By Mike McCormick
We know meditation is going mainstream. It’s happening on the subway, in the park, and especially in the bustling yoga studios and meditation rooms throughout the city.
So with seemingly limitless options to practice, why does it still feel like a challenge to do just that – practice?
I have a theory – I think the times we need meditation most are exactly the times when it’s unavailable to us. So, it’s great that I can join group meditation after a day at the office – but it would be even cooler if I had a good way to meditate in the office. Meditation can help me calm down before (or after) a noisy night out with friends, but what if I need five minutes of silence while I’m on the town?
These are the all-important, life-altering questions that spurred me to experiment with calm.com, a digital meditation aide (also a free iphone app).
I used it for several periods both at home and at work, and I found it to be helpful, relaxing, and sometimes even too pacifying.
Here’s how it works.
The site is built to relax (the app is described as “a sanctuary in your pocket”) and it basically combines three elements – music, natural ambience, and gorgeous scenery – to create a clear digital space to focus on calming the mind and body.
The style is minimal and entrancing, and the first time I used it, at home, I didn’t even think to customize settings or time myself – I simply let the sounds and sights change naturally, enjoying each new visual surprise.
The second time, at the office, I selected the 2-minute guided meditation from the left-hand menu. A calm voice offered helpful suggestions for bringing awareness to my thoughts, body posture, and breathing. A pleasant “your session is now complete” at the 2-minute mark made me feel like I accomplished something – even in such a short time span.
The third time, from home once again, I selected the timed meditation and customized the settings to play only natural ambience (beach waves and seagulls). Unfortunately, because I was tired I came up short of the 20-minute goal I had selected, and had to unplug.
And therein lies my only critique of calm.com – that it may be, in fact, too calming.
Otherwise, I thought it was a unique way to escape the grind of the day (in a short time window) when other, traditional outlets for meditation are unavailable. I don’t yet have an iphone, so I haven’t tried the free app – but from what I viewed on the desktop site, I would definitely try it someday.