Take your phone now and look at the screen- how many apps can you count? Probably more than 10 or 20. You might have an app for chatting, one or two apps for internet banking, a favorite newspaper, or an online shopping app. Among so many apps that you already use, why not consider a meditation app which can be as helpful as any other app you use daily?
Meditation apps provide different types of meditation of different lengths, which can help to build a regular meditation practice. Apps can also contain talks and the possibility to attend online events.
Whether you are an experienced meditator or someone new who wants to begin meditation, this article will explore the benefits of using meditation apps and review the most used ones.
Why are meditation apps helpful?
An app (a shorter version of the word “application”) is a software program designed to give users instant access to the services they are looking for.
There are many benefits to using a meditation app. Here is the list of why they are helpful:
- They feature different types of meditation – Did you know there is more than one way to meditate? In fact, there are several different meditation styles, including breath awareness, chanting, visualization, and even walking meditation. You will find a broad selection of meditation styles on a meditation app. This is great as you can find the one that is most beneficial for you
- They cater to everyone – Meditation apps usually offer meditations specially designed for children as well as adults. You will also find options for all levels, from beginners to advanced.
- Timers – One of a meditation app’s most basic and handy features is the timer. This is ideal for those who like to meditate independently and want to track how long they meditate. With a timer, you can also set the desired meditation duration and choose bells or soft gongs to go off every few minutes according to your preference. This is a great tool to help you meditate without losing focus.
- Guided meditations – For those who prefer instruction, you’ll find plenty of guided meditations that will teach you how to meditate. Depending on the app, you will find dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of meditation teachers and their pre-recorded meditations. Teachers have ratings from other meditators, so it makes sense to start with the most highly rated ones. As every meditation teacher has a different style, try a few and see whose style you most resonate with.
- Sound bath meditations – Pre-recorded sound baths are another cool feature found on some meditation apps. Sound baths combine meditation and sound therapy, using instruments like Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, and flutes to help bring you into a state of relaxation and healing. You’ll find a library of pre-recording sound healing meditations, which you can simply lay down and listen to.
- Sounds of nature – Other pre-recorded audio you can find on the app include nature sounds like the ocean, birds chirping, or jungle wildlife. If you find a specific natural sound relaxing, play the recording while meditating, relaxing, or in bed.
- Live sessions with teachers – One of the newest features of meditation apps is live sessions. If you’ve been listening to meditations from a teacher for a while, joining a live session with them is an excellent way to learn more and connect with the app community. Apps like Insight Timer have a chat function where you can ask the teacher questions and chat with other meditators during the session.
- Downloadable meditations – Some apps allow members to download the meditation tracks to listen to offline. This is excellent for anyone who travels regularly. Downloadable meditations will enable you to relax and unwind while on the plane or train, even without an internet connection.
How do meditation apps work
If you’re impressed by the benefits of meditation apps, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Like most apps, you’ll have to register first to gain access. Some meditation apps only offer paid memberships, like Calm. However, some have free and paid memberships, such as Insight Timer. The free version gives you access to the most basic features, whereas the paid one includes premium content.
If you sign up for a paid membership, you’ll need to provide your bank details and basic personal information. Once you have signed up, you can use the app whenever and as much as you like. There is no limit to how many meditations you can do a day.
Some apps have a function that tracks your habits and records your current meditation streak. They may also send reminders to meditate daily via a push notification on the app or email. However, you can turn off these reminders in the settings on the app if you wish.
Nowadays, many of the most popular meditation apps have functions for following teachers and groups. Following groups allows you to interact with other meditators and share your experience and insights.
The best-rated meditation apps
Headspace is one of the longest-running meditation apps (founded in 2010), with over 10 million downloads. Headspace helps you find mindfulness in your everyday life with meditation for different purposes, such as relaxation, stress management, or focusing energy. There is also an entire section on sleep with hacks to help you sleep better.
Headspace offers new users a free trial, then the annual subscription is $69.99, or you can pay monthly at $12.99 per month. There are also family and student plans available. There is free content that anyone can access, but these are very limited compared to other apps.
Another long-running app, Insight Timer, has more than 15 million users and was founded in 2009. The app has expanded the most over the years with many innovative features such as live meditation, live yoga classes and workshops, and groups.
The app also has the most expansive library with 30k guided meditations from around 14k teachers, free of charge to all. In addition, a premium version (called member plus) gives you access to a wide array of meditation and mindfulness courses.
Mindworks is a newer and lesser-known meditation app that helps you train your mind to conquer your life with meditation, talks, courses, and live events. As this app is new, it cannot compete with the older ones in terms of library content and app ease of use. Still, their Mindworks Journeys and Life Navigation Course provides a structured, easy-to-follow way to build or deepen your meditation practice.
Mindworks offers level 1 of their signature course for free. For those who want to continue, you can purchase the other levels or become a member and gain access to all courses and content. Membership costs $25 a month or $225 a year.
Mindworks is a newer and lesser known meditation app that helps you train your mind to conquer your life with meditation, talks, courses, and live events. As this app is new, it cannot compete with the older ones in terms of library content and app ease of use. Still, their Mindworks Journeys and Life Navigation Course provides a structured and easy to follow way to build or deepen your meditation practice.
Mindworks offers level 1 of their signature course for free. For those who want to continue you can either purchase the course only or become a member and gain access to all courses and content. Membership costs $25 a month or $225 a year.
Sattva is a new app that takes the unique approach of creating content by drawing on the Vedic principles of meditation. Aside from meditations, Sattva has a library of chants, sacred sounds, and music you can use in your practice. In addition, you can personalize it by creating your own library and then make in-app friends with whom you can share playlists.
Another unique thing about Sattva is that they offer lifetime memberships rather than monthly or annual subscriptions. So if you want to use Sattva, you pay a one-off payment of $108.00 and have access to it forever.
As most apps offer free trials, we recommend signing up for this offer on all the apps before committing to one. This way, you can try them all and see which one you prefer before purchasing a membership.
Why are meditation apps so expensive?
The companies behind the apps need to make money, so it’s only natural that you have to pay to use one. However, as these companies are passionate about making meditation accessible for all, most offer some free content. The free version will probably be sufficient if you only use the app now and again. However, if you want a more profound experience, you will benefit from buying the premium version.
While some meditation app memberships are relatively pricey, using them daily is worth the cost. Also, remember that part of the membership costs goes towards paying the meditation teachers who create the content. However, the exact percentage varies between apps.
You could argue that meditation apps are expensive because they cost more than Spotify and Netflix. Still, a meditation app is undoubtedly a better investment. A meditation app can improve your mental health and wellbeing and help your personal growth. In contrast, something like Netflix is primarily just a source of entertainment.
There are free versions if you don’t want to pay for a meditation app or if it is not within your budget. I recommend Insight Timer as their free membership features access to the entire library of guided meditations and live sessions.
Do I need a meditation app?
Of course, you don’t need an app (or any technology) to meditate. Still, both beginner and long-time meditation practitioners find them useful. They are a great way to track your progress and enjoy different styles of meditation. These apps also have additional features like talks and live events, which may help deepen your practice.
Are meditation apps effective?
Like with any app, it depends on how often you use it. If you are new to meditation and want to build a healthy routine, then using an app can be very effective. As the guided meditations are of different lengths, you can start with short ones and then move on to the longer ones. Or, if using the timer, start with 5 minutes and then increase the duration.
Meditation apps are also an excellent place to find new teachers. Once you find your favorite one whose voice and style you like, you can learn with them long-term.
While you may first assume that introducing technology to a reflective and mindful practice like meditation is counterproductive, this is not necessarily the case. As you can see, there are many additional benefits to using a meditation app than meditating on your own.
If you’re new to the practice, an app will teach you the techniques and give you tips on how to meditate. Or, if you’ve been meditating for years, an app will introduce you to new styles and live talks to deepen your practice. Plus, you have nothing to lose as most apps offer free trials. So why not give it a go?