Cost: $12.99/month or $69.99/year (they also offer a free trial)
Calm is the #2 best-reviewed app in the entire health and fitness category in the iPhone app store. A subscription includes a seemingly endless number of meditations, “sleep stories” (bedtime stories for grown ups,) and nature sounds. “My anxiety often hits at night and the sleep stories are reliably relaxing,” says Glamour senior wellness editor Macaela MacKenzie.
Calm has even been the subject of a clinical study of college students who used the app over eight weeks—the study found that perceived stress was lower in the group that used Calm than the group that did not.
The graphics on Calm are different than the cartoon illustrations on Headspace—more realistic and, depending on your taste, more calming. The meditations are in just one speaker’s voice, a woman with an American accent.
Cost: $69.99/year (which is $5.83/month.) The basic version also has some free content.
Oak has, in its relaxing, water color-ish way, the qualities of a good addictive cell phone game. You can earn badges by doing meditations, and receive daily inspirational quotes. The free version comes with simple breathing exercises, sleep sounds and sleep breathing meditations, and basic, daily meditations that function, pleasantly, like a Chipotle—you customize your meditation by topic (mindful or loving kindness,) time (5-30 minutes,) speaker (male or female,) and background sound (Cave water! Fireplace! Tibetan om! Wood sauna!)
__Cost:__Free, or $5.99 to take an in-app course.
Liberate is a meditation app designed specifically for people of color. It includes carefully curated meditations on concepts like micro aggressions as well as talks about self-love designed for a population that endures racism and discrimination. “The app design is minimal and easy to navigate,” says Lauren Brown, senior visuals editor at Glamour. “They have 20-30 minute sessions for beginners, like me. I’ve used it a few times and found it helpful.”
Insight Timer bills itself as “the largest meditation community on earth,” and claims that over tens of millions of people use it daily. Part of that success is likely because of its robust free version, which has 35,000 meditations. The premium version has meditation classes, plus shares income with its meditation teachers.
The app offers simple silent meditations, a variety of teachers, and a function that allows you to search meditations by duration. The design is a little Word Press-y, but it’s user friendly and offers a huge diversity of meditations, even in the free version.
Cost:$9.99/month or $59.99/year (that’s $4.99/month.) Or the free version has plenty.
This app looks a little bit corporate, but it’s steady and straightforward—its goal is to get you into a true daily habit of meditation. Though it still has fun perks—in every meditation session, you can opt to add background sounds, like rain, or beach sounds.
The shortest meditations are under three minutes long, the longest are over 30. The vast majority of the themed meditations (in categories like body, emotion, and relationships) are only available in the premium version, but the free app has a nice function that allows users to essentially design their own meditation, picking the duration, the background noises, and whether it is silent or guided.
Cost:$9.99/month, $59.99/year (that’s $4.99/month,) or $299/life. Or the free version is decent.
Buddhify, a membership-based program, has some of the most pleasant graphics and design of any of these apps. Among the regular soothing offerings, membership includes what the app makers describe as a “karaoke-style feature” which allows users to lead others in guided meditations by reading along with prompts on the app.