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Guided meditation can provide many of the same benefits as traditional meditation. Several companies offer apps that provide a subscription-based guided meditation service.

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This article explains what guided meditation is and what its benefits include. It also looks at some of the best guided meditation apps available.

Meditation is a mindfulness practice that helps people observe their thoughts without judgment and then let them go. In unguided or silent meditation, a person meditates alone.

Learn more about the different types of meditation.

Guided meditation is a practice in which a teacher or narrator walks people step-by-step through a meditation practice. They may use guided imagery, breathing exercises, and mantras.

Research has shown that meditation has several benefits, including:

Some evidence suggests that even a short meditation session of just 10 minutes can help improve a person’s cognitive performance.

Medical News Today includes apps with a range of price points and features. However, all of the selected apps are reputable and well-reviewed.

Additionally, MNT considers the following factors:

  • Health claims: MNT includes companies that make no questionable health claims.
  • Trust: MNT includes companies that operate with transparency in regard to their products, services, and leadership. Also, where relevant, the selected companies have certifications from reputable, third party organizations.
  • Business standards: MNT chooses companies that follow safe and ethical business and marketing practices.
  • Reputation: MNT selects companies that have no warnings from governing bodies, no unresolved lawsuits, and a positive standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Below, we look at a selection of guided meditation apps available for purchase.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for sleep: Calm

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
  • Annual price: It costs $70 per year.
  • Lifetime access: People can make a one-off purchase of $400.

Calm claims that it uses scientific research to develop meditation resources that may help reduce anxiety, develop mindfulness, and promote sleep.

Learn more about Calm.

The app offers guided meditations, calming sound therapy, and mindful movement, among other forms of meditation.

People can try the app for free for 7 days.

Best for beginners: Headspace

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
  • Monthly price: It costs about $13 per month.
  • Annual price: It costs about $70 per year.

Headspace offers a user-friendly platform with hundreds of guided meditations that suit people with all levels of experience, including beginners.

Learn more about Headspace.

This app offers meditation practices that focus on different areas, such as sleep, movement, and waking up.

People can try the app for free for 2 weeks.

Best for sharing meditations: Buddhify

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS and Android.
  • Annual price: It costs $30 per year.

Buddhify offers a variety of guided meditations that aim to help with a range of areas, such as work, sleep, and stress. The practices vary in length from 4 minutes to 30 minutes.

Learn more about the best meditation apps for sleep.

Additionally, people with a Buddhify membership can send a targeted meditation to a friend or family member. The person receiving the meditation does not need a Buddhify subscription.

Best for stress: Ten Percent Happier

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
  • Annual price: It costs about $100 per year.

Ten Percent Happier is a user-friendly app and website that offers guidance to people who are experiencing stress, wanting to feel happier, or trying to fall asleep more easily.

This app has three teachers who guide members through the meditations. People can also contact these experts to ask questions.

The company offers a 7-day free trial.

Best for anxiety: Unplug Meditation

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
  • Monthly price: It costs $12.99 per month.
  • Annual price: It costs $69.99 per year.

Users can choose between short and longer meditations. The app also includes a meditation timer and a progress tracker, so a person can check their practice statistics.

The company states that the meditations may be beneficial in helping people manage stress and anxiety. People can also access unguided meditations if they prefer this approach.

The company offers a 7-day free trial.

Best for multiple languages: UCLA Mindful

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
  • Price: This app is free.

UCLA Mindful is a free app that offers guided meditations, some of which are as short as 3 minutes. Due to this, it might suit people with a busy lifestyle who do not feel as though they have much spare time for meditation.

This app offers simple-to-follow guided meditations and wellness sessions, alongside podcasts. Each meditation is available in 15 languages, including Cantonese, American Sign Language, and Hindi.

Best for tracking mindfulness: Sattva

  • Platforms: This app is available on iOS and Android.
  • Monthly price: It costs $13 per month.
  • Annual price: It costs $50 per year.
  • Lifetime access: People can make a one-off payment of $400.

Sattva app users have access to guided meditations, mantras, chants, and calming music.

This app links to the Apple Health app, so people can track their heart rate and mood after meditations. Members of Sattva also become part of an online meditation community where they can share thoughts and questions with other subscribers.

In this table, we compare these guided meditation apps:

App nameBest forPlatformsFeatures
Calmsleep• iOS
• Android
• desktop
• calming sound therapy
• mindful movement
Headspacebeginners• iOS
• Android
• desktop
• suitable for beginners
• meditation for sleep
• meditation for movement
Buddhifysharing meditations• iOS
• Android
• option to share meditations with others
• variety of meditation lengths
Ten Percent Happierstress• iOS
• Android
• desktop
• ability to contact experts on meditation
• meditations for stress, happiness, and sleep
Unplug Meditationanxiety• iOS
• Android
• desktop
• variety of meditation lengths
• guided and unguided meditations
UCLA Mindfulmultiple languages iOS
• Android
• desktop
• available in 15 languages
• podcasts available
• free
Sattvatracking mindfulness• iOS
• Android
• option to track progress on Apple Health
• offers a meditation community

Before choosing a guided meditation app, people may wish to consider the following:

  • Experience level: People who are trying guided meditation for the first time may prefer apps that market themselves as suitable for beginners. These apps often have more user-friendly interfaces and may offer extra guidance.
  • Cost: People should consider how much they are willing to pay for guided meditation. Many companies offer free trials, but prices will vary for monthly and yearly subscriptions.
  • Meditation types: Apps offer various meditations, such as visualizations and breathing techniques. Some apps may also offer mindful exercise, which may help boost physical fitness.
  • Membership benefits: Some apps may offer additional benefits, such as access to communities of experts and peers to discuss meditation techniques and ask questions.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about guided meditation.

What is the benefit of guided meditation vs. unguided meditation?

There are no scientific studies investigating the differences between guided and unguided meditation.

However, guided meditation may be beneficial for beginners who are unsure how to meditate. It may also be suitable for people who are looking for meditations that specifically address certain concerns, such as stress, anxiety, or sleep.

Research shows that guided meditation is beneficial even in people with little to no meditation experience. These individuals still see a reduction in negative mood and stress, as well as an increase in attention, working memory, and recognition memory.

How much does guided meditation usually cost?

Guided meditation apps can vary in price. Most apps offer a free trial, but monthly, yearly, and lifetime costs will vary.

Similarly, guided meditation classes will vary in price. There are several places that offer in-person guided meditations, such as spas and community centers. A person should contact these places to find out the cost per session.

Guided meditation is a practice in which a person meditates under the guidance of a teacher or narrator. This practice can offer instruction and help a person maintain focus.

People can access guided meditations through online platforms and apps. Some of these guided meditations are free, and others typically offer a free trial. However, monthly and yearly costs will vary.