I’ve learned I’m not the best at meditating in a quiet space and just focusing on my breath. Not only because I live with 5 other people (with one on the way btw), but because my mind at times can be on hyperdrive, and I need help focusing my attention. Guided meditations have become a crucial part of my daily self-care routine. Finding the right one can be tough though, there are so many! According to Appinventiv, “More than 2,500 meditation mobile applications have been launched since 2015”. To help you in your self-care journey, I tried three of the top meditation apps and one that’s a little more obscure. I investigated if the app is worth investing in and what the free version offers you. As a disclaimer I was not paid by any of these apps to provide a review, I tried them purely out of curiosity.
Headspace doesn’t have a free version; basically, the only thing available to you is the How to use Headspace video and the ability to add friends. So, let’s jump right in: is the premiere account worth it? Yes. Headspace has a bright and inviting aesthetic that brings fun to your mindfulness practice. You can easily search for a meditation course or even bitesize advice from an expert to help with a specific emotion or event like Anger or Coping with Cancer. What makes them different from the other apps is they have a section all about helping you focus with a curated playlist, soundscapes and even mindful breathing with a friendly cat. There is a neat aspect to Headspace’s sleep stories where you can choose a more ambient noise or reader experience within the story. They also have a section for workouts that focus on stress relief. I enjoy the Dance Breaks, Headspace and Lincoln Center partnered to teach users to dance moves from around the world, and they’re all under 3 minutes!
Try it here: Headspace, $12.99 Monthly or $69.99 Annually
There are not many components available without a premiere account. You have to hunt for the available meditations and sleep stories. But you do have access to the ‘Check-Ins’, where you can track your feelings or sleep. So, the big question: is the premiere version worth it? Yes. They add new meditations regularly and truly consider their users’ environment, like with their A Heart Less Heavy mediations they created during COVID. I enjoy that they have mediations of varying lengths and take care to ensure that the 3-minute version is just as effective as the longer ones. Other features like Calm Body gives users the ability to learn mindful movement with tight schedules in mind. Their Sleep Stories selections are great. Who doesn’t want to be lulled to sleep by Harry Styles or Matthew McConaughey? Users can also be inspired and motivated by athletics, entrepreneurs and more in The Spark.
Try it here: Calm, $69.99 Annually
Insight Timer has a considerable selection of meditations and more available to users for free! The meditations are created by facilitators and teachers from all over the world (interested in learning the difference between a meditation facilitator and teacher?). You can easily discover meditations through an alphabetical list or search your need. I enjoy the meditations I’ve found about protecting your energy. They also have free yoga classes you can attend and a library of music to help you focus or sleep. Is the paid version worth it? It depends. If you want to deep dive with their library of courses or have the ability to download meditations for offline listening or fast forward and rewind, then go for it. But there is so much at your fingertips with the free version.
Try it here: Insight Timer, $9.99 Monthly or 59.99 Annually
MyLife has more features available in the free version, and the free meditations are easier to find. It curates possible activities through the “How are you?” section. You detail how you are doing physically and mentally then you add any emotions you’re experiencing. Usually, a few free and premiere activities are provided. I like the interface on “My Progress”. It keeps track of your meditation and, my favorite, shows you your top emotions before and after meditating. Is the paid version worth it? It depends. The free version offers a fair amount to the user. But the app has more to be explored, like their section on calming COVID-19 or climate change anxiety, extended versions of your favorite meditations or series that included journaling activities and breathing exercises. Another cool thing, if you have the Evidation app (formerly Achievement), you can connect MyLife to gather points for cash rewards.
Try it here: MyLife, $9.99 Monthly or 58.99 Annually
Which to choose?
As cliché as it sounds, go with what resonates with you. Maybe you like the bright animation of Headspace, the extensive collection of sleep stories with Calm, the curated lists from MyLife, or the abundance of teachers Insight Timer offers.
I found myself returning to Calm and Insight Timer the most. With the Calm app, if I’m strapped for time, I know there is a 3–5-minute body scan I can count on. I enjoy a longer version of a favorite or The Daily Calm when I have more time. I use Insight Timer when I have something specific I want to focus on that I’m not finding on the Calm app. It can take a little more searching, but I’ve found great meditations, like the one about realigning your chakras. It does take some experimenting to find the right meditation app for you. Luckily all of these apps have a free trial available!