With smartphones, computers, and tablets being more and more accessible, technology has become an important part of our lives. We are frequently asked what our favorite guided meditation apps are, or what we think the best guided meditation apps are. Although technology can be a hindrance to the cultivation of mindfulness and wisdom, there are definitely great new things that our smartphones offer us. We have tried quite a few different apps and programs, and are happy to share our personal experience with the best meditation apps. Before I dive into it, let me just say, we are not being paid or compensated in any way at all for anything we mention here. These are our true opinions, not influenced by any of these apps or sites. A few of these apps are not actual meditation apps, but are related to Buddhism or mindfulness.
The Best Guided Meditation Apps
There are many apps out there offering different upsides. It really depends on what you are looking for. Regardless of which app you use, it is important to remember that our awakening is absolutely not dependent upon finding the right app. I encourage you to investigate what is beneath the interest in finding a meditation app. Do you think an app will make you sit regularly? Will it lead to a deeper understanding? Do you wish to connect with others? These indeed are what we think to be the best guided meditation apps, but an app alone will not make or break your practice most likely.
In my humble opinion, the best meditation app out there is Insight Timer. I have used it for years, and absolutely love it. Of course it has its problems and issues, but it really is a wonderful app for both iPhone and Android phones and tablets. There is also a web portal. Insight Timer has a meditation timer with a simple way to add interval bells. Interval bells are a great way to bring yourself back to the practice, or to remind yourself to switch to the next practice. For example, we can do a 30 minute metta meditation with an interval bell every 6 minutes. Every time a bell rings, we switch to the next person toward whom we offer our metta phrases. In addition to a great timer, Insight Timer offers many guided meditations from a variety of teachers. You can scroll through their guided meditations and find something that works for you. Finally, Insight Timer has a social aspect. When you meditate, you are presented with other people that meditated “with” you, or at the same time. You can connect with groups and chat with other people. I find this an incredibly valuable tool, as it offers us the opportunity to connect with sangha across the world. For me, if we’re talking about the best guided meditation apps, Insight Timer is a no-doubt #1.
Other Great Guided Meditation Apps
Although these ones don’t take the cake, they are still some of the best guided meditation apps out there…
Take a Break! is another great app that I love. The people behind this app have a wonderful idea: to offer short meditations for people who may not find it appropriate to sit for 30 minutes at a time. Take a Break! has meditations, relaxing background, and beautiful imagery. Although we can meditate any time and anywhere, this app can help us find 5 minutes during our busy lives to sit in meditation.
The Mindfulness App is great because it offers meditations from some great teachers. However, this app has a lot of in-app purchases, which I am not a huge fan of. One thing I like about the Mindfulness App is that you can set reminders both to meditate and reminders to just return to the moment and bring mindfulness to whatever you’re doing.
It would be irresponsible not to mention Headspace here. Headspace is perhaps the most popular meditation app, endorsed by many big companies and celebrities. People who use Headspace are offered many different programs, from beginner’s courses to specific programs dealing with anxiety, relationships, and more. In addition, you can connect with a teacher and get one-on-one help with your practice.
The Best Not-Meditation Apps
One of my favorite apps related to Buddhism is ATI. This is the app from the amazing website Access to Insight. This website offers a TON of free translations of the Pali Canon. This website/app is full of wonderful Buddhist suttas, commentaries, and explanations. You can go through their beginner’s suttas, or search for something specific. I use this app frequently when I am curious what the Buddha said about a specific topic, and use it to help create dharma talks.
Another app/website I enjoy is Reddit. Reddit is a democratic social media, where users are able to vote on posts and bring them to the top or bottom of the feed. There are several Reddit pages dedicated to these practices, including Buddhism, mindfulness, meditation Buddhist jokes, and more. There are many different Reddit apps for both iPhone and Android, and it is a great place to bring questions about Buddhism or meditation.