Healthy Minds Program

As alluded to in my previous post, I decided to try another free meditation app (in addition to my previous two picks, namely Insight Timer and Medito). Although I did not choose it in the first place, the good review by Caira Blackwell 1, together with my disappointment with Insight Timer, made me replace the latter with the Healthy Minds Program app.

Healthy Minds Innovations

At Healthy Minds Innovations our mission is to translate science into tools to cultivate and measure well-being, and we strive for a vision of a kinder, wiser, more compassionate world.Healthy Minds Innovations

Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc. (HMI) is a nonprofit affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Started in 2014 by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, HMI takes the discoveries and insights gleaned from the Center’s research–as well as that of [their] own scientific team–and translates them into tools that help people around the world build skills of well-being.

Given the premise that True well-being is a skill that can be developed with practice, they developed a four-pillar program, namely the Healthy Minds Program, to help increase focus, decrease stress, and improve health and well-being. Research 2 indeed shows that each of these four pillars is related to specific networks in the brain and can be strengthened through meditation and other forms of mental training.

All of their tools use this neuroscience-based framework. This framework is also at the foundation of the Healthy Minds Program app that they made available to individual users for the first time in 2019, allowing anyone to download and access the program.

The App

A Proven Path to Well-Being. Powered by Science.Healthy Minds Innovations

In keeping with this idea, the practices are developed directly out of neuroscientific research. The app is indeed backed by four decades of research from world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson and his team at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin – Madison & Healthy Minds Innovations. It uses guided meditation – developed directly from the scientific understanding of the mind – and podcast-style lessons to develop skills – to gain focus, reduce stress, and maintain positive social connections. According to the authors, it is a holistic, all-encompassing meditation app that offers the best of both guided meditations and opportunities to learn.

The ground-breaking Healthy Minds Program uses neuroscience, contemplative traditions, and skill-based learning methods to help you develop the skills for a healthy mind, now in the palm of your hand. Translating pioneering neuroscience into tools for everyday life, our unique framework guides you through the four pillars of the science of training the mind.

Healthy Minds goes beyond a meditation app by providing lessons aimed at explaining why the brain behaves as it does and how that impacts overall well-being, all based on neuroscience.Jen Sinclair

With a score of 4.9 in Google Play, it ranks better than Insight Timer and Medito. As alluded to earlier, it was one of the four best meditation apps recommended by Wirecutter 1. Importantly, it comes with a wide breadth of meditations that are organized in a clear, progressive fashion. But more importantly, it provides a clear path for beginners with a series of lessons followed by a meditation practice correlated to the lesson’s topic. Unfortunately, you cannot download the lessons/practices to complete offline.

The Healthy Minds Program app is an excellent choice for beginners because it provides a straightforward step-by-step journey that goes through the pillars of mindfulness.Randi Sprintis, M.S.

And of course, it is completely free!

By Fetzer Institute
The Healthy Minds Program App is freely available thanks to the generosity of our donors. You won’t find a paywall or a subscription fee on our app because we are powered by science, and funded by donation.Healthy Minds Innovations

My experience so far

As opposed to the two aforementioned apps (see Insight Timer free vs. Medito), I had to create an account to use the app. Not a big deal, though! Then I was invited to take a 3-5 minute quiz to assess my baseline on Awareness, Connection, Insight, and Purpose – with the idea to track how they change over time. Not surprisingly, I was rated quite low on all categories (except maybe for Purpose which was not as bad).

Those four tenets frame the entire course structure: A foundation course teaches you the basics of meditation and mindfulness, and separate courses focus on each of the four key ideas. Ultimately, the goal is to increase each of the four scores from your original assessment.Caira Blackwell

After that, I was asked about my daily stress. Regrettably, the app did not share the results this time, but I am pretty sure that the outcome was super bad. Once done, my Healthy Minds course map was generated. I hit the Play button and started the first 3-minute LEARN course.

After two weeks, it is still too early to give a proper review; still, I can say that I really do love the app so far. Not only does the science behind the app resonate with me, but the structured meditation courses are exactly what I was looking for.

I enjoyed the Healthy Minds program from the very first lesson. It is easy to use, and the science behind the system is interesting and presented in a way that makes it easy to understand.Jen Sinclair

1 Caira Blackwell (2023) The Best Meditation Apps. Wirecutter. ^
2 Dahl CJ, Wilson-Mendenhall CD, and Davidson RJ (2020) The plasticity of well-being: A training-based framework for the cultivation of human flourishing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 22;117(51):32197-32206. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2014859117. ^

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