6 Meditation Apps to Help You Keep Your Cool All Day, Every Day
When comparing meditation apps, consider what you want from your ideal app. Do you want a good, consistent experience, no matter the cost? Or are you trying to save as much as possible (and avoid annoying in-app purchases)? Do you want a guided meditation app that will walk you through the process, or do you just want to hear soothing sounds? Should the app focus exclusively on meditation, or do you want it to explore other areas of self-care, too? Answering these questions will help you find the best meditation app for you, which will hopefully help you stick to your meditation practice.
Now for some hard truths: Most quality meditation apps aren’t free. Many are free to download and then offer subscription models with recurring payments; others charge a one-time fee to download. Free meditation apps are out there, but they may offer a different quality experience than you might get from a paid app. If you plan to make a habit out of meditation with an app, paying a small price may be worth it. (If you’re just trying it, stick to meditation apps with free trials until you’re sure it’s worth any investment.)
When you know what you’re looking for, take a look at these top meditation apps, assuming your phone has room to download another app (click here to learn how to clean out your phone if that’s not the case). Your new go-to trick for calming down or keeping your cool might be just a click away.
You know meditation is a good idea, but squeezing in pre-planned zone-out time between breakfast, your lunch meeting, and walking the dog seems impossible. But any effort is better than no effort. Even five minutes makes a difference, and Simple Habit has a meditation for any free stretch of time in your overpacked day. Tune into a short meditation custom-made to calm you down—there’s one for symptoms like stress or depression, and for a specific part of the day, like waking up and commuting. No matter whether you prefer a traditional meditation led by a former monk or want a modern alternative (like experts trained through Google’s mindfulness program), Simple Habit will give you the peace you need—in less time than it takes to finish a cup of coffee.
To buy: Free to download, subscriptions from $8 per month; simplehabit.com. For iOS and Android devices.
Has your practice moved beyond short meditative sprints? Cultivate your skills with Calm. Abbreviated exercises are available for busy mornings, but this app is better suited for longer sessions of up to 25 minutes. (Unguided and open-ended meditation is also available.) Hold yourself accountable: Calm tracks how much time you spent meditating and records your daily streak. And you can stop struggling to slip into slumber. A 10-minute Daily Calm soothes your worries and brushes away nighttime anxiety. Or, the app’s collection of short, relaxing stories promises to take you to snooze-town.
To buy: Free to download, subscriptions from $13 per month; calm.com. For iOS and Android devices.
Unsure how to get started with this whole, strange, “meditation” thing? Try Headspace. This meditation app promises to get you up to speed and teach you how to slow down. Whether you’re crippled with anxiety or struggling in your relationship, Headspace offers several different meditation options. Some days you might practice focusing; others, you’re banishing intrusive thoughts. Headspace has a free 10-day trial, and paid subscriptions—including a monthly family plan—include expert guidance, activities for kids, short meditations to squeeze into your day, and more.
To buy: Free to download, subscriptions from $13 per month; headspace.com. For iOS and Android devices.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Mental health is a large, complex puzzle, and meditation is only one small piece. Yes, this app offers short, guided exercises on everything from gratitude to falling asleep. But with such a wealth of options, choosing the right one can be a challenge. Stop, Breathe & Think has you check in with your emotions before you pick a meditation and makes suggestions tailored to how you are feeling in the moment.
To buy: Free to download, with free foundational meditations and subscriptions from $10 per month; stopbreathethink.com. For iOS and Android devices.
Proper meditation doesn’t mandate quietly sitting in a chair. Yes, you can squeeze in some zen even if you’re cooking dinner, taking a long walk, or browsing the internet. Designed to be used on the go, Buddhify offers more than 200 meditations that range from 3 to 40 minutes. Even the interface is relaxing, letting you pick your mood and meditation on a gorgeous color wheel. Just opening this meditation app might be enough to calm you down.
To buy: $4.99; buddhify.com. For iOS and Android devices.
With this meditation app, free really is free. Insight Timer offers a huge collection of guided meditations—more then 15,000—with no required subscription or membership. (A premium membership starts at $5 per month and includes offline listening, meditation courses, and other features.) This app also offers a free meditation timer that allows you to practice unguided meditations, complete with ambient noise and a soft ending bell.
To buy: Free; insightimer.com. For iOS and Android devices.