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Road Test: Best Meditation Apps

A smartphone may be the enemy of a quiet mind, but it can also be the way back to serenity. The app store is full of meditation apps meant to increase mindfulness, reduce stress, and recharge your energy. But are they any good? Here’s the lowdown on nine downloads.

Headspace 

How It Works: A simple, customized guided meditation offers daily step-by-step training. Ten free 10-minute sessions got us hooked on the soothing voice of founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. Paid features include “mindfulness buzzers” that encourage you to check in with yourself, a buddy system for you and your friends to motivate each other, and one-offs on a range of topics like decreasing stress or increasing happiness.

Why We Like It: Puddicombe’s hypnotic British accent, the app’s ease and simplicity and the mini-meltdown recovery option — a two-minute timeout designed to take the heat out of a tricky situation.

Rating: 5 oms

Buddhify 2  

How It Works: More than 80 guided meditation tracks are customized for activities such as eating, sleeping, commuting, traveling, or working. You tell the app what you’re doing and it picks the best track for that moment.

Why We Like It: It’s beautiful, easy to use, and reports your stats in a non-judgy way.

Rating: 5 oms

The Mindfulness App 

How It Works: It starts with a 30-day free trial and five-day guided practice and introduction to mindfulness. You can choose silent, with bells only, or guided based on your area of focus and skill level. There are more than 175 single meditation sessions, time and location reminders, and easily accessed stats to track your journey.

Why We Like It: The huge library is regularly updated to include new content from experts such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckart Tolle, and Tara Brach.

Rating: 5 oms

Calm

How It Works: The 7 Days of Calm offers introductory guided relaxation sessions ranging from 2 to 30 minutes. Fall asleep to one of more than 25 soothing sounds or choose from 25 guided meditation sessions or relax to 16 music tracks by Kip Mazuy.

Why We Like It: It offers techniques for better posture, improved breathing, and sleep.

Rating: 5 oms

Simply Being

How It Works: Choose a meditation length of 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes, and listen to either a guided meditation with or without music or nature sounds (or you can listen to just the music or sounds without the guide). Designed for beginners through advanced practitioners.

Why We Like It: The guided meditation has gentle, relaxing instruction.

Rating: 5 oms

Sattva Meditation Timer & Tracker

How It Works: Think meditation for the FitBit crowd. This free app has all the bells and whistles to keep those motivated by challenges and trophies going strong. Features include a mood tracker, guided meditations and chants, a heart-rate monitor, reminders, and an inspiring community.

Why We Like It: It’s compatible with the Apple Watch, and the heart rate monitoring is cool.

Rating: 4 oms

Omvana

How It Works: The easy, simple interface of the free app offers a library of guided meditations based on areas you want to improve, such as sleep, wealth, focus, stress, and mindfulness.

Why We Like It: A variety of well-known experts guide you in a range of meditations from 3 to 60 minutes long.

Rating: 4 oms

The #LovePioneer

How It Works: Self-love guru Jennifer Kass teaches what she calls “intentional meditation.” Her app is a deck of watercolored messages designed to connect you to your humanity. It’s up to you to take the time to meditate on those messages.

Why We Like It: You can have a daily meditation delivered to your phone when it’s best for you (first thing in the morning, middle of the day, when you’re tucking in at night) There’s also an accompanying podcast and a journaling option.

Rating: 4 oms

Stop, Breathe & Think

How It Works: Developed by Tools for Peace to cultivate kindness and gratitude in students, this free app asks you to select your current mindset and then serves up a program to manage that challenge. You select your current feeling (great, good, meh, poor, or rough) and are connected with the corresponding program.

Why We Like It: There’s a wide range of meditation topics, such as falling asleep, mindful walk, or welcoming the day. Plus, you can track your progress.

Rating: 3 oms

Photos: Woman meditating, Ken O’Connell, Apostrophe Photo; all others courtesy of the app companies

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