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August 12, 2018 / Emily Polson

Best Apps for Meditation and Mindfulness

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We’ve talked before about how mindfulness can change your brain and improves your health, but actually practicing it in our everyday lives takes discipline. Thankfully, there’s an app for everything--in the case of mindfulness and meditation apps, there are several!

Here are four of the best apps for meditation that will remind you to meditate, guide you through your practice, and track your progress. Whether you’re a beginner, a skeptic, or just a busy person, there’s a meditation app that caters to your needs.

Headspace: Meditation & Mindfulness
Best meditation app for: Beginners | Cost: Free download; $12.99 monthly subscription
Reviewers say: Effective, relaxing, and well-designed

The Headspace app, created by a former Buddhist monk, is a good starting point for people who are new to meditation. You can try out the free 10-day basic pack to get a solid foundation in the classic techniques. After that, you can purchase a monthly subscription that gives you access to themed meditation packs that focus on areas like managing anxiety, building self-esteem, and fostering creativity, as well as single sessions for handling specific situations like preparing for a difficult conversation or calming down before bed. The app, which is full of quirky illustrations and animations, tracks your progress by daily streaks. This makes it great for helping you establish meditation as a habit. It also allows you to connect with up to five buddies for accountability and encouragement.

Calm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax
Best meditation app for: Insomniacs | Cost: Free download; $12.99 monthly subscription
Reviewers say: Relaxing, helpful, and easy to use

Calm was named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2017. The app’s tranquil nature scenes help users find peace and quiet throughout the day and night. It offers a range of programs and masterclasses for beginners and experienced meditators alike, as well as a plethora of soothing soundtracks and timers to use for unguided practice. Try out the full app free for one week before deciding if you want to purchase the monthly subscription. Premium users can enjoy a new “daily calm” session every morning. Calm’s most unique feature is the “Sleep Stories” section, which lulls users to sleep by way of relaxing stories read in soothing voices (who says bedtime stories are just for kids?).

10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
Best meditation app for: Skeptics | Cost: Free download, $11.99 monthly subscription
Reviewers say: Informative, intuitive, and helpful

10% Happier was based on the bestselling book of the same name by journalist Dan Harris and developed with the help of experienced meditation teachers and scientists. If you’re not sold on the concept of meditation, the 7-day free introductory sessions are a good place to start. The exercises in this app were designed to be practical and easy to apply to your daily life. Learn how to handle specific stressors like work, relationships, and eating with meditative exercises you can do when it’s convenient for you--whether that’s on your commute or over your lunch break. Try out themed meditations like “Getting Out of Your Head” and “Ten Good Breaths.” The app also offers a chat function that allows you to strike up a conversation with experienced meditators.

buddhify - mindfulness meditation on the go
Best meditation app for: Busy people | Cost: $4.99 for iPhone, $2.99 for Android
Reviewers say: Practical, easy to use, and affordable

Buddhify is the most cost-effective option of these meditation apps; you can unlock all the content for a one-time fee. It is designed for people on the go, offering 80 unique sessions divided up into categories for different parts of your day: waking up, traveling, work break, and going to sleep. Some sessions are even designed for you to practice while doing other things, like browsing the internet. The exercises range from 3 to 40 minutes, so you can take as much or as little time as your schedule allows. Choose from a range of teachers so you can find ones who are the best fit for you.

Extra tip: Whichever app you decide to try, remember to turn off those stressful push notifications before your practice so your phone doesn’t end up being a distraction!

Emily Polson

Emily is a writer, reader, and traveler from Iowa who has visited twenty-one countries and lived in three. Her first publication was an article in Muse magazine about her summer job as a corn detasseler. She’s a Slytherin, an amateur ukulele player, and a Peter Pan enthusiast. You can follow Emily on Twitter @emilycpolson.

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