meditating

A woman meditating (Photo by Katerina May on Unsplash)

Everybody could use a little peace and quiet as we jostle our busy lives. A common problem people have is feeling as though they don’t have enough time to relax. The wonderful thing about meditation is that you can achieve relaxation without taking too much time away from your schedule. Just a few minutes of inner peace and focus can provide that solace you so desperately need. And you can do this right from your phone! Some of the best meditation apps guide you through stressful moments and align your chakra anywhere, anytime.

As little as ten minutes of “om” can make you feel calmer. For people on the go or anyone who doesn’t have the opportunity to attend a class, meditation apps can help add mindfulness to your everyday life and improve your mental health. But picking an app out of the overwhelming number of options brings more of the stress you’re trying to get rid of.  Deep breath!

Do you ever feel stressed or anxious? Of course you do! According to a British survey, the average working adult feels stressed out for nearly a third of every working day, and four in ten adults feel they are very close to reaching their “breaking point.” Younger generations are especially affected by stress and anxiety: A U.S. survey found that a whopping eighty-five percent of Generation Z respondents are worried about the future, mostly citing personal finances, the economy, the environment, and the country’s increasingly polarized political landscape as top concerns. 

Meditation is increasingly being used to help treat mental health disorders with immediate results. “Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after the meditation session, and our preliminary results suggest that anxiety was significantly lower one week after the meditation session,” Dr. John J. Durocher, an assistant professor of physiology at Michigan Technological University, comments on his research. 

But the technique also offers remarkable additional health benefits. Meditating for a few minutes each day may be the first step in helping the body fight off cancer and viruses like COVID-19 by dramatically boosting the body’s immune system, researchers at the University of Florida found. According to French researchers, it could also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

We hope you feel inspired to give meditation a try to improve your well-being. To send you on your journey, StudyFinds evaluated the feedback of expert reviewers on ten websites and created a list of the top five best meditation apps based on their recommendations. Anything missing from this list? Please share your tips in the comments.

Woman practicing mindfulness meditation at work
(© fizkes – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Meditation Apps Most Recommended by Experts

1. Calm

Calm is the most recommended meditation app and best overall according to two expert reviewers, including one at Good Housekeeping: “Calm is celebrated for the relaxed approach it takes to empowering users and how it eases the user into meditative practices.”

Calm has something for everyone: Whatever your goal may be, “you’ll find something in Calm’s large library of meditations. A new original Daily Calm meditation is also added every day,” informs Byrdie. But “what makes the app truly stand out […] are the special add-ons. There’s a Mood and Gratitude Check-in feature that allows you to track and document your ‘emotional rhythm’ and essentially serves as a mini, digitized diary. In the Sleep Stories section, you can select from a variety of celebrity voices like Idris Elba, Harry Styles, and Kate Winslet who will help lull you to sleep.” 

Women’s Health recommends the app if you want lots of options, since “the app provides guided sessions ranging in time from three to 25 minutes […] with topics from calming anxiety to gratitude to mindfulness at work — as well as sleep sounds, nature sounds, and breathing exercises.” This popular app also features a kids section

Calm app
Calm app

2. Headspace

This meditation app is a very close second to Calm, with nine out of ten experts recommending it. Headspace’s “multifaceted program” is “a gym membership for the mind” and “the perfect app for those interested in maintaining their mental health and those who are interested in mindfulness and meditation,” writes Zenful Spirit.

Headspace also offers users an extensive library. “This app has the largest variety of meditations, with guided sessions for beginners and less-structured programming for pros,” states Wirecutter about its top pick. In addition, “the interface has an appealingly cohesive design, and Headspace’s rich library of meditations is well organized and easy to navigate.” 

According to Happier Human, this app is great for newbies: “The app currently has 70 million downloads and a 4.9 average rating across all platforms. It is mostly recommended by meditation beginners because of its resources and accessibility. If you are new to meditation, this app might be worth your time and effort.”

3. Insight Timer

Insight Timer is only slightly behind, with seven out of ten experts recommending the app. A big plus of this app and the reason why it beat other competitors is its price – it’s free! Several experts recommended Insight Timer as the best budget option. “If you’re not willing to pay for a meditation app just yet, Insight Timer might just be the next best option. It offers the biggest library of meditations completely for free,” writes Lifewire.

But low budget doesn’t equal low quality: “Experts across the board agree that Insight Timer is a primo meditation app,” writes Women’s Health. “This app has many of the most experienced mindfulness teachers on it, and allows you the freedom to pick and choose depending on how long you have to practice, what style you’d like (e.g., body scan, loving kindness, anxiety/stress reducing, etc.), or just set a timer and sit without guidance.” 

Insight Timer also has a social aspect as it includes community groups and users can meet in person: “In addition to its guided and freeform mediations and soothing music playlists, the platform allows users to browse niche categories like ‘For Parents’ and even facilitates in-person meditation meetups,” notes Forbes. While this app is free, a subscription is required for premium features. 

4. Ten Percent Happier Meditation

This app has the same number of recommendations as Insight Timer but isn’t free. It does however offer some free options, according to Forbes: “The app offers a list of free and paid options designed to guide users through meditations and instill practical lessons they can use anywhere. It includes additional mindfulness content like articles, videos and courses, and recommends you listen to one course a day, aimed at reducing stress while increasing the capacity for gratitude, love and happiness.” 

The Ten Percent Happier Meditation app is a spin-off of the bestselling book by the same name written by Dan Harris. “Dan Harris is one of the most famous podcasters about meditation and happiness,” writes Happier Human. “He calls his app a ‘meditation app for fidgety skeptics.’ Unlike most meditation apps, 10% Happier focuses more on the scientific aspect of mindfulness instead of the spiritual.”

Ten Percent Happier “teaches meditation basics in a fun, easy, and accessible way,” per Verywell Mind’s review.  “It’s well suited for anyone, but especially those who think they’re ‘not the meditation type’ and can’t find the time to start a meditation practice.”

5. Aura

The last app on our list is a bit different. Recommended by six out of ten experts, but “maybe lesser known than the previous apps, Aura stands out as it uses AI-powered technology to learn more about you and your emotions to provide you with tailor-made meditation recommendations,” notes Lifehack

Aura is not your ordinary meditation app,” claims Happier Human. “It actually focuses on mental health. In addition to the personalized recommendations that are based on your information, it also offers CBT & Hypnosis features to help you take care of your mental and emotional stability. The app aims to improve the overall quality of people’s lives. It consistently provides its users with new content and features and recognizes the importance of rest and sleep. Coaching is available, too, if you opt for the premium subscription.”

Finally, Lifewire claims that “meditations from this [app] are especially helpful for relieving stress and anxiety, and they can be practiced in as little as 3 minutes — making them perfect for beginners. This is also one of the few apps that has a built-in gratitude journal where you can express your feelings and reflect on your entries over time.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

About Clio Rourke

I'm a freelance writer with experience in advertising and public relations.

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1 Comment

  1. ken says:

    I would like to add to that list an app called Medito — which is made by a non-profit and is free to use, with open-source code as well