Yunha Kim knows a lot about stress. She founded Locket, an app that put ads on the Android lock screen, which was eventually bought up by the shopping app Wish. Starting and running her own company, naturally, was a stressful proposition, so she turned to meditation as a way to center herself. Now, she's hoping to do the same for everyone with a new iPhone app called Simple Habit. It offers five-minute guided meditation sessions that you can do from practically anywhere, each targeted for specific situations.
While there are plenty of mindfulness apps out there -- even Apple is getting in on the meditation bandwagon with Breathe in WatchOS 3 -- Kim says Simple Habit differs by adopting a Netflix-like model. The app is free to install, and there's also a quick introductory session that shows you what the experience is like. But to get access to all of the meditation lessons, you've got to pay $4 a week, $10 a month or $100 a year. (Note: Prices dropped slightly since I originally published this piece.)
It might seem counterintuitive to pay up front for mindfulness training, but it looks like you get a lot for your money. (And it's not as if meditation lessons are always free.) Kim has around 30 experts contributing lessons to the app, which from very specific (at work and stressed) to fairly general (morning meditation). With this many contributors, Simple Help should be able to keep its selections of lessons fresh, something that other relaxation apps often have trouble with. Kim is also working with a Harvard psychologist to ensure the lessons actually help you relax.
While sitting at my desk, I went through the "Improve Focus at Work" session. A calm and pleasant British woman guided me to sit down, stretch my shoulders, and then focus on my breathing. Over the course of the five-minute session, she had me focus on my left hand, every single digit and repeat the process for my right hand. Yes, it doesn't sound very exciting, but that's the point. It's a simple way to clear your thoughts, focus your mind and hopefully make yourself feel less stressed
Simple Habit also has sessions going all the way up to 30 minutes, which will be helpful if you really get into the habit of meditation. Honestly, it's not that hard to start meditating for free on your own, with some light research. That's how I've been de-stressing for the past few months. But Simple Habit's targeted sessions makes it easy for people with far less patience to relax. Eventually, you might find that you don't need the app anymore for your meditation fix, but your time with it will have been well worth it.