If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breathAmit Ray
I can be included in the list of those who remained skeptical about meditation for the last couple of years. You can call it a biased opinion, but my past experiences with different meditation apps, tips from my friends, and online guides weren’t that helpful. And after seeing how popularized meditation was by the media and celebrities, I finally decided to leave it aside under “not for me” bin.
What changed my mind? Well, the same thing changed the habits and routine of many other people around the globe: Covid-19.
What is “Elevate”?
“Elevate” is a studio behind a well-know and hugely successful “Elevate: Brain Training App.” needless to mention that “Brain Training” was honored by Apple’s “App of The Year” Award, which is a highly remarkable achievement, in addition, it was mentioned and highly praised by some of the most significant tech resources like “The Wall Street Journal,” “CNET,” “The Washington Post” and “Cult Of Mac” to name the few.
What is “Balance App” and how does it work?
Recently, “Elevate” guys launched their new project which is designed and marketed as an affordable, personalized meditation coach, adapting each session automatically, depending on the user’s feedback before each meditation session, and honestly speaking – that works really well.
Personalization session works in 3 simple steps:
- Each day, you answer questions about your meditation experience, goals, and challenges. These questions include, but are not limited to: your occupation, age, your usual level of stress and psychological load, your meditation goals, did you experience any unique feelings during your last session, etc.;
- Using an audio library with thousands of files, Balance assembles meditations personalized for you.
- The more you share over time, the more personalized and effective your meditations become. It’s essential, though, that all your feedbacks are honest. Don’t forget – you are doing that for yourself, not for someone else;
So far, for me, personalization is impressive, to say the least. Each guidance session is tied to your feedback, and tips of one of your meditation coaches feel like real, live communication.
Why did I say “one of your meditation coaches”? That’s quite simple. Upon initial setup and each session after, you have a choice of a male and female coach.
I have tried performing my meditation session with both coach’s narrative, and again, both of them are amazing. Both deliver pleasant and calming voices, clear narrative, and perfect tone. Some of the dedicated meditation sessions, on the other hand, are narrated by one of the coaches only. As an example, the “Nap” session, which helps you relax for a short midday sleep, is narrated by Leah only, while “Procrastination” meditation, which helps you to stop delaying things you want to accomplish, is exclusive to Ofosu’s guidance only. I cannot say that one coach is better than another, or one would be more suitable for specific meditation than another as both of them are doing a great job.
Foundations and Dedicated meditation plans
For the newcomers (like myself) Balance App includes a special “Foundations” plan, which can be tuned and tailored depending on your feedback (as I mentioned in the previous section).
Since the foundation plan can be easily accessed from the home screen, showing you which day of the plan you are currently on, I see that as a convenient and fluent way to launch the app and spend 5 or 10 minutes of your time for an excellent meditation session.
Once you complete your first plan, which guides you into the basics of meditation, you will move forward to the next foundation and advanced plans, which eventually will give you more practice, and ultimately – advanced meditation techniques.
As a dedicated meditation practice, the “Balance” app includes a special section for sleep meditations and singles meditations, aimed towards specific goals of an individual: reduce stress, fight your anxiety, wake-up meditations, focus improvement meditations, etc.
I have tried sleep sessions, and while they give some really helpful tips, as funny as it sounds, I found it quite boring and finished it half-way, although in this case, its probably my mistake, as this meditation gives you a choice of 5,10,15 and 20min meditation time. I chose 20min, so it probably would have been fine if I’d limit myself to 5 or 10min for this practice.
In general, the selection of their plans is just right, not too much, and not too small. You have enough options for all basic and more personalized needs. I’m sure that more plans will be added with further updates.
Skills and Badges system
Now, this is something which I personally really like, not only within the “Balance” app but as a trend in general.
The skills system is pretty much RPG-styled thing but gives you a proper and game-like visualization of how you develop your meditation skills so far. Each of the meditation sessions gives you a hint on what skills it improves. Among some of the basic ones are “Breath Focus” and “Body Scan” as one of the first skills you will develop on your journey. This moves on to the more advanced and in-depth skills like “Awareness”, “Visualization”, “Self-Direction”, etc.
For me, this has a somewhat lovely psychological effect, as, besides internal feeling, I have an excellent visualized skill progression in front of my eyes.
You can also keep track of what skills are lagging behind and catch up with dedicated meditation sessions.
Badges system is also a widely used practice among newly published apps, but for apps aimed towards health, food, and fitness, it became a necessity.
As you already know, habit needs to be developed little-by-little. Getting used to things and following the progression is something that helps you build your habit correctly.
This is one of the reasons why the Badges system in the “Balance” app is so great.
Currently, you can obtain one of the following badges:
- Streaks. Awarded once you reach a certain milestone of consecutive sessions;
- Time Trained. Once you reach a certain total of meditation minutes;
- Plans. Awarded for the number of the plans completed;
- Singles. Awarded for the number of single (dedicated) sessions completed;
Same as “Skills” this is a perfect method to keep track of your progression, build a healthy habit, and make sure you are on track.
As of now, I use the “Balance” app almost every day, with mostly singles sessions. I have pretty much progressed a lot on the foundations’ plan (screenshots for this review were captured some time ago when I was on day 9). In rare cases, I miss a session or two, but only if I am swamped and simply have no time even for a 5-10 minutes session (this still happens very rarely).
Being a meditation skeptic, I noticed some of the benefits I achieved thanks to the “Balance” app. First of all, I became much more focused on the task I have, and it’s much harder for me to get distracted now. I am not that easily irritated with small things like I used to be. As I have pretty healthy sleep, I did not use “Sleep” sessions yet, but I might do in the future one more time just for testing purposes.
As a nice touch – you can pause or rewind your session using your Apple Watch, and I highly recommend using headphones for all your meditation sessions.
The “Balance” app is available on the AppStore with the subscription plans of 11.99$ per month, 49.99$ per year, or 199.99$ for Lifetime Subscription. Comparing to the price of the actual meditation coach, this is an extremely affordable price for the powerful app.
You can use the download link below (no affiliate), and of course – let us know your feedback once you try the app.