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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!

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

There are a number of benefits that come from practicing meditation. 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, one study shows that people who meditate are able to improve on their sleep schedules.
  • Helping with addictions. Since meditation typically requires a fair amount of self-awareness and discipline, research 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 since your body is not responding to stress as often as it usually would.

Take a look at our picks for the best meditation apps for 2021:

Best overall meditation app

Insight Timer

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.9 stars

Price: $$

More meditation is practiced on Insight Timer than anywhere else, and the app has 10 or more free guided meditations added every day. Browse 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.

Best guided meditation apps

Breethe

iPhone rating: 4.7 stars

Android rating: 4.6 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.

Headspace

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.6 stars

Price: $$

Headspace’s guided meditation and mindfulness techniques for daytime use can help you find calmness, wellness, and balance. Before bed, try any of its 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.

MyLife Meditation

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.6 stars

Price: $$

Previously known as Stop, Breathe & Think, the meditation recommendations on this app are 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 your anxiety, reduce stress, breathe deeply, or sleep better. You can also track your mood and overall progress, and check in with yourself daily.

Best meditation apps for sleep

Calm

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.2 stars

Price: $$$

Calm is an award-winning app that has calming exercises, 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 talent — 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.

buddhify

iPhone rating: 4.8

Android rating: 3.9 stars

Price: $

With more than 200 meditations, the buddhify app teaches you how to reduce 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, even scrolling online. Sessions range from 3 to 40 minutes, making this an option for beginners or experienced practitioners.

Best meditation apps for breathing

INSCAPE

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Price: $$

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.

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.

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 feel the 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.

Best apps for quick meditation

Oak

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Price: Free

Just need a quick meditation fix? This app has several quick 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 users.

Whil

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.5 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. It’s 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, providing tools that teens (and anyone!) can use throughout their lives to continue living a life of mindfulness.

Simple Habit

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.

Best meditation apps for spirituality

Mindfulness with Petit BamBou

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.7 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, and has courses based on the science of positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mindfulness.

Waking Up

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.9 stars

Price: $$$

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, including integration into your health apps and additional educational tools about philosophy, selfhood, and free will.

Prana Breath

Android rating: 4.8 stars

Price: $$

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 offers more features including dynamic and diverse breath training, training options, and health tests.

Best meditation apps for a budget

The Mindfulness App

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.4 stars

Price: $$

Meditation beginners and gurus 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.

Sattva

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 3.7 stars

Price: $$

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, and 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.

Best meditation apps for beginners

Meditation Studio

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.8 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.

Let’s Meditate

Android rating: 4.8 stars

Price: Free

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.

Happy Not Perfect

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.4 stars

Price: $$

You may be surprised sometimes by what triggers your stress, anxiety, or feelings of pressure on yourself. 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.

Takeaway

Meditation apps are a great way to learn meditation habits, or to 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, and 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 while using these apps, make sure to schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health professional.

If you want to nominate an app for this list, email us at nominations@healthline.com.