Meditation is a great practice to improve your health, even when you don’t know where to start. If you don’t want to or can’t get a meditation teacher in person, but you’re willing to try learning about mindfulness on your own time, why not use a meditation app? Here are some of the best meditation apps we found.
Seven Best Meditation Apps
So you want to try meditation. You might have heard all about the benefits of meditation before, how it helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and all that jazz. And wherever you heard those words from, they’d be right!
Meditation is a great practice to have not just for specific reasons like calming anxiety or gaining restful sleep, but it can also provide tranquility in your everyday life, which significantly helps both your physical and mental health in the long term. The question you might be asking is, where do you start? Like many things in our modern world, there’s an app for that.
Perhaps you think using a meditation app might not be as productive as getting a skilled meditation practitioner to assist you. However, many meditation apps with guided meditations can satisfy beginners and advanced practitioners and be just as supportive as having your meditation coach in person. Some are entirely free to download or may only charge for in-app purchases; others offer a free trial for you to test out their functions. Here are seven of the best meditation apps to try out today.
1. Insight Timer
Insight Timer is up there on our list of best meditation apps, not just for beginners but for seasoned practitioners as well. It’s free to download and offers a vast library of up to 80,000 guided meditations, all for no cost. The meditation practices and mindfulness exercises are pre-recorded with experienced teachers. You can search and filter for specific guided sessions or content to see what works best for you.
You also get to connect with a community of like-minded meditators! Insight Timer’s seven-day free trial is an excellent option for those just starting, but many users report that the free version is more than enough to work with. The paid version costs about $10 a month or $60 a year. Available on both iOS and Android, Insight Timer will work great as a free meditation app with all you need in mindfulness, whether it’s experienced guides, calming music, or simply meditation timers.
2. Simple Habit
Like Insight Timer, Simple Habit is a meditation app that is also completely free to download and use but slightly differs in its meditation offerings. It specializes in five-minute quick meditations for daily sessions on the go and bedtime stories for nighttime mindfulness but also provides motivational guides from top mindfulness experts. Though it does not have a free trial, unlocking all premium app features will cost about $12 a month, $90 a year, or $300 for lifetime access, and it is available on both iOS and Android.
Beyond the quick meditations and sleep stories, Simple Habit doesn’t have many longer meditation sessions, though its paid version offers offline usage. Its aim to make mindfulness easy and accessible at any time of day and situation is apparent in the session titles; for those just wanting to better their mental health by adding more mindfulness in their lives little by little, Simple Habit could be the meditation app for you.
One of the most popular meditation apps right now, Headspace boasts a user-friendly interface and aesthetic and classic guided meditations for all levels of meditation practitioners, from beginners to experts. Besides daily meditations, it also offers meditation sessions for nighttime, such as sleep sounds, breathing exercises, or bedtime stories. Much like Simple Habit, it brings guided sessions for general meditative practices and dedicated challenges, whether it’s a mindfulness practice to reduce stress or mini-sessions for mental health emergencies. It also has guided meditation courses designed for kids who might be interested in learning about mindfulness, and it can build up personalized meditation programs based on your input.
Available on iOS and Android, Headspace offers a two-week free trial but will ask for about $13 a month or $70 a year afterward; as such, it would work best for more invested meditation practitioners willing to pay for their meditation experience.
Calm is next to Headspace on the list of popular best meditations apps. Offering both guided and unguided meditations, Calm has a variety of mindfulness exercises for flexibility and less rigidly structured meditation, as well as a mood tracker and meditation timers. Sessions range in time and topics, such as guided sessions for bettering your mental health, nature sounds, breathing techniques, calming music, and more.
One of Calm's more popular app features over other meditation apps is a section called ‘Sleep Stories,’ with recognizable voices like Matthew McConaughey and Harry Styles reading bedtime stories to help with more restful sleep. Other features include Calm Kids, meditation practices for younger ages three to 17, and Calm Body, with short guided meditations for gentle body stretches. After a seven-day free trial, Calm will ask for $15 a month, $70 a year, or $400 for a lifetime subscription, and the app is available on both iOS and Android.
5. Ten Percent Happier
If you’re unsure whether meditation is right for you, try Ten Percent Happier. Based on the book by ABC News anchor Dan Harris, who details his meditation experience from a skeptic to a believer, the concept has since spawned a podcast and this app. It specializes in teaching beginners who don’t know if they’re the meditating type or can’t find the time to start and ease them into better mindfulness practices and overall mental health.
Though the focus is on users just starting their meditation practice, the app features are also suited to more advanced meditators. They offer guided meditations targeting anxiety, stress, sleep, and more. Ten Percent Happier is available on iOS and Android, can be used as a free app to start with in-app purchases, and offers a seven-day trial, after which you can choose to pay $15 a month or $100 a year. The premium version has perks such as a library of more than 500 guided meditation videos and can connect you to well-known experts and practitioners to answer your questions.
6. Healthy Minds Program
Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist who founded the Centre for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed the concept for this app which was then created by a non-profit affiliated with the Centre. Healthy Minds Program is an entirely free app dedicated to helping users grow what is needed for bettering their mental health by building up resilience, mental focus, compassion, and more.
When you first use it, the app will give you a survey that scores you on each of the program's four pillars: Awareness, Connection, Insight, and Purpose, a baseline to improve upon over time. App features include guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and podcast-like sessions; you can choose teachers to learn from, adjust the length to suit you on the guided meditation courses, and track your progress as you go on your journey to strengthen your mindfulness practices.
Available on both iOS and Android, the Healthy Minds Program app will be best for those looking for simple, straightforward meditations backed by science and completely free.
Aura as a meditation app is simple but effective at its goal. It offers many ways for its users to self-reflect and includes meditation offerings such as a mood tracker, nature sounds, life coaching, calming music, and more. For daily meditation, users can choose quick meditation to practice when needed. Its algorithm can work with the needs and interests you share to personalize recommendations, such as music mixes for sleep or focus or whatever you need.
Free access will grant you many of the features most users will need for their meditation practice, while the paid version will cost about $12 a month, $60 a year, or $400 for lifetime use, and the app is available on both iOS and Android. Whether you’re using the mood tracker and reviewing your mood patterns, setting reminders for yourself to practice more mindfulness, making notes in the gratitude journal, or connecting with a community of meditation teachers and practitioners, Aura could be the meditation app for you.
And those were the seven best meditation apps we found! Of course, there are many more meditation apps that have similar functions or could be just as good in terms of reviews. Honorable mentions include Smiling Mind, Buddhify, The Mindfulness App, Meditation Studio, and much more. By fostering healthy meditation practices and mindfulness exercises, you could also improve your mental health and influence your physical health for the better. Why not try downloading one or more of the best meditation apps and better yourself where you can?