Eight Meditation Apps That Are Cheaper (and Better) Than Headspace and Calm - Living Strong Television Network
Eight Meditation Apps That Are Cheaper (and Better) Than Headspace and Calm

Headspace and Calm are the juggernauts in the meditation apps sphere, and both have done an impressive job bringing mindfulness-based meditation to the masses. Their apps make it easier for anyone to pick up the skills they need to help them relax, and even deal with more pressing issues like anxiety and depression.

But at $100 per year, they certainly do cost a lot. And because they are so popular, their programs can be quite generic.

If you’ve tried Headspace or Calm before and found they didn’t work for you—or you simply found them too expensive for what they offer—there is a whole world of niche meditation apps for you to explore. Here are eight of my favorite alternatives, so you can test them out and see which one works best for you.

Smiling Mind

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

If you’re looking for a free alternative to Headspace, start with Smiling Mind. It’s developed by an Australian not-for-profit organization, and the app is completely free (there’s not even a premium tier on offer).

The app offers structured programs for learning mindfulness meditation, sleep, relationships, stress, eating, and more. The “Intro to Mindfulness” course is a great place to start. You can also use one-off guided meditations that include breath and sounds meditation, body-scan meditation, sleep meditation, and more.

Smiling Mind is available for iOS and Android.


  • Completely free, run by a non-for profit organization.

  • Great collection of basic, repeatable meditations that you can depend on.


  • Design can be slightly convoluted, and occasionally hard to use.

  • The app’s programs library isn’t as extensive as some of the other apps on the list.

  • New feature additions are quite rare.

Plum Village

Plum Village Meditation App.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk who started a monastery in France called Plum Village. He is also the author of many popular mindfulness books, including No Mud, No Lotus. Plum Village has hosted many mindfulness programs, workshops, and talks.

The Plum Village is a completely free app that lets you explore this wealth of information from your smartphone. You get access to meditations (some by Thich Nhat Hanh himself), talks, text resources, and videos.

The Plum Village app is available for iOS and Android.


  • Mindfulness bell helps you bring yourself back to the present, across the day.

  • A huge library of programs led by monks and nuns from The Plum Village.

  • Meditations are easy to follow.

  • Free!


  • The app is quite unreliable, and suffers from freezes and random shutdowns.

  • Practices are limited to only the ones taught in the Plum Village tradition.


Medito Meditation app.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

Medito is another popular free option. It, too, is run by a not-for-profit organization and has a zero-ads policy. The app starts you off with a Medito course that can help you learn mindfulness, compassion meditation, and insight meditation. There are also options to learn gratitude practice.

The app also has a whole section dedicated to Sleep, featuring sleep meditations, sleep stories, and music. Medito also offers a simple silent meditation timer.

Medito excels in its simplicity: The app only offers programs, lists, and meditations. That is all: No need for an account or a complicated UI. The downside though, is that means you can’t really bookmark anything or create your own lists of exercises you find helpful.

Medito is available for iOS and Android.


  • Completely free, no ads.

  • Incredibly straightforward, and fast app.

  • Covers beginner meditation, compassion practice, and sleep meditation.


  • No way to bookmark or save meditations.

  • The catalog, while simple, is quite limited.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer Meditation App.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

Insight Timer is a community-based mindfulness meditation app and website. In an app like Headspace, you essentially have access to one or two meditation teachers. On Insight Timer, there are thousands of meditation teachers to choose from. You can even enroll in communities that practice mindfulness and meditation together.

The free version of the app offers more than 100,000 meditations,with access to live events where you can practice mediation with people from around the world. The app organizes meditations in different categories, and you’ll find different meditations for dealing with anxiety, stress, sleep, and so on.

The best thing about Insight Timer is the fact that it doesn’t restrict you: You can explore and find teachers and courses that suit your current needs.

The “Timer” part of the name comes from the fact that the app has a neat meditation timer built-in. If you’re moving on to non-guided meditation practice, the timer can help you with interval bells and custom timers. They have a really nice collection of bells, gongs, and chimes as well.

Insight Timer has a Member Plus program that gives you access to more than 1,000 exclusive courses and offline downloads for $60/year, but it’s not necessary to pay to get a lot out of the app. (Unfortunately, you’ll see a lot of ads for it during regular use.)

Insight Timer is available for iOS and Android.


  • Plenty of free, community guided meditations.

  • An intuitive and customizable non-guided meditation timer.

  • Easy to use interface.


  • Too many promotions for the Member Plus program.

  • The sheer number of programs, teachers, and meditations make it overwhelming, and time-consuming, to find something that will work for you.

Ten Percent Happier

Ten Percent Happier Meditation App.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

Ten Percent Happier is not a cheaper alternative to Headspace or Calm, exactly—the annual membership is $99—but it’s certainly better than both of those options when it comes to targeted meditation training. The app curates a selection of diverse teachers, that help you practice mindfulness. There are more than 500 guided meditations in the app.

What makes this one stand out is its 1:1 meditation teaching program. If you tried Headspace but weren’t able to meditate, perhaps learning directly from a meditation teacher can help.

Ten Percent Happier is available for iOS and Android.


  • A good place to start with stress management and improving sleep.

  • Live group classes offer time for Q and A.

  • Easy to use app, with media and helpful videos.


  • Membership cost is still high, falling between Headspace and Calm.

  • Not that helpful for advanced practitioners.

Waking Up by Sam Harris

Waking Up Meditation App.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

Waking Up by Sam Harris is a different kind of meditation app. It’s actually more like a meditation course. It’s based on Sam’s book of the same name, in which he talks about awakening your spirituality even if you are not religious.

Waking Up takes the elements of Buddhism, Stoicism, and mindfulness meditation to create a 28-day long course. All you have to do is spend 10 or so minutes on the practice every day. The $99/year membership is not cheaper than Headspace, but if you’re trying to explore the mindfulness meditation space, you can try out the 28-day beginner’s course—you can use the program for one month for $14.99. The membership also includes multiple programs taught by many reputable teachers in the field of mindfulness and psychology.

Waking Up is also quite good with supporting people in need, so if you can’t afford the app, write to them to see if you can get it at a discount, or even for free.

Waking Up is available for iOS and Android.


  • A great beginner-friendly program.

  • Fully secular, and scientific approach to mindfulness meditation.

  • A easy-to-use app, and variety of programs to deepen into the practice.


  • The only downside is the price.


Zenitizer iPhone App.

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

After you’ve learned a few mindfulness techniques, the best way to practice, and grow, is to do so on your own, without any guided audio—but you still might want to set a timer, and perhaps add a nice bell to start and end the meditation, or add interval bells. It would be nice if there was a daily streak too, just to keep you motivated.

Zenitizer is an app from an indie developer that can help you with all that. The app is minimally designed, and there are no ads, even in the free version. In my experience, it works more reliably than Insight Timer.

You can set a custom timer, interval bells, a warm-up, a start sound, and an end bell sound. The free version comes with a couple of presets, but if you choose to pay for it, you can create your own presets, and you get access to interactive widgets. The Zenitizer Premium costs $19.99 per year, or $2.99 per month. You can buy a lifetime subscription for $79.99.

Zenitizer is available for iOS.


  • Minimal design, easy to use, and no bloat.

  • Custom routines, support for Shortcuts automation.


  • Many of the customization features are behind a paywall.

  • Lack of guidance can be alienating for beginners.


Don’t want to pay for an app subscription to meditate? You don’t have to. YouTube is filled with wonderful resources to help you meditate. Just search for meditations for relaxing, anxiety, or stress. YouTube is also a great resource for learning breathing techniques, and for listening to mindfulness talks.

Reddit has some advice for finding good channels, and here are some of our favorites to help you get started:


  • Free and easily accessible.

  • Variety, and better chances of finding something that will work just for you.


  • YouTube ads can dampen the mindfulness experience.

  • Too many choices can be overwhelming.

Optimized with PageSpeed Ninja

Protected by Security by CleanTalk