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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.
Quick look links
- For guided meditation: Headspace
- For sleep meditation: Calm
- For a longer meditation practice: InsightTimer
- For personalized, intuitive meditation: Aura
- For a traditional Vedic approach to meditation: Sattva
- For meditation on the go: Buddhify
- For multimedia meditation options: Ten Percent Happier
- For beginner meditation: Breethe
Many meditation apps are available to suit people with various life circumstances and schedules. Here, we look at some of the best apps and why people have rated them so highly.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these apps. All information is purely research-based.
All pricing information is correct at the time of publishing.
Headspace offers guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Andy Puddicombe, a former monk and co-founder of Headspace, leads most of the meditations.
The app has a bright design and is easy to use, with animations to help guide and explain the exercises. People can choose a meditation that lasts 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, a monthly or annual subscription that they can cancel at any time. Headspace Plus costs about $10 per month and includes full access to the Headspace library of meditations, 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 just offered the voice of a British male, users stated that they would prefer to choose from a range of voices for the meditations. The app now includes a female voice for some meditations.
Calm is one of the most popular meditation apps, with more than 100 million downloads. The app is free to download, with subscriptions to access all content costing about $70 per year. A person can cancel a subscription at any time.
Alongside meditations, the app offers relaxing music, masterclasses, and gentle movement programs. Sleep Stories, which Calm describes as bedtime stories for adults, are also available.
People can work through a 7-day meditation program to learn the basics of mediation before moving onto a 21-day program. This approach may suit individuals who wish to establish a regular meditation practice and track their progress.
There is also a feature called Daily Calm, which offers 10-minute meditations that a person can 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.
InsightTimer is a collection of free guided meditations. The app offers a wide range of free content, with the option to subscribe to access premium features, such as courses and offline mode. Premium access costs approximately $60 per year.
InsightTimer has more than 45,000 free guided meditations, talks, and music pieces, and people can choose from a range of teachers and topics.
If a person is new to meditation and would like to establish a regular meditation practice, they may find the selection less structured than it is on other apps. However, there is a 7-day free meditation course for beginners.
According to the InsightTimer website, people spend longer on InsightTimer than on other popular meditation apps. This finding may mean that people are using InsightTimer for more frequent or more extended meditation practices.
The app contains a timer that people can use for their meditation practice. People who prefer not to use a guided meditation may find this feature helpful.
Aura contains meditation tracks, music, stories, and life coaching to help improve emotional health. A person can access one 3-minute meditation per day for free. All other content is accessible through a subscription that costs about $13 per month.
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 24,000 ratings. Positive reviews comment on the wide variety of tracks available and how the app has helped create a consistent meditation practice.
Some reviewers have criticized the app for including only a limited range of emotional states, which may not suit people experiencing a mix of emotions that they find difficult to pinpoint. Others have said that there is a lack of content to access in the free version.
Sattva takes a traditional Vedic approach to meditation, with Sanskrit scholars narrating the mantras, chants, and meditations on the app. The app is free to download, and a person can access many meditations at no cost. Access to the entire catalog costs about $50 per month, or people can purchase lifetime access for close to $400.
Users can start with the shortest meditations, which are 6 minutes in duration, 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 have commented that the mantras helped them reach a meditative state, while others have said that there should be more free content available.
Buddhify is an app focusing on meditation and mindfulness for those with busy lifestyles. The app primarily features meditations that a person can participate in while on the go. Buddhify aims to keep the costs of the app low to make it more affordable for everyone who would like to use it. The app costs about $5 to download, and membership is available for approximately $30 per year.
The meditations fall into categories to match a person’s daily activities. For example, individuals can choose meditations for when they are walking, at work with colleagues, or going to sleep. There are also 60 meditations specifically for children.
Buddhify has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple app store, from about 5,300 ratings. Positive reviews comment on how the app makes it easy to fit meditation into everyday life.
However, some people have reported that downloading media from the app can take a long time and use up storage on their devices.
Ten Percent Happier offers guided meditations, talks, and videos to help improve happiness, relationships, sleep, and well-being. The app is free to download, with annual memberships costing up to $90.
The app comes from founder Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier and the host of a podcast with the same name. Dan 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 close to 74,000 ratings. In positive reviews, users say that the app has helped them integrate meditation into their daily life, increased their feelings of calm and happiness, and boosted their ability to deal with stressful situations.
Negative reviews mention the need to subscribe to unlock most of the content. Some users also dislike that the app produces statistics based on meditation progress, saying that this feels less spiritual.
Breethe contains guided meditations, music, and sleep tracks, as well as a program to help beginners learn to meditate. The app is free to download, with monthly memberships beginning at about $10.
The Breethe app has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple app store, with about 48,000 ratings. Reviewers claim to have found the app particularly helpful for improving sleep, but some have 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.
A wide range of meditation apps is 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.
Whichever method a person chooses, meditation apps may be a useful tool in reducing stress and improving overall wellness.