© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How your phone can teach you to meditate and achieve mindfulness


Keeping calm can sometimes be difficult when you have a million things to do, the dog chewed your car keys, the kids are running around the house, and you spilled coffee on your last clean shirt 10 minutes before work. But what if there was a way you could keep calm on the go?

This week on “Take Care,” entrepreneur Michael Acton Smith speaks with us about his new app “Calm.” Acton Smith has been called the Willy Wonka of digital media and the British Disney for his creativity. He is the co-founder of the website Calm.com, the author of “Calm: Calm the Mind, Change the World,” and is an officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the creative industries. 

So what makes “Calm” different from other meditation sites or videos?

The user has complete control of the sessions, and can tailor them however they see fit. If listening and watching waves crash is soothing for you, there’s an option for that; if a sunny field with birds chirping and bugs buzzing is more of what relaxes you, there’s an option for that; if you change your mind half-way through, you can pick a different scenery. You can choose for your session to last anywhere between two and 20 minutes with or without a guided instructor. Or you can simply click on any of the scenery options and listen to the sounds for however long you desire.

“We wanted to build something around this wonderful concept of calm,” Acton Smith said. “I think it’s a foundation emotion, so we teach people how to become calm and reach that bit of peace and equanimity in themselves through mindfulness.”

Acton Smith also says some of the appeal to “Calm” is that it doesn’t require much commitment, the way the art of meditation might take months or even years to learn.

“Anything in life we can take to extremes, but most people want to fit this around their everyday lives. They know it can be useful for them but they don’t have the commitment to spend 30 minutes or even an hour and longer every day,” Acton Smith said.

Through Acton Smith’s app, it lets the user spend however long they have to focus on relaxing or being calm. Even though this could be a mere couple of minutes at the end of your lunch break, he says there are still many health and brain benefits just as there are when a person spends an extended amount of time meditating.

“As little as 10 minutes a day can be hugely beneficial,” Acton Smith said.

Practicing being calm can be relevant to all ages, as Acton Smith says many benefits of meditation are now being shown through scientific research. This can include improvement in sleep, focus, blood pressure, immunity, creativity, anxiety, depression, and emotional intelligence.

“It’s not a silver bullet, it cannot cure everything, but it can have a very, very beneficial impact on many aspects of our lives,” Acton Smith said.