The Top 8 Free Mindfulness Apps
As life gets increasingly busy with more distractions vying for our time, it's never been more important to be mindful of what's going on inside and outside our bodies. According to Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, mindfulness is living in the moment and being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they happen. "When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives." 
Tuning into your body's thoughts and emotions not only helps you become more aware of the signs of stress, it gives you the opportunity to deal with them. Of course, some stress is good for you but too much can cause serious issues including heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes and some types of cancer.  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends mindfulness as a way to prevent depression in those who've had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past. 
Mindfulness apps are an ideal way to build this practice into your daily routine easily and effectively, and are an incredibly supportive way to learn about mindfulness if the concept is fairly new to you. We’ve selected a few of our favourite free mindfulness and meditation apps to help you connect with your body and mind.
Designed to help you train your mind and body for a healthier, happier life and get the most out of your day, Headspace can be used anywhere. The free version of the app includes meditations and exercises led by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe that will teach you the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.
Named an 'Independent Best Buy' and featured on The Ellen Show and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, a recent Headspace user review states: "After a few days with guided meditations I could really notice a difference in my way of handling stressful moments."
Described by a user as "a truly life-changing app", Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners but also includes programmes for more advanced users. There's a free seven-day beginner's programme to get you started but then the app will cost to continue either monthly or annually. but also includes programmes for more advanced users.
The short, guided meditation sessions cover the basics of mindfulness and there's also a library of soothing nature sounds and scenes to use at your leisure. One great feature if you're looking to improve your sleeping patterns is the 'Sleep Stories' - bedtime stories for adults 'guaranteed to lull you to sleep’.
If you're after a personalised meditation experience, Aura could be the app for you. Described as a 'new kind of mindfulness app', Aura learns about you by asking questions. You then receive a free daily three-minute mindfulness meditation based on your answers.
Compatible with the Apple Watch and loved by Apple (#1 New Apps We Love), Aura is designed to help you control your stress and thoughts better to reduce stress and increase positivity. A recent user review said: "It helps me take a step back from my busy schedule and to calm my nerves."
Another app offering a personalised meditation and mindfulness experience is MyLife Meditation. According to Cosmopolitan, this app has 'stand out' customisation tools that deliver meditations based on your current emotions and feelings.
A recent study saw a 22% decrease in users feeling anxious after just 10 short sessions. Winner of a Webby People’s Voice Award for Best Health App, a current app user described MyLife Meditation as a "great app to begin a new meditation practice or strengthen an existing one."
Described by the Independent as "a social network for meditators", Insight Timer lets you share and discuss your mindfulness experience with like-minded people around the globe. Community groups include Beginners, Transcendental Meditation and much more, plus there's a packed library of guided meditations led by the world's top mindfulness experts and meditation teachers.
Winner of TIME magazine's Apps of the Year, a recent user had this to say: "Fantastic app! Helped me get back on track with meditation. Huge variety of meditations, talks & support."
Australia’s leading mindfulness app, Smiling Mind, is targeted to meditation and mindfulness fans of all ages (7 years and up) and experience levels. Developed by psychologists and educators, there’s a focus on assisting users with stress, pressure and daily challenges, and the app can be used in a variety of different settings, such as sport, school or the workplace.
Sessions can be short (there are many options for 10 minutes and under) meaning these are easy to fit into any busy day. Some of the popular programs focus on topics such as relationships, sleep, mindful eating and concentration.
Targeted towards those of us who might struggle to squeeze in longer meditation or mindfulness sessions, Simple habit offers options for shorter mediations focused on specific goals or situations.
Sessions from mindfulness coaches, yoga teachers, meditation trainers, psychologists and more are broken down into 5 minute, 10, minute or 20 minute ‘on the go’ sessions that are accessible online and perfect for building mindfulness into your daily routines.
Developed by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, it’s clear that this app has been created because scientific research has shown the incredible benefits of mindfulness.
As well as basic meditations for new starters, wellness meditations for those suffering from health conditions and a timer to meditate on your own, the app also includes informative videos and weekly podcasts from the UCLA’s Hammer Museum, which consist of 30 minute audio recordings of lunchtime meditations from the university campus.
For more wellbeing tips check out our Pure Wellbeing blogs which cover aspects on sleep, eating well, hydration, and more. You can also learn about how exercise can complement your mindful meditation over on our Mental Health and The Gym hub.