7 Of The Best Meditation Apps Out There
Now hear us out… The word meditation might be conjuring up images of Buddhist monks chanting, something you maybe can’t relate to, but meditation has been around for a long, long time & comes in many forms. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact founding date, the earliest evidence is from cave paintings discovered in India dating back to 5000 BCE! We don’t know about you but thinking that far back makes our brains hurt. Of course, there’s a reason that this practice has survived the test of time – the benefits are incredible! From a mental health perspective, meditation can help anxiety, sharpen focus and even turn negative thoughts into positive ones. On the physical side, meditation has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, improve the immune system, increase energy levels and even alleviate pain like tension headaches.
Now, if you’re sitting there thinking that clearing your mind whilst cars whizz past your window and your family is watching Love Island sounds impossible, we get it! Meditation can be really daunting to begin with, but it’s all about practice. We would highly recommend starting with a guided meditation – here’s where the best meditation apps come in!
7 day free trial, then $59.99 year
Aura opens by checking in with how you’re feeling each day, and features a beautiful and calming background scene. When first downloading the app, Aura asks you to select up to 5 different types of content that you want to use in your journey; meditation, life coaching, stories, nature sounds or music. What really sets this app apart is that after opening each day, Aura will check in with how you feel and then based on your answers, will recommend an activity/session based on the type(s) of content you selected.
If you selected meditation and stories, you’ll get a recommended meditation and a recommended story. However, if you’re not paying for the premium version, you can only access the meditations – making the free version pretty limited. A nifty perk is Aura’s ‘Made For You’ courses, which focus on the goals you selected during sign up and combine all of the content types you chose to create a really unique and well-rounded journey.
2 week free trial, then £49.99 per year
When you start looking at the best meditation apps on the market, no doubt you’ll come across Headspace. In the meditation world, Headspace is the giant of all apps; think of it as a gym membership for your mind. Headspace focuses on making meditation easy to any newbies and accessible for the masses. The interactive animations help explain the concepts and techniques of meditation for those amongst us that are more visual learners.
Other features that set this app apart are the live streamed meditations to connect to the global community and the emergency SOS meditations for those times where things are just a bit much too much. However, on the downside, if you don’t like the instructor then this could be an issue as there’s no choice of narrator. There is also only a selection of 10 free meditations to use in 2 weeks and then you do have to pay for a membership.
7 day free trial, then £34.99 per year
Calm starts with asking you to personalise your goals, so you can really set what you want to get out of the app. You can select as many focuses as you’d like from the options, such as sleeping better, relationships or managing stress. When inside the app, alongside hundreds of guided meditations, you can also track your daily emotions, practise some yoga and work on your breathwork. Even better, if you’re someone that struggles to unwind when going to sleep, there’s plenty of bedtime stories read by some famous faces… or voices! If you fancy being lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones of Kate Winslet, then this is the app for you. Unfortunately, there is very little free content after the 7 day free trial ends, but when searching for the best meditation apps available, Calm will rank fairly highly as it’s by far the cheapest on the market.
£7.99 monthly/£46.99 yearly
This app is actually more of a self-care app, geared towards anxiety, depression and stress, rather than just meditation. So if lockdown has really taken its toll on you, then this app might just be the one for you.
Even before you start, the app works some calming magic by asking you to pause for a few moments and think of a place that relaxes you. You can then choose this theme to run through your profile, whether it’s a gentle forest stream or lying on a beach soaking up the sun, before choosing up to 3 self goals to focus. The idea of only being able to choose 3 is so that you don’t overstretch yourself and the work you’re doing is more manageable. Sanvello also does a ‘check in’ with you and gives you scores for your stress, anxiety and depression levels.
If you are solely here for meditation, there are a decent number of free meditations available. However, you can also listen to one premium meditation a day, so if one session is all you need, the free version will suit you just fine! Alongside the more general styles of meditation like positive thinking and mindfulness, Sanvello has a vast catalogue for more specific stress topics such as a fear of flying or social anxiety. This is where the app becomes more like CBT therapy. You can set daily habits as simple as showering or taking your medication, to setting a certain amount of time to actually spend talking with friends.There’s a thoughts section to look more closely into the root of your thoughts as well as a visual hope board! What more could this app do.
Although this is a list of the best meditation apps, Sanvello has to feature since meditation can really facilitate and be an important part of self-care. It’s because of this too that some medical insurers even cover the cost of the Premium service due to its therapy aspect. Even if you don’t have insurance, this definitely counts as affordable therapy.
7 day free trial, then £91.99 per year
This app also starts by asking you to personalise your goals, however unlike some of the other apps, you can only select 1 goal to focus on. It does ask your experience with meditation though, so that the beginners amongst us aren’t scared away by trying to achieve monk level Zen right out of the gate. You can also tailor the time of your meditation practices to work around your schedule, to increase your chances of sticking to your new habit. The app integrates with Apple Health and updates their content on a weekly basis so there’s no chance you’ll ever run out of sessions. However, after the 7 day free trial, only ‘The Basics’ introductory sessions are available for free so if you want to carry on your journey with this app, you will have to pay the subscription fee.
7 day free trial, then £91.99 per year
The main appeal of this app is that you can get a lot for free, with 65,000 free meditations from some big names in the game. With live sessions you can attend, free music to relax to and bedtime stories to help you drift off, we can’t imagine that you would ever really need to upgrade to ‘Members Plus’. If you do feel like boosting your membership, the main benefit is the ‘Insight Courses’ available to you, which take the guesswork out of progressing on your meditation journey. Half of the app’s income from your membership is even given to the teachers who contribute to the app’s content, so that should give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling whilst signing up.
However, the downside to this app is the interface isn’t the most user friendly; one could describe it as randomly organised whilst somehow being on the border of being clinical. The app also seems to hide away its library of free content, which can be misleading. But, if you’re willing to persevere, this is an absolute gem.
STOP, BREATHE & THINK
£9.49 monthly / £55.99 yearly / £239.99 lifetime membership
Stop, Breathe, Think! No, literally! This is exactly what this app wants you to do. The app starts with asking you to complete a self check in and then recommends the best guided and self guided activity based on your emotions. A bonus of this app is that you can choose the voice of your meditation guide, which seems like an oversight of most other apps on the market. There is a lot of great free content, however, if sleep content is your main focus then you may need to upgrade to a paid membership as it seems most of this category is not free. The premium content includes 100+ activities, including yoga and acupressure, and the ability to choose between 9 narrators. You can also sync to your Google Fit account to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure when you’re meditating – how 21st century!
And that’s a wrap! We did the hard work and thoroughly researched all these options in the search for the best meditation apps out there, so you can trust our top 7. Pick an app, and get going! We hope your journey into meditation is made all the easier through one of the above, and we’d love to hear how it goes. DM us on Instagram or send us a message on Facebook to let us know!
Need more recommendations to get through your next lockdown? Head here to read our podcast recommendations, here to see what books we were reading in 2020 or here to find out some of the ways we’ve been keeping positive throughout the pandemic.
WRITTEN BY: Olivia Cameron