Meditation is a practice that shows us the path to self-discovery and also offers physical and mental health benefits. For those who are beginners in meditation and want to explore an easy way to meditate, I have researched and put together some of the best meditation apps of 2020.
If you are a beginner and find it challenging to sit in meditation without getting distracted, getting started with one of these apps might be a good idea. Most of these apps are wildly popular, and thanks to the boom, some have become billion-dollar businesses.
#1 – Calm
Calm is one of the most popular apps on the market with great design and user experience. It is available as a free app, but it also has subscription programs for access to its premium features. It received “2017 App of the Year” by Apple.
As soon as you install the app, you asked to choose your primary goal. You are presented with choices, such as, “Better Sleep”, “Reduce Anxiety”, “Build Self Esteem”, “Improve Focus”, “Reduce Stress”, “Develop Gratitude”, and others.
Calm is primarily targeted towards people who are beginners in meditation and want to understand concepts like mindfulness. If offers various types of meditation programs, such as forgiveness, loving-kindness, walking meditation, and gratitude.
It covers the basics of mindfulness meditation with “7 days of calm”, which is a guided meditation course with 7 sessions with a duration of 10 minutes each. On completing this course, you unlock the next course, and if you are happy with it, you can purchase its premium subscription.
Calm has a nice user interface and has useful features like meditation session progress tracking, email reminder notifications, session timer, and an app community to interact with like-minded people and share your experiences.
It is available both as a web and mobile application and is supported on both Apple and Android platforms. On the iPhone, it has an option to connect with Apple’s health app.
It includes exclusive music tracks created to help you focus and relax, guided meditation videos on mindful movement, and “Sleep Story for kids”, some of which are free, and some are narrated by celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey.
They also have a companion book “Calm the Mind, Change the World”, available with the app and has been written by calm developers themselves. It also offers In-App purchases.
If you plan to purchase this app there are three pricing options (auto-renewing) to choose from:
- $12.99 per month
- $69.99 per year
- or pay a lifetime subscription of $299.99 which is paid as one-off upfront payment and gives access to unlimited features forever.
#2 – Insight Timer
Insight timer has one of huge repositories of guided meditation records and employs around 3000 teachers. It has more than 13,000 free, searchable guided meditation records. It has a more of a community feel to it and enables you to connect with others and get inspired.
It offers free course like “Learn how to meditate in 7 days”, practice different types of meditations like breathing meditation, Buddhist meditation, walking meditation, loving-kindness meditation (metta), body scan meditation, meditation on topics like healing and forgiveness, and much more.
It offers an excellent user experience. As soon as you install the app, you are shown a map showing all the users of the app meditation around the world. It gives you the option to easily switch from guided to silent to timed meditations.
Best thing about this app is that it gives you a variety of topics to choose from, such as, self-love, compassion, mindful eating, deep sleep, stress, anxiety, depression, love-kindness and many others. You can browse and select a practice according to the end goal you are trying to achieve.
It offers capabilities to assess experience, customize, and the ability to track daily progress across multiple devices (requires unlocking through email or signing up via Facebook).
You can join community groups and interact with like minded people who have common goals or themes. There are groups like language, poetry, “Be Here Now”, “Women Meditate Worldwide”, and many more.
The only drawback with this app is that you need to be connected to the internet in order access all the features. If you want to use this app offline, you need to pay a recurring monthly fee of $4.99, which according to me is nominal.
#3 – MindFi
MindFi is a smart meditation app designed for busy people. It was designed by Bjorn Lee with a vision of helping people to be more mindful and as a result, be more productive in their day to day tasks. It focuses on teaching informal mindfulness practices which can be integrated in your daily routines.
It allows you to experience mindfulness in different settings and mix and match them to suit your lifestyle. It’s Focus Timer allows you to keep away from distractions by sending distraction alerts, and help you better focus on your current task.
Even when you are not meditating you can just simply relax by listening to the background ambient sounds. Also, you can listen to short sessions (3-minute mindfulness sessions) during breaks, meals, or while commuting.
MindFi has recently launched a paid version, which concludes content such as, leadership, sleep, and mind mastery.
4# – Buddhify
Just like MindFi, Buddhify is also a mindfulness and meditation app designed to fit busy lifestyles. It focuses on a concept which it calls “on mobile” or “on-the-go” meditation, which basically means that people who are struggling to allocate a daily fix time for their meditation session, can easily practice it anywhere and at anytime.
Buddhify offers around 80 guided meditation sessions, ranging from 4 to 30 minutes each. These sessions are recorded by experienced meditation guides, in both male and female voice, for peace and relaxation. Guided sessions are pleasant to listen to and the program is easy to follow.
It has a solo meditation timer and a personal meditation tracker that monitors your meditation activity over time. It also encourages its users to meditate without using the guided voice.
Buddhify was started by Rohan Gunatillake and his wife Lucy (who is also the lead female voice) and they work full time through their company called Mindfulness Everywhere. Their company is entirely self funded and as a result focus on serving people rather than the investors.
They don’t offer a monthly subscription plan like other apps, but prefer to charge a low one-off fee. They also have an optional annual membership plan for those who are willing.
Buddhify does not offer motivational encouragement programs, and also the explanation and advantages of the techniques it teaches. Also it does not have a free trial like other apps. But nonetheless, I do appreciate their upfront honesty.
5# – Pacifica
Pacifica has been designed to manage stress, anxiety and depression and has been built upon the CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and mindfulness principles. Like all other apps I mentioned above, it also has a nice and easy to use user interface.
The app sends regular notifications to users and encourages them to check their feeling and journal their mood on the app. The user is first asked to rate mood on the point scale of 7, and then the user can address his or her mood issues using activities such as, relaxation, and meditation. They provide a wide variety of suggestions and help users to create an activity hierarchy for themselves.
There is also a paid option to consult a verified licensed mental health professional where users can directly connect with the therapist.
Data from Apple’s Health App, such as sleep report, caffeine intake, and exercise, can also be automatically linked to the app. Users can also track additional activities like alcohol intake, medications, and cannabis use, etc.
Many features such as mood tracker and health activities (like sleep and exercise) are free of cost. Other features like guided meditation require premium subscription.
It’s auto-renewing subscription packages are as follows:
- $8.99 per month
- $53.99 per year
#6 – Sattva
Sattva is an app by the Art of Living Foundation that has a meditation timer and tracker with challenges, trophies and guided meditations. It contains a number of soothing music tracks and mantras that are composed and recorded by expert meditation practitioners, including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a humanitarian and a spiritual leader in India.
Guided meditation sessions start with 6 minutes and go upwards as users become more proficient in the practice.
Its also includes additional features such as reminder notifications (you can set your own ‘Time to meditate’ notifications), mood tracker, heart rate monitor, live video events, in-depth statistics to measure your progress, challenges and trophies, and powerful meditation community to interact and share your experiences.
Sattva is available for on both Apple and Android platforms, and the subscription is available at:
- $12.99 per month
- $49.99 per year
- or lifetime subscription of $399.99 which is a one-off payment and gives access to all the features of this app.
#7 – Stop, Breath & Think
Stop, Breath & Think is another meditation app that recommends short guided meditations, and yoga videos. It has been featured in Apple, GQ, Cosmopolitan and more.
It offers mindfulness and meditation techniques that help in reducing anxiety and stress, gives better quality of sleep, allows tracking of mood, and monitor your progress, as you go along. It is great for both beginners as well as experienced meditators.
Most of the meditation sessions are short (up to 15 minutes) with male (Grecco) and female (Jamie) voice. It also features some of the introductory practices like Forgiving yourself and Joy.
Stop, Breath & Think offers lots of activities of varying lengths designed to fit your schedule with your own personalized mindfulness coach. There are more than 40 free activities and over 80 premium activities to choose from.
The pricing packages (auto-renewing) are as follows:
- $9.99 per month
- $59.88 per year
#8 – Aura
Aura is an AI powered meditation app created with the help of experienced meditators and health experts. To get started, just put on your headphones and listen to the calming sounds of nature such as flowing water, and many more.
It uses machine learning algorithms to learn which sessions you are attending and what your preferences are and accordingly suggests meditation programs best customized to suit your needs.
It starts by asking about your mood and understands your emotional state before recommending a particular program. It also sends helpful relaxation and mindful reminders as notifications.
Just like most fitness apps allow you to track your progress over time, Aura also tracks your mindfulness progress. It also has a series of captivating short stories that are soothing and has a calming effect on the mind.
If you want premium features of Aura you have to pay:
- $11.99 per month
- $59.99 per year
- or lifetime access to all the features for a one-time payment of $399
#9 – Headspace
Headspace is another meditation app with clean user interface and offers guided meditation sessions. Launched in 2010, headspace has grown out to become one of most popular apps in the market today and they claim to have millions of users in more than 190 countries.
The beginner course is free with 10 free trails of guided meditation, each consisting of 10 sessions of 10 minutes’ duration each. Completing the session unlocks the next meditation program in series. After that, the next program in series requires paid subscription. It offers features such as sleep meditations, sleep sounds, and specially designed sleep casts to help you rest and relax.
Push notifications are sent as daily reminder to you to be more present and breathe. Web based programs allow access to programs such as headspace blog, an online community for posting questions and discussion, as well as a buddy program where you can invite your friend to join a particular program and also track each other progress.
They also have a program (under paid subscription) for kids called “Headspace for kids” where they introduce children with concepts of mindfulness and meditation. For now, they have five themes for kids to explore:
- Calm – teaches kids fun breathing exercises.
- Focus – use imagination to practice focus.
- Kindness – visualization exercise to teach kids about openness and generosity.
- Sleep – helps your kids with good night’s sleep.
- Wake Up – quick meditations to help your child start the day.
It suggests types of courses based on different topics such as, stress and anxiety, depression, focus, and many more.
Headspace is available for both Android and IOS platforms and also contains In-app products for purchase.
Personally I found this app to be slight costly as compared to other apps. If you want access to premium features, you need to pay:
- $12.99 per month
- $94.99 per year
- or $399.99 lifetime membership which is one-time upfront free.
#10 – 10% Happier
10% Happier claims itself to be a ‘no BS’ app that has a diverse group of teachers, including scientists and traditional meditation practitioners. It started with couple of audio and video courses for meditation, but over time it has grown to some two dozen courses, each with more than 10 videos focusing on problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep, productivity and many more.
The company has also worked with Apple to encourage Apple’s employees to take part Mindful Minute Challenge and log mindfulness minutes in the Apple’s Health App.
It offers quick meditation sessions that you can do during short commute, breaks, eating and more. Guided meditation and other videos can also be viewed offline (only for premium package subscribers).
The app is free to download on both Android and IOS platforms. If you’d like to unlock full access to it’s 500+ videos and guided meditation sessions, you need to purchase auto-renewing monthly or yearly subscription packages.
If you are suffering from a serious psychological condition, please consult your doctor before you start using any of the above apps. These apps are not meant to be an alternative to mental health treatment. Also I’m not an affiliate of any of the above apps.
Let me make one thing very clear. I don’t use any of the above apps. The reason is that I have been meditating since times when mobile app business didn’t exist.
After years of practice, I have accustomed myself to a particular style where I don’t need anything to help me meditate. In fact I like to keep my screen time as low as possible.
But this might not be the case with you, specially if you are beginner. You might initially find it challenging to practice mindfulness all by yourself. In that case, you can take help of any of these apps (whichever you find best for yourself).
I’m not against using meditation apps. I think these people have done wonderful work by compiling so much information, and nowadays, getting started is much more easier than it was in past.
These apps are helpful to get started with but don’t get too involved in things like statistics, stories, music, and performances.
The aim is to use a tool that can help you get started with mindfulness and not to get hooked on to it. If you use these apps mindfully, I’m sure you can benefit from them.