Insight Timer is a meditation app that features an extensive free meditation library. The easy-to-navigate app is good for beginners and great for advanced students of meditation. Insight Timer also has live events like yoga, mood tracking, private mentoring, and workshops available. Overall, Insight Timer earned 4.5 out of 5 stars from our independent review. The premium version, Member Plus, is $60 per year with a 30-day free trial if you sign up on their website.
Rating of Insight Timer Meditation App
Over the past year, I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to researching, personally using, and reviewing meditation apps. Not only do I use these apps for at least two weeks before writing a detailed review, I also reach out to the individual companies to ask numerous questions about their products that users are likely to want answers to. All of this is done to ensure that consumers get the information they need to make intelligent purchases. I have been using meditation apps as a staple in my life since 2015 and Insight Timer was a very overwhelming experience to me at first. Insight Timer earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall during our independent review for how vast and diverse its meditation library is as well as all of the extra features it offers. The only category Insight Timer underperforms in compared to other meditation apps is how you can get in touch with customer service, otherwise, Insight Timer is a phenomenal meditation app for all levels.
Pros & Cons of Insight Timer
Insight Timer’s massive meditation library has something for people of all stages in their meditation journey. However, the app can feel overwhelming at first and sometimes feels more geared towards those who are more advanced meditators. But with the large amount of free content offered, Insight Timer is definitely worth the download.
How to Sign Up for Insight Timer
You can visit Insight Timer’s website to sign up and create an account.
What Is Insight Timer?
Insight Timer is a meditation app that helps make meditation convenient, easy, and engaging. It helps teach you how to manage stress and anxiety, as well as how to get quality sleep through a variety of free mindfulness and meditation exercises. There are free meditation courses that cover the basics of meditation, as well as more advanced courses to help those who want to deepen their practice. With such a diverse and large meditation library, Insight Timer earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Variety of Meditations & Volume of Content” category on our scoring criteria for meditation apps.
Insight Timer features unique opportunities like live events, mentoring, and topic-specific, group workshops. Events include in-app live streams of a yoga or meditation session. Mentoring includes one-on-one coaching and covers a range of topics like introducing mindfulness into your life and how to practice self-love. Workshops cover topics from stress reduction to how trauma lives in our bodies. Both mentoring and workshops can be selected based on your specific interests and budget for additional costs.
Insight Timer also has a community space where you can connect with other meditators and join chat groups on topics from meditation for beginners and deep sleep, to healing the inner child and daily gratitude. Each group has a dedicated meditation playlist as well as a chatbox to connect with others. You can also request to become friends with other members in your group. Anyone you request to be friends with will show up in your home hub along with their social posts. All of these amazing features earned Insight Timer 5 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category on our scoring criteria.
Teaching on Insight Timer
Insight Timer has a large number of teachers and other professionals on the app, which accounts for the extensive and diverse meditation library. Teachers and instructors are able to submit pre-recorded content that gets vetted and reviewed prior to publication to make sure it adheres to Insight Timer’s content requirements and guidelines. While teachers are able to earn money for being on Insight Timer, their top priority is to get more people to experience meditation.
Teachers on Insight Timer earn money in two main ways: total play count of published content and how often teachers interact with their students. There is also an option for teachers to receive donations through the app. Those teachers and other professionals interested in learning more about how to publish their own content on Insight Timer can learn more here.
Scientific Basis for Meditation
When you meditate, you intentionally focus on deep breathing, called breathwork, and focus your attention on sight, sound, sensation, or visualization. Mindfulness has been shown to directly impact the structure and functioning of the brain, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep.1, 2, 3 Meditation has even been shown to improve chronic health conditions, including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, digestive conditions, and immune system functions.4, 5
Ongoing scientific research of over 6,000 studies is shedding light on just how beneficial meditation can be to our wellness and quality of life.6 Meditation slows your thoughts, regulates your emotions, and teaches you to focus fully on your present moment. It’s an approach to total health and wellness that is thousands of years old and is part of both religious and secular traditions. 7
Who Is Insight Timer Right For?
Insight Timer’s huge meditation library is great for anyone looking to start or maintain a meditation practice. There are plenty of free meditation sessions for people hoping to learn how to start a meditation practice and the basic techniques of mindfulness. When you sign up for the premium version, there are in-depth courses on topics like managing depression through meditation and how to mindfully manage anxiety and stress.
Families and Community
This app is great for people of all ages and would be awesome for families who want to encourage their kids to use mindfulness and meditation. There are mindfulness sessions for kids and teens on topics like how to focus, how to remain calm through strong emotions, and how to relax before bedtime.
If you want to connect with others who are serious about meditation and yoga, Insight Timer’s community space, live events, mentoring, and workshops could be perfect for you. All of the live events, mentoring, and workshops are run by professional yogis, meditation teachers, and mental health professionals. You can also join chat groups to connect and make friends.
Insight Timer has a special program for companies, Insight Timer @Work, who want to make meditation and mindfulness a part of their workplace culture. Administrators can invite employees to join through a company plan, which gives them access to everything in Insight Timer’s premium plan as well as a dedicated community space and additional workplace meditations. Employees can practice mindfulness and meditation at work or at home.
Who May Want an Alternative to Insight Timer
While Insight Timer is truly an amazing meditation app, there are some people that may want or need a different app for their needs. Those new to meditation, have serious health conditions and those younger than 18 may need to look elsewhere.
Serious Mental Health Conditions
People managing serious mental health disorders, or those who feel their anxiety symptoms worsen when meditating, will want to seek out a different app that offers other online therapy options. If you need additional support, you may want to use an online therapist directory to find a therapist thats a good fit for you.
It’s important to note that Insight Timer does have age restrictions. Children under the age of 13 are not allowed to have their own accounts but can use the app with adult supervision. You also must be over the age of 18 to attend any of the live events. There are meditations for kids and teens, but they require adult supervision.
Beginners to Meditation
Insight Timer does offer courses for beginners, however, those who are more experienced may feel more comfortable with this app. With so many meditation options in the app, it could be overwhelming to someone who has never meditated before. True beginners of meditation would benefit from structured meditation courses like those in the Headspace app, which is also a 4.5 rated app based on our scoring criteria.
What are Insight Timer Users Saying?
Insight Timer has very high star ratings in both app stores. Insight Timer has a 4.8-star rating from 167,000+ reviews in the Google Play Store and a 4.9-star rating from 347,000+ reviews in the Apple App Store.
Amazing Content In the Free App
Many users repeatedly mentioned how much they loved the Insight Timer app because of the excellent variety of meditations for stress, anxiety, and sleep. What really wins people over is how massive the Insight Timer meditation library is and that so much of it is offered for free. I absolutely agree with them on these points. Insight Timer is one of the biggest free meditation libraries I have seen in an app which is why it earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Variety & Volume” category on our scoring rubric. And all of this is offered completely ad-free!
Users also mentioned that since Insight Timer really allows you to explore the meditation library, it’s a great place for beginners to create a meditation practice. While it can be overwhelming at first, beginner courses are front and center in the meditation library. Users said the way the app is set up makes them feel like the app and the teachers want them to succeed.
A feature some users really liked was that Insight Timer will keep track of how long you meditate, how many days in a row, and how many meditations you’ve completed. These features, plus the options to save meditations, teachers, and courses, earned Insight Timer 5 out of 5 stars in the “Personalization” category on our scoring criteria.
Updates Make the App Too Different
Some users updated their existing reviews to report issues and general complaints about the app’s updates. Every time Insight Timer rolled out a new update, users reported that the app started to glitch, time-out, or crash entirely. I have experienced long loading times, but I figured this was more likely due to how huge the library was.
Users updated their reviews to comment on how the app used to be more user-friendly and easier to navigate. Insight Timer now features things like inspirational quotes on the load screen, social media aspects like “stories” and friend requests, and the timer function is no longer on the home screen. This last complaint seemed big to me, as Insight Timer has the word “timer” in its title; it should be a prominently featured tool on the home screen.
Odd Feature Behind Paywalls
A really interesting point one user made was that it’s ridiculous that you have to be a premium member to fast forward, rewind or pause meditations. I researched this complaint and found this user was mostly correct! You do need to be a Member Plus holder to fast forward, rewind or resume meditations, but you can absolutely pause meditations as a free member. I have to agree that having those kinds of functions behind a paywall seems strange.
Insight Timer Cost
Insight Timer offers a lot of content in its free app – you could easily spend months listening to free meditations. However, if you want access to Insight Timer’s other features, like full meditation courses, they offer a subscription called Member Plus. This is $60 a year and has a 30-day free trial when you sign up on the website. Since Insight Timer has so much free content, offers a long free trial through its website, and has comparable subscription costs to other meditation apps, it earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Cost & Free Trial” category on our scoring criteria.
Is Insight Timer Free?
Yes! Insight Timer offers an extensive number of meditation sessions, live events like yoga, and a large community space for free. The free version of Insight Timer is perfect for anyone who wants to see what the app has to offer and for those who want access to thousands of free meditations on the go.
Insight Timer Premium Subscription
Insight Timer offers a premium subscription called Member Plus. Member Plus costs $60 annually and comes with a 30-day free trial if you sign up on the website. If you choose to sign up through the app, you will only be offered a one-week free trial. Member Plus will give you the ability to rewind and fast forward meditations, unlock thousands of full meditation courses as well as the option to download meditations to listen to offline. The Member Plus subscription is awesome for anyone serious about building or maintaining a meditation practice.
Insight Timer Mentoring and Workshops
Insight Timer offers workshops and mentoring for an additional cost on top of the premium subscription and can be found in the “Learn” hub. Mentoring sessions can cost anywhere from $220 all the way to $1,450! Some of the mentoring packages are for one session only, while others can be up to three sessions per package.
All mentoring sessions are one-on-one coaching situations that are held over Zoom and focus on helping you learn how to integrate mindfulness into your daily life. Workshops can cost anywhere from $25 to $250 and are group learning courses. These help you to learn how to build mindfulness in your daily life.
Additional Insight Timer Cost Note: Many of the teachers on the Insight Timer have the option to give them in-app donations, but it is not a required cost.
Insight Timer Discount Offered
|Free Trial of Premium Plan||Yes|
|COVID-19 Specials||Yes, select meditations available online|
What If I Want To Cancel?
You can cancel Insight Timer at any time. If you signed up through Apple or Google, you must log in to your account and click “Manage Subscriptions”. From there you will be able to cancel your subscription. If you sign up through the Insight Timer website, you can manage your subscriptions on the “Subscriptions” page.
When you choose to cancel your subscription, you will still have access to the Member Plus content until the day your subscription period ends.
Does Insight Timer Offer Refunds?
Insight Timer does not offer any refunds for subscriptions, mentoring, or workshops.
For more information about Insight Timer’s Terms of Service please visit their website.
How to Get Started With Insight Timer
Insight Timer is available through the Apple or Google Play stores, or you can sign up through their website. To take advantage of the 30-day free trial, you must sign up online. You can still download and use the app after you sign up online.
To get started with the Insight Timer app, download it through the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
You will share basic demographic information, why you are seeking out meditation and types of meditations you are interested in, your previous experiences with meditation, and then set up your profile.
You will be taken to your personalized home screen where you can complete a daily mood check-in and see some suggested meditations to do. The navigation bar at the bottom will take you to the Learn Hub, Discover Hub, Connect Hub, and your personal profile.
After you explore the vast amount of free content Insight Timer offers and you wish to sign up for the premium subscription, it is very easy to do. To sign up, simply click on any locked content in the app or go to your profile and scroll down to “Member Plus”. In the app, you will receive a 7-day free trial and then be charged $59.99 for a one-year subscription.
Pro-Tip: Set a reminder in your calendar app to tell you to cancel the day before you are scheduled to be charged.
Insight Timer’s Free App: Detailed Review
Insight Timer offers thousands of meditation sessions for free and you could easily spend months exploring everything offered without running out of new content to listen to. With its easy-to-navigate app, Insight Timer makes learning the basics of mindfulness and creating a meditation practice easy. The sheer size, diversity of meditations, and filtering options are some of the reasons why Insight Timer earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Variety & Volume” category on our scoring criteria.
Feature 1: “Home” Hub
The “Home” hub will be the first place you are taken to in the app. You will see how many people are logged in to the app, a stories function, a daily check-in, and some suggested meditations.
Insight Timer features a new daily mindfulness meditation every day and the goal is to make building a practice easy and fun. You also can update your mood throughout the day and select contributing factors. A unique feature on the “Home” hub is the ability to add “stories”, just like you would on Instagram or Facebook!
Feature 2: “Discover” Hub
The Discover Hub is where you will find the vast majority of the free content. This is where you can find guided timers, meditations for anxiety, yoga events, sleep meditations, and an extensive Parents & Kids section. Unfortunately, none of the meditation courses are available for free, but there are still so many single meditation sessions to explore, that you will surely be able to find something to suit your needs.
A few of the areas you can explore with single meditation sessions are:
- Sleep Programs: If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, this is the spot for you. Discover music, soundscapes, meditations, and stories to help you rest and recharge.
- Music: Listen to classical music, gentle instrumentals, nature sounds, chanting, and much more depending on your mood.
- Parents: You can help your children learn how to be calm, handle stress, and develop mindfulness skills to keep them centered through their ups and downs.
- Yoga: The live yoga classes are a great way to practice mindfulness while also exercising your body. These classes are led by highly trained yogis that provide encouragement and teach with passion.
- And Much More: With such an extensive library of meditations, there is no way to list it all and there is definitely something for everyone. All you have to do is look!
Feature 3: “Connect” Hub
The Connect Hub will allow you to join various groups of like-minded people. There are established groups you can join, or you can choose to create your own. You’ll be able to chat with other members and have access to a library carefully curated by administrators and moderators. This great feature is one reason why Insight Timer earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category on our scoring criteria.
Feature 4: Your “Profile” Hub
You can view your stats, recent meditations, bookmarks, or playlists when you go to your Profile Hub. Insight Timer will tell you how many consecutive days you’ve meditated, your total number of minutes, and any milestones you have reached. Your profile will also be the place to find the meditation timer – the timer allows you to choose a bowl sound, set a length of time, and do a self-guided meditation.
You can also navigate to any live events, courses (which are locked in the free version), workshops, or mentoring from your profile. In your profile, you will also be able to change your privacy settings, view your recent activity, find your friends and any teachers you follow.
Insight Timer Premium Subscription: Detailed Review
Insight Timer’s premium subscription, Member Plus, will give you full access to in-depth meditation courses and the ability to fast forward, rewind or resume any meditation.
Feature 1: “Learn” Hub
You can find 1000+ meditation courses in the “Learn” hub. These can be anywhere from 5 days to 40 days long, with each session in the course lasting 15 to 20 minutes. The course I did was a 10-day course called “10 Rules for Survival: Mindfulness & Compassion In Challenging Times” with meditation teacher Vidyamala Burch. What I loved about the sessions with Vidyamala was how she explained how to develop mindfulness throughout the day. She said that meditation is like exercise for your brain and I had never thought about it that way.
Insight Timer For Companies
Insight Timer @Work is specifically geared towards companies and organizations that want to incorporate mindfulness practices into their workplace culture. It is a flat rate of $99 per month for all employees and gives administrators access to a dedicated dashboard. In addition to everything on the Insight Timer app, @Work has dedicated meditations specific to working, like commuting, before a meeting and unwinding at the end of the day.
Administrators will be provided with templated content to distribute to their employees, and a dashboard with various metrics on employee engagement. Companies can use this information to determine whether the app is delivering value to their employees, and better understand if there are specific areas they should be engaging their employees in.
There are 15 different “Workplace Skills” that employees can access that may help ease work anxiety, manage stress and help to recognize and prevent burnout.
These meditations cover a wide range of topics including:
- Preventing Burnout at Work
- Improving Focus
- Self-Care When Experiencing Preventing Burnout at Work Bias
- Negotiating A Pay Raise
- How to “Unplug” At Night
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- Recharge Your Motivation
- Perform Better Under Pressure
- Appreciating Yourself When Undervalued
- How To Speak Up Against Inequality
- Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
- How to Give/Receive Negative Feedback
- Dealing With Zoom Fatigue
- Managing Difficult Relationships
- Finding Purpose In Your Work
Companies and organizations interested can learn more about how to sign up for Insight Timer @Work on the website.
How Insight Timer Has Changed
Insight Timer was originally founded in 2009 by California app developer Brad Fullmer, but by 2013, he found himself burnt out. After pooling their money, the Sydney-based brother team Nicho and Christopher Plowman purchased Insight Timer in 2014.8
They had three main goals after they took over:
- Provide the best, free, meditation app on the planet
- Offer meaningful income for app publishers
- Be commercially conscious
Insight Timer has since raised $24.7M in funding since the Plowman Brothers have taken over the company and some of their investors have been companies like Evolve Ventures and Bridge Builders Collaborative.
While not much has changed about the Insight Timer app, there have been a few new rollouts over the years. The community space has become bigger, with a more social media aspect to it and Insight Timer now offers a dedicated workplace program for companies, called Insight Timer @Work.
Insight Timer vs. Headspace
Insight Timer is a self-guided app much more extensive than Headspace and may be better for more experienced meditators. The Headspace app is very structured and palatable for those who have never meditated before. Insight Timer offers meditations that span secular, spiritual, religious, and philosophical traditions, while Headspace only offers secular meditations. Both of these outstanding meditation apps earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall based on our scoring rubric.
Visually, there is much more to Headspace than Insight Timer. Insight Timer is solely about meditation and the app is more about an audio experience versus a visual one. Headspace is a brightly colored app, with cartoon drawings and graphics.
Insight Timer is a yearly subscription of $60 while Headspace is either a monthly subscription of $12.99 or yearly at $69.99. Both apps are really amazing at teaching the basics of meditation mindfulness. However, Insight Timer would be a better match for those who are more advanced in their meditation practice.
Insight Timer vs. Calm
Insight Timer and Calm have a primary focus on meditation for adults, teens, and kids. Both offer meditations for all levels from beginner through advanced, but Insight Timer can initially feel like it is for those at more advanced levels. Calm seems more suited for beginners and intermediate meditators and has a more brightly colored app than Insight Timer. Calm earned 4 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring rubric and Insight Timer earned 4.5 stars overall.
Insight Timer’s library of meditations and courses are much more in-depth than Calm’s. Insight Timer has over 127,000 free meditation sessions, with more added all of the time. Both apps are around the same cost per year, with Insight Timer being $60 and Calm being $69.99 per year. However, Calm does offer a monthly subscription for $14.99, which Insight Timer does not currently offer.
You can learn all about what features Calm offers by reading our in-depth review of Calm.
Final Thoughts on Insight Timer
Insight Timer has a truly impressive and extensive meditation library. What is even more outstanding about Insight Timer is all of the free content offered. While the library can be overwhelming at first, it really does become easier to navigate the longer you play around in the app. Even if you are brand new to meditation, I highly recommend Insight Timer as an awesome place to start your practice. It definitely earned all 4.5 stars and with small updates, could easily become a 5-star app!