The Best Mindfulness Apps
By The Mindful Leader Team
With so many meditation and wellness apps that focus on mindfulness available, how do you decide which one to use? Ultimately, the best mindfulness app for you is the one that encourages you to get started with a regular mindfulness practice, or effectively supplements the individual practice that you already have.
We want to acknowledge that there are valid concerns with app-based mental training. From privacy concerns to addictive gamified elements to monetization pressure from investors, there is plenty to remain cautious about.
Here is a list of ten of our favorite mindfulness and meditation apps curated by their best features, so you can determine which might be best suited to your needs, goals, and lifestyle. To see our pick for the best mindfulness and meditation app overall, scroll to the bottom!
Best Free App: Insight Timer
Insight Timer offers a comprehensive library of over 100,000 meditations to users completely free, with no subscription required at any point. Some first-time meditators prefer this app because it is fairly easy to filter through the different content and find courses and meditations for their particular skill level, preferences and needs. However, it does require a bit more time than some of the apps that curate recommendations for you. One of the most engaging features is the ability to join live events, including yoga classes, sutra readings, journaling workshops, and more.
Cost: Free - A Member Plus subscription that provides access to courses and playlists is also available for a free 30-day trial then costs $9.99/month OR $59.99/year
Best for Mindfulness Workouts & Exercise: Headspace
You’ve likely heard Headspace branded as the “gym membership for your mind,” and it’s important to note that this mental gym comes with a personal coach–the renowned British author and meditation and mindfulness teacher, Andy Puddicombe–who guides you through each meditation with a specific focus on teaching the practice of breathwork. Additionally, there are also mood-boosting workouts, sleep sounds, focus music and more resources to help you fortify your mind and wellbeing.
Cost: Free 1-week trial then $12.99/month OR free 2-week trial then $69.99/year
Best for Kids & Teens: Smiling Mind
Another entirely free option, Smiling Mind centers on developing mindfulness in both kids and adults. Their programs are divided by age (starting at 7-11 years old) and designed by psychologists and educators to be effective, but also extremely accessible. As a result, most of their courses feature shorter sessions to help keep even the most easily-distracted kids (and adults) engaged in their mindful practice and reflection throughout the day.
Best for a Structured Mindfulness Routine: Mindfulness Daily
Mindfulness Daily makes it simple to create a more structured daily mindfulness routine, which can make it easier to incorporate your mindfulness practice into your busy schedule. The app prompts you to begin each day with a morning intention and daily lesson, include a short pause during the day, and finally, unwind with a brief evening reflection and relaxation session. Their guided sessions are generally shorter, but effective, and have successfully helped many users reduce stress and anxiety, manage pain, and improve performance and sleep.
Cost: Free -Premium Membership that includes access to unique engaging daily programs is also available for 2-week trial then costs $12.99/month OR $95.88/year
Best for Skeptics: Ten Percent Happier
If you or someone you know is on the fence about meditation, this might be the perfect mindfulness app to change your perspective. Dan Harris, author of the book 10% Happier, defines his app as “meditation for fidgety skeptics,” so you won’t find references to spirituality on the app’s platform, just neuroscience-backed mindfulness training, as well as a wide selection of podcasts from hosts including Sara Bareilles, Dr. Rick Hanson and other professional speakers.
Cost: Limited content available for free. A Subscription that includes access to all meditations, podcasts and content has a free 1-week trial then costs $99.99/year.
Best for Self-Care: Shine
The beauty of the Shine app is its central focus on self-care and mental wellness for everyone, no matter how you identify. It was created by two women of color after they noticed a lack of representation in the more mainstream wellness community. In addition to the “Daily Shine” meditation, the app encourages you to set a morning intention, check in throughout the day, engage in community discussions, and more. Their vast array of mindfulness and meditation exercises are led by a diverse group of experts, covering a wide range of topics, from BIPOC, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ mental health to setting healthy boundaries, navigating anxiety, and more.
Cost: Free 1-week trial then $14.99/month OR $64.99/year
Best Overall: Calm
As of August 2021, Calm became the world’s most downloaded meditation app and remains popular with users for many reasons. When you first open the app, the tranquil sound of falling rain instantly begins to instill a sense of peace, even before you start exploring the vast catalog of meditations, soundscapes, and masterclasses. The “daily calm” meditation is a short and simple way to incorporate a bit of mindful relaxation into your daily routine, and the brief check-in feature (which prompts you to respond to questions like “How are you feeling right now?” and “What are you grateful for?”) can be a great way to quickly engage in a bit of journaling and self-reflection.
Cost: Free 1-week trial then $14.99/month or $69.99/year
We encourage you to use mindfulness apps as a supplementary tool to support your practice and to take full advantage of technology by finding and using a mindfulness app that’s right for you. We believe nothing is more effective than live instructor-led training and community-based practice. We do not officially endorse any meditation apps.
What do you think of meditation apps? If you've tried them, which is your favorite and why?