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Best Meditation Apps To Take Your Self Care Game To The Next Level

Despite the growing body of evidence regarding the health benefits of meditation, some folks may feel intimidated about where to start.

Whether you’ve been meditating for years or like to begin learning how to meditate, a wide range of smartphone apps can help you explore different styles of meditation, find the ones you prefer, and create a schedule so you can practice regularly. Though many of the better apps require a fee or subscription, nearly all offer a free trial period, so try them out and see what works for you.

  • Headspace: Ranked by the New York Times’ Wirecutter as the best meditation app, Headspace consistently ranks high on the lists of meditation veterans and newbies. It offers structured, guided sessions for beginners and is less structured and more flexible programs for experienced meditators who want to customize it to their liking. Its interface is easy to use, and it has one of the widest varieties of meditation options.
  • Calm: Another bestselling meditation app, ranked second by Wirecutter, Calm has a more extensive range of less structured sessions, which are ideal for those who want more control over the length and flow of their meditation session. It also features “sleep stories” that can help people fall asleep.
  • Insight Timer: Though less known to people new to meditation, Insight Timer is consistently rated highly by folks who meditate regularly, and it’s a lot cheaper than Headspace and Calm. You can access more than 70,000 free meditations or choose to sign up for premium membership.
  • Shine: In addition to offering much more than just meditation, Shine has the bonus of gratitude “check-ins,” self-care activities, bedtime stories, and a social networking element to connect with other users. For those seeking opportunities to support women-owned and minority-owned businesses, Shine was founded by a Black woman and a half-Japanese woman who didn’t feel existing apps on the market fit their needs.
  • 10% Happier: Are you 90% sure you won’t like meditation and it’s just not your thing? This app should be your first stop if you’re willing to take a chance on it. The app’s founder was skeptical of meditation, figuring he didn’t have time for it and was too fidgety to get anything out of it, so those who are uneasy about trying to meditate for the first time will be in good company with other users. 10% Happier also boasts a well-known meditation teacher and a chat function to get tips from a meditation coach. The biggest drawback is that it’s among the pricier options.
  • Healthy Minds Program: This app has two major draws. First, it’s completely free. Second, it was developed by a nonprofit in coordination with the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds, so you can be sure researchers contributed to its development. It includes information on how and why meditation helps your body and mind, but it also offers a step-by-step guide that can take some of the intimidation out of dipping your toes in. One of its key features is helping you learn to focus, something many of us have especially struggled with lately.
  • H*nest Meditation (iOS and Android)—If you’re not only a meditation skeptic but also a little salty and fed up with all the Pollyannas in your life, this app is for you. Despite the NSFW language, it could be the perfect vibe for those needing a meditation app that acknowledges what a dumpster fire the world feels like without pulling any punches. It also doesn’t require an expensive ongoing subscription; just buy it once to access a library of colorful meditations, each lasting 2:10 minutes, that would make a sailor blush and relax simultaneously.
  • The Tapping Solution: This app isn’t necessarily an actual meditation app, but it’s worth mentioning because it uses a different method to reduce anxiety and depression: tapping. Like others on the list, it features a wide range of sessions that target various sources of stress, including PTSD, chronic pain, multiple chronic health conditions, and negative emotions, including grief, shame, and anger.
  • The Mindfulness App: If you need structure, accountability, and goals, this app will help you get serious about building a regular mindfulness meditation practice. It offers a 5-day get-started program, reminders, and timers so you can track each meditation you do, ranging from 3 to 30 minutes.

If none of these apps appeal to you, here’s a brief list of some of the others that have topped folks’ best-of lists:

  • Aura: Includes famous teachers and coaches.
  • Balance: Includes mood tracking as well.
  • Breethe: Excellent for goal-oriented folks.
  • Expectful: Specifically for people who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
  • Oak: Simple and without specific programs.
  • Sattva: This lets you share your playlists with friends.
  • Sowlmate: Aimed particularly at the LGBTQ+ community.
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