If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds looking for a meditation or mindfulness app, you’ve probably been a little overwhelmed by all the options! As a small group therapy practice of psychologists in San Francisco Bay Area (aka Tech Country) we’ve reviewed plenty of meditation apps and have had countless conversations with clients about what is most helpful for them. These are 11 of the best!
Headspace: Great All in One App.
Headspace is one of the most robust meditation apps out there. There are hundreds of guided meditations of all different lengths, for all different situations. I personally enjoy that Headspace puts a few meditations for the day on the “Today” tab of the app, which usually includes their short morning video called The Wake Up. It’s an easy way to get into meditation without even having to browse for the right meditation! There are also sections dedicated to topics like focus/study, sleep, movement/exercise, kids, and sleep. Their interface is easy to use and navigate, but a little bright and busy for those that might want a more soothing experience.
Headspace costs $12.99/mo or $70/year. The free options are very limited.
Insight Timer: Great for Learning from Meditation Teachers Across the Globe.
Insight Timer has an extensive library of free meditations to choose from, which can be a great way to explore the app before committing to a premium subscription. There are also introductory sessions on numerous meditation styles and topics for those wanting to explore specific types of meditation. I also like that the app features live yoga classes! Insight Timer also includes a Community section, where you can chat with others on meditation topics, get recommendations on specific practices, or just connect. The meditation teachers across the globe are featured on the app’s workshop and mentoring programs. It’s important to note that some of these are an extra cost on top of the premium subscription.
Insight Timer has a large free library, $9.99/mo for premium.
Calm: Great for Sleep Meditations.
Calm is a visually beautiful app and features a wide range of topics for guided meditations. There is some free content on the Calm app, but many users have reported that it’s fairly difficult to find. Calm also has a lot of music playlists for focus, relaxation, meditation, and sleep. The app features numerous celebrities, typically to read sleep stories and meditations. Some love this feature, and others find it distracting and gimmicky. They also have great content for kids and teens on the premium subscription.
Calm costs $14.99/mo or $70/year.
Sattva: Great for Learning the History and Culture of Meditation.
Unlike many of the highly Westernized meditation apps out there, Sattva focuses more on the historical and traditional aspects of meditation, with wisdom from Hinduism and ancient Vedic principles (which is also where practices like Ayurveda came from). This is a great app for those looking to deeper into the spiritual and cultural aspects of meditation. With plenty of meditations starting at 5 minutes, it’s a nice option for beginners. But advanced meditators can certainly benefit too, as Sattva works with scholars of Sanskrit to develop beautiful meditations and mantras. The app has free content, but in-app purchases give you more to choose from.
Sattva has some free content and costs $12.99/mo for premium.
Enso: Great for Advanced Meditators.
Enso is a fairly minimalist app, from the interface itself to the meditation options. You can set a timer for your meditation session and the app uses zen circles and bells to keep you on track. It’s a great fit for those who feel comfortable meditating without a guide, or for those who are tired of the busyness of some of the more popular apps. It’s probably not great for beginners though!
Buddhify: Great Budget Friendly Option.
Buddhify calls itself an expert in “urban meditation,” generally meaning that the app helps support users with building a mindfulness practice as part of their daily lives. They are also a great option for beginners as the interface is easy to navigate and some of the meditations are as short as 4 minutes. One feature I really like about Buddhify is that they have meditations for specific mental health concerns. It’s important to note that some users may “graduate” from Buddhify after a while, as the app has a total of about 11 hours of meditations to listen to.
Buddhify costs $4.99/mo.
Simple Habit: Great for Making Positive Habit Changes + Meditation.
Simple Habit has some different features from other apps, as it includes coaching and motivational guides for building small, positive habits into your life. Like several other apps on this list, Simple Habit allows you to track your meditation and mindfulness minutes to see your progress. This app also features a meditation wheel that helps you quickly choose a meditation that fits your mood, time of day, amount of time, etc. which can help ease the overwhelm of browsing through the entire library.
Simple Habit is free, with in-app purchases available to access more content.
Unplug: Great for Busy People
Unplug is interesting in that a lot of their meditations are video and not just audio! While this is true for some of the other apps as well, it’s common for the video to mostly just be a graphic, nature scene, or something else that isn’t essential to the meditation itself. The Unplug app was born out of a drop-in meditation studio of the same name in West Hollywood, who transitioned their content to the virtual platform in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The app also features a gratitude journal and offline download options.
Unplug costs $8/mo.
Breathwrk: Great for Learning Meditative Breathing Techniques.
Breathwrk offers classes, videos, and programs specifically on learning meditative breathing techniques. There are other meditative breathing apps out there, and perhaps Breathwrk would be better compared to them, but it also fits well into the category of meditation and mindfulness. It’s a beautiful and user-friendly app, and definitely feels soothing. Breathwrk creates an automatic schedule of lessons for you, which can help ease any overwhelm about what you should focus on next. I personally find that integrating breath work and other types of meditation all into one practice can be very helpful.
Breathwrk costs $7.99/mo.
Shine: Great for Inclusive Meditating.
Despite meditation’s roots in Hinduism, most popular meditation apps consistently feature teachers with British, American, and Australian accents, who are often white. But Shine is owned by two BIPOC women, with an 80% BIPOC team. The app itself has specialized content for BIPOC communities. Users have said that it does seem to be geared more strongly toward women. I like Shine’s daily check-in, along with the option to list gratitude and self-care goals daily. The app also includes resources beyond meditation such as challenges, rituals, and educational articles. As Shine was recently acquired by Headspace, I hope the inclusive focus will remain!
Shine costs $14.99/mo.
Ten Percent Happier: Great for Meditation Skeptics.
Ten Percent Happier comes from the popular book of the same name. A lot of people who identify as both “Type A” and “meditation skeptics” seem drawn to this app’s practical approach to meditation and mindfulness. Like some of the other apps on the list, Ten Percent Happier has a Daily Dose section to give you new content daily without having to browse through their library. Also great for beginners, TPH includes many meditations that are only 5 minutes long. Finally, you can listen to their meditation podcast directly through the app.
Ten Percent Happier costs $100 annually with a free trial.
Want to Go Beyond Meditation Apps?
If you’re wanting to go deeper than an app and work on your mental health with a therapist, our psychologists at North Berkeley Counseling are here to help! We offer in person therapy in Berkeley, California and online therapy throughout California, Hawaii, Virginia, and Florida.