I started off more as an emergency meditator. I had this crazy career, I was type A, business woman, super stressed, young kids, running all over the place. And I would wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding or that crazed, “Oh my God, how am I going to get all of this stuff that I need to get done, done.” And I would meditate and I would feel better
This quote comes from Breethe’s founder Lynne Goldberg, a business woman who turned meditation teacher, and whose passion for it feels so evident in every click of the app.
My name is Joe and I tried the Breethe app for a month.
I have been meditating myself in a formal practice way for about 10 years, some years before apps were something that were so readily in so many people’s pockets. Back then it was more in person: day courses, retreats and books and CDs. I joined a few groups at the time and became most involved with Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition.
While I had learned some meditation from my Mum earlier as a child, it was at this time in my 20s that I sought a community and found it there. I mention this because I have come to believe that the success of a meditation app is in it’s ability to support you personally and at the same time have you feel a part of a community – logging into Breethe feels like this to me, like arriving at your place; you go in and the world outside can just be there, around your inner sanctum!
Here’s a bit about my Breethe experience…
Getting to know you
From the start Breethe meets you with some set up questions and from there if you have ideas of what you might be looking for. The app helps you match your Goals with content and keeps a note of these Goals, be it relationships, sleep or self-love, or topical themes (at the time of trying out the app, “Election stress” in the lead up the US elections). These categories then inform the app’s suggestions as you explore meditations to suit your needs.
A few neat widgets including a time counter / wellness progress, and reminder settings encourage you as you go along with your practices. After each meditation this window pops up showing your “Mindful time” (accumulated time listening to recordings), how many days in a row you have maintained your practices with Breethe and the option to set a daily reminder to keep it up. I liked that, it didn’t feel expectant or pushy; more supportive.
The Breethe content library
The number of recorded meditations available in Breethe is pretty exhaustive I feel, perhaps into the 1000s. There are single meditations, and 7 day series. The core guided meditation content is taught by Lynne Goldberg, but she is supported by a wide range of additional teachers offering different styles and techniques.
If you’re new to meditation there is a selection of 5 minute meditations and also a 7 day ‘Learn To Meditate’ series which give you the basics. Although I’ve been meditating for some time, I went through this course and was touched by the sensitivity and understanding of the challenges one might face being a beginner.
Other beginner meditations are also available. To give you an idea of the guidance – here’s founder Lynne with a one minute meditation:
Going deeper, you’ll discover that the Breethe meditations are designed to find you where you are, so to speak.
The Day and Night section is a broad selecting tool that helps you find recordings for the beginning of your day, for example the Start Your Day and Enrich Your Ride sets (each contains relevant content within). During the day recordings include titles like Focus at Work and Take A Break sets and so into the evening with Go To Sleep with bedtime stories and music with visualisations using Alpha waves. I enjoyed the feeling that my sleep was being cared about, I don’t know how that sounds to you but it was how it felt to me 🙂
The Breethe model is clearly intended to reach the listener with accessible meditations, made so by the relatability of the topics. If you ever thought meditation was in some way not in touch with reality and so not for you; how about these titles?!; ‘My Family Drives Me Nuts’ or ‘My boss is a Jerk!’. With this sense of humour and also sensitivity, you may well, as I did during my trial, have a sense that Breethe has your back and is a friend in your pocket!
Further to the core content, Breethe includes guidance from yoga teachers, spiritual writers and psychologists all enriching the content which I understand is updated regularly.
If I were to give Breethe any critique, and I do so lovingly, is that there is room for growth I feel. Compared to an app like Insight Timer with its diversity of well-known and new teachers and meditations Breethe feels like a community in the making – often with the voice of it’s founder Lynne Goldberg guiding the practices. Recent meditation series by former Plum Village (Thich Nhat Hanh) monastic student Kiara Jewel Lingo ‘for activists and people of colour’ feels like a promising development.
Let the music play
Music is clearly important to the Breethe developers; from the moment you login it’s present. Into the app you’ll find playlists of nature sounds and other music aimed at helping you along, as well as a sound therapy course. There’s dance meditation for those who like to move, I had a lot of fun with this one!
Is Breethe worth the cost?
You can use a 14 day trial for free, with access to all the features and content for the duration. If you do not wish to be charged after that, you’ll need to cancel before the 14 days are over. You can continue to use the app for free without a subscription, but you will then be limited to 100 items of content rather than the full library.
After the trial, membership on iOS currently costs $12.95 / £12.49 / €12.99 monthly, $89.99 / £87.95 / €89.99 yearly, or $149.99 / £149.99 / €169.99 lifetime. Membership prices on Android’s Google Play Store are similar or slightly cheaper. If these prices seem out of reach for you, look out for discounts – you may be sent an offer by email during your free trial!
Breethe isn’t the cheapest meditation app out there but saying that, as an investment in your well-being to break it down to a day rate may help you put that into perspective.
Breethe are currently working with health care professionals in the United States offering content to support them during the pandemic. I was impressed by that – another example, I feel, of the integrity in design of the Breethe platform – something I feel that is so important in the world in a time where supporting each other feels paramount to me.
As someone who has been meditating a fair while with a fair amount of meditation experience, I was impressed. I remember being a bit uncertain in my early days of meditating about techniques and Breethe’s got it covered. I was keen back then to share meditation with my friends and family but didn’t feel I always had recordings I could play them that would help them see why I was giving my time to meditation and I feel Breethe has that covered too with it’s relatable true to life experiences content.
Overall I have the feeling that the app has my well-being at heart; from opening up to closing it I get the strong sense I can be myself with my personal set of goals and all my less than desirable character traits met with meditations to match!