Meditation — benefits, types, and the best meditation apps reviews

Do you want to find more clarity, achieve a calm state of mind, and experience less stress in your life? If so, you should try meditation! The practice, which originated on the Indian subcontinent thousands of years ago, has since spread across the world. It is now known as one of the best ways to practice mindfulness, and has a myriad of health benefits.

Illustration of meditating person

What is meditation?

Meditation is, quite simply, the act of being still. Practices encourage participants to take some time out of their day to be at one with the mind and focus on their body and breath. There are hundreds of different ways to meditate, depending on what the person wants to focus on. However, the entire concept of meditation enforces the practicer to be calm and still.

What happens to your brain when you meditate

There are actually scientific diagrams that document what exactly happens to our brain when we meditate. Scientists have used fMRI scans to examine the brain and see which parts light up pre, during, and post-meditation, and it’s fascinating!

The main difference is that our brains stop processing information as actively as normal. Our beta waves generally demonstrate how our brains process information and these decrease significantly during practice. Parts of the brain are reported to go ‘offline’, giving them a chance to rest.

Meditation Health Benefits

So, what does this actually mean in our day to day life? Because meditation encourages us to focus our brains, the practice helps us train our minds to concentrate better in daily life.

Meditation has enormous benefits in our anxiety levels, too. Scientists have found that when we meditate, we loosen anxious connections. So the more we meditate, the less worried we become! It also soothes our stress hormones by decreasing the amount of cortisol in our brain - too much cortisol can make us feel more stressed.

Do you have a creative block? Meditation could help! When we meditate, we send chemicals to the creative parts of our brain to stimulate them. Equally, our compassionate side is strengthened.

Even if you feel like your mental health is excellent, you will probably uncover improvements during meditation that you won’t have acknowledged previously. What’s more, meditation can help with physical illnesses, including IBS, migraines, and chronic pain.

Types of meditation

As we mentioned, there are hundreds of different types of meditation. Some are suitable for certain people, but not for others. In contrast, others focus on the objective that the person has for the practice.

Two of the main types are mindfulness meditation and focused meditation:

Other types of meditation include guided and unguided meditation. In guided meditation, you will listen to somebody explaining the process. They will tell you what to focus on and what to picture in your mind’s eye. Unguided meditation, on the other hand, is solo meditation with no guide. Most people who practice unguided meditation have already experienced guided meditation.

There is also calming meditation and insight meditation. Calming meditation often adopts focus meditation practices - the meditator might focus on their breath or a mantra as they try to relax the body and mind. Insight meditation, however, has a particular goal. Practicers have the intention to alter their mind in some way, and the content of the meditation focuses on that.

How can I start practicing meditation?

You don’t need to go to a class to begin practicing meditation - you can do it at home today! Either check out a YouTube tutorial or try one of the best meditation apps that are on the market.

1. Meditopia

Meditopia application screenshoots

Whatever you need just simple music for relaxation or full guided meditation practice, even a whole course - this app will provide it to you.

Available practices are divided by topics: Mindfulness, Release from stress or anxiety, Better sleep, Loneliness, Tension, Motivation, Focus, etc. More specific topics like Pregnancy, Body-positive, etc.

You also able to choose meditation according to your meditation skills level (there are several courses of Basics for beginners) and relative to your current need or ability (e.g short 3 minutes meditation among the day). Separate courses for kids and students are also provided.

Meditopia features

Prices/Trial/Free plan

2. Headspace

Headspace application screenshoots

One of the oldest meditation apps with emphasis on personal meditation guidance and scientific researches behind meditation. Available practices cover lots of topics such as release from stress, sleep meditation, staying focused and productivity boost. It is well organised and provides additional features.

Headspace features

Prices/Trial/Free plan

3. Insight timer

Insight timer application screenshoots

Insight timer provides a large number of free guided meditations and meditation courses on widespread topics: Stress release, Anxiety, Focus and better sleep. The practices collection in one of the biggest ones and a lot of different authors are presented. For those who are experienced enough and don`t need guidance there are also a meditation timer available. And provided timer functionality is quite something: background music, intermediate marks configuration, start/finish sound, warming-up and an ability to save all this as preset. Wow!

The other interesting thing here is a social functionality. You are able to connect with your friends and teachers and share your achievement after Sign in.

Main features

Prices/Trial/Free plan

4. Calm

Calm application screenshoots

Main features

Prices/Trial/Free plan

5. Oak

Oak application screenshoots

Beautiful application with minimalistic design and impressive functionality. It has various types of guided practices for meditation, breathing and sleep. Build-in timer meditation timer is quite flexible and will help you to practice on your own.

Main features

Prices/Trial/Free plan


Are meditation apps worth it?

If you are just starting your meditation journey, meditation apps could be a perfect support for you. Usually, they can offer you a number of options for guided meditations or even courses, as well as special background music or simply a timer. Meditation apps can also track your progress and it could be a great motivation for you as well.

How long should you meditate for?

You can start meditating from one minute a day, slowly increasing to 10-20-30 minutes a day. You can also try guided meditations and mix them with the techniques you prefer the most. The most important thing for beginners in meditation is regularity, so we recommend you to meditate for at least one minute a day.

Which is the best app for meditation?

It's kind of a tricky question, so we recommend you to try a few of the best meditation apps that we've reviewed on this blog, and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Is there a completely free meditation app?

The best apps aren’t completely free, but one of our favorite meditation apps, Insight Timer, contains over 70,000 free guided meditations, musical sounds, and a timer for those who prefer to meditate in silence. It also offers premium features, however, using free ones is sufficient, both for beginners and more experienced users.

Is Calm the best meditation app?

Calm is an award-winning app with a lot of calming exercises, breathing techniques as well as some additional facts and research studies provided about meditation. It's rated 4.8 stars (out of five) in the App Store, putting it among the top-rated meditation apps.

What is the best free sleep meditation app?

If you're looking for the best free sleep meditation app you may like Insight Timer's sleep meditations, talks, and music tracks.

Meditation is a wonderful practice to add to your daily routine. The benefits are enormous, and it has never been more accessible than it is today!