App Review: Breethe – Calm Meditation & Sleep Sounds

The Breethe meditation app has a distinct style, pragmatic yet relaxed. Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, it offers a large library of guided meditations, sleep stories, calming music, and more.

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.

Select from many goals such as "Improve Relationships", "Learn to Meditate - Advanced", "Improve Focus", "Navigate Your Work Life", "Develop Creativity".
Breethe allows you to set Goals which are used to highlight the most relevant meditations for you

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.

Your Inner Wellness Progress: 4 days in total. Mindful time: 2hrs 35min. 4 days in a row. Longest streak: 4
Breethe shows your “Inner Wellness Progress”, and allows you to share it with others, like in this picture generated by the app for sharing.

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.

Day & Night options: Start your day, Enrich your ride, Focus at work, Take a break, Go to sleep.
Day & Night helps us find appropriate meditations for the time of day

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!

The Learn To Meditation Program is split into 12 week-long courses.
Breethe offers a 12-week programme for learning meditation from the very beginning. Intermediate or advanced meditations may join at a later week.

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. 

Conclusion

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!

Photo of Joe Holtaway
About the author Joe Holtaway

Singer/songwriter and a trainee Chaplain with the Quakers. Joe believes in the power of mindfulness and mediation to heal. Joe currently lives in London in a community house of friends and their cat called Bella.

https://joeholtaway.com/

5 thoughts on “App Review: Breethe – Calm Meditation & Sleep Sounds

  1. Thank you Joe! I’ve also been trying out Breethe myself.

    I am using the app on iPad and it looks great on this device. I’ve found iPad apps are often an afterthought to the iPhone version, but Breethe was clearly designed with the larger tablet layout in mind.

    More generally, I have the feeling that this is well-crafted, quality software: I didn’t experience any bugs, and I found that after logging in, everything seamlessly syncs between the two devices I use (iPhone and iPad).

    The only frustrating thing I experienced whilst using the app was the background music. Whilst this created a nice relaxing atmosphere from the moment I started using the app, I found it continued playing as I played the tracks, often clashing with the music or sounds within the track itself. So I ended up going into app settings to disable the background music after a couple of days.

    A nice touch that I appreciated is that signing up for an account is optional. It’s reassuring that I’m not forced to share my email and be sent marketing communications just to try the app.

    I agree that it would be nice to see more teachers on the app, for those who prefer a different style of guidance or simply a different voice. This is particularly true for the 7 day series which as far as I could tell are all guided by Lynne Goldberg. However, Lynne certainly covers an interesting variety of topics, from “Mindfulness & Social Media” to “Mindful Sex & Intimacy”!

  2. Thanks for the review Joe. I’m sure the experience of using this app to support mindfulness practice is very good. I trust Joe’s opinion on this.

    I would like to add that by installing this app on your phone/tablet, you are consenting to your personal data being recorded and transmitted to Google and Facebook (and others). These companies will use your data to deliver targeted advertisements to you (adverts that are so tailored to your needs that you find it hard to resist acting on them.)

    While it’s great that there are apps that make mindfulness accessible to people, especially during these pandemic times when it’s difficult to join in person. I believe that we should be aware of all the consequences of the technology we are using, and reflect on whether it’s use contributes to a healthy society. When we give our personal data away to private companies like these, we are contributing to a system that is increasing consumption. This is contributing to climate change and species extinction.

    https://reports.exodus-privacy.eu.org/en/reports/com.Meditation.app/latest/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance_capitalism

    1. Hi Ben, thanks for raising this important point and sharing this resource.

      I share concerns about excessive collection of personal data and Surveillance Capitalism. When I created the Meditations Apps Directory on this site, I intentionally did not include any apps that are funded via advertising. I also recommend people use uBlock Origin in their browser to block tracking and advertising whilst browsing the web.

      In the case of Breethe, it seems to me that the sharing of data to companies involved in targetted advertising may be incidental. Breethe is funded by subscriptions, and their privacy policy does not mention sharing data from the app for advertising purposes. However, I know app developers are often motivated to integrate libraries from Google or Facebook for other reasons, such as to allow login or so that they can use analytics solutions for assessing the performance of the app. I don’t know if data from actually Breethe ends up being integrated into profiles for targetting advertising, and it’s even possible that they don’t know either.

      So my view on Breethe is that is it is far from the worst offender in this regard. We know that targetted advertising isn’t a core part of their business model. It’s debatable whether they are incidentally supporting the targetted advertising industry or not. However, it’s important we all better informed on this issue so I’m very happy to receive your comment and the link to Exodus, which I wasn’t aware of.

      Do you have any thoughts on how we can better educate people in this regard on this website? I’m wondering about including a summary of the report from Exodus for each app review, but it could be difficult to interpret for people with less technical knowledge.

  3. I really enjoy the background music which plays before you select a meditation. What is this one so I can listen to it while I work? I tried to find it but haven’t yet.

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