Meditation apps galore! Which one is right for you?

  1. Calm
  2. Headspace
  3. Waking Up
  4. Ten Percent Happier
  5. Insight Timer

Calm

About Calm

After burning out from building 3 companies, Acton Smith decided to focus on the health realm and co-founded Calm in 2012. In fact, it seems all meditation founders experienced some personal crisis before resorting to meditation for personal help.

Calm

What’s great:

  1. The background music is truly something unique and makes the app useful even when you aren’t meditating. In fact, I often just open the app up to create some ambient sounds while working at home.
  2. The celebs and their halo effect probably will help you get into the habit of mediation easier.
  3. Calm also has a wide collection of mediations: need tips to improve focus? Dealing with a difficult coworker? Calm’s got a meditation for that.

What’s not so great:

  1. I’m surprised (and honestly disappointed) that Calm does not have the most accessible visual design, given it being a tool for health. The low contrast between the text and the background makes it difficult for those with visual impairments to use. Do better, Calm.

Get it here:

Headspace

About Headspace

Ah, the meditation app. From a TED talk to a Netflix series, Headspace has gained attention to become the bespoke meditation app. The app was founded by Andy Puddicombe, who spent 10 years studying meditations in the Himalayas as a monk before founding Headspace. He is also the (British) voice behind most contents on the app. The app itself is very easy to use: Headspace has a “Getting Started” series that explains the most basic things you need to begin meditation practices and common questions that people run into. To dive deeper, you can also find resources about mindful eating, parenting, and working.

Headspace

What’s great:

  1. The iconic warm and pleasing visual design and easy navigation inside the app
  2. Opportunities for future potential integration with a therapy-provider platform

What’s not so great:

  1. Relatively small amount of free content. It costs $69.99 monthly after the free 7 days trial.
  2. Overtime, I have noticed a decrease in the amount of free content on the app. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep going that way.
  3. If, for some reason, British accents aren’t your thing?

Get it here:

Waking Up

About Waking Up

Founded by Sam Harris, who initially wrote a book of the same name, Waking Up has a more philosophical and analytical vibe to meditation practices. This might be partially due to the founder having a philosophy and neuroscience background. On Waking Up, I’ve heard some of the most eccentric meditation techniques (for example, have you heard of “headless way?”). In the “Fundamentals” series, Waking Up gives a good explanation of what “mindfulness” is, common challenges, and how to measure your progress. Waking Up has definitely got its particular target of listeners.

What’s great:

  1. Waking Up blends mindfulness and philosophy, literature, philanthropy and other areas. Great if you’re curious about understanding how meditation and mindfulness in new perspectives.
  2. It is great for those who are already familiar with meditation and are seeking to advance their knowledge in the field.

What’s not so great:

  1. The theoretical approach to meditation and some loosely related topics might not be to everyone’s taste.
  2. It costs 99.99$ a year after 7 days of trial, making it one of the more costly options.

Get it here:

Ten Percent Happier

About Ten Percent Happier

The founder of Ten Percent Happier, Dan Harris, famously had an on-screen panic attack while he was working at Good Morning America as a reporter in 2004 (in fact, that clip is the No.1 search result if you google “on screen panic attack”). Luckily, things turned out for the better for the reporter-turned-meditator devotee-turned-entrepreneur.

What’s great:

  1. There’s specifically a series on “meditation for skeptics”. It addresses concerns like “meditation is self-indulgent” and “doing meditation makes me lose the edge”.
  2. An experienced news anchor, Dan Harris himself is good at presenting information with humor and straightforwardness.

What’s not so great:

  1. The “media”-y format might not be for everyone. Sometimes I feel like I just want to listen to the session and 10% Happier has a lot of video content. It can feel a little distracting.
  2. It is also on the more expensive side: 10% Happier costs $99.99 per year.

Get it here:

Insight Timer

About Insight Timer

What’s great:

  1. Enormous selection of free meditation sessions. It has more than any other apps listed above.
  2. Real-time sessions makes practicing less isolated. So much of habit-forming is about finding a community!

What’s not so great:

  1. Because there are so many teachers on the platform, it takes time to find the right one for you.

Get it here:

Final Thoughts

Just like physical exercise, doing some meditation is better than doing none. Going to a gym is better than going to none.

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