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For millennia, individuals have engaged in diverse meditation practices. As described by the Cleveland Clinic, meditation is a discipline that combines both physical and mental techniques to achieve mental clarity and concentration. The National Institutes of Health identify different forms of meditation, which may involve concentrating on sensations like breathing, or focusing on sounds, mantras, or images. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best meditation apps to nurture your mind and soul.
What are the Benefits of Meditation Apps?
Meditation can appear intimidating for many individuals. They might question their ability to remain still without becoming restless, or worry that their thoughts will wander, leading them to mentally plan their dinner instead of finding inner tranquility. Even if they are receptive to the concept, they might become preoccupied with the thought, “Who has the time?” Considering our busy work-home schedules and the pressure of our children’s school commitments, many of us could use some relaxation in our lives, and meditation could be the answer we’ve been searching for.
Engaging in meditation techniques can assist in structuring our thinking processes and soothing our active minds, even when engaging in brief guided sessions. The beauty of meditation lies in its flexibility, with no strict rules on how it should be practiced. It can involve methods such as using a chanted mantra or simply adhering to a daily routine, as Yogmata Keiko Aikawa, a renowned Siddha Master recognized for her contributions to the United Nations’ Culture of Peace Program, clarifies.
Top 10 Best Meditation Apps
Best Overall: Calm
One of the most popular applications in the market, boasting 1.5 million user reviews, Calm has rapidly climbed the ranks in the top 10 charts within the health and wellness category. Calm is renowned for its gentle approach to empowering users and facilitating their entry into mindfulness and meditation practices. It offers daily guided meditation sessions that can be easily incorporated into your schedule, ranging from 3 to 25 minutes. Additionally, it provides specialized programs to address issues such as anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances. What’s more, Calm features soothing bedtime stories and a collection of tranquil music, allowing users to engage in mental guided imagery and escape from their immediate surroundings using multiple senses.
Best Budget Service: Ten Percent Happier
Derived from the New York Times best-selling book with an identical title, 10% Happier experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic. Although the fundamental version of the application is accessible for free, the upgraded edition provides access to an extensive library of over 500 guided meditation videos tailored for specific situations and times throughout your day. Premium users also enjoy the privilege of learning from experts about the advantages of mindfulness and its practical integration into their daily lives. Nevertheless, what distinguishes this application from its counterparts, as numerous reviewers have noted, is its remarkable array of video content: New mindfulness series are consistently released for subscribers.
Best Guided Meditation: Core Meditation
Numerous meditation applications offer interactive features through smartphone displays, but Core Meditation distinguishes itself by integrating a 3D handheld device that connects to the app. Developed by fitness equipment manufacturer Hyperice, Core Meditation utilizes this unique linked device to enhance your focus and provide guidance on improved breathing techniques. The device is equipped with ECG biosensors to monitor your progress during daily home sessions. Dan DiClerico, the Director of Home Improvement and Outdoor at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recognized Core Meditation as one of the top wellness services in 2022 due to its extensive collection of carefully curated guided meditations, including modes tailored for enhancing sleep and reducing stress-induced anxiety on the spot.
Best Audio Selection: Headspace
Headspace ranks among the top choices for individuals seeking to enhance their concentration, and according to some users, it can offer temporary relief from everyday stressors as they emerge. The app features a variety of whimsical illustrations to assist users during guided meditations or shorter sessions, including content tailored for children. Subscribers can access audio sessions to aid in achieving a restful night’s sleep. However, it’s important to note that while there is a limited free trial available, Headspace ultimately necessitates a membership fee, making it a suitable choice for families or dedicated practitioners.
Best for Beginners: Waking Up
The creation of the Waking Up app can be attributed to Sam Harris, a former neuroscientist who transitioned into philosophy and became a best-selling author. Unlike traditional meditation apps that promote passive meditation, Waking Up offers a more structured and purposeful approach. For instance, its 28-day Introductory program is designed to equip users with various techniques for enhancing intentionality, making it particularly valuable for those who find it challenging to meditate without a specific focal point. With over 50,000 positive reviews, numerous users have expressed that Waking Up resembles more of a “meditation university” than a typical meditation app.
Best for Sleep: Aura
This meditation application offers a variety of tools to support self-reflection, including guided narratives and music selections, all tailored to your current emotional state. It not only monitors your meditation frequency but also allows you to keep a record of your emotional fluctuations over time. Additionally, you can schedule mindfulness reminders throughout the day to enhance your mood.
Best for Short Sessions: The Mindfulness
Are you making progress in your meditation practice? If you’re looking for a meditation service that doesn’t rely on guided sessions, this one could be the right choice for you. According to Rothman, user tests have shown that you can personalize your meditation sessions, adjusting the duration from 3 to 30 minutes and choosing soothing sounds such as bells to suit your preferences. While a premium subscription offers complete courses for enhancing your focus, the free version allows you to sync with your phone’s health app to monitor your weekly meditation duration.
EXHALE was established and conceptualized in 2020 with the specific intention of catering to BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Womxn of Color) individuals by offering specialized services that were lacking on other prominent platforms. Katara McCarty, the founder of EXHALE, conceived the app with the aim of instilling greater confidence in users when they download it. This confidence stems from the app’s provision of resources directly addressing concerns such as microaggressions, grief, childhood trauma, and more, covering over 15 vital topics.
Best for Mindfulness: Simple Habit
The creators of Simple Habit had a specific audience in their thoughts while designing the platform: individuals who believe they’re too busy to engage in regular meditation. This application prioritizes daily stress management and features brief five-minute sessions as a prominent option. Additionally, it offers specialized sessions designed for travelers, such as a program for morning commutes. The app also provides users with motivational guides and bedtime stories to enhance their experience.
Best for Mantras: Sattva
For those who find solace in auditory or vocal meditation, the guided sessions offered in the Vedic style, complete with an abundance of mantras and chants, will certainly pique your interest. These sessions vary in duration, spanning from as short as 6 minutes to well over an hour, with options designed for both beginners and those looking to gradually extend their practice. Furthermore, the app provides playlists and audio collections that can enhance the quality of your meditation sessions.
Some popular meditation apps for beginners include Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer. These apps offer guided meditation sessions and provide a user-friendly experience.
Meditation apps usually offer users guided audio or video sessions, along with breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques aimed at promoting relaxation and stress reduction. The impact of these apps can differ from one individual to another, but a substantial number of users report experiencing improvements in their mental well-being as a result.
Certainly, numerous meditation apps provide programs and guided sessions specifically designed to enhance relaxation and improve the quality of sleep for users. Notable examples of such apps include Relax Melodies, Sleep Cycle, and Pzizz.
Paid meditation apps often offer more extensive content libraries, personalized experiences, and advanced features. Free apps typically provide a limited selection of sessions and may include advertisements.