Guided meditation apps have become a popular way for busy people to find time to slow down and reduce stress. It makes sense, considering apps can be easily accessed and installed, and are taken with us everywhere via our phone.
I have been a user of the Calm guided meditation app for over 2 years now. And I love it! It has been a big help in improving my mindfulness, perspective, thoughts, and anxiety.
Calm has many features and some I haven’t even gotten round to trying yet! So in this review-type post, I’m sharing 8 things about Calm that create a joyful app experience.
*This is NOT an affiliated post. All links are provided for your convenience only.
1. Guided Meditations
It wouldn’t be a guided meditation app without guided meditations! The Calm app features an extensive range of guided meditations that explore different topics. There are multiple series’ that last 7 days which I do enjoy.
As well as this, most of the meditations range from 10-15 minutes. As a beginner, or even someone that meditates daily, I find the 10-15 minute mark to be suitable. Especially with the increase of longer working hours, rise of social media usage and technological access, and the perception of having no time. 10 minutes is enough to mentally get away from all the noise and bustle, even if you are physically still there.
The past 2 weeks I’ve been listening to the ‘Relationship with Self Series’ and the ‘Relationship with Others Series’. That way, I’ve been listening to 2x 10 minute meditations a day, and have felt motivated to keep going every day.
2. Sleep Stories
Calm offers a range of narrated bedtime stories, like the ones you would be told by your parents when you were a child. They offer both fact and fiction. It may sound silly originally, but honestly, the sleep stories are very comforting. It takes you out of the thoughts in your head and into a magical new time and place. There’s nothing wrong with letting out your inner child and embracing the moment.
The first time 2 years ago when I chose to set aside my thoughts and deeply listen to a wonderful bedtime story, I fell asleep quickly (damn, I didn’t get to hear the end of the story!) and woke up in the morning. This was profound because as someone who has quite the racing mind, it was the first good night’s sleep I’d had in a long time!
3. Different Narrators
Calm has an array of different narrators. Tamara Levitt is the Head of Mindfulness and main speaker. When initially choosing an app I wanted to spend money on, I trialled all the free versions to find an app where the music and narrators was something I personally liked listening to.
I find Tamara’s voice very soothing, and her experiences relatable. Some people may prefer a male voice over female, a deeper voice, a softer voice, or even a famous voice (hello Matthew McConaughey’s narrated sleep story!).
I’ve taken a liking to Tamara’s narration of the guided meditations, and particularly a deeper male’s voice on the sleep stories. Think David Attenborough! My favourite sleep story narrators are Erik Braa and Alan Sklar.
4. Regularly New Content
As I mentioned in the point above, I wanted to invest in my mental health and find the best meditation app for my needs. It came down to 2 apps. ‘Calm’ and ‘Meditation and Relaxation Pro’. I really enjoyed both.
The winning factor for me, was that Calm already had a lot of content, and was regularly adding new content, such as new series’, new narrators and new bedtime stories. If I was going to be paying a fee, I wanted to choose something that would continue to bring me mindfulness for years to come.
With Calm, I’m constantly seeing new content and that keeps me excited and engaged. I trusted that with all the content I’d be bound to found some meditations that I’d really resonate with. Even with the sleep stories, there’s some themes that don’t take my interest, but there’s also a lot that I love!
5. Daily Calm
Speaking of new content, the Daily Calm is a different 10 minute meditation every day for 365 days. It normally has a theme for that day and an accompanying quote.
As much as I think it’s important to meditate daily, even I’m not always the most motivated. And that is no reason to feel bad. Just by getting a guided meditation app, you are already aligning your actions with your intentions.
I’ve learnt that for me, meditation is needed daily. Sometimes I don’t even realise that my mind is everywhere and I’m annoyed at my brother or I feel stuck until I meditate. Then I feel Calm.
So, if I ever just need to meditate and I’m not currently following a series (or even if I am) the Daily Calm is the perfect guided meditation! Maybe for you the Daily Calm is your favourite feature above all. The point is, there really is something for everybody.
6. Calm Body
It took me a long time having the app before I even clicked on the ‘more’ option and realised there existed additional meditations.
One of these is titled ‘Calm Body’ and this is all about mindfulness through stretching. Stretching can be a way to warm up and cool down for exercise, to wake up the body, and to wind down the body.
I haven’t delved too deep into this section yet. Although I’ve tried the 5 minute morning stretch and for a long time this became a permanent feature of my morning routine.
These days, if I’m very tired or sore in the morning, I’ll put this narration on and literally do the movements with my eyes shut in my bed until I’ve got some blood flow going and feeling more awake. It’s my little trick to get me out of bed in the morning on those tough days! Not to mention, it already contributes to setting a positive tone for the day.
7. Calm Masterclasses
Also in my newly found section of meditations, there are ‘Calm Masterclasses’. The Calm masterclasses are narrations by experts in their fields.
The Masterclasses range from 10 minute narrations to a 1 hour episode. As a university student, this section looks very exciting! I’m particularly keen to learn about ‘Social Media & Screen Addiction’ and ‘Rethinking Depression’. The masterclasses here are quite relevant to the 21st century.
8. Background Scenes & Sounds
Finally, something less obvious but equally important. The Calm app offers a variety of background scenes and different sounds (or no sound if you prefer). My background is one of nature, with the sounds of trickling water and birds as I navigate my way through the app.
Even though most meditations will have you shut your eyes, the scenes and sounds contribute to the overall ambience. The Calm app as a whole is an experience, from the moment you open the app to the time you exit it.
Just like when you enter a gym and there’s loud music playing and trainers who greet you, it’s an experience that puts you in the right mind frame before even starting your workout.