Meditating is one of the easiest--and free!--ways to take care of yourself at home or work, holding the potential to improve both physical and emotional wellbeing. If you're just getting into the practice or want to do it more consistently, somewhat ironically, technology actually can be an asset. More specifically, Yunha Kim, founder and CEO of Simple Habit, has created Simple Habit, an anytime-anywhere app specifically designed for the busiest of us.
From stressed to meditation startup
Kim shared with me that the stress she felt at her previous startup was ridiculously intense. "I was meditating 5 to 8 times a day," she says. "I started wanting to find different teachers, meditation techniques, meditation themes. And I started to search for them on Google and Youtube, but there was no way for me to know who is legit and who is not."
Instead of giving up, Kim channeled her frustration into creating an app that delivered the sort of curated meditation library she was after. Her concept of how such an app could help others was clear. "There [are] so many different teachers and styles out there, and using an app makes it easier to explore and find what works best for you. Since most people always have their phone on them, it also makes it easier to meditate at any time of day and anywhere you might be."
What the app offers
Simple Habit, which works on iOS, Android and Web, provides over 1,000 meditations organized by specific topics, such as improving focus, reducing stress and better sleep. You can explore based on those topics or what you happen to be doing during the day, such has working or going through your morning routine. The meditations on the site range from 1 to 30 minutes in length and are hosted by more than 60 meditation teachers, such as Cory Muscara, Kelly Boys and Oren J. Sofer. The extent of collaboration of these experts, combined with the easy navigation of the app and number of tracks available, sets the tool apart from other cross-platform options on the market.
Depending on your needs, you can use either the free or premium version of the app. In either case, you can set meditation reminders and track your history (e.g., calendar, total sessions, total minutes and streak). There are also badges and "Special Moments" to serve as motivators.
Here's a simple overview of the program and a quick look at one of their "starter" tracks:
You can also sample a bit from the Simple Habit podcast, which has a slightly different flavor than the meditations, below. (Yes, I picked the episode on stress on purpose. You need to listen to it. For real.)
My personal test drive
Kim invited me to take Simple Habit for a spin, which I happily did with some of the 1- and 5-minute tracks. While I have to admit the meditations didn't put me in a state of complete Zen (is that hoping for too much in 5 minutes?), I found the pace and voicings of the tracks relaxing. I ended each session with an awareness of how quickly I'd been mentally moving prior to the meditation. But that's kind of the point. To get you to slow down. To appreciate. To know yourself and what's around you. The interface was wonderfully easy to figure out, and I appreciated that it didn't have a gimmicky look or feel or almost immediately ask for an upgrade to premium.
Of course, there are some dream features I'd like to see plugged in, most of which relate to control of the audio. I'd love to have the ability to crop audio, create personal playlists, export tracks and add other audio (e.g., white noise or meaningful devotions). And if I'm working on my desktop, it'd be great to have the app automatically dim or lock my screen or other open applications to force me to take a break. It might also be nice to have a "track of the day" link delivered via text or email.
Destined to improve
Given the above, with about 600,000 users, Simple Habit is still a baby compared to established competitors like Headspace (400,000 paying subscribers, 11 million downloads). But Kim notes that she has plans to take Simple Habit to the next level and meet user demand.
"We believe forming these daily habits [is] much easier with friends than without," Kim says, "so we're working on new social features that allow users to challenge each other, sending friendly nudges to meditate and more. We're constantly scaling our teacher platform to bring even more offerings and teachings. Simple Habit users are also able to request meditations that they'd like to see, and teachers research and record them accordingly."
Kim also asserts that she and her team are onboarding additional reknowned mindfulness teachers who can record meditations in various languages.
Ultimately, user feedback will determine the shape Simple Habit takes. But the idea that apps can make a serious difference in whether we take time for ourselves, others and the world is powerful. Let technology work for you, not against you. 30 minutes or less. That's all it takes.