This post originally appeared on Girlboss.
Calm is the No.1 app for mindfulness and meditation. But does it work?
First, a confession that I suspect is shared by many: I like yoga. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade now. I’m still really bad at it. Not the poses so much as everything else that comes with it – the breathing, the mindfulness, the attempts to be “non-judgemental” towards myself (LOL, that’s my favourite hobby.)
When the yoga teacher instructs us to start sending vibes of gratitude for someone we don’t really like because that’s how you manifest empathy or whatever, all I can think about is how I shouldn’t have had tacos for lunch because now my microbiome is a frat house.
I do yoga because if I don’t do yoga, I walk around like a sentient scrunchie constantly complaining about the knots in my shoulders.
But, recently, I figured I’d give this whole meditation and mindfulness thing some more serious effort. After all, my fellow millennials – the most stressed-out generation, according to the American Psychology Association – have taken keenly to it. And I, like everyone else alive in 2017, wake up in varying states of dread and foreboding every day.
In an effort to start becoming my best, least anxious, healthiest, hyper-productive self, I opted to try one of the most popular mindfulness apps out there, Calm.
The basic premise is that you complete a guided meditation every day for 10 minutes, with an option to complete additional programs like “7 Days of Managing Stress,” “7 Days of Focus,” or “Commuting.”
You can also do a “Sleep Story,” which are mini adventure stories with names like “The Secret Lagoon” or “The Black Pearls of Tahiti,” which aim to focus and calm your thoughts so you can drift off and be less likely to dream about emails.
Sessions are led by Tamara Levitt, whose timbre is almost comically soothing, and at the top of a session, she explains the theme for the day, be it “wisdom” or “awareness” or “deescalating stress,” and then prompts you to focus on the breath coming in and out of you.
Which, as it turns out, is a lot harder than it sounds. A month after my first session, it still feels silly, especially when you’re prompted to think about air sliding up and down your philtrum (Calm’s visual) like it’s a booze luge (my visual.)
To be fair, Calm warns you that it’s tough, and they’re not kidding. Mindfulness is the practice of being “present” to the extent that concerns about the past and future eventually just chill the heck out and you’re able to just… be. But being is hard.
Thirty one days after I completed my first session, am I now walking around all serene and stuff? Not really. But what I will say is this: Taking time in the morning for myself on a regular basis, where I at least try to not think about the day ahead, is really nice. Trying to breathe deeply and calmly for 10 minutes at a time is really nice.
I can’t claim that I’ve noticed an uptick in productivity, but I have experienced something that, to use the lingo, resembles gratitude towards myself (though I’m still self-judgy AF, don’t worry).
But here’s the other thing: While I wouldn’t say I’m completely hooked, I’ll probably keep going. It’s an oasis in your day – something that’s so simple, there’s really not a good excuse not to.
And even if you flake on yourself here and there? That’s OK, too. I’m pretty sure guilt spirals are against the rules.
A subscription to Calm costs $12.99 a month, $59.99 yearly, or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription.