Best Meditation Apps of 2023: Review Guide

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on June 6, 2023
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Have you ever considered incorporating meditation into your daily routine?

With our increasingly busy lives, finding moments of peace can be challenging. Meditation apps have become convenient, making accessing guided meditations and mindfulness techniques more accessible than ever. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best mental health app for your needs? And do they even work?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll review the top meditation apps of 2023, discuss their features, and provide expert insights to help you make an informed decision.

Looking for evidence based mindfulness training? 

Short Summary

  • Explore top meditation apps for physical & mental health benefits.
  • Compare features, reviews, and pricing to find the right one.
  • Consult experts and research evidence before using the product.

Our Top Meditation App Picks

Woebot and 5 AI Chatbot Mobile Apps That Aim to Put a Therapist in Your Pocket

As we dive into the world of meditation apps, some names stand out in the crowd.

Calm, Headspace, and Insight Meditation Timer are our top 3.

Buddhify, Unplug, Simple Habit, Breathwrk, and Smiling Mind are among the best meditation apps of 2023 as well, offering a variety of guided meditations, meditation practices, and mental health resources to enhance your mindfulness journey.

  • Calm, for example, is known for its daily guided meditations, programs tailored to help with anxiety, stress, or sleep, relaxing bedtime stories, and calming music.
  • On the other hand, Headspace offers organized courses, easy-to-use navigation, personalized daily to-do lists, and group sessions. We’ve bought and documented our experience using Headspace (see Headspace in-depth review).
  • Insight Timer stands out with over 150,000 free meditations, a free 7-day intro course, and a community of meditators to connect with in real-time. We’ve used Insight Meditation Timer for years, in addition to Headspace.

Each app has its unique features, and your choice should depend on your preferences, meditation experience, and desired outcomes. Keep reading as we evaluate these apps and discuss their benefits, meditation styles, and techniques.

Where to Find the Best Meditation Apps

  1. Calm: A popular meditation app designed to help users reduce stress, improve sleep, and enhance focus through guided meditations, sleep stories, and calming music. Access: https://www.calm.com/
  2. Headspace: An app offering guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and sleep resources aimed at improving mental well-being, focus, and relaxation. Access: https://www.headspace.com/
  3. Insight Timer: A meditation app featuring a vast library of guided meditations, music tracks, and talks led by renowned teachers, with a customizable meditation timer. Access: https://insighttimer.com/
  4. Buddhify: A mindfulness app providing over 200 guided meditations tailored to various daily activities and challenges, designed to help users cultivate mindfulness throughout the day. Access: https://buddhify.com/
  5. Unplug: An app featuring a wide range of guided meditation videos led by experienced teachers, with customizable session lengths and various meditation styles. Access: https://www.unplug.com/
  6. Simple Habit: An app offering short, 5-minute guided meditations designed for busy lifestyles, aimed at reducing stress, improving focus, and promoting overall well-being. Access: https://www.simplehabit.com/
  7. Breathwrk: A breathing exercise app that provides personalized, guided breathing exercises to help users manage stress, improve sleep, and increase energy levels. Access: https://www.breathwrk.com/
  8. Smiling Mind: A non-profit app offering mindfulness and meditation programs for all ages, developed by psychologists and educators to promote mental well-being. Access: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/

These meditation apps offer a variety of resources and techniques to help users improve their mental health and well-being. Exploring different options such as Woebot and finding the app that best suits your preferences and needs is essential.

Evaluating the Apps

When selecting the best meditation app for you, consider features, accessibility, user interface, and customer reviews.

We conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the apps. This included considerations such as evidence-based design, expert involvement, practitioner level, ease of navigation, variety of meditations available, and cost.

  • Meditation apps offer various features, such as guided meditations, mood trackers, and timers.
  • Moreover, users are also connected to a supportive network of other meditators in some cases like Insight Meditation Timer.
  • A user-friendly design is vital in a good meditation app, which is given when we’re discussing the best meditation apps – all of them have clean designs.
  • Some apps, like Headspace, excel in organizing their library of meditations and providing a fun interface.

However, it’s essential to remember that the effectiveness of a meditation app depends on your personal preferences and meditation experience. Spend some time exploring different options and consider trying several apps before settling on the one that resonates with you.

The Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation is a practice that uses techniques to focus on oneself, a thought, an object, or an activity. It has been widely researched1 and has shown numerous benefits for mental and physical health.

  • By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you can experience improved focus, stress reduction, relief from depression, pain relief, and cognitive benefits.
  • Meditation apps can help you access these benefits whenever and wherever you want. They offer personalized experiences, guided meditations, and tools to help you lead a more mindful day-to-day life.
  • Moreover, meditation has been proven to help with anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even lower your blood pressure.

As you explore different meditation apps, consider how their features and offerings align with your goals. Whether you’re seeking stress relief, better sleep, or improved mental clarity, there’s likely an app tailored to your needs.

Meditation Styles and Techniques

Meditation practices can vary in style and technique.

Medical News Today lists several types of meditation, such as focusing on a sensation like breathing, a sound, a mantra, or an image. According to senior Buddhist teacher David Nichtern, the basis of all meditation practices is “mindfulness”.

Apps like Headspace offer a range of meditation styles, from general practice to solution-driven meditations targeting anxiety, patience, self-esteem, grief, and even short, one-session meditations. When starting your meditation journey, it’s essential to explore different techniques and find the one that resonates with you.

As you familiarize yourself with various meditation styles, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Consider experimenting with different techniques within the apps to discover what works best for your unique needs and preferences.

Top Rated “Meditation for Beginner’s” Udemy Course – An App Alternative

Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly (https://onlinementalhealthreviews.com/meditation-course-beginners)

This popular Udemy course will help you start your journey to a more mindful and calm life.

  • Find out about tried-and-true ways to meditate that can help you feel less stressed and anxious, improve your health, and make you more productive in just 5 minutes a day.
  • With a 4.5 rating from over 1,180 students, this course will teach you how to meditate effectively, create consistent practice, and understand the mechanics behind this powerful wellness tool.

Free vs. Paid Meditation Apps

When it comes to meditation apps, you’ll find both free and paid options. Free apps, like Smiling Mind and Healthy Minds Program, offer basic meditation practices and features without any cost. However, these apps may have fewer features and less variety compared to paid apps.

Paid meditation apps, on the other hand, often come with more advanced features, such as guided meditations, tracking tools, and customization options. While these apps may provide a more comprehensive meditation experience, their cost can be a barrier for some users.

Ultimately, the choice between free and paid meditation apps depends on your needs, preferences, and budget. It’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each option and consider whether the additional features offered in paid apps are worth the investment for you.

Meditation Apps for Specific Needs

Some meditation apps cater to specific needs and communities.

For instance, EXHALE is a meditation app designed for BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Womxn of Color), offering resources and services tailored to their needs (https://www.exhalesite.com/).

Specialized meditation apps can be a great resource for individuals seeking a meditation experience tailored to their unique needs and circumstances.

How to Get Started with Meditation

If you’re new to meditation, getting started might seem daunting. However, it’s easier than you might think. Begin by focusing on your breath or doing a body scan to become aware of physical sensations. You can also look for apps that offer guided meditations for beginners, helping you ease into the practice.

As you explore different meditation techniques, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment with various styles and techniques within the apps to find what works best for you. Establishing a routine is essential for developing a consistent meditation practice, so consider setting aside a specific time each day for your meditation sessions.

When selecting a meditation app, consider your preferences, meditation experience, and desired outcomes. Take the time to investigate different options and try several apps before settling on the one that resonates with you.

Meditation Apps for Kids and Families

Woebot and 5 AI Chatbot Mobile Apps That Aim to Put a Therapist in Your Pocket

Meditation can be a valuable practice not only for adults but also for children and families.

Apps like Smiling Mind and Healthy Minds Program are designed specifically for kids and families, helping them learn and practice mindfulness together. Smiling Mind, for example, is a completely free app suitable for kids aged 5 and up. It offers meditations as short as one minute, allowing children to gradually develop the habit of mindfulness.

These apps can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost memory and concentration for kids and families alike. Introducing mindfulness practices to children from an early age can have lasting benefits, so consider exploring meditation apps tailored to kids and families to foster a mindful lifestyle within your household.

Third-Party Expert Insights and Reviews

We believe strongly in helping you make the best decision for your mental health. That’s why we’ve listed a variety of reviews from authoritative websites about this very topic.

We highly encourage you to explore this list and get a diversity of perspectives before making a decision about which meditation app you’d like to try.

  1. WebMD: Best Meditation Apps of 2020: WebMD provides a list of the top meditation apps for 2020, covering various features and benefits to help users choose the right app for their needs. Read the review: https://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/slideshow-meditation-apps
  2. Verywell Mind: The 7 Best Meditation Apps of 2021: Verywell Mind reviews the top meditation apps for 2021, discussing the pros and cons of each app to help users make an informed decision. Read the review: https://www.verywellmind.com/best-meditation-apps-4768442
  3. Healthline: The Best Meditation Apps of 2021: Healthline presents a curated list of the best meditation apps in 2021, highlighting unique features, pricing options, and user experiences. Read the review: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps
  4. Mindful.org: Top 10 Meditation Apps: Mindful.org offers a list of the top 10 meditation apps, providing brief descriptions and download links for each app to help users explore various options. Read the review: https://www.mindful.org/free-mindfulness-apps-worthy-of-your-attention/
  5. Psychology Today: 5 Best Meditation Apps to Reduce Anxiety: Psychology Today reviews five meditation apps specifically designed to help reduce anxiety, discussing their features and effectiveness. Read the review: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201807/5-best-meditation-apps-reduce-anxiety
  6. Good Housekeeping: 15 Best Meditation Apps to Help You Keep Calm and Centered: Good Housekeeping shares a list of 15 meditation apps, highlighting their unique offerings and user-friendliness. Read the review: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health-products/g26963663/best-meditation-apps/

Explore these reviews to understand different meditation apps’ features, benefits, and user experiences, helping you choose the one that best aligns with your preferences and goals.

Who Should Not Use Meditation Apps

While meditation apps can be beneficial for many people, there are certain individuals who should exercise caution or avoid using these apps altogether.

  • People with specific mental health issues, such as PTSD, may find meditation challenging and may experience adverse reactions.
  • Pregnant women are also advised to avoid meditation apps, as they could potentially have negative effects.

If you have concerns about whether meditation apps are suitable for you, consult your healthcare provider or a mental health professional for guidance.

Are Meditation Apps Evidence-Based?

Meditation apps have been subjected to research and testing to ensure their effectiveness.

Currently, there is some scientific evidence to support the benefits of meditation apps, but more research is needed. There is a high risk of bias in meditation app studies, and additionally, it appears to be significantly related to the Placebo Effect (in other words, if you like the app and believe it works, then it does – but not necessarily the app itself.

For example, several studies have shown that using meditation apps can lead to various mental and physical health benefits, according to the NIH2, but not strong enough science to make firm conclusions.

As you explore the world of meditation apps, you can rest assured that many of them are backed by evidence-based research, ensuring that they provide valuable tools and techniques for your meditation journey.

List of Pros and Cons of Meditation Apps

As with any tool, there are pros and cons to using meditation apps.

  • On the plus side, these apps offer convenience, accessibility, and guided meditations for beginners, making meditation practice more accessible than ever. Additionally, many meditation apps provide customization options and extra tools to help you lead a more mindful day-to-day life.
  • On the downside, meditation apps can be expensive, not tailored to individual needs, and may have limited session lengths. Some users may also find it challenging to stay focused and motivated when using an app, compared to attending in-person meditation sessions or receiving one-on-one guidance.

Summary

In conclusion, meditation apps have revolutionized the way we practice mindfulness and meditation, making it accessible and convenient for everyone. With numerous options available, it’s essential to evaluate each app based on features, accessibility, user interface, and customer reviews.

By considering your unique needs, meditation experience, and goals, you can find the perfect meditation app to support your journey toward inner peace and well-being.

Please leave a comment letting us know your comment or question! You may also tell us what mental health service, course, or online platform our team at Online Mental Health Reviews platform should review next! Finally, if you have discount codes be sure to post them so every reader can benefit!

Looking for evidence based mindfulness training? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Calm Lifetime worth it?

Considering the facts from the answers, Calm Lifetime could be a worthy investment for those who frequently feel stressed or anxious. The app offers a wide range of guided meditations, sleep stories, and music, which can help you relax and unwind.

However, purchasing the premium version is not necessary if it’s not in your budget. Overall, it may be worth considering.

Is Headspace worth it?

Based on the wealth of positive reviews, it appears that Headspace is a worthwhile investment. It provides users with personalized guided meditations with options for different types of sessions and tracks progress over time to encourage further development.

Many reviews from users indicate that after only a short period of use, their stress and anxiety were greatly reduced. Overall, Headspace seems to be worth the cost. With an array of guided meditations and personalized learning plans, it makes it easier for even the newest meditators to become comfortable with the practice. The progress tracking feature also allows users to measure their personal growth in a tangible way, which can be a motivating factor in continuing.

Do meditation apps really work?

Yes, meditation apps can be effective in helping reduce stress. While results can vary depending on individual users and how often they use the app, overall studies suggest that people can experience decreased levels of stress with regular use.

So if you’re looking for an easy way to improve your mental well-being, a meditation app may be just the solution you need.

Sources

  1. Front. Public Health, 02 December 202. Sec. Public Mental Health
    Volume 9 – 2021 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.742715
  2. Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-and-mindfulness-what-you-need-to-know

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