Best Guided Meditations

Calm is our pick for best guided meditation for its flexible app

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Let’s face it: Finding peace and calm in the chaos of life can be a real challenge, especially when you’re trying to balance work, social obligations, family, and personal life. That’s where guided meditation can help. In as little as 10 minutes a day, you can develop a meditation practice that fits your schedule and gives you the space to relax both your mind and body.

The benefits of meditation extend far beyond relaxation. In fact, a regular practice of meditation could help reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, general pain, and high blood pressure. And the best part? It’s safe, accessible, and fits easily into your day. And don’t worry about sorting through thousands of YouTube videos and websites to find one to try: We did the busy work for you. Here are the best guided meditations for you to choose from.

Best Guided Meditations of 2023

Best Guided Meditations of 2023

Best Overall : Calm


Daily Calm

 Daily Calm

Key Specs
  • Cost: 7-day free trial; Annual membership: $69.99; Lifetime membership: $399.99
  • Notable Features: Calm background waves, individual exercises
  • Length: 10 minutes
Why We Chose It

Calm is a quick and easy meditation for anxiety through a flexible app.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • App offers more individual exercises

  • Less structured

  • Levitt’s class gets right to what helps anxiety

  • Calming waves in background

  • Simple to follow

Cons
  • Need a subscription

  • App isn’t the most intuitive

Overview

If you live with anxiety, adding one more thing to your day is enough to trigger thoughts of worry, stress, and panic. The good news? Calm offers a meditation that only takes 10 minutes.

This meditation is perfect for a morning routine to help prepare your mind for the day ahead or at the end of a hectic day to help ease stress and anxiety. At the start, you’ll get right into body awareness and deep belly breathing. Then, you'll focus on calming racing thoughts. It often pauses to let you just focus on breathing (while listening to waves), which can be difficult for someone with anxiety.

Best for Deepening Your Practice : Tara Brach


Tara Brach

 Tara Brach

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free, but donations are suggested
  • Notable Features: Website with video classes
  • Length: One to 40 minutes
Why We Chose It

We chose Tara Brach because the meditations are guided by a clinical psychologist and are peaceful and cathartic.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Guided meditations

  • Has a therapeutic slant

  • Several categories to choose from

  • Meditations are free

Cons
  • Not the most user-friendly website

  • Not best for beginners

Overview

If you’re looking for a deeper practice that also feels like you’re getting a dose of therapy, then Tara Brach is for you. With a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Brach will guide you through a peaceful, yet cathartic, meditation that helps you discover how self-compassion can relieve emotional suffering.

There are four meditation categories to choose from: Basic, Heart, Open Awareness, and Special Meditations/Reflections. Pre-recorded meditations include Relaxing Back into Natural Awareness, A Calm Refuge, Touching Peace, Embracing Life with an Open Heart, and more.

Some meditations feature guidance with just a few silent pauses, while others feature gentle rain or birds singing in the background. They range from around 1 to 40 minutes, on average. All of the meditations are free, but Brach asks for donations to make them as widely available as possible.

Best for Beginners : Headspace


Headspace

 Headspace

Key Specs
  • Cost: Two-week free trial; Annual subscription: $69.99; Monthly membership: $12.99
  • Notable Features: User-friendly app with guides for beginners
  • Length: One to 20 minutes, on average
Why We Chose It

Headspace has a user-friendly interface with hundreds of guided meditations from beginners to experts.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • User-friendly app

  • Guided for beginners

  • Cues to cope with external sounds

  • 100s of meditations to choose from

Cons
  • Membership is a bit expensive

  • Not great for the less tech-minded

Overview

With Headspace, you will learn to do deep breathing. It walks you through how it should feel throughout your body and what you should be noticing about your breath. At the same time, it will also help you find where in the body you feel your breath and the rhythm of your breath (long, short, deep, or shallow).

Headspace provides helpful cues for when external sounds appear. You can choose from a variety of meditations based on your needs and how long you want to focus on the practice.

Best for Relaxation : The Honest Guys


The Honest Guys

 The Honest Guys

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free on YouTube
  • Notable Features: Calming imagery and background sounds
  • Length: 10 to 40 minutes, on average
Why We Chose It

The Honest Guys offer free, simple meditations with breathing techniques to help quell anxiety.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Soothing guide and background sounds

  • Reassuring for anxious users

  • Calming imagery 

  • Free

Cons
  • Only one video

  • A bit generalized

Overview

Like many others who swear by this guided meditation, Rick Clarke's voice is alluring because it isn't distracting. He begins with deep breathing and points out that thoughts of anxiety and stress are common.

The key to success with their guided meditations is to allow yourself to be in total peace with your surroundings. As you feel more relaxed, Clarke counts down from five to zero, and each number takes you deeper into relaxation. As the chimes fade out and the only sound you hear is the waves, you have the option of drifting off to sleep, continuing in this deeply relaxed state, or resuming your day.

Best for Walking : Gabby Bernstein


Gabby Bernstein

Gabby Bernstein 

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free when you sign up for her email list; Her meditation albums cost around $11 to $18
  • Features: Upbeat music, short meditations
  • Length: Six minutes
Why We Chose It

We selected Gabby Bernstein because the meditations are great for active individuals who want to turn exercise into more of a mind-and-body experience.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Combines exercise with meditation

  • Guided meditation helps connect mind and body

  • Upbeat music

  • Free meditations

  • Short and sweet

Cons
  • Have to sign up for newsletter for free meditations

  • Not traditional meditation

Overview

If you’re new to the idea of moving while meditating, the short intro from Gabby Bernstein is a great place to start. During the six-minute recording, you’ll focus on each step and how it connects to your breath. Her voice is very upbeat, which is helpful since you’re walking and not trying to fall asleep.

The overall goal of the meditation is to help you understand how to connect your mind with the body. After a few minutes of breath work, she asks listeners to repeat a simple mantra while walking: “My happiness is a choice I make.”

Whether it’s her voice or the beat of the music, this guided meditation will empower you to take action as it calms, eases stress, and helps you focus on your breath. Listen to this meditation each time you go for a walk and you’ll be amazed at how it changes your perspective on exercise.

Best for Sleep : Jason Stephenson


Jason Stephenson

Jason Stephenson 

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free on YouTube and if you subscribe to his email
  • Features: Calming guide voice and music
  • Length: One to three hours
Why We Chose It

Jason Stephenson offers super relaxing guided meditations designed to help you get to sleep.

Pros
  • Calming guiding voice

  • Gentle music

  • Helps target and release tension

  • Free

  • Learn about chakras and alignment

Cons
  • Have to subscribe to email list for more

Jason Stephenson's meditations work best if you get into a position where you can go to sleep (aka your bed). You’ll begin by taking an inventory of the tension in your body. With your breath, you will free the tension and mental and emotional stress.

In one of his meditations, Jason Stephenson will guide you through the seven chakras, or energy centers in your body. You will understand what parts of your life need energy healing. Stephenson's voice, along with the gentle piano music, will help you release stress while sinking into your mattress.

Stephenson guides you through each chakra, asking you to notice how it looks, feels, and if you have felt any discomfort (physical or mental) in this area.

Best for Skeptics : Ten Percent Happier


10% Happier

10% Happier

Key Specs
  • Cost: 14-day free trial; Annual membership: $99.99
  • Features: User-friendly app and website
  • Length: Unclear ahead of time
Why We Chose It

We chose Ten Percent Happier because it offers beginning guides for people who aren’t sure about meditation.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Simple beginner guides for the less meditation-inclined

  • Good for sleep and stress

  • Experts available for questions

  • Hundreds of meditations available

  • Easy to use

Cons
  • Above average membership cost

Overview

If you’ve convinced yourself meditation isn’t for you, because you can’t focus, or you're skeptical of anything related to Eastern ideology, Ten Percent Happier will speak your language. It’s specifically marketed to “fidgety skeptics,” especially beginners who need more of a guiding hand. 

The app came out of the New York Times best-selling book of the same name and offers a number of expert guides who can walk you through all the meditation basics. If you have questions, the guides will even respond to you personally. It has hundreds of meditations that can help you sleep better, cope with anxiety, or find ways to be a little calmer, and yes, happier. And the premium version has even more. There are also several informative podcasts and a newsletter.

Final Verdict


While many different meditation apps are useful, our top pick is Calm. Calm is incredibly user-friendly, offers the widest variety of guided meditations for every experience level, even short, targeted meditations for those anxiety emergencies. This is the sort of guidance you want when stepping into unfamiliar territory, aka your quiet mind.

Compare the Best Guided Meditations

Best Guided Meditation  Cost Notable Features Length
Calm: Best Overall A7-day free trial; Annual membership: $69.99; Lifetime membership: $399.99 Calm background waves, individual exercises 10 minutes
Tara Brach: Best for Deepening Your Practice Free, but donations are suggested Website with video classes One to 40 minutes
Headspace: Best for Beginners Two-week free trial; Annual subscription: $69.99; Monthly membership: $12.99 User-friendly app interface with guides for beginners One to 20 minutes, on average
The Honest Guys: Best for Relaxation Free on YouTube Calming imagery and background sounds 10 to 40 minutes, on average
Gabby Bernstein: Best for Walking Free when you sign up for her email list; Her meditation albums cost around $11 to $18 Upbeat music, short meditations Six minutes
Jason Stephenson: Best for Sleep Free on YouTube and if you subscribe to his email Calming guide voice and music One to three hours
Ten Percent Happier: Best for Skeptics 14-day free trial; Annual membership: $99.99 User-friendly app and website Unclear ahead of time

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a mind and body practice that can help you focus on your breath, find clarity, develop concentration, and enhance emotional positivity, which allows you to remain in the present moment. Meditation focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. The benefits of meditation can come from practicing only a few minutes a day.

What Types of Meditation Classes Are There?

When it comes to different types of meditation classes, there’s definitely not a shortage. Other than choosing between a guided and unguided (silent) meditation, the next step is to determine the type of meditation you want to do. Some of the more common types of meditation classes include: visualization, loving-kindness, reflection, zen, transcendental, chakra, gazing, breathing, yoga, mindfulness, vipassana (self-transformation), and walking.

How Much Do Guided Meditation Classes Typically Cost?

Many guided meditation classes that made it into our top picks are available for free, but services like Headspace and Calm offer memberships in addition to free trials and select meditation recordings. The cost of in-person classes can range from $20 to $150, with an average of around $55 to $60 per class. This depends on the length of the meditation and the experience of the instructor. You can also download meditation apps, which range from free to $15 per month.

Are Guided Meditations as Good as Regular Meditation?

The advantage of guided meditations is that the narrator or teacher walks you through how to meditate, what to expect from your mind and body, and how you can apply what you learned in the meditation to your life. If your mind tends to wander during meditation, the guidance of an experienced teacher can help you focus and bring you back to the present moment. Meditation on your own is a good idea once you've done a few guided meditations, and don't need a guide to help get you to a focused place.

Where Can You Find the Best Guided Meditations?

You can find guided meditations in a few different places. YouTube has many different guided meditations available. Both Jason Stephenson and The Honest Guys have their guided meditations available there. You can also find a number of guided meditation apps in your app store, like Headspace or Calm.

Methodology

For starters, we looked at guided meditations only, which are led by a teacher via video, audio, or both. The overall pick and the best meditation for beginners scored high points in the guided department. Our writer tried each meditation video and service and provided feedback based on her experience. Rounding out the criteria, we considered online reviews and YouTube comments posted below each meditation video. Tara Brach’s meditations have rave reviews on iTunes and the Honest Guys' meditations have been viewed over 300 million times.

Best Guided Meditation

Verywell Mind/ Design by Amelia Manley

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. “Meditation: In Depth.” Updated April 2016.

By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting.