January 9, 2019, by

In our second part, Sarah Newport talks about her favorite meditation app, Calm.


The benefits of meditation can’t be overstated. Studies show that regular meditation practice reduces stress, anxiety and other mental health issues such as phobias, depression and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. It promotes positive thinking, increases attention span and focus, reduces memory loss, fights addictions, improves sleep and even promotes kindness in practitioners!  Given these results, why are we not all trying to incorporate more meditation into our lives?

Calm is a comprehensive stress control app that incorporates meditation, relaxing music, stretching exercises and breathing techniques among other features.  Test Prep Tutor, Sarah Newport, signed up for a premium subscription to check out all the features available, including:

  • Guided meditation sessions. I tried one called “7 days of calm,” a week’s worth of recordings that guide you through mindfulness practice.  Each is about 10 minutes long and encourages you to focus on your breath and notice thoughts as they arise.  The gentle voice reminds you to return to the present moment.  Because it can be intimidating for people to try mindfulness on their own, it’s helpful having a mentor albeit on the phone.  The app offers hundreds of different meditations with times running from 5 minutes up to 30 minutes.
  • Body work videos including “morning wake up,” “afternoon reset,” and “evening wind down” exercises. In the videos, a yoga instructor walks you through exercises designed to energize you or “relax your body and settle your mind” depending on the time of day.
  • Bedtime stories. I listened to Stephen Fry read a story called Blue Gold which did indeed put me to sleep. Most of the stories are about 25-30 minutes long. I have no idea what happened in my story which I suppose is the point, so you definitely listen to these for the soothing voice rather than the page turning plot!
  • A breathing bubble which literally tells you when to breathe in and out. This would be great if you are very stressed and taking short breaths perhaps right before a test or before you begin your homework.
  • Music ranging from lullabies designed help you “sleep like a baby” to nature melodies with piano music and rain in the background designed for general relaxation.
  • Masterclasses with titles such as “Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “Mindful Eating” by Dr. Michelle May.

Perhaps the only downside of the app is how comprehensive it is.  One would need to take multiple hours to fully explore all the features available.  However, if you have an idea of what you most want – for me meditation guidance and sleep music/ stories -you could just dive right into those offerings.   Of course, like a gym membership, the fee is only worth it if you actually go to the gym!

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