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There are many places to learn meditation online, including websites, apps, and online courses. Some options are free to use, while others require a subscription or fee.
The best option for a person will depend on their goals, preferences, and budget.
This article will look at the potential benefits of online meditation, the best places to learn meditation online, and how to get the most from these services.
Please note that the author of this article has not tried or tested any of these services or apps. The information in this article is purely research-based.
Meditation is a practice that people have used for centuries for their mental and physical health, as well as for spiritual purposes.
There are many different types of meditation, but they usually involve:
- sitting or lying down in a quiet location with few distractions
- focusing on one thing, such as breathing, a specific word or phrase, or an object
- allowing thoughts and distractions to come and go without judgment
In 2017, 14.2% of people in the United States practiced meditation, often as a way of managing stress or anxiety. There is also evidence to suggest that meditation can reduce the symptoms of conditions such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
However, meditation itself can be challenging. Online meditation resources can help make learning to meditate more accessible, allowing people to:
- learn at their own pace
- practice in comfortable or familiar surroundings
- continue learning wherever they have an internet connection
Many meditation apps and tools are free to use.
The following sections will provide some information on some of the free tools for learning meditation online.
Mindfulness is an approach to meditation that involves focusing on the present, rather than thinking about the past or future, as a way to calm the mind.
The website Mindfulness Exercises features a range of free mindfulness meditation lessons, including:
- Intro to Mindfulness
- Mindfulness of Eating
- Mindfulness for Kids
- The 28-Day Mindfulness Challenge
The courses focus on providing practical guidance and include videos, worksheets, and eBooks. A course in Spanish is also available.
People who want to learn more or teach mindfulness themselves can also access in-depth, paid content.
University of California, Los Angeles Health
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mindful Awareness Research Center has a range of tools and resources to help people learn meditation. People can find free guided meditation sessions on the website, sign up to a weekly meditation podcast, or download the UCLA Mindful app.
People can choose from a range of different session lengths and topics, including:
- Meditation for Working with Difficulties
- Loving Kindness
- Body and Sound
- Body Scan
- Body Scan for Sleep
This site also has guided meditation sessions in Spanish.
University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness
The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), the Sanford Institute, and the Compassion Institute have worked together to provide live events and recordings of mindfulness sessions. Examples of the topics they cover include:
- Finding Calm in the Storm
- Working with Strong Emotions
- Self-Compassion: Soothing Touch, Kind Words, Common Humanity
People can listen to previous sessions or sign up for future live events on the UC San Diego School of Medicine website.
Sessions are typically 20–60 minutes long, and a range of mindfulness and meditation teachers host them.
Paid apps and courses may have more benefits than free options. The sections below will look at some of these in more detail.
Calm’s developers say it is the number one app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation. People have downloaded the app more than 50 million times, and it has more than 700,000 five-star reviews.
The features of Calm include:
- tips and support to learn the skill of meditation
- audio masterclasses from world-renowned mindfulness experts
- video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching
- music to help people focus, relax, or sleep
- bedtime stories
- nature scenes and sounds to enjoy while relaxing, sleeping, or working
Headspace has more than 60 million users in 190 countries. According to their website, using the app for 10 days can increase self-reported happiness levels by 16%.
It features hundreds of articles, videos, and exercises to help people learn mindfulness and meditation.
People can use Headspace for a variety of benefits, including:
- Sleep: The Sleep section of the app contains meditations for waking up and going to sleep, as well as stories and music to help people wind down. It also has quick guided meditations for getting back to sleep after waking up in the night.
- Fitness: The Move Mode feature combines physical movement with mindfulness and meditation, so people can improve their fitness and flexibility.
- Focus: Focus Mode aims to promote calm while working from home, providing music, soundscapes, and quick meditation sessions to combat stress.
People can sign up for a Headspace subscription by paying monthly or annually. The monthly option includes a 1-week free trial, while the annual option includes a 2-week free trial.
There are many ways to learn meditation, so choosing a service or method can be difficult.
Here are some things to consider before getting started:
- Location: Learning meditation online often means practicing the techniques at home. If a person does not have a relatively quiet space to meditate in, they may find it difficult to practice. For this reason, they may want to consider other options, such as meditating outside or at a meditation class.
- Time of day: It is a good idea to set a regular time for meditation, such as the morning, afternoon, or before bed. If a person has a very busy schedule, they may need to set time aside to practice.
- Meditation style: There are many types of meditation. A person may find that they prefer some styles over others. Trying out different approaches to meditation using free online resources can be a good way for people to determine which style they like best.
- Budget: It is not always necessary to pay for a service or class to learn meditation. However, some people may benefit from the additional support and special features that paid services offer.
Occasionally, some people report that meditation causes adverse effects. For example, some people may experience worsened anxiety or depression.
Also, some research and anecdotal reports suggest that people who have experienced psychological trauma may find meditation distressing.
People who experience negative effects during meditation may benefit from getting support from a mental health professional or trauma-informed meditation instructor.
Meditation and mindfulness have a range of potential benefits, including helping people cope with stress, anxiety, and some physical health conditions.
However, everybody is different. The best ways to learn meditation can vary from person to person.
People who want to learn meditation online can think about factors such as their budget, needs, preferences, and special considerations — such as preexisting mental health conditions — to find the best option for them.