As a restless and anxiety-prone person of a certain age, calmness is in short supply. And, while I get the most relief from vigorous exercise, one simply cannot do that all the time without one’s body falling apart. What I need is meditation; ironically, what I generally can’t stand is also meditation.
Enter the Calm app. I’m hardly a novice meditator, just a fussy and dissatisfied one. It’s not just the act of meditation that makes for ants in the pants, it’s also the preachy, metaphysical stuff that often accompanies it.
Calm seems to bypass the annoying navel-gazing and cuts to the chase: practical meditation.
How Does the Calm App Work?
I had to fill out a short questionnaire about my goals — which mostly involve getting better sleep — before accessing the full app. And, while Calm offers specialized sleep offerings (Sleepy Stories read aloud by celebrities, anyone?) I discovered that just about ANY of the meditation offerings sent me to Snoozeville.
For instance, I decided to act like I’d never done meditation before and opted in for the 7 Days of Calm, featuring daily short beginner sessions. I did them all in the afternoon. And, inevitably, I’d end up in either a deep trance or a refreshing nap. Every. Single. Time.
That’s unprecedented. With other meditation apps, I usually got tired, but it was because I was tired of listening to the droning voices, or tired of sitting still, or tired of being bossed around. With Calm, I just felt, well, calm. Calm enough to zen out for ten or 15 minutes without conflict.
In addition to the 7 Days of Catatonia (oops, I mean Calm), I tried the Calm Body sessions as well. The gentle stretches and movements were similar to restorative yoga, a form of moving meditation I’ve always enjoyed. I also tried some Soundscapes, like humpback whale calls, and had great unconscious success with those as well.
Now, some might say that passing out isn’t the goal for meditation at all, but I say ignore those critics! I need meaningful rest, and that’s what I’m gaining from the app. I’m assuming if and when I require total consciousness from a so-called meditation practice, the Calm app will deliver that, too. If you desire a metaphysical take, there are Masterclasses full of experts expounding theories and advice. There seem to be enough options in the app to appeal to just about anyone.
Meditation & Sleep
There’s some science to back up mediation’s positive relationship to improved sleep. The Harvard Health blog cites a small study, published in JAMA 2015, that found meditation helped middle-aged and older adults beat insomnia. The blog surmised that meditation helped with the “relaxation response,” meaning that the brain is trained to relax more easily.
“The relaxation response, a term he coined in the 1970s, is a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure,” says Harvard Health.
So, I guess Calm helped develop my relaxation response in a jiffy.
Of course, there’s a financial price to be paid. The first 7 days are free, but it’s about $70/year through its auto-renewing system. There are free apps out there and plenty of YouTube offerings as well, but I do feel that Calm is worth the money. Out of every meditation app I’ve tried, Calm is the one I’d actually like to keep.