Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Tracking Your Meditation Sessions With Calm

Calm is a great meditation app. It’s visually and functionally beautiful and provides a great way to mediate through guided or unguided sessions. As an added bonus, it does a amazing job of tracking and displaying your progress.

Meditation is the practice of training your mind. It has been around for thousands of years. You take time to learn about your brain processes and develop mental frameworks. It’s a practice I highly recommend everyone trying.

There are a lot of applications out there to help you meditate. There must be hundreds of meditation apps in the Apple and Android stores. But when you are evaluating these tools as a self-tracker or, in our case, the goal of tracking everything, you are also looking for applications that provide a history of your usage. You are looking for great single-purpose applications that also store information about your usage and ideally provide graphs, statistics or a calendar. It’s not just about the app but about the data.

For meditation, Calm app is a great example of a data-aware application while also kicking ass as a meditation app.

There are two basic modes. You can go through guided meditations (some free but mostly a premium feature) or you can choose one of their beautiful nature themes and do an unguided session with their timer. If you are beginner to meditation, it’s best to start with guided meditations and I’m a big fan of apps like “Meditation Studio” and “Headspace” that provide awesome teachers and guided meditation sessions and courses. Calm has some nice courses as well I plan to dive into in the future.

Calm is a special piece of software. The design of the application in mobile and in web is stunning. After picking between various nature scenes like a mountain, rain, ocean or several others, you can decide on how long you want to meditate for. You then start your session. Depending on how you mediate you can use the nature scene or simply close your eyes. When time is up a gentle zen gong rings.

It’s at the end of each session where Calm shows itself as more than just a meditation app. It’s an application and development team thinking about human behavior, habit building and tracking. When a session is over, Calm loads up a simple progress page where it shows you your current streak, how many sessions you have done and total meditation time. It also provides a monthly view of days you have meditate.

This is incredible data to have as you build up a new habit or practice like mindful meditation. You specifically want an overall number you can track and refer to as well as a clear historical reference like a monthly or weekly calendar.

Like counting steps on iOS, Calm also integrates with Apple’s HealthKit so your “mindful moments” can be recorded there too. This is a nice addition and provides a way for other apps to access and build upon this data, like Gyroscope. You get to know when you were mindful and for how long.

My only complaint about Calm App is that it doesn’t provide a way to export your history. If you are an obsessive tracker like me, it’s important to be able to get to your data. Hopefully this is a feature that will be added one day. For the time being, Calm provides plenty of aggregate data and its calendar view is more than enough, so that you can track your meditative life.

Meditation can take on a lot of different forms. There are a lot of books on the topic as well as increasingly a number of great apps.

Meditation is a huge area that I’ve learned a lot about and about myself this past year. The brain is a funny machine. As a meditator, sometimes you want formal guided meditations, but once you get the hang of meditation, you’ll likely want to meditate without a guide or voice over. Calm app provides a great way to do this. With a simple nature scene and sounds, you can quickly get into a great few minute or longer session.

Good luck meditating and tracking!

Comments