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Meditation apps can be a simple and easy way to start a meditation practice. A good meditation app can also help people stick to a routine. Consistent meditation may help reduce stress and even improve certain health conditions.
There is a wide selection of meditation apps available. Here, we look at some of the best ones, and why people have rated them so highly.
We look at the price and subscription of each app, as well as the pros and cons, to help people find the best meditation app for their needs and routine.
Headspace offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Andy Puddicombe, a former monk and co-founder of Headspace, leads most of the meditations.
People can download the app for free to access basic content. People can pay for a monthly or annual subscription, which they can cancel at any time.
Headspace has a bright, easy to use design. Animations help guide and explain the exercises. People can choose between meditations lasting a few minutes or opt for longer sessions. The app also contains movement, wake-up, and sleep sessions.
Headspace is currently offering a free 1-year membership of Headspace Plus to people in the United States who are unemployed or furloughed. Headspace Plus includes full access to the Headspace library of meditations, at-home workouts, and recordings to help improve sleep.
During 2020, Headspace is also supporting key workers during COVID-19 and is free to:
- K-12 school staff in the U.S, UK, Canada, and Australia
- U.S healthcare professionals
- NHS staff in the UK
There is also a collection of free content on the app called ‘Weathering the Storm,’ which anyone can access. Content includes meditation, sleep, and movement exercises.
Some reviewers had stated they would prefer a wider range of voices for the meditations, rather than one male British voice. The app now includes a female voice for some meditations.
Calm is one of the most popular meditation apps, with over 50 million downloads. The app is free to download, with subscriptions to access all the content. People can cancel a subscription at any time.
Alongside meditations, the app also contains relaxing music, masterclasses, and gentle movement programs. There are Sleep Stories, which Calm describes as bedtime stories for adults.
People can work through a 7-day meditation program to build up the basics of mediation before moving onto a 21-day program. This may suit people who want to build up regular practice and track their progress.
There is also a feature called Daily Calm, which offers 10-minute meditations. People may choose to start their day with this or fit into their routine at a time that suits them best.
Calm may not suit people who want to choose from a range of voices. Tamara Levitt, a mindfulness instructor, narrates most of the meditations. A few of the Calm mediation programs have a male narrator or guest narrators.
Insight Timer is a collection of free guided meditations. The app offers a wide range of free content. There is also the option to subscribe to access premium features, such as courses and offline mode.
Insight Timer has over 45,000 free guided meditations, talks, and music pieces. There is a wide range of teachers and topics to choose from, so people can find what suits them best.
People who are new to meditation and want a regular meditation practice may find the selection less structured than other apps. There is a 7-day free meditation course for beginners, though.
According to the Insight Timer website, people spend a more extended amount of time on Insight Timer compared to other popular meditation apps. This may mean people are using Insight Timer for more frequent or more prolonged meditation practices.
The app contains a timer, which people can use for their meditation practice. People who do not want to use a guided meditation may find this feature helpful.
Aura contains meditation tracks, music, stories, and life coaching to help improve emotional health.
Meditation tracks range from 3 minutes to 1 hour. People can select how they are feeling from a list of emotions, and the specific help they are looking for, such as improving focus.
The app has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on the Apple app store, with 19,000 ratings. Positive reviews include comments on the wide variety of tracks available to choose from and how the app has helped create a consistent meditation practice.
Some reviewers have criticized the app for a limited range of emotional states, which people experiencing a mix of emotions may find difficult to pinpoint. Others have said there is a lack of content to access in the free version.
Aura are also giving 3 months of Aura Premium away for free to anyone who requires extra support during COVID-19 and is unable to purchase the app.
Sattva takes a traditional Vedic approach to meditation, with Sanskrit scholars narrating the mantras, chants, and meditations on the app.
Meditations start at 6 minutes, which people can then build on. People can also track their progress and set challenges to meet.
The app has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with 5,000 ratings. People commented the mantras helped them reach a meditative state, while some reviewers felt there should be more free content available on the app.
Buddhify aims to keep costs of the app low to make it more affordable for people.
Buddhify is an app focusing on meditation and mindfulness for people leading busy lifestyles. The app focuses on meditations people can do on the go.
Meditations fall into categories to match what people might be doing throughout the day. For example, people can choose meditations for when they are walking, at work with colleagues, or going to sleep. There are also 60 meditations specifically for children to use.
Buddhify has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple app store, from 4,700 ratings. Positive reviews comment on how the app makes it easy to fit meditation into everyday life.
Some people have reported issues that downloading media from the app can take a long time and use up storage.
Ten Percent Happier offers guided meditations, talks, and videos to help improve happiness, relationships, sleep, and well-being.
The app comes from founder Dan Harris, author of 10% happier and podcast host of 10% happier. Dan Harris and expert teachers lead meditations and talks.
The app has 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple app store, out of 64,500 ratings. Positive feedback includes how the app has helped integrate meditation into daily life, and increased feelings of calm, happiness, and ability to deal with stressful situations.
According to reviews on the app store, cons include needing to subscribe to unlock most of the content. Others also commented on how the app produces statistics based on meditation progress, which feels less spiritual for some people.
Ten Percent Happier is also offering the app free to essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Breethe contains guided meditations, music, and sleep tracks, as well as a program to help beginners learn to meditate.
The Breethe app has 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with 36,000 ratings. Reviewers have found the app particularly helpful for improving sleep, but some commented on the lack of free content.
Meditation apps can be a helpful and easy way to add meditation into a busy routine and keep to a daily practice.
There is a wide range of meditation apps to choose from. Beginners may find structured guided meditation programs that help a person develop a regular practice.. People with more experience may prefer a more extensive selection of topics and choice of meditation.
Whichever method people choose, meditation apps may be a useful tool in reducing stress and improving overall wellness.