Calm App Review – Forbes Health
As someone who has had a consistent, twice-daily Vedic meditation practice for the past 12 years, I am often asked by friends how they can start meditating regularly. Other than offering what I did (which was to jump in with both feet for a comprehensive three-day meditation training), I was never sure what to say. So I was excited to check out the Calm app to explore potentially less extreme recommendations for others.
The visuals of this app are beautiful. I found the look elegant and instantly appealing. However, one thing that drove me crazy at first was that there is background noise when you open the app or website that continues even if you are in a different browser window.
I couldn’t figure out how to turn them off and it took a lot of messing around to find the “Scene” icon (which I finally found by accident – it looks like a little mountain drawing on the home screen) where you could change the scene or the sounds (or blessedly mute them).
While Calm doesn’t really give much instruction on where to start, it seems the key is to simply explore the app on your own. I thought the categories seemed clear, and there’s a “Discover” button you can use when you need to search for something specific you want to explore more fully (whether it’s an instructor or a topic).
For people hoping to “learn to meditate,” it would be helpful if the app immediately suggested some of its seven- or 21-day learning programs (I only discovered these when digging around in the help center). At the very least, anyone who wants to make meditation a habit would do well to simply listen to “The Daily Calm” for 10 minutes each day. This would be a perfect start to making meditation a regular practice with a minimal investment of time.
Most of the meditations on this app are guided, which can be a good thing or not, depending on whether you like to be “guided” or prefer to sit in silence. Many reviews on TrustPilot also commented that they didn’t like some of the voices narrating the meditation and that was a problem for them. But honestly, this is personal preference – it’s kind of like setting Siri to your preferred voice. Find one you like.
For beginners, I think the guided option is a great way to experience what meditation can do, and this app makes it accessible. But for advanced meditators like myself, it can sometimes be distracting (especially since I use a mantra). However, what I really liked about this app was the huge selection of ambient sounds. I had a great time playing with things like “Binaural Beats and Theta Waves” which allowed me to tune my brain to different frequencies.
The curated music selections are also great when you’re working or trying to relax. Most are soothing piano compositions, but I found myself really enjoying having these in the background while writing this article. I also loved that there was one called “Night Drive” to play in the car that could potentially keep road rage at bay while helping a driver stay alert enough to reach their destination after dark (ie no nodding off steering wheel).
Meanwhile, the app markets its sleep stories as similar to bedtime stories for adults, (although they have a great selection for kids too). Personally, something about someone talking doesn’t put me to sleep (I definitely can’t fall asleep with the television on in the background, for example). But I decided to check them out anyway.
I chose Harry Styles’ “Dream With Me” and with his delicious accent, calm tone and the soft music backing up his slightly tempting scene-setting story, I thoroughly relaxed but was still wide awake when he finished (but it does doesn’t mean you would be).
Also interesting to me were some of the classes such as the “Headache and Migraine Release” series. As a lifelong migraine sufferer (one of the reasons I started meditating in the first place), I found the fact that this app offered meditation for pain management amazing. And there were other series for things like exercising the mind or grieving that seemed worthwhile.
The bottom line? This app offers a lot of quality content if you decide to subscribe and it can be very worthwhile if you actually use it. To round out my personal experience, I listened to “The Daily Calm” on New Year’s Eve just before midnight, and I’m pretty sure the 10-minute meditation on reflection and directed loving-kindness to those who had supported me over the past year set me up for success in 2023.
Commit to using the app and you may find yourself on your way to a calmer next year too.