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24 Best Meditation Apps to Reduce Stress

24 Best Meditation Apps to Reduce Stress

Jolene Dobbin
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Meditation is practiced across cultures and religions worldwide. While the history of meditation may go back centuries, millennia even, the study of its benefits and resulting popularization is only a few decades old. And the use of meditation apps is even more recent.
Meditation apps can help you put guided mindfulness meditation into practice to realize the benefits – virtually anytime or anywhere. Here are the 24 best meditation apps that offer a totally Zen experience.

The benefits of meditation

Although meditation is an ancient tradition, it is still practiced in many cultures and religions across the globe. In the midst of an increasingly busy, fast-paced, and demanding world, meditation is becoming more popular than ever. In fact, it’s estimated that 200 million to 500 million people worldwide meditate and in the U.S. use of meditation tripled among adults between 2012 and 2017, from 4.1% to 14%.
People are practicing meditation for a variety of reasons, which include the desire to enhance general wellness, reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus, sleep better, and more.
Meditation can indeed offer a number of benefits:
Now that we’ve touched on some of the benefits of meditation, let’s explore the 24 best meditation apps, curated into 6 categories that include apps for guided meditation, daily use, mindfulness, sleep, short/quick use, and free meditation apps.

Guided meditation apps

Man Meditating in Front of HP Laptop
Guided meditation apps are those that include instructions to help you along your meditation session, whether it’s 5-minute guided meditation, only 1 minute long, or even 30 minutes or longer.
These sessions usually feature the voice of a narrator, trained teacher, or other professional, or even a disembodied (yet oddly soothing) voice that’s mostly created out of AI. Guided meditation apps are particularly helpful for those who are just starting out on their meditation journey.

1. Calm

Calm provides guided sessions that span anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. They include a range of topics you can choose from, such as reducing stress and anxiety or improving focus. You can also access progress trackers and programs specifically for beginners.
Cost: Free for basic content; Calm Premium unlocks additional content at $69.99 per year

2. Headspace

Headspace offers hundreds of guided meditations with new ones offered daily. Most of these are actually soothingly voiced by co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddic­­ombe.
Cost: $69.99 per year

3. Buddhify

The Buddhify app features more than 200 meditations that are categorized both by how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. Guided meditations include those that address issues such as stress, difficult emotions, sleep, waking up, and more.
Cost: $30 per year

4. Unplug

Unplug offers 600-plus guided meditations curated into categories such as introduction to meditation, 5 minutes & under, kids and teens, deep relaxation, and others from more than 70 world-renowned meditation teachers.
Cost: $69.99 per year

Daily meditation apps

Though daily life can be hectic, building meditation into your routine as a daily habit can help you realize its many benefits. Whether that’s just a few minutes or up to an hour per day, the most important metric of daily meditation apps is the consistent quality time that you’re setting aside to tend to your mental health.

5. Aura

Aura provides daily meditations, stories, and other resources that are personalized based on your stated mood when you log on to the app. You can also track and set reminders throughout your day.
Cost: $69.99 per year

6.Shine

Shine was started by two women of color who didn’t see themselves or their experiences represented in the wellness industry. This app lets you choose from a library of 1,000-plus daily meditations that are customized to your specific self-care needs and brought to you by a team of diverse experts.
Cost: Free daily meditation; Shine Premium adds unlimited content for $64.99 per year

7. Simple Habit

Simple Habit is ideal for daily use since it features a number of 5-minute meditations as well as 2,000-plus classic guided meditations designed by top meditation experts for any mood, situation, or goal.
Cost: Free for basic membership; $95.99 per year for premium mediations; $299 for lifetime membership

Mindfulness meditation apps

Mindfulness meditation, which originated from Buddhist teachings, is an increasingly popular meditation technique. With mindfulness meditation, you focus attention on your thoughts as they pass through your mind, simply observing them without judging them. Mindfulness meditation apps often include such things as breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and guided imagery.

8. Happy Not Perfect

Happy Not Perfect is actually perfect for mindfulness with 300-plus daily meditations, as it lets you input your current mood to then receive specific tips that suit your immediate and longer-term goals.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

9. MyLife

MyLife offers a personalized mindfulness solution that’s customized to how you’re feeling, with recommended activities built on a huge customer database of real-life emotional data of more than 17 million emotional check-ins.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

10. Sattva

Sattva is a mindfulness app that draws on an ancient body of knowledge from the Vedic principles of meditation from India, including mantras, chants, sacred sounds, and other mindful meditations that are delivered by Sanskrit scholars.
Cost: Lifetime membership for $199.00

11. Ten Percent Happier

Ten Percent Happier was co-founded by ABC news anchor Dan Harris who, after an on-air panic attack, went on to discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, chronicling his journey from skeptic to believer (and meditator) in his bestselling book 10% Happier.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

Sleep meditation apps

Sleep is such an incredibly important health benefit. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults sleep at least 7 hours each night for optimal health. Adequate sleep can stave off developing chronic conditions like stroke, diabetes, obesity, and more. However, more than 1 in 3 American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Getting to sleep and staying asleep are often difficult. Sleep apps can help.

12. Inscape

Inscape was created as an extension of the eponymous Manhattan-based meditation studio to help you reduce stress and anxiety and sleep better with guided meditation and mindfulness sessions as well as sleep visualizations, music, sounds, and more.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

13. Breethe

Breathe helps you quiet your mind and fall asleep with stories, music, nature sounds, and even hypnotherapy meditations from their growing library of content.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

14. Pillow

Pillow offers a collection of meditations, sleep stories, soundscapes, and music that are produced to prepare you for better sleep, featuring a sleep tracker with an advanced algorithm to monitor and analyze your movements and heart rate to help you uncover the proven benefits of good sleep.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

15. Slumber

Slumber features an audio library of meditations, stories, soundscapes, and music that are designed to help you gently transition from being awake to being asleep, using techniques recommended by leading sleep organizations such as the National Sleep Foundation.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

16. Pzizz

Pzizz creates sequences of sounds called “dreamscapes” based on psychoacoustic principles. These are tailored to portions of the sleep cycle to help you fall asleep, and then stay asleep so you wake feeling refreshed. In addition, there are recorded voice narratives based on clinical sleep interventions.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

Short meditation apps for quick relaxation

Meditation doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. Sometimes you just need a quick dose of a few minutes of calm meditation to help you relax, center yourself, or focus. Even just two to three minutes can help. Apps that specialize in quick meditation practices are ideal for these needs.

17. The Mindfulness App

The Mindfulness App offers 250-plus guided and silent timed short meditations that range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. It also offers a 5-day guided practice and introduction to mindfulness.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

18. Meditation Studio

Meditation Studio has crafted shorter daily meditations that range from 2-minute, 5-minute, and 15-minute increments specifically for beginners who want to get up to speed quickly with a daily practice. Even those practiced in guided meditations will find these helpful in meeting their specific goals.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

19. Whil

Whil provides more than 9,000 video and audio sessions, articles, and exercises as well as 370-plus mini-courses that start at 5-minute guided meditation sessions to help reduce anxiety, stress, tension, and more.
Cost: Request a demo for pricing

Free meditation apps

Many of the mediation apps we’ve listed so far are either free to download or offer free introductory content and/or time trials. Some are subscription-only apps that require a subscription to use some or all of the in-app features. Here are the best free meditation apps that stay completely free.

20. Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind is a free, non-profit web and app-based meditation program that psychologists and educators developed to encourage mindfulness as an important component of wellness. It features hundreds of 10-minute daily meditations that are categorized by ages, including many for teens as well as those for adults.
Cost: Free

21. Insight Timer

Insight Timer is not only free, but also extremely popular. People apparently spend 3x more time on Insight Timer than other apps that have 10x more downloads. It offers thousands of guided meditations of varying times, goals, and practices with 10 or more added daily.
Cost: Free; Membership at $60 per year unlocks additional content

22. iBreathe

iBreathe offers an elegant, easy-to-use interface to access meditation activities that include customized deep breathing exercises to address stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

23 Let’s Meditate

Let's Meditate provides a curated list of guided meditation tracks and sessions, from just 5 minutes to more than 40 minutes. They include a variety of topics such as sleep, anxiety, healing, and others.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

24. Oak

Oak features both guided meditations that span from 5 minutes to 30 minutes and unguided sessions that run up to 24 hours, including breathing exercises, calming sounds, music, mantras, and more. Note that this app is currently only available for iPhone and iOS users.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases

Summary

The global mental wellness industry, currently valued at nearly $121 billion, is booming and meditation is a fast-growing component of that. Mindfulness and mental wellness are more than just buzzwords, though. As lives get more chaotic and uncertain, understanding the connections between your mind and your body becomes more and more important. Meditation apps are at the forefront of this exciting trend.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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