The best meditation apps can help you sleep better, relieve your stress, and find the much needed inner peace. But given the current situation with Covid-19, meditation apps are more than worth it, even if you only have a break from the news and have the opportunity to rest for ten minutes.
Headspace, one of the most popular meditation apps, was first launched 10 years ago. Since then, hundreds of other meditation apps have been created. That means finding the best meditation app for you can be overwhelming.
But when it comes to meditation, choosing is a good thing. There are now meditation apps for all types of people and preferences. From apps for beginners that guide you through the basics of meditation (such as headspace and Buddhify) to apps that only offer you a timer and sound cues so that you can instead “freestyle” your meditation practice (like Samsara timer and Pocket meditation timer).
There are not only different types of apps, but also different variations of meditative practice. You've probably heard celebrities screaming about the benefits of transcendental meditation, but most of the meditation apps that you can download and those on this list allow you to practice some form of mindfulness meditation – less focus on singing and mantras and Focus more on.
What is mindfulness meditation?
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_yXe_6mYTA (/ embed)
It is easy to roll your eyes at the word "mindfulness". We were all inundated with books, articles, and apps that were about becoming more mindful, from mindful swimming and shopping to mind-cultivating and traveling to everything else in between. But simply put, mindfulness means being present and noticing what is happening.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that you empty your mind. Instead, it means paying more attention. Whether it's your thoughts, your breath, or sounds around you. The advantage of mindfulness meditation is that you can start to take away some of the presence and awareness you feel when you meditate on everything you do all day.
And giving you the tools to be a little more present all day long is just one of the many benefits of meditation. It's still early for scientific studies (so we can't definitely say that meditation works well for everyone and has the same benefits for everyone), but the results are promising.
So far, studies have shown that meditation can low blood pressure, improve sleep, alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, Relieve stress and increase self-compassion, improve your memory and even strengthen your immune system.
With this in mind, you will find our currently best selection of meditation apps here. We have used and tested all of this (in some cases for years) to give you the best chance of developing a little more calmness and a little less stress in your life.
1. Wake up
Best for those who want a simple, insightful exercise
The awakening was created by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, philosopher, podcaster and author who teaches and discusses meditation in a modern scientific context.
What we particularly like about the Waking Up app is that it's not nonsense. There are no singing, sparkling rain noises or spiritual references. Even the app itself has a very easy to use and minimalist design.
The goal here is to be present and conscious. But that doesn't mean it's not soothing and transforming. We have been using Waking Up for more than a year and have found that it has made a big difference – especially in terms of stress and reactivity.
There are two sections to Waking Up. In the practice area, you can access simple daily meditations told by Sam Harris himself. When you log in to the app for the first time, these daily exercises serve as an introduction to meditation and help you learn the basics of standing still and consciousness.
But there is also a section called Theory, which is about learning about what's going on in practice. Sam Harris interviews a number of prominent figures in meditation, self-development, and neuroscience to discuss topics such as death and consciousness, and also publishes smaller lessons that are like chunks of wisdom that we sometimes hear when we have meditated that day.
This wealth of lessons, interviews and additional insights about meditation sets Waking Up apart from the competition. For this reason, we recommend Waking Up for those who want to deal with meditation and the science and thinking behind it.
Pricing: Free. But with in-app purchases to unlock more content. You can also contact Sam Harris and the developers if you really want to try more of the app, but can't afford it.
Best for beginners
Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps – and for good reason. We meditated with Headspace for the first time more than six years ago, and we owe it to ourselves that we looked at the obstacles that can arise when you decide to meditate for the first time. How do we sit still? What if we are involved in thoughts? How do we stop beating ourselves up when we get distracted?
We managed to make everyday practice easier with a user-friendly app full of colors, simple instructions, fantastic graphics that illustrate what is going on while meditating, and the soothing voice of Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace.
This is a great first point of contact for beginners who want to deal with meditation. One of the best things is that there are so many different types of meditation that you can try for all kinds of situations. Whether it's a simple mindfulness practice, meditation for kids, sleeping, or when you're busy, including mindful cooking.
We especially love the SOS meditations, which have been specially developed for mini meltdowns. There is one to feel overwhelmed and one to panic that we have used many times to become neutral again.
Pricing: Free. But with in-app purchases to unlock more content.
Best for those who can't get enough of meditation
When you open the Calm app for the first time, you'll be asked to take a deep breath. This is how the entire experience with the app feels. A breath of fresh air and the opportunity to switch off and slow down for a few minutes.
One of our favorite things about Calm is that you are asked what you focus on before you start. Whether it develops gratitude, increases happiness or, our favorite, reduces stress.
Calm has a large selection of different meditations to choose from. There is a series about self-confidence, one about yes to life and even a Sigur Ros sound bath experience if you don't want guidance, just want soothing sounds to relax.
There is also a section on sleep stories in the app that is all about helping you sleep soundly. With bedtime stories read by soothing voices or famous soothing voices, including Matthew McConaughey. He tells a story about the universe called Wonder and it's a very, very dreamy experience.
If you don't feel like following a guided meditation, Calm also offers a timer and a huge catalog of soothing music, sounds and ambient sounds. Many are prepared for sleep, while others are simply nice to hear while you are working or doing tasks.
We believe there are better apps out there to help you learn the basics of meditation, but Calm has the largest selection of meditations, sounds, sleep features, and stories. For us it really gives its name – it is a destination for rest.
Pricing: You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Calm. It is then £ 42.99 / $ 42.99 for a year.
Best for those who need practical tools to get through the day
Although we are creatures of habit, many of us do not want to meditate the same way every day. This is where Buddhify comes in.
Sometimes you may want something slow and soothing to guide you through a difficult experience, sometimes you need a simple body scan when you wait in the doctor's office or in line at the post office.
Instead of asking you what you want to focus on (because we often don't know, especially when we're stressed), Buddhify shows you a number of scenarios on a colorful wheel, and you just have to choose which one best describes the situation, what you're going through.
The app offers a recommendation that focuses on what you need at the moment – and always adapts your situation perfectly to a meditation. Whether you go to sleep, go for a walk or travel.
Our recommendation would be to start your meditation journey with headspace or waking up and then add Buddhify to your practice, as meditation is less a sacred practice that requires a quiet space, a comfortable pillow and incense than a practical and helpful tool.
Price: £ 4.99 / $ 4.99
5. Insight timer
Best for a mix of meditation
Like Calm, Insight Timer is an app with many guided meditation practices, lessons, and features to choose from. That said, it's not just an app for meditating, it's a one-stop shop for feeling good, calming down, and reading about the broader thinking and history behind meditation practice and self-development.
A series of guided meditations are offered in Insight Timer. You can choose from a beginner kit that includes learning to meditate or dealing with fear. Or choose how you want to meditate based on a particular focus, such as sleep, stress, and anxiety. Or you can choose the type of exercise you want, e.g. B. pay attention to noises, movements or sit back and take part in a guided visualization.
There is a useful 7-day course that we recommend if you are new to meditation that will teach you the basics. But like Calm, we think Insight Timer is a great option if you started meditating and then want to have access to a variety of exercises – it's a mix of meditation.
Pricing: Free. But with in-app purchases to unlock more content.