‘Mindfulness’ has been the buzz word on everybody’s lips, even before the pandemic. Its popularity is no accident. Taking the time to meditate and be present in the moment boasts an abundance of benefits from stress relief and relaxation to mental resilience. Since now more than ever we need all of the above, it could be the ideal time to start.
Finding a second to take a break doesn’t have to be hard, and a few minutes of meditation can help with that. If you're just new to meditation, check out our introduction to meditation for beginners. There are countless meditation apps out there, claiming to help you break the endless work-sleep cycle with mindfulness. So, how can you choose the right one for you? Worry not, we’ve ranked the best meditation apps for you. Here’s what you need to know (and where to download them!).
The Best Meditation Apps, Ranked
#1 Waking Up by Sam Harris
Created by neuroscientist, philosopher, and author Sam Harris, Waking Up took four years to develop but was worth the wait. With a simple and intuitive dashboard, the app is easy to navigate. You can choose from either ‘theory’ or ‘practice’ to get started, each of which has a variety of guided talks or meditations. There’s also a handy timer for quick sessions!
With both ‘daily meditations’ as well as guided lessons, there’s a lot to discover here. If you’re battling something in particular or want to expand an area, there may be a course to suit you. Lesson highlights include ‘Doing Good’, ‘Mind & Emotion’ and ‘Free Will’.
What truly sets this mindfulness app apart from the plethora of options out there is its core message. Rather than merely focussing on the health benefits of meditation, Harris explains that we ‘become what we pay attention to’. Through practising mindfulness, we can start paying attention to the things that make us better people and happier people.
The free version of Waking Up includes the introductory course of 28 short and sweet guided meditations along with some lessons and daily meditations. However, if you want the full experience of the app, the subscription is £11.99 a month or £99.99 a year.
If it’s relaxing soundscapes and soothing music you’re looking for, Calm may be the best meditation app for you. The award-winning app is diverse, boasting a variety of different mindfulness sessions, depending on your needs. The Daily Calm sessions are an excellent place to start for newcomers to the world of meditation, offering simple guided meditations. When you first use the app, it’s smart to explore these quick sessions.
At the start of 2021, the app said hello to a new daily meditation series: The Daily Trip. Hosted by Jeff Warren, the guided sessions aim to take a look at the inner workings of the mind. Each one explores a new part of human experience and allows you to take a short, but break from your everyday responsibilities. A subscription is £28.99 per year.
Perhaps one of the best-known mindfulness apps, Headspace gives users an introductory understanding of meditation. Packed with simplistic and attractive illustrations, the app’s language is equally inviting. If you’re previously been turned off by complicated or confusing meditation platforms, a straightforward opinion like this one will be refreshing.
When you first download the app, you can get started with the ‘Basics’ course. From there, it’s a case of deciding what your personal wellness goals are and choosing sessions that suit you. From sleep-centric meditations to pick-me-ups, there’s something for everyone. Additionally, there are the new ‘SOS’ sessions, which are tailored to help you battle any middle-of-the-night worries. Headspace has a free trial and costs £9.99 after that.
#4 Ten Percent Happier
Next up, the best meditation app for people who think they don’t like meditating. After having a panic attack live on TV, news anchor, Dan Harris, knew something had to change. It was then that he began his meditation journey. That lead to him writing a book and then, shortly afterwards, releasing an app based on what he found along the way.
Unlike the other apps on this list, Ten Percent Happier offers no bells or whistles. It’s simply about the meditation sessions. When you get started, you have to answer a series of questions and the app creates a bespoke plan for you. Plus, if you want to try something new, you can embark on one of the app’s challenges, such as the New Year Challenge. There’s a free trial available and the full app costs £97.99 per year.
Best Free Meditation Apps, Ranked
#1 Insight Timer
Packed with more than 45,000 free meditations, Insight Timer is the best meditation app for people on a budget. The app also includes an interesting social media element, showing how many people around the globe are using it to meditate in real-time. You can see who is having a session near you and even invite friends to meditate with you.
If you’re looking for a no-hassle app that gives you a quick mindfulness session when you need it most, Insight Timer is the best free app for you. You can use the filter system to find the right session for you. For example, you may choose to filter the tracks by ‘self-esteem’ or ‘stress’, depending on how you’re feeling. Total beginner? There’s also a free course that teaches you how to meditate when you first download the app.
#2 Happy Not Perfect
Offering both meditation tools and a whole host of sessions, Happy Not Perfect is a simple free app (that includes in-app purchases). You can get started by entering your current mood, which will take you to a variety of meditation options or tools to suit you. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed out, you may quickly use the app to help you unwind.
The app bridges the gap between gratitude journal and mindfulness guide. It includes a daily workout for beginners. Packed with cool animations, chilled out music, and even questions about ‘what’s been going on’, this feature is an engaging way to decompress and take a moment to yourself. You can also set goals within the app and save journal entries to read back later. Finally, you can send ’vibes’ to friends to perk them up.
Keep Calm and Start Meditating!
Adding a little more mindfulness into your day can only have positive results. Since retreats are very much off the table right now, using an app for your daily sessions is a superb alternative. Why not check out the best meditation apps for yourself now?