5 Meditation Apps to Help You Keep Your Cool

Everyone in L.A. can't stop talking about Yoga. It’s trendy, healthy, and you get to buy really cool leggings. But what people don’t talk about much is meditation. It’s not trendy, it doesn’t give you an excuse to buy new clothes, and it’s usually done in a quiet, private place so no one can see you do it. Maybe it's because people think meditation means sitting on the floor in silence. Or maybe, people are just scared of connecting with their inner selves--or am I getting too deep? Although these are all  common beliefs about meditation, I think that the main reason a lot of people don’t practice meditation is because they don’t know how. Luckily for us, there are plenty of apps that can help you get started.

First off, how about some celebrity endorsement for meditation to get you excited: Oprah, Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Scorsese and Lenny Kravitz all practice meditation. Worried that you won’t be able to keep up the practice with your busy schedule? Many meditations are only 5 minutes. Worried that every day is a big commitment? Make it a part of your nightly routine. Worried that sitting up straight on the floor will hurt your back? Yeah, I second that, but you can also meditate sitting in a chair or laying down on your bed--super comfortable. Worried that you don’t know what will happen to you if you start to meditate? Only positive things, I promise. Plus, switching nap time for meditation time did wonders for me in terms of feeling more awake and refreshed after. Don’t shy away from the practice because it may seem foreign or difficult. The best things in life are complex.

1. Simple Habit

This is the meditation app that I’ve had on my phone for the longest amount of time, so I’m a little biased towards it. It’s a free app that offers a bundle of free meditation, with the option of purchasing a monthly subscription that unlocks all of the content. For college students, money is always tight, so I will only base my reviews on the free features. What I enjoy about this app is that there are so many different types of meditations to choose from, depending on how you’re feeling: Resilience, Health, Well-Being, Relationships, Worry Free Day, Shower Meditation, Commuting ... the list goes on and on. They also have an entirely different tab for sleep focussed meditations. Great, right? My favorite feature is the “On the go” portion. If you’re in the middle of a busy day and have a bit of time, you can select from 5,10 or 20 minutes to squeeze in a meditation wherever you are. Whether you’re driving in a car, stuck in a waiting area, eating, taking a bath, have a test or interview, are nervous or having a panic attack -- there’s a meditation in this section for it! I firmly believe that there is not one situation that this app is not prepared for.

2. Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience

This app is already cool because it was co-created by Oprah. And if you’re wondering, yes, Oprah’s soothing voice does speak throughout the meditations as the themes are introduced. The free experience on the app provides 22 days of meditation, each day with a different focus, such as "finding the lightness in your life", "fulfilment holds the key", "total balance is natural balance" and "healing your hidden issues." The meditations themselves are paired with relaxing music and delivered by Deepak. This combination is kind of a religious experience. The meditations also incorporate some traditional language in their mantras. Note that there are lots of free sample meditations to try that diverge from the 21 day experience if you don’t wanna commit to the buildable program. Many of the meditations on this app are 20 minutes long, however, so if you’re looking to try the practice out in short intervals, this app probably isn’t the one for you. A bonus feature is the app's journal feature. It offers thought provoking and empowering prompts for you to respond to after meditations to help you along with the practice to better understand yourself and how the meditations are working for you.

3. Breathe: Meditation and Music

This app has been recommended by People Magazine and InStyle, so I figured that I had to try it out and see what all the hype was about. One helpful thing that this app offers is a series of tip videos from the meditation coach that created the app. These videos answer questions that many people have when first engaging in meditation, like how to stop your thoughts, how to find time in the day, and how to know if meditation is working for you. All super relevant! This app offers a wide variety of meditations with different themes, such as feeling happier, finding inner peace and building self-esteem. It also has sleep music, sounds, and bedtime stories. Yup, bedtime stories! You can relax and fall asleep to titles like Alice in Wonderland, Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and many more. Sometimes I struggle with sleeping, but audiobooks usually put me out pretty quickly. They also offer a week-long "learn to meditate" series, so it’s definitely beginner friendly.

4. Oak: Meditation and Breathing

This app is probably the cutest out of all of them. The premise of the name is that all beginners start out as a baby oak sprout and will continue to grow into a mighty oak. On the screen is a literal baby sprout representing your meditation growth! This app also likes to keep things simple, so there are three sections to choose from: Meditate, Breathe, and Wisdom. Meditations can either be guided or unguided and with or without sound. There are three different breathing exercises offered, and the Wisdom section explains the purpose of meditation and offers thought-provoking ideas of how meditation can affect our relationships. This app is sweet and simple, and for some, that’s the best way.

5. Insight Timer

There is a lot going on in this app, so if you’re one for variety, then this one's for you. The home page offers categories from guided meditations, music, a 365 day playlist, talks and teachers, with each category containing a ton of different soundtracks. There are classic tracks, like meditations for beginners and stress or anxiety, as well as meditations for creativity and performance. If you would just like to meditate to a timer and stay focused, they have a whole section for that, too! This app may be the very definition of extra. You can create a profile and connect with other people that are meditating. It also allows you to follow certain teachers or musicians that have made content for the app. So if you’re particularly fond of one reader’s voice, you will be able to follow them and see whenever they post a new guided meditation. Bonus points for the "talks" category is kind of its own mini podcast section, providing interviews and content surrounding the practice of meditation. Overall, I would say that this app is the most informative of all the ones reviewed, so if you have a lot of questions about meditation or think that it will be hard to find a practice that suits you, then this app will be your best bet.