There are approximately 2500 online meditation services available, each with its own unique features and benefits. At a high level, there are a number of ways one could categorize these services. Below is what makes sense to me to dissect this service industry:
- Western and Eastern services
- Religious inclined services
- Platform-based communities
- Personality based services
- Research-based services
The best online meditation service for you ultimately depends on your preferences, unique journey, and specific needs. Here are the categories in detail.
1. Western and Eastern:
Remember that purpose of most of the online services is very similar. The only difference between Platforms is the targeted customers and mediation techniques and practices.
a) Western Lens: Medito, Smiling Mind, the mindfulness app, Headspace, and Calm, are apps that capture most of the market in the West. Most of the apps have greatly simplified the UI, which is very pleasing to the eyes and easy to navigate. Calm and Headspace have been two of the most successful apps in the last 7 years. Depending on how you define the success; in this case the number of downloads, ratings, online reviews, and awards.
b) Eastern Lens: Satva, Art of Living, Patanjali and Dhyana. These services have elements of Eastern philosophies. Remember the concept of meditation rooted in the Eastern philosophies of Yoga, Vedic Culture, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. These apps also include mystic elements, festivals, and rites and rituals as a comprehensive offering. Another important point to consider is that Eastern philosophies, such as Raja yoga or the practice of Dhyana in Buddhism, outline a path from an ordinary human to divine realization. It involves not only dedicating one or two hours of daily meditation but adopting a complete lifestyle aimed at uncovering the inherent divinity within oneself. It’s worth noting that sometimes online resources may offer a simplified or diluted version of these teachings.
2. Religious based:
a). Amen is an excellent example of a religious-based app. The app roots in Christian philosophy. It has a variety of meditations, daily worship, and scripture readings. It also has a community element called groups. Perfect who wants to meditate and believes meditation is not a foreign idea or philosophy. Abide, Pray.com, and Soultime are other options that offer a range of guided meditations, stories, and Bible-based reflections.
b). Muslim Pro is another app that roots in Islamic tradition. It offers features such as prayer times and Qibla direction. Muslim Pro also includes a meditation feature called “Tasbih Counter.” This feature allows users to engage in a form of Islamic meditation by reciting specific phrases or names of Allah while keeping count using a digital tasbih. Ruqyah are a few other options for you if you are interested. Dhikr and Dua as the name suggest it is focused on prayers and remembering god, this again is another meditative path. Quranic is mostly a Quran app, which is beautiful in its own way, but also has a section called Reflection that encourages mindfulness and meditation.
c). Jewish Meditation: Jewish Meditation is an app developed by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. It offers a variety of guided meditations and contemplative practices inspired by Jewish teachings and traditions. The app includes meditations for different purposes, such as mindfulness, gratitude, and inner peace. A few others are, the Jewish Mindfulness Center of St. Louis and Sefaira
3. Personality-based meditation services
There are some meditation teachers who either started the journey of the digital world early on and/or introduced meditation to a certain geography. Then there are other teachers who developed certain meditation practices either by learning from a guru, a Spiritual awakening, or research. They all have their unique value proposition, and depending on where you are in your journey and what your beliefs are you will find yourself gravitating towards one or the other. Below is the list in no particular order. Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Transcendental Meditation (Mahesh Yogi), Kriya Yoga (Yogananda Paramhansa), Ekhart-Tolle are a few names with concrete and credible footprint.
There are also a variety of local & regional meditation practitioners each with their own unique message. If your preference is to have someone guide you in a personalized, one on one manner, this may be what you are looking for to open you up to the world of meditation. Also, I have been teaching holistic lifestyle for about 16 years with documented benefits of RHR going down, increased VO2 max, better sleep, and less anxiety and stress, impacting thousands of lives both professionally and professionally. Meditation and mindfulness is a very important part of it. I will be happy to help should you need any guidance.
4. Platform-based communities
There are many platforms where community leaders, meditation teachers and influencers run meditation services. You can find many rooms on Clubhouse, and many servers on Discord that focus on meditation and mindfulness. On the other hand, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are other places where people have groups and channels where meditation is provided. Sometimes, these services are free and sometimes at a cost. Insight Timer is an app that brings teachers from all backgrounds and walks of life to its platforms. You can pick and choose what fits your taste, style and where you are in the journey of mindfulness. In my experience, I have seen some genuine people/communities sincerely trying to share and learn.
5. Research-based meditation services
Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, and Aura are a few examples where meditation sessions are research-backed. Sri Sri’s Sudharshan Kriya and Sadhguru’s meditation is also has been extensively studied by the likes of Harvard with proven physiological and mental benefits. Generally, these companies have tie-ups with universities (or in-house) where different meditation techniques are studied and scientifically researched. Last, when I checked I remember Headspace had about 25 different research studies going on with various universities. And when the positive outcome is concluded they are launched for the general population.
In the end, I would like to add, there is a gap in the ecosystem for people who would like to go deeper in the journey. These apps are designed (or overtime they got developed this way) for the broad interest in meditation. But unfortunately they leave people, who want to advance in their journey, hanging. In my last one year of research I haven’t found a many people who started using the apps, and continue to use it. Over 4 to 6 months on an average, customers fall off. On the other hand, if you are starting your journey or want to try various different paths, I will highly recommend exploring the features and trial versions of these apps to see which one resonates with you the most. Almost all the services provide you with a free trial to try one or two sounds, chantings, stories, journeys, or meditations. Keep in mind that personal preferences and compatibility with the teaching style, interface, and available content are essential factors in choosing the best online meditation service for you. If you are confused, and still need help, please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to help. I wish you all the very best in your journey.