Stress, anger, anxiety — any one of these can shorten your years. You could visit your family physician and load up on anti-anxiety medications, but that action comes with its own set of challenges, and then you’re left battling the many side effects — sleepiness, depression, stomach upset and more — not to mention the pricey co-pay that inevitably comes with it. To avoid all the negatives, try alternative forms of relaxation first — specifically meditation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the many benefits of learning how to focus your mind and re-channel your brain’s energy into positive thoughts, today’s digital age makes it ridiculously easy to experiment. Any number of apps exist to help you master meditation. Upload them to your smartphone or mobile Android device and take them with you wherever you go for a quick pick-me-up throughout your stress-filled day. We’ve compiled a list of the best meditation apps based on user satisfaction, number of positive reviews and recommendations by those in the know. When you’re ready to begin your journey to inner peace, simply pick up your iPad or smartphone and download a few of these high-quality applications.
Apps for Beginners
1. Omvana, developed by Mindvalley Creations, Inc., is an innovative app that’s perfect for meditation newbies. Featuring a wealth of musical tracks aimed at a variety of positive outcomes like reducing stress or increasing your levels of happiness and positivity, Omvana offers a series of easy, guided meditations compiled from a variety of reputable sources that includes many of your favorite authors and health and fitness gurus.
One of the coolest perks offered by Omvana is its ability to integrate with Apple HealthKit to help you recognize and control stress levels. Omvana is free from the iTunes Store and is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It requires iOS 8.0 or later. (4 1/2 stars, 2,922 user reviews)
2. Headspace— Offered by Headspace Meditation Limited, this handy app has star-power behind it. Recommended by Emma Watson and The New York Times, Headspace boldly offers to teach anyone the art of meditation in a mere ten minutes a day. Users get free access to level one with the option to purchase additional levels through monthly, yearly, or lifetime agreements.
If you like the idea of receiving rewards and reminders along your path to peace, you’ll find Headspace beneficial. This app also offers users the unique opportunity to download sessions for offline use.
Headspace: Level 1 is available for download free at iTunes. Once you’ve worked through the basic program, you have the option of continuing at $12.99 per month, $94.99 per year, or at a lifetime subscription rate of $399.99.
Headspace works on iOS 8.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. (4 1/2 stars, 1,469 user reviews)
Apps to Help You Practice Mindfulness
3. Buddhify— Buddhify was created by Mindfulness Everywhere to help people the world over learn to master the art of mindfulness. Not familiar with the term? Mindfulness is the practiced art of living in the moment as opposed to worrying about the future or regretting the past. Sounds familiar, right? If you haven’t yet tried this form of meditation, Buddhify is waiting to help you get started.
Featuring more than 80 tracks of guided meditation to navigate you peacefully through every area of your life, including travel, work and sleep, this convenient little app lets you decide how long you want to listen, as well as measuring your progress over time by recording your stats and usage.
Beginners to the practice of mindfulness will find Buddhify to be an irreplaceable resource. Available through iTunes, Buddhify costs $4.99 and works with iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It requires iOS 7.0 or later. (4 1/2 stars, 378 user reviews)
Apps That Target Stress
4. Take a Break!— Meditation Oasis released this app that targets stress in small, 7- and 13-minute increments. If lunchtime is your only time to step away from your desk, Take a Break! might be the perfect app for you. Listen with or without nature sounds, to take full advantage of all this guided meditation app has to offer.
Take a Break! was rated one of the Best Meditation Apps of 2014 by Healthline.com. It’s available free from iTunes and requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. (4 1/2 stars, 854 user reviews)
5. Breathe2Relax— This groundbreaking app from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology actually teaches you how to breathe properly. Training users in diaphragmatic breathing, Breathe2Relax can help bring you down from an anger or anxiety-induced high, quelling your fight-or-flight response.
Unlike other meditative apps, this one focuses solely on how you breathe. It’s perfect for anyone employed in a high-stress job or anyone who encounters difficult people and situations on a regular basis. If you have problems managing levels of anger or stress, Breathe2Relax could be your little app with big life-changing potential.
Available on iTunes for free, Breathe2Relax is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and requires iOS 4.3 or later. (4 1/2 stars, 356 user reviews)
Fight Insomnia with These Apps
6. Relax Melodies— Created by iLBSoft, Relax Melodies is targeted at helping you sleep, but it’s oh-so-useful in other situations too. This cooperative little app takes the white noise machine to the next level by letting you mix and match your favorite sounds and tunes any way you like.
Does rain make you sleepy? Not a problem. Program in an uninterrupted 20 minutes of rain drumming softly on the roof, and wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed in the morning.
This app comes ready with 52 different sounds, letting you adjust the volume, length and order of each, to create your own personalized dream-app-come-true.
But Relax melodies isn’t only for your nightstand. Take it to yoga class to get into zen mode, or use it in the nursery to lull your baby to sleep.
Relax Melodies can be downloaded from iTunes to your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for free, and requires iOS 7.0 or later. (4 1/2 stars, 85,012 user reviews)
7. Calm– Created by Calm.com, this app is perfect for inducing sleep, teaching you the beginning basics of meditation or for simply helping you manage the stress and anxiety in your life. With a nice collection of 25 guided meditations along with the option of unguided sessions, Calm offers features suitable for anyone at any level of meditation prowess.
Featured in The New York Times, Calm is the app that can train you on the basics of meditation.
Available free on iTunes, Calm works on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and requires iOS 7.0 or later. (4 stars, 4,000 user reviews)
Apps Can Even Help You Lose Weight
8. Weight Loss Hypnosis— Developed by Mindifi, this app offers useful guided meditations with names like Cravings Buster, Sing Your Body Electric, and Freedom From Fat, and users love the hypnotic voice and music that guides them to a place of inner peace and relaxation. This app uses a form of hypnotism that works on the subconscious mind to help you set and achieve weight loss goals and avoid self-destructive habits. It’s worth noting that Mindifi offers a full range of self-help apps, including smoking cessation, social skills training, and stress reduction.
Weight Loss Hypnosis is free from the iTunes Store and requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. (4 stars, 569 user reviews)
Scientists have known for years that meditation has a huge impact on quality of life. Not only mentally and emotionally, but even physically. This ancient art form can lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of cardiac disease, and even improve the appearance of your skin. If you haven’t jumped at the chance to learn meditation because time was an issue, toss that excuse out the window and download one of these easy apps today.