Breathe in. Breathe out.
The state of the world is, in short, chaos. Your mental state does not have to be the same. It sounds counterintuitive, but the very device that delivers anxiety-inducing news could be the thing that brings you a bit of calm.
Meditation apps are a welcome window into a world of gentle bells, chirping birds, and encouraging words. Beyond the peaceful imagery, the ceasing of the mind’s worry with meditation can have tremendous health benefits, easing anxiety, depression, and pain and even strengthening immunity.
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We’re here to share with you a few of our favorite ways to get our om on. (Prices listed are for premium versions; many of the apps offer free trials or free versions.)
($11.99 per month, $59.99 per year, $399.99 for a lifetime subscription; family plan, $119.99 per year on iOS and Android)
Every day is a new meditation on Aura. Tell the app which mood you’re in, and you’ll receive a customized 3-minute track; If you like the meditation, you can save it. When you’re done, you can give feedback, so the app’s algorithm adapts to your needs and preferences. Aura also has a built-in gratitude journal, life-coaching talks on a variety of topics, and nature sounds.
($4.99 on iOS, $3.99 on Android, $30 annual membership for extra features)
Buddhify is out to change every part of your day. It asks you what you’re doing at the moment and gives you a variety of meditations presented on a wheel to accompany that activity. The wheel of categories is customizable, but if choosing your own additions to it is overwhelming, the app offers nine preset wheels—including one just for kids. Buddhify also includes a timer for those who want to do non-guided meditation on their own. If you’re into quantifying your relaxation, a stats tab lets you do just that.
Buddhify has more than enough for meditators of all levels, but an annual membership gives you access to video courses on meditation, a wheel with some advanced skills, and a feature that lets you record Buddhify meditations in your own voice and share them with others.
($69.99 per year or $399.99 for a lifetime subscription on iOS and Android)
Calm may be the most well-known meditation app. It’s comprehensive, with several categories of meditation, an entire section to help with sleep, music for all times of the day, and gentle movement exercises. Calm offers lots of celebrity content, so you can have Harry Styles read you a sleep story, meditate with Shawn Mendes, or listen to an Ariana Grande-curated playlist. Calm also has master classes on topics such as creative living, mindful eating, and breaking bad habits, all taught by experts in their fields.
($11.99 per month, $44.99 for 6 months, $79.99 per year on iOS and Android)
If you’re looking for more of a guided path of wellness than meditation, there’s Envol. While there are plenty of meditations, Envol takes into account self-care as a whole. There are daily check-ins for making sure you’ve gotten some sunlight and nature time in, enjoyed some healthy food, done a bit of movement, taken a mental rest, and expressed gratitude.
($12.99 per month or $69.99 per year on iOS and Android; students, $9.99 per year; family plan with up to six accounts, $99.99 per year)
Change where your mind is with Headspace. The app offers lots of guidance, whether you’re just starting to meditate or you’ve been doing it for years. There are courses and single meditations for all sorts of situations in life: say, dealing with a moment at work when you just want to scream, or work on issues like anxiety over the course of a few weeks. As you’d imagine of an app that created an entire Netflix show on sleep, Headspace contains lots of content on the subject, including wind-down meditations, “sleepcasts” (audio content that “creates the right conditions for healthy, restful sleep” ), sleep music, soundscapes, and guided exercises for when you wake up in the middle of the night. Recent additions to Headspace are tons of tools and resources for focus and even some for movement, including yoga and mindful cardio. The Today tab, which changes every day, has suggestions that can help you have a more relaxed and aware day.
($9.99 per month, $59.99 per year on iOS and Android)
Those with experience in the art of meditation can use Insight Timer to give their practice the sweet, deep sound of Tibetan singing bowls for timing. The not-so-experienced can gain practice with a library of guided meditations and the support of the Insight Connect social community. You can buy a collection of timer bells if you want to hear something other than the singing bowls or a wood block, as well as a few extra meditations, though there are so many offered for free that you really don’t need to.
($7.99 per month or $49.99 per year on iOS; $3.99 on Android)
Open Meditation Studio and you’ll be greeted by a relaxing simplicity. This happy-looking app lets you choose from collections sorted by teachers, emotions and issues, and courses that cover comprehensive paths to specific goals. A few meditations are free, but you have to hunt and peck through the app to find them. If you’re committed to using Meditation Studio, paying for Premium (currently only available on iOS) is worth the investment.
($14.99 per month or $64.99 per year on iOS and Android)
Wellness is a space that has notoriously not been inclusive. The Shine app was designed to change that. It was developed by two women of color and offers a variety of meditations, self-care courses, tools for sleep, opportunities to journal and reflect, and a community where people share their responses to a question of the day. It also has content specific to the mental-health concerns of LatinX, BIPOC, Black, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ communities.
($11.99 per month, $89.99 per year, $299.99 for a lifetime subscription on iOS and Android)
The busier you are, the more you need meditation, but the less time you have for it. You can spare five minutes, though, and that’s all you need for Simple Habit. The app is designed for those who are productivity-focused. It lets you set a reminder for meditation and check your progress in a chart. There are over 50 free meditations, but if you opt for Premium, you’ll get access to thousands.
(Free on iOS and Android)
Smiling Mind is incredibly comprehensive—and it’s free. The app starts you off with a three-step introduction to mindfulness and meditation that prepares beginners for the many modules and programs on offer. Smiling Mind has meditations for children and a guide for helping children through traumatic times. Meditations for adults are sorted by issues and events such as stress, relationships, sleep, and difficult emotions, as well as sports performance and the workplace. The app also has meditations for those who feel confident in meditating with limited guidance. You can keep track of your progress, set reminders, download sessions to listen to offline, and save your favorite meditations to access them easily.
(Free on iOS)
Depending on where you live, you might not be able to find a tree to meditate under, but Oak has you covered. It keeps things simple with a few guided and unguided meditations, some breathing exercises, and two sleep wind-downs. You can adjust the time and background sounds on the meditations. If you’re new to meditation, Oak offers a 10-day course that takes about 20 minutes per day.
(First year is free; afterward, it’s $11.99 per month and $69.99 per year on iOS and Android)
Balance gives you the basics of meditation and then builds. The app offers several levels of courses that lead you on the path of learning meditation, as well as single meditations to help you through all sorts of situations. A sleep section includes stories, wind-downs, and calming sounds.
($9.99 per month, $59.99 per year, $249.99 for a lifetime subscription on iOS and Android)
Most meditation apps have sleep content, but BetterSleep takes it to another level. The app has sleep-specific meditations, stories, and hypnosis. You can select existing sleep sounds and music or mix your own with a composer tool. BetterSleep lets you track your sleep, and you can set it to detect and record different sounds in your environment at night, including snoring, coughing, farting (yep), talking, a baby crying, sneezing, and general noise.
($6.99 per month or $59.99 per year on iOS and Android; 70% off for students)
The Yours app is a good one to turn to when you’re struggling with pandemic life. It has an entire section that’s designed to help with the mental and physical toll. Yours has tabs for sleep, meditation, body, and music. It also offers meditation tutorials, yoga and other gentle movement classes, ASMR, sleep stories, and lots more. You’ll also find plenty of content for children and teens, so it can be used by entire families.