The best meditation apps to help you relax


Need some relaxation?  These apps are the perfect choice for frequent travelers looking to find a moment of calm.

Find a space to relax your mind while traveling. Image credit: martin-dm/iStock
Find a space to relax your mind while traveling. Image credit: martin-dm/iStock

Meditation has been used for thousands of years to enhance wellness, calm, and emotional health. It involves focusing thoughts on one reference point to reduce distraction and allow the brain to dwell on the present moment, rather than sort through the flood of thoughts that happen during a busy day. That focus point can be breathing, a physical sensation, or even a thought. 

To appreciate the benefits of meditation, it needs to be used consistently. For busy travelers, it can be difficult to find time to focus and de-stress, but the solution can be as close as your smartphone. Here are a few innovative apps to help you stay on track with mediation when you’re away from home. 

Headspace – Great for learning to meditate

If you’ve never meditated before, Headspace’s free 10-day beginner course is the perfect place to get started. It covers the basics of meditation and mindfulness and readies the user for the larger library available, with a Headspace subscription. 

The app hosts hundreds of hours of content, from guided meditations on sleep to mindfulness exercises based on eating or commuting. There is even Headspace for Kids, which teaches the concepts of focus, kindness, and gratitude, broken down into age category. 

Meditations come in all different lengths, from the super-short versions for busy people to longer, mind-clearing editions. Mindfulness exercises found in the app take the form of guided walks or discussions of positivity.

Headspace also offers a program for forward-thinking employers such as LinkedIn and General Electric that helps to track usage and improvements in stress and well-being for employees. 

Headspace app developers claim improvements in company teamwork, stress levels, and focus.

Available for iOS and Android

Calm – Meditate and enjoy an adult bedtime story

Calm was Apple’s App of the Year in 2017 and is notably different from other meditation apps. With a wide variety of original music tracks to set the mood for your mediation and new tunes added weekly, there is never a lack of fresh listening material. Whether the goal is to get a relaxing night’s sleep, hone in on focus, or just to enhance the feeling of relaxation, there’s plenty of interesting content available for subscribers. 

In addition to meditations, the Calm app offers Sleep Stories to its users. These soothing bedtime stories are designed to put the listener to sleep. Notable narrators of Sleep Stories include actor Matthew McConaughey, tennis star John McEnroe, and the calming voice of PBS’s Bob Ross.  

As a bonus for frequent fliers, Calm is partnering with airport spa service Xpress Spas at major U.S. airports to offer gifts and incentives to its users. 

Available for iOS and Android

Buddhify – Meditations for movement

While there are traditional seated-position meditations available on Buddhify, the focus of most of the content is meditation on-the-go to help prevent busy schedules from interfering with your mindfulness. 

Activities like taking a walk, having a work break, or even being with a friend are offered as mediation choices. There are special collections of content that offer to help with sleep and stressful situations and a solo timer that allows you to meditate without guidance, but with a set duration. 

Being active can often work to help calm your mind. Image credit: Mikolette/iStock
Being active can often work to help calm your mind. Image credit: Mikolette/iStock

Buddhify also provides a neat service for your stressed-out friends. There is a “give” option that allows users to send a meditation to someone who really needs it, free of charge. They don’t even have to use the app to access the mediation, making the gift of mindful meditation easily accessible and a true present.

There is also a type of voice-over tool that allows you to record the meditations in your own voice and then share it with friends. 

Available for iOS and Android

Omvana – Pick and choose your meditations

Omvana has all the standard offerings of good meditation apps but what makes it different from the rest is the wealth of choices available. The library is a diverse collection of meditations, constantly growing and changing for the needs of the customers. 

Omvana offers a content subscription,  but premium tracks cost additional fees. There is a base library and 10 new meditations added for subscription holders per month, but the majority of the meditations are premium and able to be downloaded to a user’s account for a few dollars each. 

A great feature of Omvana’s content is its variety of creators and subject matter. The app hosts more than 500 meditations on subjects as diverse as hypnosis, wealth, relationships, and productivity. The app also offers creators the ability to upload their own vocal or background tracks to be offered for purchase in the app, searched via category and price. The tracks can span everything from the inspirational speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King to the visualization of a positive world from entrepreneur Peter Diamandis. 

There is also an innovative tool that allows users to mix their own background music for meditation. On the iOS platform, Omvana can coordinate with health informatics app HealthKit to access the user’s stress levels. If it detects a spike, Omvana immediately recommends meditations and breathing exercises to bring you back into a sense of calm. 

Available for iOS

Lighting a candle can help to create a calming environment. Image credit: Muenz/iStock
Lighting a candle can help to create a calming environment. Image credit: Muenz/iStock

10% Happier – Simple, direct meditation

After ABC News anchor Dan Harris had a panic attack on live television from his stressful lifestyle while broadcasting for Good Morning America, he knew his life had to change. He began to explore meditation as a solution for his stress, writing a book, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help that Actually Works–A True Story” about his experience. He took his mindfulness education a step further and has created a podcast and mindfulness app. 

The app is simple and offers all the benefits of the other mediation libraries. Aimed at teaching meditation to the more skeptical users, 10% Happier’s meditations are from scientists and sports trainers as well as traditional meditation teachers. It aims to convince professionals that meditation is more than just warm and fuzzy feelings by reducing the spiritual feel of meditation. The app teaches mindfulness to train the brain to resist burnout and lower anxiety and stress and offers access to a coach who can help with questions. 

Available for iOS and Android

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Farthing

Jessica Farthing is a freelance writer specializing in food, travel and health. When she's not on a deadline, she can frequently be found on Caribbean beaches with her husband and three children.