10 Best Free Meditation Apps to Give You a Sense of Calm
Need a moment of calm and tranquility? These meditation apps will help you find your zen.
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Millions of people practice meditation for a variety of reasons, and many of them started meditating during quarantine. Not only can practicing meditation help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression—it can also increase focus and improve memory function. The best part? You don’t need to spend a ton of time meditating each day to reap the benefits. And with so many free meditation apps on the market (or, in this case, in the App Store), it’s easy to find one that best suits your individual needs, goals, and preferences.
So whether you’re a meditation pro and want to try something new, or you’re still searching for apps to help you find calm, sleep apps for insomnia, or other ways to relax for free—including our very own Reader’s Digest free streaming app—a relaxation app may be just what you’re looking for. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite meditation apps broken down by category (although you really can’t go wrong with any of them).
Insight Timer is a free meditation app that offers incredible value. Users can choose from more than 130,000 different meditations (including guided ones led by celebrities like Russell Brand, Gisele Bündchen, and Goldie Hawn). There are also music playlists, lectures, live events, talks, kids’ content, and courses. You can also utilize the meditation timer for silent sessions. For more productivity tips, check out these organization apps.
- 130,000-plus completely free meditations on 200 topics
- Meditations range in length
- Thousands of teachers to choose from
- The giant library may feel overwhelming to newbies
Best for beginners
Free and paid versions
Headspace aims to make meditation simple, and the app certainly succeeds with hundreds of exercises across a range of topics, including stress, sleep, and focus, to name a few. For best results, turn on the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone and get started with your first meditation session with Headspace. Over time, this user-friendly meditation app will help you unwind and find happiness in life’s everyday pleasures—all you need, of course, is to be in the right headspace. The app offers a 14-day free trial before requiring users to upgrade to a monthly or annual subscription for only a few dollars a month. Pros:
- Hundreds of exercises cover a range of topics to best suit your needs and goals
- Delivers a new meditation to your phone daily
- Free articles on mindfulness topics
- Not a ton of free features
Best for those who are short on time
Free and paid versions
Aura offers personalized, three-minute meditations, making it easy to find peace anytime, anyplace. Even better? The meditation app also provides personalized recommendations as “the first app that learns how to best help You,” as well as the opportunity to build your own playlists. While the three-minute meditations are free, purchasing an upgrade gives users access to seven-minute meditations they can listen to more than once.
- Curated recommendations add an extra-personalized touch
- Huge range of topics, from emotional intelligence to hypnosis
- Choose from thousands of expert coaches from all over the world
- Users can only listen to the free three-minute daily meditations once; upgraded meditations are only seven minutes
Best for skeptics
Ten Percent Happier
If you find yourself questioning the benefits of meditation, consider downloading Ten Percent Happier, which teaches the basic principles of meditation via different, easily digestible courses. The app is derived from the inspirational self-help book by Dan Harris, a former meditation skeptic-turned-believer. After a seven-day free trial featuring limited features, users can upgrade to access the full membership.
- An incredible lineup of top meditation and mindfulness experts
- 500-plus meditations, including exclusive sleep meditations
- Free meditation challenges, plus year-round access to meditation challenges for paying members
- The upgraded version is pricier than other meditation apps
Best for insomnia
Free and paid versions
This fan-favorite meditation app offers a weeklong free trial, as well as a handful of totally free courses, with a mix of music, sounds, and breathing exercises for relaxation to lull you to sleep in (almost) no time. Alternatively, splurge on a subscription to browse a wide array of sounds, music, and Sleep Stories (aka bedtime stories for adults, some of which are narrated by A-listers like Harry Styles and Matthew McConaughey).
- 45-plus basic meditation courses are free
- Celebrity-narrated meditations add a fun touch
- Wide content library to choose from
- Most music, Sleep Stories, and sound selections require an upgrade to the paid version
Best for the whole family
Smiling Mind is a not-for-profit app developed by psychologists and educators. The totally free meditation app offers specific exercises tailored for kids (including teens and little ones!) and adults, making it an excellent choice for the whole family. The app also offers additional activities, all of which encourage you to “be kind to your mind.” Next, try these techniques to declutter your mind.
- Content suitable for all ages, organized by age group
- Offers a daily well-being check-in
- Developed by psychologists and educators
- Some niche topics (for example, sports and mindful eating) may feel intimidating for beginners to tackle
Best for mindfulness
Free and paid versions
Simple Habit offers an array of five-minute meditations to help you incorporate basic principles of mindfulness into your daily life with a focus on productivity. It’s also incredibly easy to browse the app’s wide variety, including curated exercises across a range of topics (“Deal with Holiday Relatives,” “Manifest Your Dreams,” and so on). For the full scope of offerings and to download meditations, users can upgrade to the paid version.
- Plenty of free content
- Easy to do from anywhere, even when on the go
- Users can set meditation reminders and check their progress to help build habits
- Because the exercises are on the shorter side, users looking to dive deeper into meditation may feel rushed
Best for breathing
Oak is an entirely free meditation app that features a combination of meditation and breathing exercises, ranging from a few minutes to longer guided and DIY practices. Plus, each prompt is simple and straightforward, making it incredibly user-friendly. As a bonus, the app also lets you set up daily reminders in the form of uplifting quotes.
- Mix of meditation and breathing exercises
- Easy to use and follow along
- Completely ad-free
- Content library is small compared with other meditation apps (like Calm or Headspace), so it may feel repetitive after a while
Best for anxiety
The Unplug app—also known as “the meditation app for people who don’t have time to meditate”—is an extension of the Los Angeles–based meditation studio of the same name. Its goal is to reduce anxiety with the help of a wide selection of exercises and guided meditations. Most of the sessions are filmed in the studio, which can feel more personal and immersive.
- You can conveniently sort through exercises based on length, topic, and teacher
- The app includes a gratitude journal and timer feature
- Users are able to download meditations for use offline or on-the-go
- Most meditations are around 10 minutes, which may be too long for many users
Best for advanced-level meditation
While Omvana is not free, it does offer a seven-day free trial that enables you to get a true feel for the app before purchasing a subscription. Omvana offers guided meditation exercises from acclaimed teachers, though advanced meditators will especially appreciate the option to create their own meditation tracks based on a selection of thousands of sounds, beats, and narrations.
- Users can customize their experience by mixing guided sessions with ambient tracks
- App focuses on performance and achieving flow state
- Less expensive than other paid meditation apps
- Offers additional in-app purchases not included even in paid version