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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 depends 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.

A quick look at the best places to learn meditation online

Meditation is a practice that people have used for centuries for their mental and physical health and 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, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.

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The vetting team looked at several factors before writing this article, such as:

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The following sections will provide information on some of the free online tools for learning meditation.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented 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 mindfulness: Mindfulness Exercises

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 features a range of free mindfulness meditation lessons, including:

  • Intro to Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness of Eating
  • Mindfulness for Kids
  • The 28-Day Mindfulness Challenge

People can choose from beginner, intermediate, and advanced programs.

The courses focus on providing practical guidance and include videos, worksheets, and eBooks. One course is available in Spanish.

People who want to learn more or teach mindfulness themselves can also access in-depth, fee-based content.

Best for classes in a range of languages: 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 for 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

The guided meditations are available in a range of languages.

Best for teacher-led sessions: University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), and the UC San Diego Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion have worked together to provide live events and recordings of mindfulness sessions. Examples of the topics they cover include:

  • Taking a Breath to Reduce Anxiety
  • Care for a Caregiver
  • Giving & Receiving Compassion

People can listen to previous sessions or sign up for future live events on the Center for Mindfulness website.

Sessions are typically 20–60 minutes long, and a range of mindfulness and meditation teachers host them.

Pay-to-use apps and courses may have more benefits than free options. The sections below look at some of these in more detail.

Best for students: Calm

  • Price: from $69.99 a year, $399.99 lifetime subscription
  • Pro: the Premium version has a 7-day free trial
  • Con: the app renews the subscription without warning

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 the Calm app 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

Calm offers different plans for families and businesses. It also offers discounts for students to help them save money.

People can try Calm Premium for free on their Android or Apple device for 7 days. After this trial period, they can pay for an annual subscription to gain access to all of Calm’s content. This can cost $69.99 a year, or if a person wants to access all of Calm’s features forever, they can pay a one-time $399.99 fee.

Best for beginners: Headspace

  • Price: from $5.83–12.99 a month
  • Pro: app is available for iOS and Android devices
  • Con: bank details are required when a person opts for the free trial

Headspace has more than 60 million users in 190 countries. According to the Headspace 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:

  • Meditate: The Meditate section of the app helps people manage thoughts and feelings using mindfulness. People can learn how to make meditation a habit, and there are sessions suitable for beginners.
  • 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 at night.
  • Move: 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.
  • Wake up: This feature includes stories and mini meditations delivered every day.

Headspace may be a good option for beginners, as its focus is on introductory courses.

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.

Best for children: Smiling Mind

  • Price: free app, subscription available for workplace programs
  • Pro: programs for different age groups
  • Con: does not state the cost of paid subscription online

Smiling Mind is a psychologist-developed app for adults and educators, children, and businesses to help them manage stress, sleep problems, and improve their concentration.

It claims that the app is evidence-based and recommends that people use it 10 minutes per day.

There are dedicated programs for adults, younger people, classrooms, workplaces, and languages other than English.

It is an Australian company, and some of the content on the company’s website is specifically targeted toward Australian audiences. This includes the Indigenous Languages Program, which focuses on providing tools for Aboriginal people.

The app is free to download, but it offers a paid subscription for those who opt for the workplace program. Businesses interested in this can contact Smiling Mind’s customer service to tailor a program for their employees.

Best for personalized guidance: Chopra

  • Price: annual $69.99 fee
  • Pro: offers challenges for more focus and growth
  • Con: free option does not include all of Chopra’s sessions

Chopra is a website that offers online courses about self-care through meditation. The programs are self-paced so that people can complete them in their own time.

There is also an app that offers short classes to help decrease stress and improve mood, 7- and 21-day well-being challenges, and personalized guidance via quizzes and reports.

There are meditations suitable for beginners and those looking to deepen their meditation practice.

Users can access sessions that last from 5–30 minutes, which may make them a good option for those with a busy schedule.

A person can access all of Chopra’s content on the app for $69.99 a year. The free version of the app does not include all of the company’s content.

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 2019 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.

Mental health affects how people think, feel, and how they handle stress. There are different factors that may lead to a mental health concern, such as trauma, abuse, or having a close relative with a mental health condition.

Some strategies that may help support and maintain more positive mental health outlook include:

  • attending therapy sessions
  • exercising regularly
  • socializing with others
  • developing coping skills

If a person is finding it difficult to manage stressful situations, consulting a doctor can be helpful. They may have physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms, or a combination of symptoms.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) lists some potential symptoms:

Medical professionals may ask about the individual’s symptoms and offer treatment.

They may also provide advice to help them cope with stress.

Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about learning meditation online.

Can you learn meditation online?

It is possible to learn meditation online. A person can subscribe to websites, smartphone apps, or online courses. Some of these are free to use, but they may offer premium services at an additional cost.

There are also companies that offer paid meditation courses or workshops and allow users to join with their friends online. If interested, people should choose a tool that best fits their budget and check whether the features it offers suits their needs.

Online meditation should not replace care from a mental health professional if a person is living with a mental health condition.

What are the 5 types of meditation?

The different types of meditation can include:

  • Breathing meditation: Individuals focus on their breath as they inhale and exhale.
  • Mindfulness: This refers to the awareness and acceptance a person may and can have of their inner experiences, such as feelings and memories.
  • Object-focus: This involves focusing on a specific object or mental image, such as a tree or candle flame.
  • Movement: This involves using physical techniques to move parts of the body and coordinate the breath with movement.

How can I do meditation for free?

There is a range of free resources that can help someone meditate. People can look at websites, join courses or online classes, and read free ebooks on meditation.

Students may also check if their institute offers meditation programs.

Can I meditate by myself?

Yes. People can meditate by themselves.

However, beginners may find practicing guided meditation with a coach helpful. A coach can help them focus, guide them through their meditation session, and help them apply what the meditation has taught them to their life.

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.