Intro to the Calm App
When people first learn that I meditate daily they sometimes comment dismissively, “Oh, I’m far too ADHD to meditate.” And then when they learn that I meditate with an app that I actually have to pay for they ask incredulously, “Is it really worth it to pay that much for an app that teaches you how to sit down and breathe???”
And the answer is first — Anyone can meditate no matter if they have ADHD, or anxiety disorders, or they are simply a high energy kinda person. And second — YES. Paid meditation apps are worth every single penny you pay for them.
Not long ago I posted an article about my experience with meditation called Welcome to your mind…. It’s a quirky little retelling of how I made my way to my own meditation practice and what tools have benefitted me over the last 9+ months of meditating. Enter the Calm app.
No, I’m not being paid for this. My blog isn’t that popular…yet. I’m just an amateur meditator hoping to encourage another fellow human to start their own meditation practice. And what’s more encouraging on a new journey than knowing exactly how to begin? If you’re anything like me then you start out with good intentions, but then get bogged down with details when you aren’t quite sure how to proceed. If you want a meditation practice, then the Calm app is the perfect place to begin.
In short, the Calm app is a paid app for guided meditations. Guided meditations usually involve a speaker that helps you settle your mind and keep your mind on your breathing. The recordings often have some sort of background sound such as rain or the ocean to help you stay focused. If you can’t practice with an in-person meditation teacher, but you want a little help with your meditation practice, then apps like these are going to be golden for you.
The Calm app is a subscription-type app. So instead of downloading the app for a one-time fee you will download the Calm app for free, but then you will select a monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscription. Calm is not inexpensive, but it has been worth every penny I spent on it. I’m honestly considering purchasing a lifetime subscription. This app is worth that much to me.
The cost breakdown for the app is as follows:
- $12.99 per month
- $59.99 per year
- $299.99 for a lifetime subscription
Back in the day before I started meditating I took one look at those prices, sputtered, and exited the app store. I was used to downloading free apps and $0.99 apps. Sixty bucks for an APP??? No way! But let me put this in a little mental health perspective:
Your mental health is invaluable. You cannot put a price on it. Having the ability and tools to manage stress, anxiety, insomnia, sadness, disappointment, etc. in a healthy way will benefit you in the long run in ways you can’t imagine. I cannot emphasize this enough. From personal experience, I can tell you that mental health specialists charge between $80-$250 an hour for sessions depending on their level of education and whether or not your insurance policy covers mental health. Meditation and psychotherapy are NOT the same thing, but they do compliment each other. And having a solid mindfulness practice (in my opinion) helps my therapy “stick” and encourages a healthy, open flow of conversation because my mind is no longer spiraling the way it once did. Also, I have yet to have a therapist that did not put meditation on the top of my list of approved coping mechanisms. Meditation has gotten me to my personal goal of managing my anxiety disorder without pharmaceuticals.
Excerpt pulled from “Welcome to your mind…”
As a note to my friends here today that are struggling with anxiety and panic disorders: There are certain days when I sit down for my daily meditation and I cannot sit still. My heart is thudding in my chest, I can’t steady my breath, and it feels physically painful to sit still. If someone could tune into the voice in my head during these moments all they would hear is a long, high-pitched, frustrated scream. That’s anxiety.
In these moments you will want to give up. But as someone who has sat in that same discomfort and confusing terror, I encourage you to give your body grace and gratitude. Take your time. Meditate while lying down or supported on a mountain of pillows. Maybe you want to sit up, but don’t want to stay still? Then breathe and find a little organic movement in the neck and upper body. Find a little sway and breathe with your eyes gently closed. This kind of moving meditation can be incredibly calming. Don’t feel compelled to sit in lotus while maintaining a mudra because that is what you have seen “professional” meditators do. “Find what feels good” – as my yoga instructor reminds me daily.
Welcome to the Calm App!
Each day there will be a new “Daily Calm” guided meditation available to you on the app’s home screen. As you can see, this “Daily Calm” is from May 3rd and it’s about non-reactivity. This particular meditation was centered on scanning the body for sensation (such as tightness in your neck), noting it mentally, and then moving on to another body part without reacting to the particular feeling. Each “Daily Calm” meditation is roughly 10 minutes long and each has a theme or lesson associated with it. Calm co-founder Tamara Levitt will guide you into stillness, help you stay focused on your breathing, and give you an encouraging pick-me-up talk to wrap up the session.
The app gives you the ability to set a reminder so that you will remember to complete these short meditations each day. You can also train Siri to play your Daily Calm without you touching your phone. This is especially nice if you have put your phone in “timeout”, but still want to have access to your meditations.
Calm Guided Meditations:
Not into the theme of today’s meditation, but still want to practice? No worries. There are dozens (maybe hundreds? I’ve never counted) of other guided meditations to choose from on the app. Each group of meditations follows a particular theme (ex. Calming Flight Anxiety) and they vary in length from 5 minutes to 1 hour depending on your particular need.
Lengthy meditations are particularly useful when you have had a terrible day and you know it’s going to take a lot for you to wind down. OR if you get crazy carsick and are stuck in the backseat of a car on winding, jungle-lined roads of Hawaii and need to focus on something besides the need to throw up. OR if you’re crazy anxious on a turbulent flight and you still have 5 more hours to go. Psst… Meditations can be downloaded with a tap of your finger so that you can access them even on airplane mode.
Mindfulness at Work Meditations:
Here’s an example of a group of themed meditations on the Calm app. All of these meditations are 10 minutes each. Maybe my annoying co-worker is doing something particularly rude to my productivity. If I open up the app and tap on the “Mindfulness at Work” meditations from the picture above I can see different types of topics that will be discussed. The “Conflict Resolution” meditation is calling my name, so I’ll plug in my headphones and settle into that meditation for the next ten minutes. I’ll feel better. And then I’ll have a helpful/appropriate conversation with my co-worker. Ok, so it’s not nearly that transformative, but you get the gist.
Also, each meditation comes with background numbing sounds like rain or the ocean just in case another employee is loudly eating pretzels in the break room while I try to meditate. And if I find a meditation that hits a particularly sweet spot for me then I can tap the heart and that meditation will be saved to my “favorites” list.
Sometimes you don’t need to meditate. Sometimes you just need to get stuff done. The Calm app also provides a vast music music library. Some categories of music to choose from are nature melodies, relax, lullabies, and focus. The music varies from “Healing Piano” (my favorite) to the sound of the waves on the shore. These background soundscapes are wonderful for homework, work tasks, or sleep.
Maybe you don’t need to meditate, but are in need of something to soothe your brain as you drift off to sleep? The Calm app offers dozens of “Sleep Stories” that are the perfect way to chill your way to restful sleep. Recently I’ve gotten in the habit of doing candle-lit bedtime yoga to one of these bedtime stories. The very sounds of their voices makes me sleepy. Calm releases new sleep stories regularly and they tell stories on all sorts of topics from fairy tales to vivid descriptions of space. The stories can be pretty awe-inspiring.
The masterclasses on Calm are LEGIT. If you find yourself inspired by talks such as those by TED then you will find this aspect of Calm highly enjoyable. The founders of Calm invite various well-known speakers, teachers, thinkers, and doers to create lessons (of sorts) on various topics. Each class is about an hour to an hour and a half in length and they cover a variety of topics from creativity to mindful parenting. They are motivational, inspirational, AND educational. Some of my favorite of the masterclasses have been from Liz Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on Creativity and Tamara Levitt (co-founder of Calm) on Gratitude.
The founders of Calm believe not only in mindfulness in thought, but also mindfulness in movement. The Calm app also offers various stretches and yoga sequences to wake you up, help you sleep, or get you through a long day. And as you can see from this screenshot, the sequences are short so you can complete them easily without feeling like you have to invest a large chunk of time. A little bit of body maintenance can go a long way – especially if you sit for long periods of time or are under a lot of stress or pressure in your life.
The Calm app also offers guided breathing exercises for when you need a minute to gather yourself. The app will count for you so that you know exactly how long to breathe in, hold, and breathe out. I find these short sessions to be calming even without a full meditation session.
If you have kids, there is also a kids section in the app that keeps all of the age appropriate music, sleep stories, and meditations together in one convenient spot. They have written meditations for children as young as three. It’s never too young to begin a meditation practice!
There are many other nuances of the Calm app but these are the basics! If you are shopping for options to begin or boost your meditation practice I hope this has helped you find an app that is best for you. In full honesty, I have not tried many of the other meditation apps (such as Headspace), so I can’t speak fully to the pros and cons of Calm compared to other meditation apps, but as I mentioned before I have been completely satisfied with all that Calm has offered me and I am seriously considering purchasing a lifetime membership.
Want to try the Calm app for yourself? I’ve got 5 guest passes up for grabs for anyone wanting to try Calm free for 30 days! Then you can try all of its features and see if you like it before you pay for a subscription! All I would need is for your to send me your email address via DM on Instagram @unsteadyshegoes
Lastly, if you still find meditation to be too ooey-gooey for you but are also slightly curious nonetheless then I HIGHLY recommend the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. This memoir-type book is ABC correspondent Dan Harris’ personal story of how his drug-induced on-camera panic attack spurred him on a unique and hilarious journey to meditation. I recommend both the Audible version and the old-fashion book version. I have perhaps read the book 6 or 7 times. It’s comical and gives me much to think about.
Also, Dan himself has created a meditation app that I LOVE called 10% Happier. Unfortunately, I don’t have much use for two meditation apps (even though they both offer different benefits). However, after this year’s Calm subscription expires I may try the 10% Happier app as well so that I know for sure which one serves me best.
If you have any other questions please feel free to reach out!