So you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, increase focus, and feel more kind and compassionate?
The best way to cultivate all of these things is through a regular meditation practice. But meditating can be hard, especially when you’re a beginner.
When you’re used to having a busy mind and body, sitting still and clearing your mind can feel impossible. It’s natural to get easily distracted or to start thinking of your to-do list. If you’re someone who doesn’t meditate because you’re “bad at it” I have news for you: 1) there’s no such thing as being bad at meditation, and 2) you’re the perfect candidate for a meditation practice because you have the most to gain from it.
To cultivate a stronger meditation practice, try practicing with guided meditations which give you something to follow, making it harder for random thoughts to creep on (though it’s okay if they do — you’re human).
The best way to maintain a meditation practice with guided meditations is by using a meditation app. Though there are endless meditations available online, finding and choosing which meditation to use can be incredibly distracting, and can be a barrier to getting into your practice. Finding a meditation app that suits your needs and highlights a meditation for you to follow each day can reduce the friction between you and your meditation practice, making it easier to stick to.
But with so many meditation apps out there, how do you know which one to use?
Thankfully for you, I’ve tried just about every meditation app out there, and have compiled the list of recommendations below based on my experience as a seasoned meditator and 200-hour yoga teacher who has had my fair share of meditation practice. Here are the best meditation apps for beginners.
Best Meditation Apps for Beginners
Best for: community and accountability, breathwork, and movement classes.
I learned about Open earlier this year, and it has quickly become my favorite meditation app. While some apps can have daily meditations that are repetitive or easy to tune out, Open’s meditations are incredibly engaging and easy to follow. Open has a diverse line-up of teachers and focuses heavily on community. Each month they offer accountability challenges to help you stick to your practice, and they offer a cool feature where you can invite friends to meditate with you.
In addition to an extensive meditation library, Open also offers breathwork, yoga, and Pilates classes for all levels. Since finishing my 200-hour yoga teacher training last year, I’ve loved taking classes on Open to maintain my practice. Open is a partner for our podcast and is offering our community a free 30-day unlimited membership to take all the classes you’d like before committing.
Best for: self-care support
The Shine App is designed to be a robust part of your mental health toolkit. Many of their meditations and self-care courses aim to speak to specific life events and circumstances many people go through, allowing you to find more customized support. Shine also heavily focuses on supporting the mental health of people from marginalized communities.
The free version of the app offers a daily meditation, article, and gratitude log. The paid version unlocks their catalog of over 1,000 guided meditations, personalized meditations, a digital community, and access to events.
Best for: a wide variety of meditation teachers and styles
Insight Timer is a robust meditation app with over 130,000 meditations led by teachers all over the world. Whether you’re looking for meditations to help you sleep, meditations centered on prayer, a practice related to aligning your chakras, or any other condition you can think of, Insight Timer offers a meditation to support you through it. There are also meditations guided by well-known thought leaders including Alex Elle and Lalah Delia.
Most of the meditations are available on the free version of Insight Timer, with courses available via their paid subscription.
Best for: science-backed meditations
The Ten Percent Happier app focuses on the scientific benefits of meditation, offering practices designed to increase your capacity for happiness and joy. This app also offers meditations focused on the basics of establishing a practice, making it incredibly helpful for beginners.
Ten Percent Happier offers a free two-week trial, and you have the option to upgrade to the paid version for unlimited meditations, talks from wellness experts, and more.
Best for: meditating when you’re short on time
Unplug is a well-known name in the meditation space through its credible meditation teacher training program, and meditation spaces. Now through the Unplug app, you can customize your meditation experience to focus on the areas that matter most to you (such as better sleep, less stress, relaxation, etc.).
Many of the meditations are short, to the point, and led by Unplug’s group of credible meditation instructors.
Best for: learning the basics of meditation
I first started using Headspace in 2016 when I first became interested in meditation. I did the initial 10-day intro to meditation, and the series helped set the foundation for the practice I still have today. In addition to daily meditations, Headspace offers mindful moments you can use throughout your day to create a sense of calm.
In recent years, Headspace has grown to increase its roster of teachers including Balanced Black Girl podcast alum Dora Kamau.