Starting My Journey with Calm
A few years ago, I took it upon myself to spend a summer learning about meditation. This was a little before meditation truly blew up in the online world, and it felt mystical and adventurous to make my way to a twice weekly meditation and breathing class (the only one I could find in Dubai).
I have only positive memories of that summer experience, flushed and glowing cheeks after spending an hour breathing deeply, feeling a little, dare I say, enlightened, by my teachers very obvious state of enlightenment, and feeling like I was really working on something very beneficial for my inner world.
Sadly, I didn’t keep it up after the summer ended. I dived headfirst into learning to meditate and then never returned to it. I’m pretty sure that’s not the point of meditation and mindfulness.
In the years between that far forgotten summer and now, mindfulness seems to have totally unashamedly blown up online. In fact, its become almost over saturated at this point, and in all honesty, the constant refrain of practicing mindfulness has started to put me off simply because everyone seems to be doing, or trying to, do it.
But still. It holds a pull I cant seem to completely shake off. Surely theres got to be a way to take up mindfulness without feeling like you’re just jumping on the bandwagon, becoming a cliche, or wasting your time?
So, like any good millennial, I have decided to turn to an app.
Calm specially, because lets face it, who hasn’t downloaded Calm?
I’ve had the app lingering on my phone, sadly forgotten about and unused for a long, long time. But I hadn’t signed up and paid for a subscription so I thought that would be jus the catalyst to start me on my journey with meditation, whatever form that may take and whatever out may look like.
But because I like to do things properly (cough, a little over the top, cough) I also took it a step further and bought the really quite well designed, book to accompany my app journey. The official Calm book that is.
Armed with the app and but took I dived in, awaiting mental bliss and generally amazing overall well being. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far!
First of all, can I just ask, is it possible to fall in love with an app? I’ve fallen for many a book, a podcast (you can read about here), and a TV show, but never an app. Not yet that was. I actually wasn’t expecting to like it whilst I waited for it download.
But the moment I had signed up (free trial for a week, can’t complain!), I started to fall, very, very quickly. The opening screen sets the mood right away and does it in a way that doesn’t feel like overkill, or underkill. Not a fan of underkill (I know I’ve just made that up but I think you get the gist).
The app opens by asking you what your top goals for using it are, and they can range from Reducing Street, to Developing Gratitude, to Increasing Happiness (I was surprised to find this on the list, but it truly is quite comprehensive when it comes to mental well being). I was happy to see a Better Sleep option as well, but I went with Learn to Meditate, Improve Focus and Reduce Anxiety, although frankly you can just go ahead and check the whole lot, why ever not!
A seven day trial is free, at then you’ll need to put pay about 35 dollars for the year, which when spread out over 365 days if actually pretty good. There are more than 100 guided meditations, a new Daily Calm meditation every day, something called sleep stories, which is awesome, music tracks for different purposes like focus and sleep, and masterclasses. And more. This app really packs a punch, I am not kidding.
The homepage features a beautiful and pristine nature scene, which I find rather comforting rather than generic, to be very honest. And the Daily Calm begins to play right away, or you can opt out of following along. I haven’t done a Daily Calm yet but the goal would be to do it every morning.
You’ve got quick access buttons to all the main takeaways on the app, from Sleep to Meditate to Music and then all the other perks like the Masterclasses. There is just so much to explore and its so great knowing all of it is catered to making you a calmer, more centered, you. I’m sorry if I am fangirling a bit here (although I am totally fangirling here), but whats not to like?
One thing that I am absolutely in love with are the Sleep Stories. They are literally, bedtime stories for grown ups (not grown up in content, just intended for grown ups to listen to), read by people like Stephen Fry. Imagine that, a bedtime story by Stephen Fry! I have only had a chance to hear one so far, and I wasn’t actually using it as a sleep aid, but oh my goodness, what fun. Why aren’t there more of these? It’s absolutely quirky and charming and really really does relax you, possibly even more so than an actual meditation.
I literally cannot wait to get through the others. Preferably with a warm drink in hand, propped up against some pillows, with mood lighting on. Or something like that.
The meditation section is divided into various themes as well, from the 7 Day meditation plan to meditations on mindful eating, deep sleep, and so on. I’ve started the 7 Day Calm myself, and I imagine you could easily cycle it and do it every week, or maybe twice a month. The 7 day meditation has seven different meditations on everything from Pulling Out of Autopilot to Awareness, and for someone who decidedly didn’t fancy meditation, I am enjoying it more than I thought. I don’t love it as much as the Sleep Stories but I am than willing to give it its fair chance.
There’s so much more on the app, that I won’t go into all the details right here. But there’s lovely background music, both in app and music you can continue to listen to once you’ve closed the app (magic!), to the Masterclasses (definitely going to explore those, especially the Creative Living Beyond Fear with Elizabeth Gilbert!), and the new feature on Body, where you can get gentle stretch sessions for different times of day (a nice break from traditional bedtime yoga).
You can also track your mindfulness run on your profile so you can look back and see how many days in a row you’ve been mindful. And you know how that tick spurs one on. Can’t wait to start doing this in earnest myself, once I’m a little more familiar with the app.
The book is a lovely accompaniment but not a workbook and by no means necessary to enjoy the app at all. I could probably have done well without buying it, lets be honest, but its got some cute meditations (app free for a change if you need it) centered around eight themes from travel to creativity, to relationships and more. And in each section you do get some cute game and crafty ideas, so its a useful resource to have further down the mindfulness journey.
Am I going to become one of those people who meditates everyday? I don’t know yet. But I’m excited to explore this new treat I’ve downloaded for myself, and find out. And I’m definitely excited for my bedtime stories. No doubts there. Blankey please!