FRESHLY SQUEEZED REVIEWS: Keep Calm and…well…get Calm
By Frank Petrie
No matter the condition of your health, ranging from optimum health to chronic illness, stress can acerbate or initiate so many maladies that it’s extremely important to keep it under control.
When I was a teenager, I had extreme sinus troubles. I had no sense of smell and difficulty breathing. Someone recommended that I try a chiropractor. At the time, both the medical and insurance communities wouldn’t have anything to do with the practice. Both parties thought it tantamount to voodoo. But, lo and behold, I regained my sense of smell (unfortunately, not the breathing as much). Still it was a positive in my book.
The healthcare community has since made great strides in accepting alternative medicines that they once pronounced as quackery. Like chiropractic and acupuncture. And meditation/mindfulness.
Early scientific studies used to focus predominantly on meditation’s beneficial resting aspects for the body. But they have since found that there are far greater benefits looking at the bigger picture.
For example, the Mayo Clinic states that meditation is one of the most important practices to deal with my multiple sclerosis. So, I perform at least one session daily (I should perform two sessions daily but I have yet to find an app to successfully conquer my procrastination).
Over the years, I have tried and reviewed several meditation/mindfulness apps. I have found another one that I have been using for roughly a month now with great satisfaction. Count me impressed.
“[Calm](https://www.calm.com) … a simple mindfulness/meditation app that brings clarity and peace of mind into your life.
“…you may feel more connected to your body, feelings, emotions, thoughts and intuition. a common change is finding yourself becoming less stressed by fears and worries, and enjoying being in the here and now more.”
Calm can be used as a single component system (their free iOS app) or coupled with their website. You can also purchase monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscription packages, which will avail you to many more options.[Calm](https://www.calm.com) has both video and audio components. When you download the free app, you are provided with five pre-downloaded “scenes”. They contain both visual and audio tracks. If you wish to remove any of the five, swipe to the left to delete the scene and reclaim memory. If you wish to utilize any of the other two dozen scenes available to you, you can either hit the play button to stream that scene or you can choose to download it.
On their website, you’ll find these same scenes on the right hand side of the home page. If you wish to meditate using both the visual and audio, you’re all set. If you wish to use either one separately, that’s possible.
For aural meditation on your iOS device you simply close your eyes and listen to the soothing sounds, some of which have light musical accompaniment and an instructor. (Personally, I prefer just the nature sounds. I haven’t found anyway to turn off the music, which would be my preference).
For visual meditation, you can view the scene with or without audio accompaniment. You can adjust settings that’ll instruct you on relaxing breathing patterns.
There are many settings to choose from so as to tailor your preference when utilizing Calm.
On the [website](https://www.calm.com), there are two buttons to customize your experience. There’s a full screen button you can press that will provide you with full screen visuals (and they are quite stunning, BTW). And a mute button to remove the audio soundtrack, should you prefer. (To really be immersed in the visuals, I tried using Air Play to send the visuals to my HDTV but as they are apparently loops, the app would only go about 15 seconds and then stop to rebuffer the footage. Of course, should you have a 27” 5K iMac or a large screen monitor for your computer, you’re already there.)
Among the settings in the iOS app:
Daily calm – “A new meditation for each and every day.” Different scenes are chosen at random each time you choose to meditate.
Timed Meditation – You can set your duration from one minute up to eight hours!
Programs – Examples such as “7 Days of Calm,” “7 Days of Managing Stress,” or “7 Days of Self-Esteem.” Other than “7 Days of Calm,” all others require in-app purchases.
There are “Guided” meditations and “Unguided” selections. (“Guided” meditations offer voiceover instructions.)
If you click the “Profile” button (in the lower left corner of the iOS app), it will display the days of the month that you have meditated. Also, you can view your longest streak of days meditating, your cumulative time of meditation, and how many individual sessions you’ve performed.
Calm’s website presents you with the same options as the iOS app but with roughly four times as many “Scenes” to choose from. There are extras with your subscription, such as group meditations on Twitter. And there is a book which you can purchase separately, with tips and techniques on how to benefit from your sessions to their fullest.
There are three subscription packages available:
•Monthly/$12.99USD per month – billed monthly
•Yearly/$4.99USD per month – billed $59.99 yearly
•Lifetime/$299.99 – billed once
A subscription gives you access to their entire library of content on the website and in the Calm app, as well as all new features and meditations that are released while your subscription is active.
Obviously, as with any genre of application, there is an abundance of choices. But from the various meditation/mindfulness apps that I have used over the years, this is by far the best and most complete one that I have ever experienced. This is not merely an app that plays you relaxing sounds or music but it seems to me that the developers either really did their research or couldn’t find an app for their personal use that is as powerful and customizable as this one. Perhaps both.
Normally, I would only use the free parts of such an app to satisfy my needs. But this one is so perfect in delivering everything that I could possibly want, that a subscription may be in order.
© 2016 Frank Petrie