Updated: Apr 29, 2019
While I have provided enough videos and knowledge on my website for you to start your own practice without the help of an app, lots of people find using an app to be more practical and encouraging. Therefore, I decided to review 5 popular meditation apps so that you could choose which best fits you and hopefully get your meditation practice started or at least further it.
Four of these apps require a subscription to their premium membership to have access to the entire app. However, they all provide the option to do a few days of a free trial.
Calm provides stories for one to listen to while falling asleep, simple meditation music if you’d like to do a self-guided meditation or just taking time for yourself, and a variety of goal oriented guided meditations. Most apps, including Calm, give you the option to use the app with or without a paid subscription. The paid subscription gives you access to more meditations, more sleep stories, and more music; however, many reviews share that users tend to be satisfied with the free version.
From reviews I have read and my experiences with the app, Calm has fewer guided meditations compared to others. Their shortest mediation provided begins at 10 minutes which may not be practical for beginning meditators or busy people. But something I really appreciate about their meditations are that they do a great job and taking you step by step, supporting what they’re saying, and including the importance of meditation and what’s happening as you are meditating.
Typically, the meditations tackle your targeted goal with a seven-day plan, sometimes longer, picking out a meditation for you to do each day, but you can follow or jump around as much as you please. The app is easy to navigate and you can heart different meditations to have easier access to them later. You can also download meditations for listening offline. Overall, it is a great app for beginners or anyone that likes the basics because it’s very simple.
A subscription to Calm costs $12.99 per month, $59.99 per year, or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription. Besides the breathing app, which is free, Clam has the cheapest subscription of these apps.
My personal favorite app is the Simple Habit meditation app. This app is directed towards busy people and is very time and goal oriented because those seem to be important aspects for their main audience.
The free app provides a variety of meditations relating to different circumstances and goals including a specific section for just sleep. Most circumstances or goals have about 7 meditations each so that you have a weekly plan. The free version will typically give you the first meditation in a plan. The paid subscription has the full plan and includes 2,000+ meditations.
Regardless, if using the free or paid app, when you first join, you are asked which topics you’d like to work on, you are given a few options and based off what you choose, the app will recommend meditations to try. If you’re new to meditation or you don’t have a specific goal you’d like to work towards, you can start with the very basics by choosing their “basics” course.
Because of their audience, all of their meditations are 5 minutes long – a very encouraging and short amount of time that anyone could fit into their day. You can download meditations if you decide to practice offline. The app tracks your progress, which includes how many total minutes you’ve meditated and your streak of days meditating. A feature that I really like is that you can connect with the community of people using Simple Habit and do monthly meditation challenges with them. The structure of the app is easy to navigate. It was set up to replicate a structure like Netflix or Spotify, which many people today are familiar with. Depending on what a user is looking for, this is a great app that doesn’t ask too much of its users.
A subscription to Simple Habit costs $11.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
The Headspace app takes you through a structured and organized plan as you begin your meditation journey.
The free app provides the essentials for learning meditation and mindfulness, but is limited to just that. However, their paid subscription provides shorter and longer meditations ranging from 3 to 20 minutes in length. A cool feature Headspace provides is as you grow in your mediation practice, you move up levels. The higher the level, the longer your meditations last. The levels are 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes. Headspace’s paid subscription also includes a larger variety of themed meditations and mindfulness activities, sleep sounds, meditations geared towards younger kids, and more.
The music used for this app is geared more towards sleep meditations, but it can also be used for other purposes too. For users on the go, you can easily download meditation packets for offline use. This app is very simple, but still appropriate for more experienced meditators.
A subscription to Headspace costs $13 a month or $100 a year.
10% Happier is a unique mediation app that stands out in my opinion because it is geared towards skeptics. The creator of this app is Dan Harris, the best-selling author of the book 10% Happier, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. Harris understands a skeptic’s perspective, because he was once one. To convince other skeptics, his app provides quite a bit of history and scientific facts.
The free app includes a few basic meditations and teaching sessions. However, the paid subscription provides 350+ guided meditations from over 30 different well-known teachers of meditation. It includes history on the teacher guiding your meditation along with an optional pre-discussion with the teacher that allows you to get to know the teacher and hear a few words from him or her about the topic you’ve chosen to meditate about at that time.
The app welcomes you by asking for your experience level and what tasks you’d like to work on and from there, it gives you recommendations. You can set alarms or reminders at specific times to meditate, along with download courses to be able to use the app offline.
Navigating the app is a little more complicated compared to a very simple app like Calm; however, it’s not difficult or overwhelming. Overall, the app is a fantastic learning resource and I would recommend it to anyone that is skeptical, new to meditation, or looking to learn a little bit more about meditation.
10% Happier costs $7.99 a month or $99.99 a year of you decide to subscribe.
The Breathing App
The Breathing App doesn’t provide your typical sitting meditation and instead is specific to mindful resonance breathing. A human’s typical breathing pattern is 15-18 breaths per minute. Resonance breathing helps you reach a state of resonance in which you are breathing at a rate of 5-7 breaths per minute. According to the app “Resonance is the scientific name that describes what happens when our heart rate, heart rate variability, and brain waves come into coherent frequency. Resonance breathing is said to reset the braking mechanism of your nervous system and ultimately, help restore your sense of self steadiness and purpose. Practicing this technique just a few times a day, your nervous system will enter into a state of equilibrium and send signals of balance, mental calm, and inner peace to your mind and body.” Additionally, it is claimed to reduce inflammation and anxiety, control blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system.
There is not much to the app, so it is very easy to navigate. The Breathing App provides visual and auditory representations to help you easily reach a state of resonance. It also gives you the option of how long you’d like to practice breathing along with the time ratio of inhaling vs exhaling.
This app is directed more towards people who cannot do focused meditations, don’t want to, or have little access to guidance; however, it’s not limited to that only. This is a very flexible and easy technique that everyone can practice whenever and wherever they prefer. I think if people are interested in focused meditation or the idea of meditation in general, resonance breathing is a great place to start, to get introduced to the idea of integrative healing and to get a feel for being mindful.
The Breathing app is free.
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