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Making mental health a priority can help you navigate through all the ups and downs of life with greater ease and acceptance.

Withstanding the test of time, the meditation and mindfulness techniques that originated around 1500 B.C. as an Eastern and spiritual tradition are valuable tools in today’s world.

Thanks to the digital age, it’s easier than ever to start practicing mindfulness meditation. While it is beneficial to study in person with a teacher if possible, using a meditation app can have a positive impact on your life and well-being.

Research from 2018 suggests mindfulness training apps offer many benefits, including improved affect, mood, and emotional reactivity. They may also reduce irritability as well as stress linked to personal vulnerability and external pressure.

Headspace is a meditation app available for iOS and Android that may be great for beginners. With guided meditations, mindful workouts, and sleep techniques, there’s likely something on the app for everyone.

Keep reading for more on what it has to offer.

Headspace is a mindfulness app with an easy-to-use interface that takes the seriousness and intimidation out of meditation.

According to TechCrunch, Headspace is one of the most frequently downloaded mindfulness apps in the world, only second after Calm, garnering millions of downloads.

Headspace was co-founded by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk who narrates a majority of the guided meditations. Although meditation itself is rooted in Eastern Buddhist tradition, the app isn’t tied to any singular religious identity.

Pros

  • Yearly subscriptions and family plans provide significant savings.
  • The app works for all iOS and Android devices.
  • The content on the website is accessible and free for everyone.
  • The app can give you daily nudges or reminders to practice.
  • You can track your progress through the stats feature.
  • You can include others in your journey through the buddies feature.
  • The workout classes are taught by Olympians.

Cons

  • The monthly subscription is higher than other meditation apps.
  • Some users report finding the app repetitive at times.
  • The free trial requires entering a credit card and committing to an auto-renewal subscription.
  • Headspace places a greater focus on introductory courses, which may be a con for advanced meditators.

After creating an account, you’re taken to the homepage where you’re greeted by “Wake Up,” a short series of videos that explain concepts like letting go or stepping away from mental stressors (sometimes, there’s even a celebrity leading the video).

The menu bar at the bottom of the screen has four categories you can toggle between: Meditate, Sleep, Move, and Focus.

Here are some of the most popular features:

Meditate

There are both meditation courses and single programs.

Courses are clusters of guided meditations that center around different topics, like dealing with grief, sparking creativity, boosting confidence, and finding focus.

Single programs are one-off meditations for stressful moments, like gearing up for a presentation or conquering pre-flight anxiety.

Many meditations are customizable. You can usually choose between Puddicombe, the app’s co-founder, or a female narrator. You can also choose how long you want the session to last, anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes. The app tracks how long you’ve meditated and updates you on your “minutes meditated” after each session.

Headspace also tracks how many days in a row you meditate and then shares a positive quote centered around mindfulness.

Sleep

Trouble sleeping is one common reason people turn to meditation. An estimated 50 percent of people 55 years and older have some form of sleep problem, including initiating and maintaining sleep, according to a 2015 study.

Headspace’s sleep content includes relaxing guided sessions and Sleepcasts, which are 45 to 55 minutes and feature audio tours of fictional realms paired with white noise.

There are also nighttime guided meditations with short breathing exercises and relaxing visualizations to help you let go of your worries. Lastly, there’s a sleep radio with more than 8 hours of rain, ocean, or music sounds to help you doze off.

Move

Move is one of the app’s newest offerings. It has many low to medium impact workouts that are 10 to 30 minutes long and focus on the mind-body connection.

Olympians Kim Glass and Leon Taylor coach you through the sessions and encourage you to pay special attention to your breathwork.

None of the classes focus on intensity. Instead, the classes focus on modules, like reframing anxiety through yoga or mindfulness while doing cardio.

Focus

The Focus tab offers curated music and meditation playlists designed to help you focus on the work in front of you.

Some playlists feature ambient music and lo-fi beats while other playlists contain soundscapes or 3-D recordings from all over the world (like forest streams, Delhi thunderstorms, monastery bird songs, or a midnight jungle).

There are also focus playlists curated by Grammy Award-winning artists, like John Legend. His playlist showcases his favorite jazz hits, for example.

Social connection

The app allows you to add friends and family from your contact book as buddies. Adding buddies allows you to see how many minutes your friends have meditated, and send them cheerful messages like “keep it up” or “thinking of you!” This feature can help you hold each other accountable.

Headspace for kids

Headspace also has an array of courses for children to teach them about meditation early on in life. There are simple breathing exercises, relaxing mindful activities, and short lessons on the importance of kindness and generosity.

Headspace recently partnered up with Sesame Street to encourage children to join.

For example: Elmo is having trouble sleeping because he wants to play. Puddicombe then teaches Elmo a wind-down activity to help him relax and fall asleep.

Headspace’s kids content is broken down into digestible animated videos to teach kids how to better manage relatable, everyday scenarios.

You can download the Headspace app for free and use the free features, including a few guided meditations.

Headspace offers a free trial that gives you access to the complete content library, including more than 500 meditations. To sign up, you must enter your credit card information. The company will automatically bill you for your subscription unless you cancel ahead of time.

A membership to Headspace Plus is $12.99 per month and comes with a free 7-day trial. The annual subscription costs $69.99 and includes a free 14-day trial.

If you qualify for their student plan, it’s $9.99 per year. There’s also a family plan that grants six accounts access for $99.99 per year.

Headspace grants free memberships to all K–12 teachers, school administrators, and supporting staff in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

Headspace can be a great choice for anyone looking to try meditation for the first time. It’s affordable, simple, and easy to use.

Seasoned meditation users, on the other hand, can take their practice to the next level by meditating with untimed sessions or wandering through fictional lands during Sleepcast.

The app teaches eight helpful techniques derived from Burmese and Tibetan Buddhist traditions:

  • Noting: labeling experiences as they arise into “thinking” or “feeling”
  • Visualization: picturing something or someone in your mind
  • Resting awareness: letting your mind roam free during meditation rather than focusing on the breath or a visualization
  • Focused attention: focusing your attention on a single object, goal, or mantra
  • Loving kindness: mentally sending goodwill, kindness, and warmth toward others
  • Reflection: asking yourself questions
  • Body scan: performing a mental scan, from the top of your head to the end of your toes to sync the body and mind
  • Skillful compassion: focusing on a person you know or love and paying attention to the sensations that arise from the heart

Each technique has been contextualized throughout the different meditations and is accompanied by helpful animations to provide clarity.

You may enjoy Headspace if you experience symptoms of:

Using Headspace to practice mindfulness meditation may help boost your well-being, promote positive thinking, and reduce emotional reactivity.

Research from 2019 examined the effects of using Headspace to do short mindfulness meditations a few times per week for 8 weeks. The results suggest that the sessions have a positive effect on overall well-being, daily positive affect, and job strain. They may also reduce distress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Practicing mindfulness may help improve your mental focus. A 2018 study suggests that a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session can cut mind wandering by 22 percent.

A 2017 study shows that participants demonstrated a significant increase in cognitive focus and reduction in mind wandering after using Headspace for 4 weeks.

Another well-known meditation app, Calm, offers many of the same meditation techniques and subsequent benefits as Headspace, though the apps differ in a few ways.

Headspace is best suited for new meditators who prefer more structure and plan to do short sessions. It is also ideal for people who want to do themed meditations and mindful movement workouts.

Calm is designed to be intuitive and soothing, often featuring nature images. Offering longer meditation sessions with less structure, Calm may be best for people with meditation experience. People who want to improve sleep may prefer Calm since it offers more bedtime stories.

Following the free 7-day trial, Calm Premium costs $14.99 a month, $69.99 a year, or $399.99 for a lifetime membership.

To ensure we review quality meditation apps that benefit our readers, we thoroughly vet the brand to ensure medical credibility.

We select brands that have good business practices and are socially responsible. A mental health professional from Healthline’s Medical Network reviewed this article for accuracy.

We look for meditation apps that have mostly positive reviews, offer a variety of quality content, and are easy to use. We select meditation apps that can enhance your overall well-being, benefit your daily life, and are suitable for a range of abilities, especially those who are new to meditation.

Headspace takes the seriousness out of meditation with its graphics and easy-to-navigate interface. Just like the tagline suggests, Headspace tries to foster a space where meditation is made simple.


Iman Balagam is a writer based in Houston, Texas. When she’s not laughing at her own jokes, or buying overpriced chia pudding, she can be found reading fiction novels, catching a spin class, doomscrolling through TikTok, or waiting for her delayed Spirit flight to board.You can see more of her work on her website.