Which Meditation App is Right For You?
Whether it’s to help with anxiety or insomnia, whether you’re a teacher or a teen, here are the five best
You like high-end, high-quality products and you’re not afraid to pay a premium for the best
You’d like to learn from famous teachers
You’d like video too, not just audio
This app was created by journalist and TV personality Dan Harris, and named after his best-selling book of the same name. Since he’s in the media world, he has access to lots of people, so this app includes teachings from some of the “greats” of the meditation world. Like his book, it presents meditation in a no-nonsense, strictly secular sort of way, (which could be a turn-off if you are looking for a spiritual practice). But, if you are (as he says) a “fidgety skeptic” this might just be the right app to try. There’s only a little free content, and after that, it’s an annual subscription of $99.99, but you are getting a lot for that price, including live coaches.
You are a teacher looking for a curriculum to use
You are looking for an app that offers clear programs
You’d like something completely free
It’s appropriate for children and teens
Smiling Mind is a non-profit group out of Australia that is creating a mindfulness curriculum for teachers. This app has several programs, many of which are for teens and kids, but also quite a few for adults. One that’s really great is “Find 10 Minutes for your Mind.” There are 10 sessions that are short meditations that really cover the basics. It’s a great introduction to mindfulness. It also asks you to rate how you are feeling in a general way, both before and after the meditation, logging the information in case you want it later.
If you’re a teacher, this is a great app for you! They have all kinds of curricula for free.
One downside is that the app itself isn’t totally intuitive. There’s a learning curve to using it for sure.
*Bonus! Their digital detox program is awesome. There are 12 sessions, which include everything from a meditation for your commute, to unplugging at the end of the day, to mindful communication, lots of great content if you are looking to be more mindful with technology.
You’re looking for more insight into your own thoughts and feelings
You’d like some clear instructions
You are looking for an app for a teen
This app is a great one for people just starting out, and I’d especially recommend it for teens (they have also created a separate app just for children).
When you open it, it asks you to close your eyes for a second and check-in with how you are feeling, giving a little buzz when it’s time to stop. Next, you are asked to report, via some cute illustrations, how you are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally (and there are tons of choices here, which is a great tool for people learning to feel their feelings). It then gives you a few recommended meditations based on your answers.
The meditations are short and clear. This app is very simple and easy to use. There’s plenty of free content, but like most meditation apps there is a subscription fee of $10/month if you want to unlock more than just the beginning ones.
*Bonus! You can track your progress and get stickers :) Again, a fun thing for younger folks.
You want a very simple, very straightforward approach
You like cute animations that help you understand mindfulness
You don’t mind sticking with only one teacher
Headspace is a very popular app, and for good reason. It’s super straightforward and very easy to use. It will give you cute little cartoons to watch at the beginning of each session, and you can’t jump from one to the next, you have to finish one before you unlock the next one, thus ensuring that you will actually follow the program. Many people find this a great beginner app.
There is only one teacher, Andy Puddicombe, he’s British and has a very soothing voice. The instructions are wonderfully clear, and he is a great teacher. The basics course is free, but after that, you have to pay for the content. $12.99/month
*Bonus! Under the settings section of the app, there is a huge list of common obstacles to meditation and how to deal with them. This list is amazing and worth downloading the app just for that, in my opinion.
You want lots of choices, an endless supply of different kinds of meditations, music, and talks
You want a completely free app
The gold standard meditation app is going strong with tens of thousands of users. But be forewarned, this app is for someone who is not intimidated by lots of choices. Think — the Spotify of meditation.
They have a diverse range of hundreds of amazing teachers, and you can bookmark your favorites. You can choose the length of the meditation and the topic. And there’s also just the timer for times you’d like to just meditate in silence, which has a few different bells and chimes to choose from.
Finally, Insight has the charming feature of telling you how many people meditated with you, across the globe. You can even pick someone and send them a little “thanks for meditating with me” message, it’s adorable.
This is the app I always recommend to my students because it’s free and easy to use. If you are overwhelmed by too many choices and don’t know where to start, you can also start with one of their courses, they are not free, but they are very high quality and only $5 a pop.