Mindfulness with Petit Bambou
Our specialist's take
While Headspace, Petit Bambou and Calm have many things to recommend them, Simard, B. Pharm., a consultant on digital health strategies and technology intelligence for public and private organizations, says it’s important to keep in mind is that “none of the companies making these apps are doing any sort of randomized clinical trials to back up their claims, so it’s impossible to say whether one is truly more efficacious than any other. We do know from clinical research that meditation generally is good for you — so that’s what these companies are saying, ‘We have an app that helps you meditate, therefore our app is good.’”
How then to choose the right meditation app for you? “It’s all very subjective and up to user preference,” says Simard. Given that the monthly fees can make these apps expensive, Simard recommends first taking advantage of free-trial periods to determine which one you personally find most effective and agreeable to use. You might simply prefer the look and feel of one over the others, the quality or tone of the guidance, or the structure of lessons and specific exercises offered. In the end it’s all about which produces the best results for you, factoring in a price over the long term that you’re comfortable with, and whether you’re ok with an English app or would prefer something designed from the ground up for Francophones.
Where the potential of apps in this category really expands is with the introduction of wearable technology that tracks mental and physical activity in real time. This is where a product like Muse stands out, measuring the user’s brainwaves to provide biofeedback that helps improve the quality of a meditation session. It’s by capturing this data, Simard says, that an app can analyze what your mind is actually doing, then provide cues or exercises to adjust how you are breathing or what you’re thinking about — offering positive reinforcement. “The people behind Muse are neuroscientists, and unlike others in this category the device and app are actually being used in clinical settings.” And, as Simard points out, Muse is proving to have potential benefits beyond just meditation, “but all sorts of medical conditions, including ADHD and anxiety.” The headset’s hefty price tag, however, might mean it’s not for everyone, especially novice meditators just trying to get in the swing of it.