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5 meditation apps tested for you

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Learning to meditate

Is learning to meditate hard? I don’t think so. You just need a good teacher. Someone who inspires you to show up, to hold you accountable, and teaches you to let go. There are plenty of meditation centres where you can learn to meditate, but you may not have one near you or the class schedule just doesn’t work with your schedule. While meditating in group is nice and totally different than doing it by yourself, meditating in the safe space of your own home is such a lovely practice to begin or end your day. And with a meditation app you can do just that.

Related: What is meditation and why is it good for you?

Related: Difficulty meditating? Try with mala beads

Related: Body scan meditation for stress, insomnia and pain

And here’s the good news! There are a vast amount of meditation apps out there, but over the past few weeks I’ve done the hard work for you and selected 5 of the best meditation apps around. Read on to compare so you are ready to choose the one for you <3

They are all free, but most offer paid upgrades, and all of them are available for iPhone and Android phones.

1 Giant Mind

What I love about this app is its simplicity. You sign in and enter a 12 day meditation challenge. 12 days, 10 minutes a day. It teaches you to meditate with the mantra ‘aham’ which means ‘I am’. For beginners learning to meditate with a mantra is much easier because it keeps your mind occupied. You can also use a mala with it to keep your hands busy.

Read more on mantra meditation

After every meditation session you can add your experiences to the in-app journal. You can set a reminder for the next day. Also there are short videos available with frequently asked questions such as:

  • I couldn’t sit still during the meditation, now what?
  • I had to go to the bathroom during the meditation
  • I felt nauseous during or after the meditation

After completing every few sessions you unlock a new article about meditation.

After the first 12 day challenge you can enter the 30 day challenge (also free). This challenge gives you a little bit more freedom in terms of duration to meditate (10, 15 or 20 minutes), voice (female, male or none), and background music.

Summary of free features:

  • 12 day meditation challenge
  • 30 day meditation challenge
  • meditation timer
  • journal
  • setting a reminder
  • library of information about meditation

Paid upgrade:

1 Giant Mind is a not-for-profit. There is no paid upgrade in this app. If you want to teach this method you can join their Teacher Training Academy through their website.

Insight timer

Another well-known app is Insight Timer.

This app is big on community. When you open the app after registering, you can immediately see how many people already used the app that day and how many are meditating now. You can join a group with a theme to discuss the meditations, and every guided meditation gets reviews from people who have practised that meditation so you can read through those and know what to expect.

At the moment of writing there were close to 9000 free meditations, which gives you an idea of the database. You can search among guided meditations, music and talks. It is possible to apply a filter with how much time you’ve got, what you want help with (sleep, stress, creativity,…), what kind of practice you want to do (visualisation, mantra, chanting,…), search for meditations from a certain tradition or religion and many more. You can search meditations by keyword.

Insight timer offers guided meditations by many different teachers, so you will definitely find one you like. You can then follow that teacher.

There is a meditation timer with many options. You can select duration of your meditation, ‘warm up’, music, type of end sound, whether you want interval sounds… and save your favourite presets.

If you are a stats person, the app also offers an elaborate tab with all your meditation stats. Well, literally everything in this app is brimming with choices and options, including the stats section, but this can also make the app a bit overwhelming.

The one thing this app doesn’t have, is a 7 day challenge (or something similar). You can follow the 365 Day playlist with a new meditation every day, but there doesn’t seem to be any other programs. (If there are, I didn’t find them, which again says something about the overwhelm I experience sometimes using this app).

Summary of free features:

  • 9000 guided meditations
  • talks and bedtime stories
  • many different teachers you can follow
  • journal, log
  • setting reminders
  • timer with many sound and duration options
  • elaborate stats

Paid upgrade:

listen offline, rewind and fast forward, repeat mode and pick up where you left off for 2,99 EUR per month.


Calm offers many guided meditations, bedtime stories, music and sounds and also some 7 day challenges. Free and paid content is mixed, which makes browsing a bit annoying when you are only using the free platform.

Something unique to this app is the breathe bubble feature (free). I really like this! This feature helps you breathe and it times your in- and outbreath. You can set the seconds for each. It plays a short sound for every inhalation and exhalation. You can practice with or without breath retention and you can set breath retention after inhalation, after exhalation or both. A very good tool for practising pranayama, especially so you can just focus on the breath without counting! I think it is worth downloading this app just for this feature!

In Calm you will find some free downloadable content that you can use offline; there is new content added every day.

You can view your stats in the app and it is the one app that integrates with Apple Health.

Summary of free features:

  • breathe bubble
  • guided meditations and 7 days meditation challenge
  • masterclasses (downloadable)
  • bedtime stories for kids and adults (downloadable)
  • music and sounds or ‘scenes’ as they are called in this app (downloadable)
  • stats (longest streak, mindful minutes, total sessions) you can share them
  • setting reminder
  • session history
  • free offline guided meditations (limited)
  • integrates with apple health

Paid upgrade:

35,99 EUR per year; 7 day free trial

The premium version offers a daily new meditation, unlock premium content, more 7 day programs, a monthly masterclass, exclusive music and sleep stories
You can buy ‘Sleep mist’ (a real product based on essential oils to spray on your pillow available on Amazon)


Again an app with a vast library of guided meditations. You can browse and add favourites, and your latest sessions history is kept so you can easily access those again.

There are guided meditations with less guidance and eyes open meditations for use in public spaces.

You can follow a 12 week learn to meditate program (first week is free), and there are videos and meditation tips and advice.

For kids and family you can find many guided meditations of less than 10 minutes, arranged by age.

Summary of free features:

  • learn to meditate during 12 weeks
  • single guided meditations and 7 day meditation challenges
  • kids and family meditations
  • bedtime stories
  • less guidance meditations
  • eyes open meditations
  • mindfulness techniques
  • session history (last played meditations)
  • video library and meditation tips and advice
  • add favourites
  • sounds, music and playlists
  • setting reminders

Paid upgrade

You can try the premium version for free for 14 days, then from 89,99 EUR per year.


Last but not least, Headspace. Famous as one of the first apps for teaching people to meditate through a free 10 day 10 minute challenge. After you have finished the 10 basic classes you can continue with single guided meditations or series – or ‘packs’ as they are called in this app. There are different packs of guided meditations for different purposes such as pregnancy, dealing with cancer, productivity, etc… Most packs are part of the paid programs, but you can try one session from each pack, so you know what you buy.

Headspace also has content specifically aimed at children and themed animations (changing perspective, overcoming obstacles, how to maintain your meditation practice,…) explaining more about meditation.

There are a stats tab and ‘your journey’ tab, which is a history of the sessions you did. You can add a buddy in the app too.

Summary of free features:

  • 10 day meditation basics challenge
  • single guided meditations and packs of guided meditations
  • stats and journey
  • add a buddy

Paid upgrade:

12,99 EUR per month or 94,99 EUR per year

The premium version unlocks different packs of meditations.

5 meditation apps tested: conclusion

All these meditation apps are great! I like the user experience of 1 Giant Mind and Headspace the most as they are so simple. Switch on, do your meditation, go! And of those I find the mantra meditation in 1 Giant Mind so easy. You really learn a technique you can use anytime, anywhere.

With the other apps (Calm, Insight Timer and Breethe) I can go down a rabbit hole trying to chase the best meditation for that particular moment… but guided meditations are great if you need inspiration about a certain topic.

I really like the breathe bubble in the Calm app. It is worth downloading this app just for that feature!

Only Breethe, Calm and Headspace have free content specifically aimed at family and kids. You can never start meditating too soon!

I find that I use 1 Giant Mind daily for my morning meditation, and usually I go to Insight timer, Calm or Breethe for a guided meditation in the evening.

I hope this was useful to you. Any feedback welcome! Also let me know if you are using other apps for meditation! I am a curious person :)

Read more on meditation:

What is meditation and why is it good for you?

Body scan meditation for stress, insomnia and pain

Diary of a silent meditation retreat

**Prices of premium apps were correct at time of writing. Check the website of each app for most current prices.

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