If you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best meditation tool is, then we recommend the Muse Meditation Headband as our top pick.
Life has never been an eternal box of chocolates, granted, but these days it feels like humanity is being given a true test of its own strength. So what better time to be at one with yourself!
With so many apps and meditation tools on the market to assist you in achieving ultimate Zen, you run the risk of ending up more stressed than you started, trying to work out which tools or devices are best for you.
But worry not. Take a deep breath and hold…hold…and sigh it out.
We are here to help with our definitive list of the 10 best meditation tools and apps.
#1 – The Muse Meditation Headband
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Muse headband was a communication device for use between your space ship and Star Trek Enterprise given how it is worn across the forehead. But it is, in fact, a meditation tool that’s proving incredibly effective in training your brain for calm.
With over 300 guided meditations ranging from 3 to 35 minutes from renowned instructors, the Muse app offers options for stress reduction, sleep aid, performance and many other specific goals. Simply sit or lie back and focus on your breath and the recorded sessions.
Training your brain to be calm sounds easier than it is. The Muse headband monitors your brain activity in order to determine how calm you are and provides real-time feedback as you meditate.
But how does it know? Users can listen to a number of scenarios such as lying on a beach. The app will play you the sounds. The more stressed your brain is the worse your beach experience is going to be. As you train your brain to let go and relax the sounds will become calmer. Do you hear the birds? Excellent! Then you’ve achieved Nirvana. But for goodness sake don’t get too excited about it or you might get hit by a wayward frisbee.
Being able to control an app with your mind not only sounds like a fun game but it is actually fun to use, and the upside is that winning this game means you’re also a lot calmer and have quite literally achieved peace of mind. Now there’s a reason to celebrate.
#2 – Oculus Go All-in-One VR
For decades meditation has been seen as something we do cross-legged with our eyes closed and because of that many have struggled with it, getting frustrated and giving up after a few sessions.
As we are aware, no two people are the same. And while many people can shut their eyes and picture a meadow, a snowy peaked mountain or a tropical paradise, there are plenty of people out there who do not have a visual brain.
So all hail the Oculus Go VR headset that supports meditation VR software so a user can now go on a visual self-guided meditation from home, the office, or wherever they need it.
The Oculus Go is an all-in-one VR experience that’s portable, lightweight and ready to go. It comes with an ergonomically designed remote for easy control and is made from breathable fabrics and injection foam molding to make it comfortable to wear. So despite it looking like you’re strapping something bulky and awkward to your head in an effort to calm down, it’s actually quite easy to forget you’re wearing it.
In terms of what app you decide to use, the Oculus Go supports Guided Meditation VR and FlowVR Meditation.
Guided Meditation VR offers over 100 escapist environments you can whisk yourself away to without having to go through the hassle of airport security. The environments are animated, but the detail is exquisite, much like being in a computer game. There are over 20 hours of guided meditations to suit whatever it is you’re in need of. Choose between Zen, Love, Compassion, Maternity, Depression, or Sleep.
The app is fully customizable, so you have the option to play calming music or you can just listen to the sounds of your chosen environment. You can be guided by an instructor, or if you’re a pro, guide yourself.
Flow VR gives you a more realistic experience using 4K video technology shot in Iceland to immerse you in your environment. There are six modes, Breath, Focus, Movement, Letting Go, Calm and Restore.
However, this does mean your options are more limited with only 6 available environments for each mode, making it less customizable than the previous app.
You also can’t customize the voice and music options, but if you’re a sucker for those 4K video environments, this has the edge.
#3 – Braintap
Braintap isn’t just about calming your mind and feeling relaxed. It’s going a step further by giving your brain a hard reset in order to restore its natural balance.
If you’re one of those who nods forlornly when asked if you have difficulty sleeping, if you’re always tired and stressed, or find it hard to motivate yourself because everything is so exhausting, then Braintap could be the tool for you.
We’ve all suffered from brain fog. That cloud of confusion that makes every decision feel monumental. This is because our brain has become susceptible to the strain everyday life puts on it and we all know how easy it is to spin ourselves out into a tornado of “everything’s the worst!”
Braintap is an app that’s here to help you reboot and revitalize your brain on demand so you can always make a healthier and calmer decision.
Sounds awesome, right? But how does it do that? The developer of the app, Dr. Porter, has designed a tool that utilizes balancing your brainwaves in order to achieve a better overall output.
Another benefit for those who don’t get on with meditation is that you, as the user, don’t have to do anything.
There are over 800 sessions and six different bundles to choose from. These include Sleep RX, Stress-Free Me, Weight Wellness, Optimal Health, Worry-Free Me, and Children & Learning. You can purchase a single bundle or opt for the package.
Users simply select and listen, allowing the session to play out and reaping the benefits with no effort.
#4 – Singing Bowl Set
As fun as the world of tech led meditation devices is, sometimes it’s nice to go back to grass roots and do it the old fashioned way.
If you’re a fan of tradition, then we highly recommend a singing bowl set. Not only is it a practical purchase if you’re on a budget but the benefits people have had over years of tried and tested use are phenomenal. You can’t argue with history.
If you’ve never come across a singing bowl before they’re pretty straightforward. Usually crafted in Nepal or India, they are made of bronze or brass and hand hammered into shape. They come with a striking stick to create the sound and often a little hand cushion to rest them on when holding them.
The user sits comfortably and uses the striker to tap the bowl. You then circle the striker around the rim of the bowl to create a sound that causes a vibration from the bowl, through you, and around the room.
If you prefer the idea of non-technological meditation but struggle to focus the singing bowl is a great tool for giving your brain something to focus on so your thoughts don’t wander.
It can take a bit of time to get into the flow of using the bowl and creating the sound you desire but once you do you can find it promotes deep relaxation and a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Singing bowls come in a range of sizes and styles omitting different tones so shop around to find what suits. The Ohm Store has a number of options available.
We particularly love their 3.5inch brass bowl with a hand-carved wooden striker and a hand-sewn cushion. It’s small but effective and easy to carry around if you prefer to meditate outdoors.
#5 – Headspace
Headspace is a meditation app you can carry around with you on your phone and access at any time. It doesn’t need any additional devices or tools. So it’s simplicity in this regard is a big attraction to its many users.
No doubt if you’ve thought about getting into meditation someone will have told you about Headspace with a fashionable hair toss to show how woke they are with the current trend.
But if you don’t know much about it, here’s our overview of what it offers.
Headspace is perfect for anyone who has always wanted to try the practice but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it. The app eases you in with plenty of trial sessions to see how you feel about the whole Life of Zen idea. If you’re enjoying it you can subscribe to unlock all their content.
The app was also developed by a real-life monk! So you know it must have something to offer. And it does if you are looking for a more general approach to meditation that focuses on spiritual mindfulness. Headspace offers that up in spades with sessions lasting between 3 and 10 minutes.
If you’re a keen meditator already you may find the app too basic for what you’re looking for and you may not be willing to pay the monthly charge for something you can already do to a degree yourself.
#6 – Calm
The closest competitor to Headspace is Calm, a meditation tool you can download to your phone and take anywhere with you for easy practice.
You can set goals on the app dependent on your needs whether that’s to improve sleep, focus, develop gratitude, or reduce stress. There are a number of options to tailor the experience to your needs.
The app will then offer you a variety of soothing podcasts based on your goal selection such as “7 days of calming anxiety”. Sessions last between 2 and 35 minutes.
If you’re new to meditation you can start with their suggested program “7 Days of Calm” to get yourself going and form a routine before moving onto the more goal-oriented programs.
A nice benefit to this app is that you can choose from a number of customized backgrounds that become the wallpaper on your phone while you’re using it. So if you prefer to meditate with your eyes open, you have a peaceful scene that you can focus on while you soothe your soul.
For beginners, it even has what’s called the “breathe bubble” which is an animation to help train newbies into deep breathing and in turn activate their inner peace.
If remembering to meditate is something that needs to become a habit, you can simply set a mindfulness reminder to ensure you don’t miss a session.
Much like Headspace, this app can only take you so far and if you struggle with more traditional methods or have been meditating for a few years, it may not offer up enough to satisfy you. But with a 7-day free trial, you certainly have time to find out.
#7 – 10 Percent Happier
The app that claims to be “meditation for fidgety skeptics” is pretty much just that. If you don’t go in for the whole “connect to the spirits of your ancestors” method then don’t worry, you’re in the right place. It leans into the science and keeps things left-brain logic friendly.
Developed by journalist Dan Harris with meditation expert Joseph Goldstein, the app is a collection of video and audio sessions that ease you in from the very start. Goldstein leads a lot of the sessions himself but there are a number of expert guides on staff so you have a variety of options to suit your preference.
For 15 minutes a day, you can get on board with meditation with a focus on the scientific elements of the practice. 15 minutes might sound like an age but they break it down with a detailed intro before the session so you know what to expect and the time is up before you know it.
If you’re struggling for time but need to ground yourself quickly, there is the option to “take a minute” to breathe with the app. If you have more time you can opt for featured sessions, especially if you want to achieve something in particular. It’s a guided meditation app that’s easy to customize to specific mindfulness techniques.
And if you’re unsure about anything you can start a chat with the mediators and ask them a question. They usually respond within 24 hours. So if you’ve always been reluctant to try meditation this is the app for you.
#8 – Breathe
If you’re a fan of simplicity then Breathe is just that. It’s an app you can download to your smartphone that helps you to, well…breathe. But more specifically than that, it aids your sleep quality.
“Keep Calm and Get to Sleep in 1 Minute” the app claims. Big promises, but given its popularity, there must be something in it.
The method is simple. When you go to bed at night place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth. Breathe in through your nose quietly for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale audibly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this for a few cycles and, in theory, you’ll be asleep.
For anyone who suffers from a sleep disorder, this sounds too good to be true. And it might well be. There’s very limited clinical research to evidence that this is a scientifically viable method. But in good news people are seeing results so it’s doing something right.
The key is to stick to the ratio of breathing. So if you struggle at first to hold your breath for seven seconds then you can limit the time. Just make sure the ratios are the same. For instance, you could breathe in for 2 seconds, hold for 3.5 and exhale for 4.
The app suggests you practice twice a day for 60 days to see the best results. If you do struggle to do the full time suggested at first you will no doubt be an expert in 60 days.
If you’re prone to waking up in the night then this technique is great for getting you back to sleep quickly so you don’t spend hours having a chat with your new best friend, the ceiling.
As well as helping you to sleep better this breathing technique also combats anxiety and stress and the app is completely free so what’s the harm? Give it a go!
#9 – Insight Timer
If you like Breathe then you’ll most likely be all over Insight Timer like a pigeon on a breadcrumb. Insight Timer’s website is very simple. Its disclaimer states it is the “#1 free app for sleep, anxiety, and stress.”
So while it feels similar to Breathe it actually offers you a lot more than just a breathing technique to help you fall asleep. In fact, if offers over 24,000 free guided sessions in one meditation tool.
It’s pretty diverse so you can tailor your sessions to suit your current mood. Search by category, keywords or session length, or just browse the popular sessions if you’re not sure.
You can add friends and see users who are nearby giving it a real sense of community spirit. You can also bookmark your favorites and see your last played session.
When you get used to it you then have the option to customize your meditations using your favorite sounds and music so you feel like your own mindfulness coach.
The app tracks your stats so you can see when and how long you’ve used it for and see how you progress. You also have the option to upgrade to the Premium service for additional features such as over 300 Insight Courses and the ability to download for listening offline.
This app offers you a lot of meditation options and users all over the world are raving about the benefits. So if you’re new to the practice this is an amazing place to start.
#10 – Buddhify
Buddhify is a meditation device that is one of the most versatile we have seen of all the apps reviewed. It offers standard guided meditations from 4 to 30 minutes with varied experience levels and guidance. But wait, there’s more!
Buddhify can be seen as the ultimate “urban meditation” tool. If you live in a busy city always rushing from meeting to taxi cab to work, then Buddhify has got you covered with their “on-the-go” meditations.
It is a mindfulness app using the definition that mindfulness is a focused awareness of the user’s current experience. With that in mind it helps the user to focus on the experience they are having in that moment. It aids in drowning out surrounding noises and distractions to promote calmness and wellbeing.
It’s also attractive to use the color wheel of meditation topics to choose from. You can customize the categories to your needs so the content is 100% focused for you.
Buddhify also doesn’t believe in monthly subscriptions. For one relatively low upfront cost you can unlock all the features of the app and then just enjoy what it has to offer.
Buddhify is also mindful of encouraging you to advance. The app inspires you to go further with your practice by teaching you the important principles of what meditation is and how it works. They give you the tools to perform self-guided meditation with the use of their solo timer.
It also promotes social practice with friends, colleagues, your partner, and even your kids with specifically tailored sessions.
It’s certainly one of the most customizable and versatile meditation tools you can download to your phone.
Finding the Best Meditation Tools
There really are a wealth of devices, tools and apps out there for you to choose from. These ten are what we consider to be some of the best we’ve tried and that offer the most benefits to users.
Most apps offer a free trial and with the various devices, they are investments that over time will be invaluable to your mindfulness and wellbeing.
It’s now up to you to decide what works best for your personal brand of meditation. Good luck and Namaste.