If you’re feeling frazzled by the demands of modern life, you’re not alone.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 79% of Americans feel stressed every day. But we have good news. You don’t have to jet off to a month-long meditation retreat to reap the benefits of mindfulness.
It may sound counterintuitive, but your smartphone (you know, that thing in your pocket that drives you crazy?) might just be your best tool for managing stress and helping you focus. Meditation apps are an inexpensive way to test the waters with a new mindfulness practice.
Ready to give it a try? We’ve gathered the ten best meditation apps ideal for beginners, but with room to grow.
Let’s take a look at each one to give you a sense of what they offer.
Headspace earned the top score from a study by the Queensland University of Technology after their review of 700+ mindfulness apps. This app has hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress to focusing. But don’t worry if you’ve never meditated before.
There’s a free Basics course that teaches the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. Headspace also has sleep meditations and sleep sounds. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: Headspace offers meditation tracks for kids too. They’ll practice breathing exercises, visualizations and even try some focus-based meditation. They’re customized for three age groups: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-12.
Cost: Free to download for the basic course; $12.99/month, $9.99 for students, $7.99 if paid annually
SmilingMind isn’t as well known as a big player like HeadSpace, this app offers high-quality meditation programs carefully designed by psychologists and educators.
There are specific courses for different age groups, focusing on the mindfulness challenges of each developmental stage. They also have modules for workplace issues, sports training, and classrooms. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: SmilingMind has a first of its kind program for expectant parents called “Mind the Bump.” The app helps individuals and couples in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent.
Cost: 100% free!
Mindfulness Daily is designed to support your commitment to practice mindfulness every day. This app makes it easy to fit meditation into your daily routine.
You have full control over reminders and routines that break your daily practice into small but highly effective and digestible mindful pauses, lessons, and practices. Available on the App Store. They’re working on an Android version.
What we love most: There’s a feature that offers a 15-second mindfulness pause for those times when you catch yourself in a stressful moment or on autopilot.
Cost: Free to download; additional meditation packs for $3.99 and $4.99
Insight Timer offers over 15,000 guided meditations – all free! And there’s more added all the time. Once you find a teacher you enjoy, you can follow them to make sure you don’t miss any new content.
Be sure to check out our guided meditations on how to use technology more mindfully. Tap on “Meditations” and search for our founder “Robert Plotkin.”
There’s also a free course called “Learn to Meditate in 7 Days.” If you want plenty of options, you’ll find exactly the kind of support you need on Insight Timer. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: Insight Timer encourages a community of meditators. The home screen tells you how many others are meditating with you at that moment. They also have over 200 lively discussion groups and local meet-ups run by users.
Cost: Free to download; large free library with the option to purchase items $1.99 – $59.99
10% Happier says it’s the meditation app for fidgety skeptics. Sound like you? If you’re looking for a secular approach, 10% Happier offers simple, practical exercises to help you feel happier, sleep better, and calm your mind.
You’ll find daily videos and guided meditations and videos for coping with anxiety and stress and for activities like walking and falling asleep. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: 10% Happier is a companion app for the book and podcast by the same name. The author (Dan Harris) frequently interviews well-respected teachers and scientists to learn more about how meditation can improve your daily life.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, subscriptions from $4.99 – $9.99
Calm is a Google Play Editor’s Choice for 2018. This app offers guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music. They recently added ten-minute guided video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching.
Calm is an excellent app for those just starting to meditate. However, it also has hundreds of programs for more advanced users. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: Calm is the only app to offer “sleep stories,” which are soothing tales read by well-known voices to help people unwind and fall into a deep sleep each evening. Like bedtime stories for adults!
Cost: Seven-day free trial, subscriptions are $59.99 annually (also offer lifetime at $399.99)
Meditation Timer Pro is not as robust as the other options we’ve included so far, but it’s a helpful tool for keeping track of time while meditating.
It provides several timer options and a variety of chime sounds to gently remind you of the time. You can also log your sessions. Available on the App Store.
What we love most: Meditation Timer Pro integrates with Apple Watch, so you can easily meditate on the go. And if you want to share your progress, you can post to Facebook or Twitter.
The Mindfulness App is used by millions of meditators in over 130 countries. It has everything you need to get started and build a regular meditation practice.
There’s a five-day introduction to mindfulness course, guided and silent meditations from three to thirty minutes, meditation reminders, and statistics to help you view your progress. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: The Mindfulness App allows you to create personalized meditations. You can choose a guided introduction from their library and then add bells and chimes at specific times to suit your needs.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, $9.99/month or $59.99 for one year
That’s why Buddhify focuses on mobile or on-the-go meditation, which you can do wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.” Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: Buddhify charges a low one-off fee because they believe that a good mindfulness and meditation app shouldn’t be something that only rich people can afford.
Through a variety of activities, the app helps you tame your anxiety, reduce stress, breathe more mindfully, sleep better, and track your mood and progress. Available on Google Play and the App Store.
What we love most: They share 10% of their net revenue with Tools for Peace, a non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth experience the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.
Cost: Free to download; $9.99/month with other tiers available based on family use and annual payment
Hopefully, one of the apps on this list has just what you need to start a mindfulness practice.
Since many of them are free to download, we encourage you to test a few out and see what feels right. You’ll be viewing your smartphone in a whole new way!
Rather than a source of distraction, it will be your guide to a more peaceful state of mind.