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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

A note on price

The apps mentioned in this article are free to download, but most require a subscription to use some or all of the in-app features.

Many quality meditation apps are available. Taking into consideration factors like your budget and experience level will help you find the meditation app that suits your needs. You may also want to choose an app based on the meditation styles they offer or special features, like the ability to connect to an Apple Watch.

PriceRequires subscriptioniPhone ratingAndroid ratingConsiderations
Breethe$$X4.7 stars4.5 starscan have technical issues
Headspace$$X4.9 stars4.4 starslimited free content
Calm$$$X4.8 stars4.4 starsless structure can be overwhelming
buddhify$X4.8 stars4.1 starsno free content or trial
iBreathe$4.9 starsN/Alimited options; unavailable for Android users
Breathe+$4.7 starsN/Alimited meditations; unavailable for Android users
Simple Habit$$4.8 stars4.7 starsfee for full access/downloads
Mindfulness with Petit BamBou$4.9 stars4.6 starsmany options may be overwhelming
Waking Up$$$X4.9 stars4.8 starscan have technical issues
Oakfree4.8 starsN/Alimited meditation types; unavailable for Android users
Meditation Studio$X4.8 stars4.9 starssubscription cost
The Mindfulness App$$4.8 stars4.6 starssubscription cost

Best guided meditation apps

Breethe

  • Best for: goal tracking
  • iPhone rating: 4.7 stars
  • Android rating: 4.5 stars
  • Price: $$

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.

Pros

  • meditations only take 5 minutes each day
  • variety of meditation types available
  • free trial available

Cons

  • requires monthly payment after first 14 days
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Headspace

  • Best for: a variety of meditation types
  • iPhone rating: 4.9 stars
  • Android rating: 4.4 stars
  • Price: $$

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.

Read our review of Headspace.

Pros

  • easy to use
  • beginner courses
  • large library of single meditations and courses

Cons

  • limited free content
  • subscription cost
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Best meditation apps for sleep

Calm

  • Best for: calming stories you know & love
  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.4 stars
  • Price: $$$

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.

Pros

  • connects with Apple Watches
  • calming music available
  • easy to use

Cons

  • less structure could overwhelm some people
  • subscription cost
  • some reviewers report technical issues

buddhify

  • Best for: value for money
  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.1 stars
  • Price: $

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.

Pros

  • meditations target specific problems and conditions
  • easy to use
  • timer available for non-guided meditations

Cons

  • no free content or free trial
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Best meditation apps for breathing

iBreathe

  • Best for: breathing exercises
  • 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.

Pros

  • free to use
  • simple to set up and use
  • focusing on just one technique avoids overwhelming users

Cons

  • lack of options
  • not available for Android users
  • ads for the free version

Breathe+

  • Best for: simple, easy breathing techniques
  • 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.

Pros

  • easy to use
  • simple techniques
  • free content available

Cons

  • ads with free version
  • not available for Android users
  • limited options for types of meditation

Best app for quick meditation

Simple Habit

  • Best for: mindfulness on the go
  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.7 stars
  • Price: $$

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.

Pros

  • meditations only take 5 minutes
  • free sessions available

Cons

  • cost for full access and downloads
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Best meditation apps for spirituality

Mindfulness with Petit BamBou

  • Best for: a variety of mindfulness programs
  • iPhone rating: 4.9 stars
  • Android rating: 4.6 stars
  • Price: $

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.

Pros

  • mindfulness for all ages, including courses for children
  • multiple languages
  • a variety of courses and session lengths

Cons

  • options could be overwhelming
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Waking Up

  • Best for: a range of philosophies
  • iPhone rating: 4.9 stars
  • Android rating: 4.8 stars
  • Price: $$$

Sam Harris is a New York Times bestselling 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 — or you can pay a one-time cost of $799.99 for lifetime access. They do offer a refund if you don’t find the app valuable.

Pros

  • full refund available
  • variety of courses and resources

Cons

  • subscription price
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Best meditation apps for a budget

Oak

  • Best for: easy instruction
  • 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.

Pros

  • simple to use
  • quick relief from stress
  • most content is free

Cons

  • not available for Android users
  • limited options for types of meditation

Meditation Studio

  • Best for: themed courses
  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.9 stars
  • Price: $

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.

Pros

  • variety of meditation types
  • customization options

Cons

  • subscription cost
  • reviewers report technical issues and crashes

Best meditation app for beginners

The Mindfulness App

  • Best for: personalized reminders, stats & tracking
  • iPhone rating: 4.8 stars
  • Android rating: 4.6 stars
  • Price: $$

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.

Pros

  • introduction course for beginners
  • mindfulness reminders
  • personalization options

Cons

  • premium subscription cost
  • some reviewers report technical issues

Interested in other resources for mental health?

We’re here to help. Explore our evidence-driven reviews of top providers, products, and more to support your physical and emotional well-being.

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 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.

Which app is better — Headspace or Calm?

Headspace and Calm are two popular meditation apps that offer similar benefits. Both apps will help you learn about meditation through guided practices. Choosing the right one for you will depend on your meditation preferences, lifestyle, and mental health needs.

You may want to choose Headspace if you:

  • are new to meditation
  • want a more structured meditation practice
  • want access to shorter, quick meditations

You may want to choose Calm if you:

  • have some meditation experience
  • want access to lengthier stories and music
  • enjoy calming nature sounds
  • want a less structured meditation practice

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.