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Photograph: Shutterstock

The best meditation apps to help you calm the f**k down

Close your eyes and inhale deeply – here’s our pick of the meditation apps out there

Katherine Lovage
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Katherine Lovage
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Here's the deal: your phone is normally bad for you. The bright light of your screen? Keeping you awake at night. Social media? Ruining your self image. All those work apps? Stressing you out. And so on. But there's one key exception to that rule. A new generation of meditation apps, leading you to find mindful space and inner peace without even having to step foot out of your bedroom. That's pretty helpful right now, given the whole 'locked up at home while we see out a pandemic' vibe. But not all meditation apps are created equal. Here we've picked some of our favourites that you can download in the UK right now. Rather chill out the old fashioned way? Why not check out our list of relaxing walks around London or our round up secret green spaces in the city. 

Headspace

What is it? This ludicrously popular mindfulness and meditation app has over 60 million users (and counting)! And to be honest, it's hardly surprising – apart from a great user experience, Headspace makes meditation easy, from the warm voices helping you chill out to the visually appealing display.

What’s unique? Guided exercises, videos and adorable animations are the name of the game.

What else should I know? Headspace has various exercises tailored to different aspects of your life, which means that you can target the source of your troubles, whether it’s work, sleep or overall anxiety. The app has a specially-curated collection called ‘weathering the storm’, to help those who are mentally struggling during the current pandemic. Free trial period and then £49.99 per year.

Calm

What is it? It’s all in the name: Calm is a sleek meditation and sleep app, so you can stop counting sheep and start catching some z’s… 

What’s unique? Drumroll please, because this app is an award-winner – it won the Apple ‘App of the Year 2017’ and Google Play ‘Editor’s Choice 2018’. Big praise from some tech giants. 

What else should I know? Think you’re alright running on fumes? The link between a good night’s sleep and improved quality of life has been extensively researched and recorded. With physical health benefits as well as mental ones, a bit of shut-eye might do you some good. Especially if you’re currently in worry mode. Free trial period and then £28.99 per year.

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What is it? An app with a slightly more cosmic approach to meditation, you can try out a variety of breathing techniques, such as ‘breathing with awareness of chi energy’ as well as ‘identify the lower dantian elixir field’ – which luckily, come with a written guide.

What’s unique? You can check your ‘energy’ by popping your finger on the back of your phone camera. We can’t claim this is scientific, but it is supposed to measure your heart rate and then give you a heads up about your stress and anxiety levels.

What else should I know? Dream analysis, zodiac sign meditation, and ‘self-healing’ meditation are available too. Free trial period and then £58.99 per year.

What is it? Complete with over 200 courses, Insight Timer uses meditation techniques to help you manage daily events.

What’s unique? You can organise your favourite downloads, teachers and courses on your profile, so everything that works is there when you need it. Easy.

What else should I know? When you open the app, you’ll be asked what brought you there. Your response, whether it is coping with anxiety, managing stress or something else, will bring up a range of videos or courses tailored to your specific concerns, pretty neat, right? Free access to beginner meditations, £55.99 per year for ‘member plus’.

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What is it? Named after the world’s fourth-largest religion, the Buddhify meditation app was created by Rohan Gunatillake after he fell in love with meditating at university. 

What’s unique? If your pal is having a hard time, you can ping them a meditation to help them out which might be a slightly healthier coping mechanism than a bottle wine (but no judgement, we love vino).

What else should I know? This one’s for on-the-go use, which is why it’s simple: a colourful wheel helps you pick your meditation, that you can fit in whenever you have the time. But if we’re being completely honest, the best thing is the price. £4.99 with in-app purchases.

10 Percent Happier

What is it? An app designed for ‘calm, insight and sleep’, 10 Percent Happier’s aim is to help you find self-compassion through meditation.

What’s unique? The course teachers are the unique selling point here; they include, for example, New York Times best-selling author Sharon Salzberg, and can be contacted for personal coaching. 

What else should I know? Want proof this shit works? After having a panic attack on live TV, Dan Harris (an ABC news anchor) used meditation techniques for support. You can read all about it in the book he published in 2014, called, you guessed it, ‘10% Happier’. Free trial and then £87.99 per year.

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MyLife Meditation: Stop, Breathe & Think

What is it? A mood-tracking app with meditation features.

What’s unique? This app asks you to check in with your mood every day, so it can give you a personalised feed of recommendations, depending on your mood. 

What else should I know? There’s more to Stop, Breathe & Think than short guided meditations – think everything from yoga and acupressure videos to chimes and soundscapes. Free to download and then £53.99 per year.

Portal - Focus, Sleep, Escape

What is it? It's a mindfulness app that focuses more on scenic sounds than on guided journeys. Think: audio immersion in a tropical beach scene – the waves crashing and birds tweeting – or a snow day tucked up by a crackling log fire. 

What’s unique? It lets you travel around the world via your headphones, tapping into some of natures most relaxing sounds. Simple, but effective. 

What else should I know? If you need a little more than animal sounds to transport you to the meditative zone, you can make use of the apps other functions – breathing exercises and guided writing tasks. £3.99.

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Simple Habit

What is it? This 2018 Google Play award-winning app wants you to make meditation a daily activity whether you’ve got five minutes to spare or 30.

What’s unique? There are sessions designed for your commute – a true mental vacation from sardining on the tube.

What else should I know? If you want to slow down but can’t see your schedule getting any slimmer, this app has your back. How? The handy content is in manageable chunks, so you can meditate without worrying about how long you have until your next meeting. Free download and then £88.99 per year. 

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