Woman mediating by the sea.

4 Great Meditation Apps to Quiet the Mind

March 23, 2018

There are so many meditation apps available that it difficult to choose the right app. Below are some guidelines and tips for choosing an app. After all, practicing mindfulness, even if only for a few minutes each day, can help to relieve stress, boost immunity, balance our emotions, and help us stay focused.

Do you really need an app?

This is probably the first question you should ask yourself. Many people around the world do meditation without the support of an app. So, the answer is, it really depends on you. Apps can provide structure (something almost all of us need), background music, and guided instructions. I also find that having an app and interacting with the app daily provides more incentive to continue each day.

If you are just starting to meditate, there are tons of free resources available on the web. Just type “how to meditate” into your browser and you will see a wide range of articles and videos available. 

When is the best time to meditate?

Scheduling just 5-10 minutes each morning after waking is the best time to meditate. If that is not feasible or if you are like me and love to sleep, you can also try scheduling time after work. I would avoid long meditations just before bed since you will probably doze off. That may not be a bad thing especially if you have trouble falling asleep.

If you really want to reap the benefits of meditation, set aside a few minutes each and every day. What is great about some of these apps is they have sessions that can be completed in just 3-5 minutes or less. One of the apps, Calm, has something called “Sleep Stories” that can help lure you to sleep. We will talk more about Sleep Stories below.

Choosing an app

If you open the Android or iOS app store and search for meditation apps, you will no doubt see an overwhelming number of apps available. Choosing an app depends on what features are most important to you and what you are willing to pay. Below is a review of 4 popular apps.

CALM

Search the internet for meditation apps and this one consistently comes up as being “one of the best,” and we can see why.

Positives:

  • Beautiful, easy-to-use interface with tabs for Music, Meditate, Masterclass, and Sleep.
  • Beginner’s meditations, as well as different types of meditations depending on your goal or mood. The meditations are concise, making them perfect for those always on the go.
  • Sleep Stories are narrated stories to help lure you to sleep. There are even some stories for children, which are excellent. Each story lasts for approximately 15-25 minutes. As of this writing, there were more than 50 different stories available. 

Negatives:

  • Although there is some good free content, you need to pay $59.99 for a yearly subscription to access premium content. This is cheaper than the Headspace subscription (see below) and worth the fee if you will use the app regularly.
  • Limited selection of free content.

SIMPLY BEING

This is a very basic app for those who want a great no-frills meditation experience without all the bells and whistles.

Positives:

  • One-time purchase (as of this writing, the app was $1.99 in the iTunes App Store).
  • Very simple and easy to use. Simply open the app and select one choice from each of the three options (length of guided meditation, music or sounds, and how long sound continues after the guided meditation finishes).

Negatives

  • Limited selection of music.
  • The interface can be improved.

HEADSPACE

This app has garnished lots of attention from the media, and deservingly so.

Positives:

  • Good selection of structured meditations and sleep sounds.
  • Wide range of different meditation packs, singles, and 1-3 minute minis available – perfect for the busy professional.
  • Tracks meditations completed and time spent meditating.
  • Andy, the voice on Headspace, speaks in a slow and deliberate manner. His voice is extremely comforting and soothing. For those who don’t like to meditate, his voice may be all the motivation you need to keep going each day.

Negatives:

  • Great content can only be unlocked with a subscription plan. There are monthly, annual, and lifetime subscriptions. A yearly subscription will set you back $94.99. Still, it is worth it if you will use the app regularly.
  • Very limited selection of free content available.

SIMPLE HABIT

Introduced in 2016, this app is considered the new kid on the block.

  • A clean, intuitive, and simple interface.
  • Large selection of different and unique meditations available.
  • The “On-The-Go” tool is innovative and a quick way to select a guided meditation. If you are, for example, walking around the city, you can select “Walking” from the "On-The-Go" wheel and then select “In the City” from the sub-menu.  Next, choose the time (5-10-20 minutes) and the app will automatically bring up the appropriate meditation. 
  • A wide-selection of qualified meditation teachers perform the sessions. This is one of the nicest features of this app. The bios for each of the teachers are listed in the app.
  • Ability to track your progress each day.

Negatives:

  • A yearly subscription will set you back $95.99. As mentioned above, the fee is worth it if you will use the app regularly. However, it would be great to see some other subscription plans or different options to unlock more of the premium content.
  • Limited selection of free content available.

Summary

All the apps mentioned above, with the exception of Simply Being, require a subscription service to unlock premium content. You may find that the free content offered by all the subscription-based apps, along with the one-time purchase of Simple Being, is all you need.

If you find it hard to motivate yourself to meditate daily and prefer a large selection of different meditations, then a paid subscription is probably the way to go. All three of the subscription apps (Calm, Headspace, and Simple Habit) regularly add new and interesting content to their apps. You can find meditations for walking, anxiety, self-esteem, sleep, etc.

If you are going to pay for a subscription service, which one should you choose? The best solution is to try each of the apps mentioned above and see which one fits you best.