Best Meditation Apps

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Meditation is a great way to refocus and center yourself, but with life being as hectic and distracting as it is today, it can be an unusually difficult task to master. Enter meditation apps, technology-based guides that can help make meditation easier and more intuitive, whether you’re a first-time meditator or seasoned pro who’s let their meditation muscle atrophy. 

Meditation can certainly help relax you when you’re stressed, but that’s just one of its benefits. With regular practice, you can learn to shut out the noise of modern life and be present without having to take a trip to a remote tropical island. While there are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube, meditation apps streamline the process, helping you achieve new levels of meditation prowess. Here are some of our top picks.

The 7 Best Meditation Apps of 2021

Best Overall : Calm


Calm

 Calm

Key Specs: 

  • Cost: Calm offers a seven-day free trial with annual membership for around $70. Or, if you want meditations for life, you can pay about $400 for indefinite access to the app.
  • App Features: Calming background sounds and short meditations

Why We Chose It: We chose Calm because it’s a flexible app with less structured programs and exercises that help manage anxiety.

Pros
  • App offers more individual exercises

  • Less structured

  • Calming sounds in background

  • Simple to follow

Cons
  • Need a subscription

  • App isn’t the most intuitive

What are you working through? Anxious thoughts? Lack of focus? A stressed-out psyche? Calm’s guided meditations have you covered. More than that, though, the app really focuses on teaching you a variety of tools and using different modalities to help you stay centered throughout the day-to-day.

Calm stands out from the crowd because of its well-being offerings beyond that of its already impressive meditation catalog. Their newest offering is Calm Body, which are 10-minute guided videos that teach gentle stretching to help you unwind. One of the best features is “Sleep Stories,” which feature bedtime stories read by the soothing voices of celebs (like Matthew McConaughey).

Looking for more ideas? Take a peek at our roundup of the best meditation books.

Best Budget : Insight Timer


Insight Timer

 Insight Timer

Key Specs: 

  • Cost: Free access to thousands of meditations. Premium is about $60 per year or roughly $10 per month.
  • App Features: Over 45,000 free meditations.

Why We Chose It:  We chose Insight Timer because it has a giant library of free meditations which you can filter by what you’re looking for.

Pros
  • Over 45,000 free meditations

  • Easy to search and filter content

  • Free seven day intro course

  • Free community of meditators

Cons
  • Not the most intuitive app

  • Too many choices overwhelms some users

  • Technical glitches

Insight Timer offers more than 45K free meditations—that’s a big deal, as one of the biggest complaints about other apps is their lack of free content. The library allows you to filter by need (e.g. stress, sleep, self-esteem), time (from five minutes to 30+ minutes), or specific benefit (e.g. relationships, spiritual, kids). If you’re just getting started, opt for the seven-day free course on how to meditate. You can also join the community of fellow mindful folks for free.

Best for Sleep : Headspace : Meditation & Sleep


Headspace

 Headspace

Key Specs: 

  • Cost: Headspace offers a two-week free trial. An annual subscription is about $70 and a monthly membership costs around $13.
  • App Features: Meditation guides for all levels.

Why We Chose It: We chose Headspace for its user-friendly interface with hundreds of guided meditations for beginners to experts.

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

  • Need a subscription

  • Not great for the less tech-minded

If you’re the type whose mind gets lost in worry (or flooded with to-do lists) the minute your head hits the pillow, then Headspace should be your go-to. This app provides breathing exercises, sleep meditations, and wind-down practices. The screen is dimmed, so there’s no blaring, headache-inducing bright light.

While the app is free, you’ll want to take advantage of the subscription to access the all-important sleepcasts to help get your mind ready for sleep.

Check out our reviews of the best books for anxiety.

Best for Beginners : Ten Percent Happier Meditation


10% Happier

 10% Happier

Key Specs:

  • Cost: Free, seven-day trial; about $100 annually.
  • App Features: Experts available for questions.

Why We Chose It: We selected Ten Percent Happier because it offers beginner guides for people who aren’t sure about meditation

Pros
  • Good for sleep and stress

  • Experts available for questions

  • 100s of meditations available 

    Easy to use

Cons
  • Above average membership cost

  • Not great for more advanced meditators

Based on ABC news anchor Dan Harris's popular book, this app will teach you the how-to behind meditating in a fun, easy, and accessible way. It's suited for anyone, but especially those who think they're "not the meditation type" and can't find the time to start a meditation practice.

You'll be lead through short on-the-go meditations designed to be listened to whenever you can fit them in (like during your commute). Try to see how many consecutive "Mindful Days" you rack up: with time, these moments of calm will come second nature.

Best Guided : Buddhify


buddhify

 buddhify

Key Specs:

  • Cost: About $5, plus in-app purchases.
  • App Features: “Wheel” of meditation practices. meditation practices.

Why We Chose It:  Buddhify stands out because of its targeted meditations for whatever mental health situation you need help with.

Pros
  • Over 200 targeted meditations

  • Easy to use

  • “Wheel” of meditation practices

  • Timer to meditate without guidance

Cons
  • No desktop version

  • Have to pay to use the app

What’s going on with you now? Right now? Whether you’re grabbing a minute in between to-do’s at work, taking a walk, boarding a plane, or dealing with overwhelming feelings, this app has a targeted meditation (over 200 of them) waiting for you.

It's super easy to use—you can create your own “wheel” of meditation practices for quick access when you need them. Each one lasts four to 30 minutes, so you can find time to meditate no matter how swamped you are. As you advance in your skill, you can use their timer to meditate on your own without guidance.

Best For Focus : Unplug


Unplug

 Unplug

Key Specs: 

  • Cost: About $8 per month, $60 per year.
  • App Features: Meditation timer, progress tracker.

Why We Chose It: We chose Unplug because it offers short and long meditations that help address anxiety and stress.

Pros
  • Expert guides to tackle mental health issues

  • Intuitive design

  • Seven day free trial

  • Meditation timer

  • Progress tracker

Cons
  • Have to pay to keep using the app

  • Somewhat expensive

If you have five minutes, you have enough time to meditate. Unplug excels in guided meditations but also allows you to self-direct with unobtrusive timers and ambient sounds. Because just a few minutes are required, it’s great to use when you need to refocus and destress during the workday. Want to commit? Tackle their 30-day challenge to make meditation a daily habit for the long haul.

Best Selection : Simple Habit


Simple Habit

 Simple Habit

Key Specs: 

  • Cost: Free, about $12 a month, $90 a year, $300 a lifetime for premium.
  • App Features: Five-minute meditations, bedtime stories.

Why We Chose It: We selected Simple Habit because it offers free, short meditations from top mindfulness experts.

Pros
  • Five-minute meditations

  • Expert guides

  • Bedtime stories

  • Free

Cons
  • Not many longer meditation offerings

  • Need to pay to unlock all features

No matter your meditation goal—to boost self-confidence, shake off anxiety, get over a breakup, or simply be present—Simple Habit has an extensive library of meditations, all cataloged and easy to find. You’ll love how each meditation is very specifically titled, making mindfulness something you can turn to for any occasion.

One of the big perks of their premium subscription is that you can use the app offline, which makes catching a few minutes of mindfulness even more accessible. It may even be necessary for your mental health, too. The app offers special meditations designed to help you overcome panic attacks or lessen stress.

Final Verdict

All the meditation apps on this list aim to help you harness the healing powers of meditation with the swipe of a finger. Whether you’re a meditation newbie or a seasoned pro looking for some structure, there’s an app for you that can help streamline the meditation process and answer any questions you may have along the way. However, only one app could be our top pick, and that is Calm.

Calm is an incredibly flexible app that offers lots of individual exercises that target common mental health issues from anxiety to lack of focus. It also has a number of tools to help you retain that meditative focus throughout your day. While it’s not the most inexpensive, it’s reasonably priced considering all that it offers, including bedtime stories read by favorite celebs.

Compare The Best Meditation Apps

Best Mental Health Apps  Cost Features
Calm Best Overall Annual membership is $70. Meditations for life is $400  Flexible app with short meditations
Insight Timer Best Budget Free or premium is $10 per month, $60 per year Over 45,000 free meditations
Headspace Best for Sleep $13 per month or $70 per year Meditation guides for all levels
10% Happier Best for Beginners $100 Annually User-friendly app and website
Buddhify Best Guided $5, plus in-app purchases “Wheel” of meditation practices
Unplug Best for Focus $8 per month, $60 per year Live-recorded meditation sessions
Simple Habit Best Selection Free, $12 per month, $90 per year, $300 a lifetime for premium 5-minute meditations

FAQs

How Do Meditation Apps Work? 

Meditation apps help you learn and master various meditation skills like focused deep breathing, mental clarity and being present. They do this by offering various tech tools like mood trackers, expert guided meditations, meditation timers and a community of fellow meditators. 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Meditation App?

Practicing meditation through a meditation app helps you tune into your body and stay in the present moment with exercises and expert advice. Being mindful through meditation has been shown to help improve your focus on tasks in everyday life as well as process new information. Using an app as a guide while you meditate can also help you build up your meditation skill set, which may in turn help you access a calm, focused state in your day-to-day life more easily. 

Are Meditation Apps Worth It? 

While self-meditation or using more basic online guides can certainly help you meditate, apps have the advantage of providing intuitive tools, like trackers, that can help keep you accountable and improve over time. Many also offer expert support at the touch of a button in case you have questions as you practice.

Methodology

Our writers spent hours researching the best meditation apps on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered more than 20 meditation apps, read over 150 reader reviews (both positive and negative), and used 4 of the meditation apps themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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