Share on Pinterest
Igor Alecsander/Getty Images

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Meditation is a simple way to reap big benefits. But where do you begin? And how do you know exactly what to do?

Good news — there’s an app for that!

A meditation practice uses techniques to focus your attention and awareness on yourself, a thought, an object, or an activity. Meditation has been practiced by many different cultures for thousands of years to increase spiritual awareness.

Over the years, some people have shifted to focus more on meditation’s physical and mental health benefits rather than the spiritual benefits. The techniques may provide both short- and long-term health benefits when you practice regularly. Still, it can be tricky to learn any new skill and overwhelming to get started.

Although there is no wrong way to practice meditation, having an online guide or app can take some of the stress out of learning how to meditate.

Practicing meditation has a number of benefits. These can include:

  • Reducing stress. One of the most popular reasons that people meditate is to lower stress levels, and according to science, meditation does just that. According to a 2014 study, practicing meditation can lower levels of psychological stress and is helpful for overall well-being.
  • Improving sleep. If you have insomnia, a small 2014 study shows that people who meditate are able to improve their sleep schedules.
  • Helping with addictions. Since meditation typically requires a fair amount of self-awareness and discipline, a 2018 research review shows that the practice can help acknowledge and avoid triggers.
  • Decreasing blood pressure. Meditation is very relaxing, and that relaxation may help to lower blood pressure, as seen in a 2015 study. This is because your body is not responding to stress during meditation as often as it usually would.

We chose these meditation apps as the year’s best because of their quality, reliability, and great reviews. Download one to start learning deep breathing techniques, following guided meditations, and enjoying the many benefits of mindfulness.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $9 per month
  • $$ = $9–$13 per month
  • $$$ = over $13 per month

Best overall meditation app

Insight Timer

The Insight Timer app offers over 45,000 free meditations, and adds 10 or more free guided meditations every day. Browse the thousands of meditations to begin building a daily habit, jump into discussion groups and community features, and use the music tracks and ambient sounds to help calm your mind and promote sleep.

In addition to their large collection of free content, they offer a member Plus option for about $60 per year. With the paid option, you’ll gain access to hundreds of courses lasting 7 to 10 days.

Insight Timer is best for people who don’t get easily overwhelmed by options and want to try a wide range of meditation styles. The paid option is best for people who would like to follow a more structured meditation program that flows together each day.

Best guided meditation apps

Breethe

Learn how to de-stress and sleep better in just 5 minutes each day with a personal mindfulness coach. Breethe’s guided meditation series, inspirational talks, and master classes from mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg can help you better navigate life’s challenges and enjoy improved peace of mind. The app’s sleep music playlists, nature sounds, and bedtime readings can teach you how to enjoy more restful sleep.

After a 14-day free trial, the Breethe app costs $12.99 per month. This app is best for people looking for support to sleep better and reduce stress, restlessness, and anxiety.

Headspace

The guided meditation and mindfulness techniques for daytime use from Headspace can help you find calmness, wellness, and balance. Before bed, try any of their new meditations for sleep, including music, nature soundscapes, or storytelling sleepcasts. The app builds personalized plans based on a little input from you, so you can learn the essentials of meditation and build from there.

A 14-day free trial is available. After, it costs about $70 annually or $13 per month.

MyLife Meditation

Previously known as Stop, Breathe & Think, this app makes meditation recommendations based on your emotions. Use the app to help identify how you’re feeling. Then, the short guided meditations, yoga videos, and acupressure videos can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, breathe deeply, or sleep better. You can also track your mood and overall progress, and check in with yourself daily.

After a 7-day free trial, it costs about $10 per month or $60 per year.

Best meditation apps for sleep

Calm

Calm is an award-winning app that has calming exercises and breathing techniques to help you relax. It even includes a Calm Kids section with meditations for kids ages 3 to 17. The Sleep Stories section features a mix of voice talents — you may recognize actors Matthew McConaughey or Jerome Flynn — to help you sleep. For a mindful experience you can access right from your Apple Watch, there are new breathing exercises, a mindful walking meditation, and calming exercises.

They offer a free 7-day trial. After, it costs about $15 per month or $70 per year.

buddhify

With more than 200 meditations, the buddhify app teaches you how to lower anxiety and stress, promote sleep, and manage difficult emotions. Practice mindfulness exercises with categories suitable for whatever you’re doing — traveling, working, waking up, eating, or even scrolling online. Sessions range from 3 to 40 minutes, making this an option for beginners or experienced practitioners.

Buddhify costs about $5 with other in-app purchases available.

Best meditation apps for breathing

INSCAPE

INSCAPE is an all-purpose meditation app for a variety of scenarios where you may just want to stop and breathe. Feeling anxious? Stressed? Can’t sleep? Angry? Had a bad commute? This app has meditation features that can help you address your range of emotions and help you take a minute or two to center yourself.

Subscriptions cost about $60 per year.

iBreathe

  • iPhone rating: 4.9 stars
  • Price: $

If you’re an experimenter, you probably want to take the same approach with your meditation practice by trying different breathing intervals, session lengths, cycles of breathing, and so on. This app lets you take control of all aspects of a single meditation, so you can adjust the session length and how much of each breathing technique you want in your session.

The breathing exercises have presets as well, so it’s perfect for anyone looking for simple deep breathing exercises. Simply breathe as cued. It’s easy training for beginners or anyone who needs a short break.

The best part? It’s completely free to use all of the features. If you’d like to remove ads, there is the option of a one-time payment of $1.99.

Breathe+

  • iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
  • Price: $

Meditative breathing isn’t the same as regular breathing. It can take some practice before you feel in control of your breaths during meditation and see results. This app is designed to help you learn how to breathe “properly” for full benefits from meditative breathing, including being able to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds and inhaling or exhaling for even short periods of time.

The app offers some free features. To remove ads and unlock all features costs about $1 per month, $5 per year, or $9 for lifetime access.

Best apps for quick meditation

Oak

  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Price: Free

Just need a quick meditation fix? This app has several short exercises to help you calm down, get to sleep, or feel at peace. The app also tracks how long each session lasts, how many breaths you’ve taken, how many sessions you’ve done, and much more. Unfortunately for Android users, this app is only available for iPhone and iOS.

Whil

  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.3 stars
  • Price: Purchased through sponsors

Too busy to meditate? Try this app. It offers meditation courses that last as few as 5 minutes to help reduce stress, anxiety, tension, and much more.

Whil is one of the few apps that’s also designed to help teens and young adults learn about how stress and pressure can affect their physical and emotional health. It provides tools that teens (and anyone!) can use throughout their lives to continue living a life of mindfulness.

Simple Habit

Getting into the habit of daily meditation doesn’t have to feel like a big ask. This app offers a range of 5-minute exercises to help you get into consistent meditation. Featured on Shark Tank in 2017, this app has a growing database of meditations for any time of day, any personal situation, and any goal.

It’s free to access most sessions on Simple Habit. But if you want to download meditations and access all of the content, it costs about $12 per month, $90 per year, or $300 for lifetime access.

Best meditation apps for spirituality

Mindfulness with Petit BamBou

This app is for children as young as 5 or those well into their golden years. It features many guided meditation courses from 3 to 50 minutes long in multiple languages, such as English, Spanish, and German. The app has courses based on the science of positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mindfulness.

It offers both free and paid subscription options.

Waking Up

Sam Harris is a New York Times best-selling author and public intellectual who’s written about many topics related to the mind, body, and spirituality. Now, he’s taking on meditation with a huge collection of science-backed meditation courses and other resources that can help you with mindfulness. Waking Up can integrate into your other health apps and includes additional educational tools about philosophy, selfhood, and free will.

No free content is available, and it costs about $100 per year to join. They do offer a refund if you don’t find the app valuable.

Prana Breath

Prana Breath is an advanced training app that’s easy to use but gives you plenty of options to increase your meditation practice over time. You can work by length or by the goal you want to achieve, such as improving your memory or reducing how often you get sick. The app also features meditation routines for quitting smoking and tackling emotional eating.

The Guru version of this app offers more features including dynamic and diverse breath training, training options, and health tests.

Best meditation apps for a budget

The Mindfulness App

Meditation beginners and experts alike will find lots of options with The Mindfulness App. A 5-day guided practice and introduction to mindfulness can help you get started, and timed guided or silent meditations from 3 to 30 minutes can suit a busy lifestyle. The app also offers personalized meditation options, reminders to keep you mindful throughout the day, and statistics to track in your meditation journal.

This app offers free content. Premium access costs about $10 per month or $60 per year.

Sattva

Sattva draws from Vedic principles of meditation and features meditations, chants, and mantras delivered by Sanskrit scholars. Simple, authentic, and deep meditations begin at 6 minutes in length. Users can set goals to slowly extend their practice. You can also track your progress with the meditation journal and browse thought collections and playlists designed to inspire your sessions.

Free and paid content are both available in the app. Subscriptions cost about $13 per month or $400 for lifetime access.

Best meditation apps for beginners

Meditation Studio

We all have different needs when it comes to meditation. Meditation Studio has a wide selection of meditation practices for different goals: health, kindness, happiness, curiosity, or just generally feeling calmer. You can also create your own meditation plan if you want a little bit of everything.

The app costs about $8 per month or $50 per year.

Let’s Meditate

Whether you need a 5-minute breather or a long, 45-minute meditation session to unwind from the day, this app has options. You can also download different courses for sleep, reducing anxiety, relieving stress, and more so that you can have access to your favorite courses no matter where or what your meditation needs are.

The app costs $0.99 when downloading. This app is best for someone looking for the option to download meditations to their phone to save on data usage.

Happy Not Perfect

You may be surprised sometimes by what triggers your stress, anxiety, or feelings of pressure. This app lets you enter your current mood and gives you specific meditation tips that can help you center yourself. It also features tips and courses that can help you release yourself from cycles of negativity and develop a positive mindset to manage life’s unexpected sources of stress and anxiety.

The app costs about $12 per month, $48 per 6 months, or $80 per year.

Frequently asked questions about meditation apps

How do meditation apps work?

Most mediation apps will ask you to create a profile, so you can track your progress through the meditations. Some apps allow you to continue without registering. Most apps offer guided meditations, which provide cues for when to breathe and where to focus your attention.

Are meditation apps worth it?

Whether you’re new to meditation or have tried it before, meditation apps can make it easier to stick to the new habit. It’s challenging to build a new habit, so having one place to go to and track progress makes it easier. Guided meditations can help reduce distraction and make it easier to learn meditation techniques.

What should I look for in a meditation app?

What to look for in a meditation app depends on your needs. If you want something simple, look for an app with just one meditation style, like deep breathing, to start. To get more options, look for apps with multiple focuses for meditation and lengths that vary from 3- to 20-minute sessions.

Takeaway

Meditation apps are a great way to learn meditation habits. They can help keep you on track and send you reminders to practice your meditation habits daily.

There are a number of meditation apps to choose from, so make sure you choose the one that best fits your lifestyle and goals. Don’t be afraid to try different apps until you find one that works for you.

Also, keep in mind that meditation apps are not meant to replace other practices such as therapy. If you notice negative changes in your mental health while using these apps, make sure to schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health professional.