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Using a meditation app 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.

Our picks for some of the best meditation apps

  • Best for guided meditation: Headspace
  • Best for sleep meditation: Calm
  • Best for personalized, intuitive meditation: Aura
  • Best for a traditional Vedic approach to meditation: Sattva
  • Best for meditation on the go: Buddhify
  • Best for multimedia meditation options: Ten Percent Happier
  • Best for beginner meditation: Breethe
  • Best for a shorter meditation practice: Simple Habit
  • Best for focus: Unplug

Meditation is a practice that allows people to relax, train their minds, and redirect their thoughts. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that people have been meditating for years to improve psychological balance, cope with illness, and improve overall health.

Meditation apps offer various types of meditation, and the NCCIH suggests people meditate in a quiet location and comfortable position.

Meditation apps are tools that beginners and advanced meditators alike may find useful. They provide guided instruction, known as guided meditation, and features such as relaxing soundscapes and bedtime stories.

These apps also help individuals progress to a more advanced level, and people can use them any time they choose.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process and includes products that fit the following criteria where possible:

  • Price: The products fit a range of budgets, with some offering free trials and limited free meditations.
  • Types of meditation: The products offer a range of meditation practices, such as guided breathing, sleepcasts, and mindful movement.
  • User-friendly: The products are suitable for beginners and advanced meditators.

Learn more about our editorial process here.

Many meditation apps are available to suit people with different life circumstances and schedules. The sections below look at some of the best apps available and why people have rated them so highly.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these apps. All information presented here is purely research-based and correct at the time of publishing.

Best for guided meditation: Headspace

  • Why we chose it: Headspace is a good fit for beginners and advanced meditators alike and has a user-friendly interface.
  • Free trial: 7-day and 14-day trial, depending on the chosen plan.
  • Monthly subscription: Around $13.
  • Yearly subscription: Around $70.

Headspace offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Andy Puddicombe, a former monk and the co-founder of Headspace, leads most of the meditation sessions.

The app has a bright design and is easy to use, featuring animations that help guide and explain the exercises. People can choose a meditation session that lasts for a few minutes or opt for a longer session. The app also contains movement, wake-up, and sleep sessions.

Individuals can download the app for free to access basic content, or they can pay for Headspace Plus, which is a monthly or annual subscription that they can cancel at any time. Once subscribed, a person can access the entire Headspace library, which includes meditation sessions, at-home workouts, and recordings to help improve sleep.

The app also houses a collection of free content called “Weathering the Storm,” which anyone can access. This content includes meditation, sleep, and movement exercises.

In reviews of an earlier version of the app, which only offered the voice of a British male, users stated that they would prefer to choose from a range of voices for the meditation sessions. The app now includes a female voice for some sessions.

ProsCons
suitable for beginners and advanced meditators alikecostly subscriptions
offers downloadable meditation sessionslifetime access not available
offers meditations with multiple duration choicesfree trial only available after signing up for a paid plan
has guided meditations

Read our full review of the Headspace meditation app here.

Best for sleep meditation: Calm

  • Why we chose it: Calm’s programs are flexible, and it offers sleep stories and individual exercises.
  • Free trial: 7-day free trial.
  • Annual subscription: Around $40.
  • Lifetime subscription: A one-off payment of around $412.

Calm is one of the most popular meditation apps, with more than 100 million downloads. A person can choose a subscription that best suits their needs, and they can cancel it at any time.

Alongside meditation sessions, the app offers relaxing music pieces, masterclasses, and gentle movement programs. Individuals can also listen to sleep stories read by well-known people. Calm describes these as bedtime stories for adults.

A person can work through a 7-day meditation program to learn the basics of mediation before moving on to a 21-day program. This approach may suit individuals who wish to establish a regular meditation practice and track their progress over time.

There is also a feature called Daily Calm, which offers 10-minute meditation sessions that a person can either start their day with or fit into their routine at another time.

Calm may not suit those who would like to choose from a range of voices, as Tamara Levitt, a mindfulness instructor, narrates most of the meditations. However, a few of the Calm mediation programs do have guest narrators, some of whom are male.

ProsCons
has an option to cancel subscriptionsonly available with a subscription
simple to followmay automatically renew subscriptions without a clear warning
offers more flexible programs
suitable for adults and children

Best for a personalized, intuitive meditation: Aura

  • Why we chose it: Aura can sync to an iPhone’s Health app and allows people to schedule alarms for their meditation sessions.
  • Cost: One 3-minute meditation per day for free.
  • Monthly subscription: Around $13.

Aura contains meditation tracks, music pieces, stories, and life coaching to help improve emotional health.

Meditation tracks range from 3 minutes to 1 hour. A person can select how they are feeling from a list of emotions and specify the type of help they want, such as focus improvement.

The app has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with more than 25,000 ratings. Positive reviews comment on the wide variety of tracks available and how the app has helped individuals create a consistent meditation practice.

Some reviewers criticize the app for including only a limited range of emotional states, which may not suit people experiencing a mixture of emotions that they find difficult to pinpoint. Others say that there is a lack of content within the free version.

ProsCons
progress trackinghas many features but no tutorials
offers reminders for meditation exerciseslimited features available with the trial
features narrators with calming voices

Best for a traditional Vedic approach to meditation: Sattva

  • Why we chose it: Sattva suits people who are advanced in their meditation journey. It allows heart rate monitoring and mood tracking, and it offers many free meditation sessions.
  • Cost: Free to download with access to basic content.
  • Add-ons: Around $13 per month, $50 per year, or a one-off payment of $400 to access Sattva’s full catologue.

Sattva takes a traditional Vedic approach to meditation, with Sanskrit scholars narrating the mantras, chants, and meditations.

Individuals can start with short meditations, which last for 6 minutes, and then build on this to increase their meditation time. They can also use the app to track their progress and set themselves challenges.

The app has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with more than 6,000 ratings. Some reviewers comment that the mantras have helped them reach a meditative state, while others say there should be more free content available.

ProsCons
features Sanskrit scholarspossibly confusing interface
free to downloadno offline listening options
offers different playlistno specific sleep-focused meditations

Best for meditation on the go: Buddhify

  • Why we chose it: Buddhify may be suitable for those with mental health conditions, and individuals can choose meditation sessions for specific events or situations.
  • Cost: Around $5 to download.
  • Annual membership: Around $30.

Buddhify is an app focusing on meditation and mindfulness for those with busy lifestyles. The app primarily features on-the-go meditations. Buddhify aims to keep costs low to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

The meditation sessions fall into categories to match a person’s daily activities. For example, individuals can choose sessions for when they are walking, at work with colleagues, or going to sleep. There are also 60 meditation sessions specifically for children.

Buddhify has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple app store, from more than 5,000 ratings. Positive reviews comment on how the app makes it easy to fit meditation into everyday life. However, some people report that downloading media from the app can take a long time and use up device storage.

ProsCons
inexpensiveno desktop version available
offers content for childrenrequires payment before downloading
offers new content every week

Best for multimedia meditation options: Ten Percent Happier

  • Why we chose it: Ten Percent Happier offers beginners’ guides, and users can contact experts if they have questions about meditation.
  • Cost: Free to download.
  • Annual membership: Around $100.

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 host of a podcast with the same name. Harris and expert teachers lead the meditations and talks.

The app has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with more than 74,000 ratings. In positive reviews, users say the app has helped them integrate meditation into their daily lives, increased their feelings of calm and happiness, and boosted their ability to deal with stressful situations.

Less favorable reviews mention the need to subscribe to unlock most of the content. Some individuals also dislike that the app produces statistics based on meditation progress, saying this feels less spiritual.

ProsCons
includes introduction videos to prepare for coming meditation sessionsno search feature, making it difficult to find specific meditation sessions
offers guides in the appno soundscapes, such as rain effects
includes teachings and meditation sessions for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression

Best for beginner meditation: Breethe

  • Why we chose it: Some meditation sessions on Breethe are shorter than 3 minutes, and people can choose from specific topics.
  • Cost: Free to download.
  • Monthly membership: Starts at around $10.

Breethe contains guided meditations, music pieces, and sleep tracks, as well as a program to help beginners learn to meditate.

The Breethe app has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with more than 48,000 ratings. Reviewers claim to have found the app particularly helpful for improving sleep, but some comment on the lack of free content available.

ProsCons
offers inspirational talkspop-up commercials in the free trial
offers nature soundscapesexpensive
offers the ability to create playlistsno ability to create one’s own meditation timer

Best for a shorter meditation practice: Simple Habit

  • Why we chose it: Simple Habit may best suit people with busy schedules, as they can access short meditation sessions.
  • Monthly subscription: Around $12.
  • Annual subscription: Around $90.
  • Lifetime subscription: A one-off payment of around $300.

Simple Habit is an app that offers more than 2,000 meditation sessions, and individuals can download the programs to listen to without an internet connection.

People can also join a community where they meet other people who enjoy meditation.

Some meditation sessions target those who want to overcome panic attacks and reduce symptoms of stress.

ProsCons
offers short meditation sessionsrequires payment to unlock more features
has a community of meditators
offers bedtime stories

Best for focus: Unplug

  • Why we chose it: Unplug may best suit individuals with anxiety and stress. It offers various meditation techniques, including breath work, sound baths, and guided imagery.
  • Monthly subscription: Around $13.
  • Yearly subscription: Around $70.

Unplug offers many short videos, which the developers film at their Los Angeles meditation studio.

Individuals can use this app for a few minutes whenever they feel they need to regain their focus and reduce their stress levels.

A person can also join a 30-day challenge that can help those who are new to meditation engage with the practice on a long-term basis.

ProsCons
has a 7-day free trialmay not suit all budgets
features meditation challengesrequires payment to keep using
offers progress tracking

The table below provides a comparison of the nine meditation apps described above.

Meditation appBest forCostFeatures
Headspace guided meditationmonthly: around $13
annually: around $70
meditation sessions with different durations for all experience levels
Calmsleep meditationannually: around $40
lifetime: around $412
short meditation sessions, relaxing music, and sleep stories
Aurapersonalized, intuitive meditationmonthly: around $13meditation tracks, life coaching, and iPhone Health app compatibility
Sattvatraditional Vedic approach to meditationmonthly: around $50
lifetime: around $400
heart rate monitor, mood tracker, and short meditation sessions
Buddhifymeditation on the goto download: $5
annually: $30
meditation sessions for specific mental health conditions
Ten Percent Happiermultimedia meditation optionsvarying up to $99beginners’ guides, a user-friendly interface, and introduction videos
Breethebeginner meditationstarting from around $10different topics, guided meditations, and nature sounds
Simple Habitshorter meditation practicemonthly: around $12
annually: around $90 lifetime: around $300
more than 2,000 downloadable meditation sessions
Unplugfocusmonthly: around $13 annually: around $70different meditation techniques and challenges

People may wish to consider the following when choosing a meditation app:

  • Platforms available: Some apps are available on iOS, Android, and desktop computers.
  • Types of meditation: Apps may offer several types of meditation, such as mindful movement, guided meditation and imagery, and sleepcasts.
  • Cost: Some meditation apps offer a free trial and a lifetime subscription with a one-off cost. Others may require weekly, monthly, or annual memberships.
  • Personal circumstance: Some apps offer meditations that are more suitable for specific circumstances, such as shorter meditations for those who are busy or meditations that aim to ease certain health conditions, such as anxiety.

Meditation apps may be suitable for a range of users, from people who are just starting meditation to those who are more advanced.

Meditation apps may be less costly than classes or seminars, and people can access the meditations at any time.

These apps may be particularly beneficial for people who do not have time to take classes. A person can listen to meditations during their commute or any spare moments they have during the day.

Additionally, people can listen to meditation apps before they go to sleep. Most apps offer sleep meditations that may help a person fall asleep faster.

Below are some frequently asked questions about meditation apps.

How much do meditation apps cost?

Meditation apps vary in price.

Most apps offer a free trial and monthly or annual subscription plans. Some also offer a lifetime subscription that unlocks more features and carries a one-time price of up to $400, depending on the app.

How do meditation apps work?

Meditation apps offer various tools to help people become familiar with different meditation skills. Also, they often include features such as mood trackers and timers. Some apps even offer expert support for those who wish to learn more about meditation.

A person can use these tools to learn more about focused deep breathing and mental clarity.

Can I use meditation apps offline?

Many apps require a WiFi connection, but some apps allow users to download meditation programs for offline use when they subscribe to a premium plan.

Are meditation apps effective?

One 2019 study reviewed the efficacy of the meditation app Calm in college students. The researchers found that it was effective in reducing stress, that participants found it convenient, and that they were likely to continue using it.

In another study, 153 adults used a mindfulness meditation app for 2 weeks. As a result, they felt less lonely and reported improved social contact.

Using a meditation app can be a helpful and easy way to add meditation into a busy routine and keep to a daily practice.

Meditation apps are available to suit all levels. Beginners may wish to try a structured, guided meditation program that helps them develop a regular practice. People with more experience may prefer an extensive selection of topics with a choice of meditation sessions.

Regardless of the method a person chooses, meditation apps can be a useful tool in reducing stress and improving overall wellness.