You’re probably well aware of the many benefits of meditation. You may have even studied up on what’s involved. If you’ve tried meditating on your own, though, you’ve no doubt discovered what many others before you have. Having an expert to guide you through the process can really help, especially as you’re learning.
These days, you thankfully don’t have to leave the house and cram into a room with others to learn to meditate. Technology allows you to simply download an app and get that expert guidance you need. But there are so many apps, it can be tough to pick just one. We’re here to help.
The Benefits of Meditation
First, though, why should you meditate? Sure, you probably know that meditating can help you calm your stress and anxiety, which is reason enough to get started. But here are some other benefits, many of which stem from the stress reduction the practice gives you.
- Achieve an overall sense of calm and peace that carries through to all your daily activities.
- Enjoy increased self-awareness that can help you identify and achieve your goals.
- Be present in your life, enjoying the moment rather than constantly reflecting on the past or worrying about the future.
- Become a more optimistic person, reducing the negative thoughts that can lower your quality of life.
Some also believe that meditation helps with physical ailments, like chronic pain, tension headaches, cancer, and asthma. You may also minimize your risk of heart issues, which have been linked to stress. Additionally, if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or sleep issues, meditation can be a holistic form of treatment to try. Meditation is not a replacement for seeking professional medical help for your condition, but it’s a great complement to any treatment you’re getting.
What to Look for in a Meditation App
Now that we know why meditation helps, here are a few features to prioritize as you’re searching for a meditation app.
- Sessions for beginners. If you’re just starting out, you can’t jump into practice. You need to be walked through the steps. There are plenty of apps that will let you start out as a beginner, then work your way toward more advanced sessions as your skills and comfort level progress.
- Varying session lengths. You may not always want to do a 30-minute meditation. Make sure you have the option for a quick session when you want it.
- Sleep help. If you suffer from insomnia, look for an app that has built-in meditations to help you drift off at night.
The 9 Best Meditation Apps
Ready to get started? Here are some apps we recommend to help you on your meditation journey.
When you think of meditation apps, Calm may be the first that comes to mind. The app has had more than 40 million downloads worldwide since its inception in 2012. Calm goes beyond meditation, offering help for sleep and relaxation, as well. There’s also a workplace plan that lets you provide Calm as an employee benefit.
You don’t even have to join Calm to access its resources. The app’s website includes a page full of free resources, including daily gratitude journals, calm intention cards, a managing stress workbook, and more.
Here are some of Calm’s most notable features:
- Guided meditations in a wide range of goals, including calming anxiety, training your mind, building confidence, and soothing pain. Beginners might benefit from going straight to the How to Meditate module, which is a 30-day program targeted to everyone.
- Sleep Stories give you relaxing bedtime stories to help calm your mind so you can drift off to sleep. Calm recommends starting with Stephen Fry’s narration, Blue Gold, but there are also stories narrated by Matthew McConaughey, Laura Dern, and Lucy Liu, among many others.
- Music gives you access to a library of exclusive selections that will help you focus, relax, or sleep.
- Scenes provides visual and audio representations of relaxing environments that you can use as background while you work, sleep, or study.
- Masterclass connects you with some of the world’s most renowned experts for topics like gratitude, conscious parenting, breaking bad habits, and mindful eating.
- Calm for Business builds in training to help with rollout. You’ll also get access to reporting that helps you determine whether your team is taking advantage of the job perk.
Price: Basic features free. For premium features, you’ll pay $69.99 USD billed annually or $399.99 for life after a free seven-day trial. Free plans limit the number of meditations and sleep stories. Premium plans also include masterclasses and video lessons focusing on stretching and movement.
Like Calm, Headspace has a variety of features to help you meditate, relax, and sleep. But the app’s primary focus is meditation. You can learn to meditate, enjoy guided meditation, and study meditation techniques.
Here are a few features that Headspace offers that make it worth considering:
- Beginner-designed meditations gradually teach you the basics.
- Each day brings a fresh meditation.
- Specialized meditations are available for work, kids, sleep, focus, stress, anxiety, and more.
- Short meditations and mindfulness exercises you can do throughout the day, including while you’re completing tasks like cooking, cleaning, and commuting to work.
- Multiple sleep features help you fall and stay asleep. They include stories, meditation and breathing exercises, and sleep music.
- Morning meditations and stories help you start the day off right.
- With move mode, you can get on your feet and exercise with routines designed to boost your physical and mental health.
- Hundreds of articles to help you learn more about meditation, sleep, and stress.
Price: $69.99 per year after a two-week free trial or $12.99 a month after a one-week free trial. Students and families get a discount.
If you’re looking for an app that focuses on mindfulness education, Mindful is worth considering. You’ll get access to countless articles that will help inform your practice. There are also guided meditations that provide the text necessary for you to expand your own sessions. Most meditations are available in at least audio and text form, with some including video, as well.
Here are some benefits you’ll get with your Mindful subscription:
- Premium courses provide audio meditations from a variety of teachers.
- Online courses help you learn more about mindfulness and health.
- Free article walks you through the process of meditating, step by step.
- Mobile app gives you access to all the features on the go.
- Hundreds of articles help you learn more about the human mind and the benefits of mindfulness.
- Special section for educators equips teachers with mindfulness lessons that they can take to their own classrooms.
- Print magazine published six times a year, available for just $5 more as an add-on to your digital subscription.
Price: Digital subscriptions cost only $24.95 a year, which gives you unlimited access to mindful.org and the iOS and Android apps. You can also browse the full PDF archive. For $29.95 a year, you can sign up for an unlimited plan, which includes six print magazines and all the features you get with the digital plan.
Practitioners at all levels can benefit from the extensive library of meditation tracks Omvana brings. Meditations are available for everything from mindfulness to wealth and abundance.
The big difference between Omvana and other meditation apps is the size of its library, with hundreds of meditations that can be combined with more than 200 ambient tracks to keep each session fresh. This app is designed to help you reshape your thinking to improve your quality of life.
In addition to the size of its library, here are some features that set Omvana apart:
- More than 50 free meditations.
- Outcome-based meditations.
- Meditations range from three to 60 minutes to help you fit meditation in with your own schedule.
- Access via website and app.
- Customizable music mixer lets you choose ambient music to enhance your experience.
- Library includes motivational speeches and inspirational books to help with self-improvement.
- Sleep enhancement sounds help you fall asleep.
Price: $9.99 per month for unlimited access, or $99 per year if you pay annually. You can pay a $499 one-time fee that gives you access to the app indefinitely.
Happify takes a different approach to boosting your mental health. The app uses science-backed methods to improve your overall life satisfaction. You answer questions that earn you a “happiness score,” then let the app guide you through activities that will work to improve that score.
Here are a few features that make Happify worth considering:
- Scientifically-validated assessment tools determine your happiness level, assessing a score that helps the app customize your experience.
- Participate in more than 3,000 science-based activities and games with the goal of improving your happiness score.
- Choose expert-created personalized happiness tracks.
- More than 300 guided relaxation and meditation to help improve your happiness score.
- Track your progress over time through an easy-to-read graph.
- Subscribe to Happify Daily and have inspirational stories delivered to your inbox each day.
- Premium plan offers access to more than 65 additional tracks, unlimited access to games and meditations, advanced progress tracking, and more.
- Interact with the Happify community, configuring your experience to the type of social interaction you prefer.
- Business plan allows employers to provide Happify as a job perk to improve overall morale and well-being.
- Available in eight different languages, with users in 178 countries around the world.
Price: Free. Happify Plus, with premium plans priced at $11.67 when billed yearly or $14.99 monthly. You can access a lifetime subscription for $449.99.
Personal coaches help their clients reach their goals and improve their daily thinking. But hiring a personal coach can be expensive. Coach.me brings the experience to your smartphone, helping you set goals and work each day toward achieving them. Although you’ll pay a weekly fee for personal coaching, you can access the habit tracker and community support for free, making it a great app to permanently change your behavior.
Here are some of Coach.me’s features:
- Habit tracker lets you choose a new habit and monitor your progress each day toward achieving it.
- Hold yourself accountable by setting weekly targets and tracking whether you met them.
- The Coach.me community provides support as you work toward hitting your targets.
- Trends let you monitor your weekly progress.
- Expert coaches provide advice, along with the rest of the community, in the free version of the app.
- Get help online or through an app on your iOS or Android device. Link up your Apple Watch and you’ll get reminders on your wrist throughout the day.
- Pay an hourly fee for habit-building consultations with expert coaches in a variety of areas. Specialties include: mindfulness, productivity, fitness, save money, dieting, writing, and addiction.
- Traditional coaches will work with you for an hourly fee by phone or video. These specialties include business, fitness, life, and productivity.
Price: Free for habit tracker. Personal coaches charge individual fees, with rates starting at $25 per hour.
7. Down Dog
Yoga is a great way to stay in shape while also getting the mind-body benefits of meditation. Down Dog delivers personalized yoga sessions directly to your mobile device. Each yoga practice is customized to your preferences, including time, level, focus, voice, and music. The result is an experience that’s different every day.
Ready to get started? Here are a few features you’ll get when you sign up for Down Dog.
- Kick off your membership with a three-day Intro to Yoga series.
- Customize your practice by level, type, length, and more.
- Choose between a variety of practice types, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, and Ashtanga.
- Special section for expecting mothers filled with customized prenatal workouts.
- The music senses your breathing and adjusts the music to match your pace.
- Choose from six different instructors.
- Need to mix in a more intense workout? Choose High-Intensity Interval Training and burn fat in intense, short spurts.
- Ballet-inspired workouts help you build muscle while having fun.
- Seven-minute workouts give you quick fat-burning sessions.
- Integrates with the Apple Health app.
Price: $7.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
8. Fitbit Relax
If you own a Fitbit tracker, you already have the meditation tool you need, built into your device. Fitbit Relax is included with the Fitbit Charge 3, Versa Series, and Inspire HR. It measures your heart rate to find the best breathing rate for you. You’ll choose between three- and five-minute sessions, then follow the prompts to determine when to inhale and exhale.
For those who already have the right Fitbit model, this may be a no brainer. For others, though, here are some features that might help you decide whether to buy a Relax-compatible Fitbit or not:
- Breathing is guided by biofeedback and animations, as well as vibrations that help you know when to inhale and exhale.
- Feedback provided on how well you followed the guide. You’ll see sparkles. The more sparkles light up the screen, the more accurate you were in breathing along with the guide. This will help you monitor your own progress.
- Quit a session at any time by pressing the back button on your Fitbit.
- Gain the science-proven benefits of deep breathing exercises. Research has shown that deep breathing reduces blood pressure and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Disable and enable the Relax feature in the menu section.
Price: Free with Fitbit Charge 3, Versa Series, and Inspire HR.
Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, Joyable aims to help members reduce anxiety and depression. Members get access to personal coaches who work directly with each person to provide support. The app is built for the workplace, but individuals can join for a monthly fee. The employer-provided aspect simply lets businesses issue a code to provide the app for free through insurance or a wellness program.
Here are some great reasons to give Joyable a look:
- Answer questions to allow the app to learn more about your needs.
- Agree to an optional call with a coach to discuss your goals. After that, coaches are available to contact at any time. You can also schedule a time to talk.
- Complete five-minute activities through the app or website. Joyable recommends completing activities at least every one to two days to get the biggest benefits.
- Work one-on-one with your coach to set goals and assess your progress. Coaches are available via phone, text, or email.
- Program developed and monitored by leading mental health experts in cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Available for free through many insurers and employers.
- Studies have shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy is as effective as in-person therapy.
- Can be used in conjunction with existing therapy. In fact, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a professional at least occasionally.
- Can also be used in conjunction with medication. Joyable recommends you be on a prescription medication for at least one month before you begin using its services.
Price: Free through participating employers and insurers. $99 per month for all others after a 7-day free trial.
How to Boost Focus and Concentration at Work
Meditation and mindfulness have both physical and emotional health benefits. With so many apps to choose from, you can even sign up for multiple apps that work together to help you live your best life. Shift interacts with the most popular meditation and mental health apps to ensure you have easy access to the apps you love directly from your desktop. Check out Shift’s health and fitness app integrations here. While meditation has shown to improve focus and concentration, a stressful and disorganized workday can quickly reverse your renewed outlook. Having all of your apps and email accounts together in one place allows you to work on what matters without all of the distractions. Download Shift and find out how it can help you be more focused and productive while working from home or at the office.