have practiced at least a few sessions. Although the content offered in FreeMind is high-quality, there is little introduction to meditation or its benefits. As someone who was initially skeptical of the physical and mental health implications of regular meditation, I think newcomers can benefit from learning about the science and background of meditation techniques, as they do in some other apps.
Would I recommend the FreeMind app to spoonies?
Those of us with chronic illness often find ourselves mentally strained as we try to cope with the pain and unpredictability of our situations. Many people with chronic conditions have found meditation to be an effective way to manage these emotional challenges, and in some cases to reduce the severity of some of the physical ones, too. However, you may be unsure whether meditation is right for you. If so, FreeMind is an ideal place to start and experiment. Using just the free meditations, you can develop a regular practice without a financial commitment.
If you do find FreeMind works for you, then you may consider the premium offering, which opens up the majority of the content. The free offerings are nice to have, but you might feel restricted with just these if you wanted to build up a years-long practice. However, while the cost of FreeMind is competitive with other meditation apps, it may still be a roadblock for some. The nature of chronic illness means that you may be in an unpredictable financial situation. The monthly subscription is the most flexible, as you can cancel at any time. As with most subscriptions, you do end up paying more in the long run by choosing the more flexible option than the annual or lifetime plan.
Features like achievement badges and run streaks, while motivating for some, have the potential to turn the experience into something anxiety-inducing, encouraging the expectation that you’ll always be in the right frame of mind or well enough to meditate. If your symptoms fluctuate, you may not appreciate these features. However, they aren’t the app’s primary focus and are even hidden in the settings menu. So, you only need to access them if you find that service useful.
FreeMind is available on iOS and Android. The app comes with 15 free-to-use and repeatable meditations. To unlock the entire library, you can take out a premium subscription. A recurring monthly subscription is available for £9.99, while the annual option costs £74.99. There’s also a lifetime option available for £399.99.
Our reviewer received premium access to FreeMind in exchange for an honest review.
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