We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Daily practices, walking meditations, and podcasts — we searched for the best online guided meditations. All you have to do is listen.

Woman with smart phoneShare on Pinterest
Getty Images/Westend61

You may have heard that regular meditation offers a wide range of benefits, and science can often back up these claims.

Meditations and mindfulness-based therapy can be effective treatments for a variety of psychological conditions, and may be especially helpful for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. In fact, some research even suggests that meditation can physically change the brain.

Still, even if you’re convinced of the many benefits of meditation, finding the best way for you to learn how to do it can be challenging.

Countless apps, podcasts, and YouTube channels are dedicated to meditation in all forms, but with so many choices at your disposal, it can be tricky to know which one to pick.

We’ve narrowed it down so that you can begin, or continue, your meditation practice without spending hours trying to find the best way to do so.

If you want to jump directly to the section for each platform, you can click the links below.

Guided meditation is when someone else leads you through the process of meditation. Many options now exist for online guided meditations. You can listen to a wide variety of video or audio meditations via:

  • an app
  • a YouTube channel
  • a podcast
  • a website

You can either stream or download these guided meditations to use at your preferred meditation time. With live streams, you may join others via Zoom for group gatherings or personal guidance.

Guided meditations are especially useful for beginners to learn and practice meditation through instruction, visualizations, and breathing exercises.

To find the best online meditation options, we reviewed many apps, podcasts, and YouTube channels, looking at the following:

  • Ratings. We looked for options that had the highest overall ratings from thousands of users.
  • User reviews. We read what users had to say about the products.
  • Price. We included a range of prices and several free options to fit a variety of budgets.
  • Vetting. All services have been vetted to ensure they meet Psych Central’s medical and business standards.

Best overall

Calm

  • Price: Free YouTube channel. Free basic version offers some features; otherwise premium costs $14.99 per month, $69.99 per year, or $399 for a lifetime membership.
  • Who’s it best for? beginners and experienced meditators

Daily meditation can make you less stressed and more focused and mindful. Research shows the Calm app can even do this for stressed college students.

Calm offers an original 10-minute Daily Calm meditation and a series called the Daily Trip that features “adventurous and exploratory” meditations that feel like a “mini trip for your mind.”

Calm also offers free Daily Calm videos on its YouTube channel.

Why we chose it for ‘Best overall’

  • Calm is the most downloaded of all meditation apps. There is good reason: daily updated content, a large variety of guided meditations, and a supportive approach among its narrators.

What we like

  • New 10-minute meditations every day can keep you from getting bored.
  • If you need visual stimulation while you meditate, Calm also has a YouTube channel.
  • Your workplace or healthcare professional can provide you with a premium subscription.

What to look out for

  • You’ll need to pay for the premium version to receive a new daily meditation.

If you want to learn more, consider reading our in-depth review of the Calm app.

Best for beginners

UCLA Mindful

  • Price: free app, fee-based courses
  • Who’s it best for? beginners looking for a simple, straight-forward interface

The huge number and variety of meditations on some apps can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for something simple and well-structured, consider trying the free UCLA Mindful app. You can stream or download basic guided meditations or guided wellness meditations to help you deal with health issues.

The program is offered by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) to make meditation guidance available to everyone. It also offers:

Why we chose it for ‘Best for beginners’

  • This is probably one of the simplest, most straightforward options for guided meditation. The app was developed within a prestigious academic environment.

What we like

  • Both the app and website have simple guided meditations that are easy to access.
  • Meditation guidance is slow, straightforward, and uncomplicated.
  • Narration has pleasing vocals with long pauses of silence for your meditation to deepen.

What to look out for

  • The focus is on mindfulness meditation.
  • Some of the offerings are designed to support mental health professional training.

Best for variety

Headspace

  • Price: Free YouTube channel. App is free for basic services, otherwise it costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year for premium. Student and family plans are available.
  • Who’s it best for? beginners and those more experienced who are looking for a wide variety of meditation options

You can download the Headspace app or view the YouTube channel to see the large variety of guided meditations available. You’ll be able to choose from hundreds of guided meditations on a new topic each day, or replay your favorites. Topics cover:

  • anxiety
  • focus
  • relaxation
  • basic starters

The timed meditation (only available on the premium app) is especially helpful to build a regular, consistent practice. You can also choose a lightly guided or no-guided version.

Why we chose it for ‘Best for variety’

  • Headspace is an enormously popular app that has guided meditations of varied lengths and content. You’ll always find what you want, and you’ll be able to switch out meditations from day to day, even in the basic version.

What we like

  • The variety of meditations fit many environments and moods.
  • Most of the meditations are short, between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • The wide variety of meditations lets you always find the one you need.

What to look out for

  • You’ll need to pay for the app to access the majority of meditations.

If you want to learn more, consider reading our in-depth review of the Headspace app.

Best Buddhist meditation

San Francisco Zen Center

  • Price: Free access to online web app. Online courses and programs have varying fees
  • Who’s it best for? people interested in Buddhist meditation

At the San Francisco Zen Center, you’ll have access to a wealth of archived guided meditations, as well as the opportunity to include daily online group meditation over Zoom. This is Buddhist-oriented meditation, which includes zazen sitting and walking meditations.

All programs are online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center has an Online Zendo where you can access group meditations, drop-in meditation instruction, and courses such as:

  • Introduction to Meditation
  • Transforming Depression and Anxiety Practice Group
  • Writing and Mindfulness

The guided meditation videos are centralized on the Asian Art Museum‘s YouTube channel. You can find them easily by searching for “SF Zen Center guided meditation” in the YouTube search bar. The SF Zen Center also has a wealth of videos on its own website and YouTube channel to help you get started.

Why we chose it for ‘Best Buddhist meditation’

  • SF Zen Center has been a fixture in San Francisco for 60 years. It has an extensive online library of instruction and guided meditations in the Buddhist tradition. It’s all free, until you start taking their courses, which have varying fees.

What we like

  • You can drop in for daily online guided meditation sessions.
  • Instructors are long-term meditators, often with decades of experience.
  • Approach is compassionate and personal.

What to look out for

  • There is a focus on Buddhist meditation.
  • Some programs and courses have fees.

Best walking meditation

Plum Village Zen Guided Meditation

  • Price: free
  • Who’s it for? people interested in walking Zen Buddhist meditation

The Plum Village app is one of the few mindfulness apps that offer completely free content, including guided meditations by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as many other monastic teachers in this Buddhist tradition.

Walking meditation is one of three types of Buddhist meditation. The Plum Village app offers a series of 10 “Earth Contemplations” inviting meditation during walking and enjoying the earth.

Why we chose it for ‘Best walking meditation’

  • Mostly we chose it for Thich Nhat Hanh’s smile, which may calm you down in and of itself. The mood and tone of these meditations are part of the relaxation that comes with a collection of instructional and guided meditations.

What we like

  • The meditations are those practiced within a Zen Buddhist community.
  • The app and website includes rare videos of guided meditations by Thich Nhat Hanh, who died in January 2022 at the age of 95 and had been unable to verbally communicate since experiencing a brain hemorrhage in 2014.

What to look out for

  • These meditations have a Buddhist orientation.
  • You may find the audio in some of the older archived meditations a little difficult to understand.

Best for kids

New Horizon

  • Price: Free basic meditations. More fee-based meditations
  • Who’s it best for? children

If your child has trouble falling asleep or calming their mind, the United Kingdom’s New Horizon Holistic Centre YouTube channel or app may be good options to check out. It’s also available on Amazon Music.

New Horizon offers three categories of meditations:

  • sleep
  • guided meditations
  • stories

Although New Horizon was originally founded as a holistic center, when the guided meditations took off, it began to focus efforts on developing guided meditations, primarily for children.

New Horizon has written and performed a wide variety of sleep stories just for kids that are designed to help ease your child’s worries so they can relax and drift off to sleep. It also offers stories and guided meditations like “Breathing in Outer Space” and “Stream of Mindfulness.”

Why we chose it for ‘Best for kids’

  • New Horizon offers different types of meditation, specifically designed for children.

What we like

  • With more than 100 stories to choose from, your child won’t get bored.
  • There are even a few stories created for parents, or any adult, as well.
  • The app is kid-friendly and ad-free.

What to look out for

  • The children’s meditations are mostly geared toward younger kids.
  • There are very few free meditations in the app.

Best for the skeptic

Ten Percent Happier

  • Price: 7-day free trial, and then $15 per month or $100 per year
  • Who’s it best for? people who are unsure about meditation but don’t want their skepticism to hold them back

If you’ve been told meditation is good for you but you’re not yet convinced, Ten Percent Happier may be the app for you.

The founder, Dan Harris, co-anchor of “ABC News Nightline” and the weekend editions of “Good Morning America,” is himself a skeptic turned believer. His podcast and app are infused with a sense of humor to help beginners ease their way into meditation. Check out his primer on meditation as he understands it, in a conversation during a Healthline Media Town Hall event:

Longtime meditators can also find happiness here thanks to a selection of teachers that are well-known experts in the field.

Why we chose it for ‘Best for the skeptic’

  • This is for people who may have doubts about meditation but want to try it out. The meditations are easy, straightforward, and sometimes entertaining.

What we like

  • The app teaches you how to meditate instead of assuming you already know.
  • Teachers use humor and avoid the “spiritual speak” that can be a turn-off for some people.
  • Each meditation has an introduction so you know what you’re about to experience.

What to look out for

  • If you enjoy the spiritual component of meditation, you won’t find that here.

Best for community

The Honest Guys

  • Price: Free access to video meditations on YouTube; $1.99 VIP membership gives access to 400 meditations; further fee-based digital downloads of full audio productions.
  • Who’s it best for? people not only looking for guided meditations but also community support

Come for the meditations, stay for the comments.

While Rick and Kev, aka The Honest Guys, have more than 1 million subscribers and offer meditations that feature everything from guided imagery to fantasy visualizations, it’s the comments that make this YouTube channel really stand out.

Click on any guided meditation and you’ll likely find a complete stranger wishing you happiness or joy in your life. Others will let you know that they’re praying for you. You’ll be encouraged not to give up and to stay positive. You’ll be reminded that you’re special.

The Honest Guys haven’t just created some of the best meditations available, they’ve also created a very supportive, encouraging, and compassionate community.

Why we chose it for ‘Best for community’

  • This is a solid collection of guided meditations, with a supportive and encouraging community rooting for you in the wings.

What we like

  • The community makes you even more likely to listen to the meditations.
  • The meditations are great, too!
  • New content is published weekly, so you’ll always have something different to listen to.

What to look out for

  • They’ve been around for more than a decade, so some content may seem dated.
  • If you hate being encouraged, don’t read the comments.
  • There is no app version.

Best podcast

The Meditation Podcast

  • Price: free, but they hope you’ll donate to their Patreon and enroll in their fee-based courses
  • Who’s it for? people who love podcasts and want to use this format to learn more about meditation

Since 2006, the husband-and-wife team behind “The Meditation Podcast” have helped thousands of people through their guided meditations. With more than 30 years’ combined experience, Jesse and Jeane Stern have created hundreds of meditative podcasts to help you relax or heal.

Why we chose it for ‘Best podcast’

  • This is a long-standing meditation podcast that offers hundreds of basic and advanced meditations. Audio is always good, and the pace is slow with pauses to let you relax into the flow.

What we like

  • With such a long run, you can rely on Jesse and Jeane to be a regular source of meditation in your life.
  • Their calm, mellow voices can help you relax and even help you fall asleep.
  • Subscribing to their Patreon will also give you access to their chats, which discuss general life issues, meditation, the podcast, and much more.

What to look out for

  • Older podcasts are no longer available unless you subscribe to them on Patreon.
  • There is no app version.

Online guided meditations come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are aimed at beginners, while others are more complex. Some offer just audio, while others have video.

Some guided meditations have even been rolled out in the extended reality of the metaverse. A pioneer partnership of TRIPP and Vive Flow in late 2021 launched guided meditations on an extended reality (ER) platform.

Then there are the different fee systems. Some options are almost totally free. Others offer some free meditations but require payment to access more. Often, there is a premium version of the app that requires payment, or a fee-based subscription system.

The overview below compares all the meditation options covered in this article, so you can find the best meditations to suit you.

Meditation optionBest ofFeaturesPlatformsPrice
CalmOverallpersonal approach, daily updated contentapp, website, YouTubefree basic version; otherwise premium costs $14.99 per month, $69.99 per year, or $399 for a lifetime member-ship
UCLA MindfulBeginnersbasic easy structure, offerings won’t overwhelm youapp, website, YouTubefree app, fee-based courses
HeadspaceVarietylarge amount of intro as well as advanced meditationsapp, website, YouTubefree basic app; otherwise $12.99/mo. or $69.99/yr. Family and student plans available.
San Francisco Zen CenterBuddhistvideo meditations, weekly drop-in online group meditationsSFZC Dharma app (web app that runs in your browser), website, YouTubefree online web app; courses and programs have varying fees
Plum Village Zen Guided MeditationWalkingBuddhist orientation, audio and video medi-tationsapp, website, YouTubefree
New HorizonKidssleep stories and guided meditations for kids; nice colors and engaging narrationsapp, website, YouTubefree basic app version; further fee-based meditations
Ten Percent HappierSkepticslots of guests, humor is often involvedapp, website, YouTube7-day free trial, and then $15/month or $100/ year
The Honest GuysComm-unitya YouTube channel with many video meditationsYouTube, websitefree access on YouTube; $1.99 VIP membership gives access to 400 meditations/further fee-based digital downloads of full audio productions
The Meditation PodcastPodcasta podcast with guided meditationspodcast, websitefree, but they hope you’ll donate to their Patreon and enroll in their fee-based courses

While we tried to put together a comprehensive list of online guided meditations, we realize that not everyone will find what they were looking for on this list. Here are some tips for finding the right guided meditation for you:

  • Qualifications of instructors. When choosing a guided meditation, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the qualifications and experience that different instructors have. Ideally, you’d want to ensure you’re being guided by someone with years or decades of experience in the field.
  • Time investment. It may help to think about how much time you want to commit to meditating. Are you looking for a short 5-minute guided meditation or longer sessions?
  • Types of meditation. From visualizations to mindfulness and walking meditations, many types of meditations exist, and most of them come in guided versions. It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the main types of meditation to decide which type interests you the most. The FAQs section below offers some guidance.
  • Format. Some online guided meditations can be accessed through YouTube, others through apps or websites. Depending on how you want to access meditations, the format in which the exercises are available may play a role. For example, do you need a format that’s portable like on your phone, or could you play a guided meditation on your computer or laptop at home? Are you looking for audio only or would you prefer a guided video meditation?
  • Price. You can find many free online guided meditations, but some people may prefer a paid subscription that offers them greater variety and frequent updates. Determining how much or if you’re willing to pay for guided meditations may help you narrow down your search.
  • Reviews and ratings. When looking through online guided meditation options, it can be helpful to see what users are saying about the program you’re interested in.

What types of meditations are there?

Many types of meditation exist. Here are some common ones:

  • Guided meditation. Great for beginners, guided meditation uses a teacher to guide you through the basic steps of meditating. This can be done in person or via apps, podcasts, or videos.
  • Unguided meditation. Done alone, unguided meditation involves sitting quietly and paying attention to your body and your thoughts for a certain period of time.
  • Visualization. This practice involves picturing something, or someone, in your mind while focusing on how that image makes you feel mentally and physically.
  • Reflection. For this type of meditation, you ask yourself a question, like “What matters to me the most?” and focus on your feelings (not your thoughts) about this question.
  • Yoga meditation. There are a number of styles of yoga meditation, but the most important part of any yoga meditation is the Relaxation Pose, which serves as a way to relax your body and relieve tension.
  • Chakra meditation. With chakra meditation, your goal is to keep your body’s core chakras (which are known as your centers of energy) open, aligned, and fluid.
  • Walking meditation. While taking a walk, focus on how your body feels and moves, as well as the sights, sounds, and smells around you.
  • Mindfulness meditation. Instead of thinking about the past or future, focus on the present moment without passing any judgment as to what is happening.
  • Breathing meditation. This is a type of mindful meditation where you breathe slowly and deeply, counting and focusing on your breath.

What are the benefits of guided meditation vs. meditating on your own?

For many people, guided meditations are the best way to learn to meditate. Once you find a meditation you like, you may find yourself returning to it day after day. A narration gives you something to focus on, and instructions help get you on your way.

Further on in your meditation practice, you may prefer nonguided meditations. You may find particular voices and narrations distracting and prefer silence. However, many long-term meditators still prefer guided meditations. There’s something calming and enjoyable about having a companion on the journey.

How much does guided meditation typically cost?

You can always find free guided meditations on websites, apps, or YouTube. All of the best online meditation options in this article have free versions.

You may prefer to buy the premium version of an app or even purchase a course to get more options and instruction.

Sometimes, your workplace or healthcare professional will provide access to a meditation app as a perk or benefit.

How do I know if I’m meditating correctly?

There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate. One myth to dispel is that you have to be “free of thoughts” to be meditating correctly. Just like you can’t shut off your breathing, you can’t shut off your brain.

If you’re having thoughts and realize you’re having thoughts — that’s meditation. Plus, the more you meditate, the more you may catch yourself in your thoughts and can dive into the space between, gaining insight, clarity, and a sense of calm.

Meditation increases awareness, so with practice, you may notice heightened awareness not only while you’re meditating but also as you go about your day-to-day. You may also overall feel more contentment and less agitation.

Meditations are for everyone. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress, manage your anxiety, or better your emotional health, meditation can be a tool to help you improve your mental health.

Between YouTube channels, apps, and podcasts, there’s at least one meditation program out there designed with you in mind.