[App Fridays] Live the slow life with Stop, Breathe & Think’s mindfulness and meditation practices

Meditation app Stop, Breathe & Think lets you make ‘emotional check-ins’ to stay mindful, de-stress, and sleep better. The ultimate aim? To build emotional strength and confidence to handle life’s ups and downs.

As the pace of life becomes faster, experts advocate slow living. And the way to get there is by making meditation a part of your daily schedule.

Multiple studies show that the practice of staying in the present moment and experiencing thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment can make us more resilient to stress, more compassionate towards others, and increase our ability to focus. Most of us know the benefits of meditation, but adopting the practice isn’t easy.

No wonder then that the app world is full of mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation apps, each promising to change your life. In fact, mindfulness and meditation apps are so hot right now that Apple editors named the category as “one of four ‘breakout’ trends in app culture in 2017”. But despite the glut of apps, it’s not easy to find an app that suits your personality.

We downloaded several apps for meditation and mindfulness, and none of them were a one-size-fits-all solution. And then we stumbled upon the Editor's Choice (Play Store) app under the Health & Fitness Category. Stop, Breathe & Think (SBT) is a digital wellness platform that functions like a personalised mindfulness coach, offering activities for all levels for kids, teens, and adults.

The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and is rated 4.8 on iOS’s app store, and 4.4 Google’s Play Store. It has more than one million downloads on Google’s Play Store.

On its website, the company states that Stop, Breathe & Think’s mission is to help kids, teens and young adults “build the emotional strength to tackle life’s ups and downs”. Most reviews say the app is helpful during stressful situations, panic attacks, overwhelming depression, or when someone just needs bedtime relaxation.

We explored the app this Friday to find out if it can be the answer to your prayers for a meditation app that fits your lifestyle. Here’s what we think:

If you are new to meditation or in need of a refresher, check out the app’s ‘Learn to Meditate’ by tapping ‘More’ at the bottom on the app’s homepage. ‘Learn to Meditate’ gives introductory information, an explanation of how mediation works, suggestions for practice, and details for beginners.

Emotional check-ins

After reading the information, go on the homepage, in one tap, to the ‘Check in’ button at left bottom on the same screen. The app asks one question: ‘How Are You?’ and suggests 10 seconds of deep breathing to think about how your mind and body feel. A bell will sound at the end to let you know it’s finished, or you can skip this. The app asks how you're feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally before you begin. You can pick up to five emotions to describe how you feel on all three fronts.

After that, the app comes up with five to 10 activities with durations customised for your current state of mind. You can do as many as you like. Most activities are not more than 10 minutes. Some of the meditations are in-app purchases, but the app also offers a number of free activities that should satisfy most people.

The “check-in” is a killer feature as it lets people focus on how they are feeling, and lets the app personalise and change short activities like meditation, breathing, yoga, walk, speaking to friends, giving love, music, guided journalling, and more on an everyday basis. 

A user can either choose from recommendations for meditations or browse guided and unguided sessions in the ‘Explore’ section. The meditations can also be downloaded to access offline. Clearly, even the free version of the app has a lot to offer!

The best part of the app is that you don't need to sign up or log in to access basic meditation and relaxation routines, and that there are no ads – even in the free version.

One of the sections on the homepage is ‘Progress’, for which you need an account.  The app asks for your first and last name, age, gender, and email address for a sign-up.

Once you have logged in, you earn stickers for the number, type, and combinations of meditations completed. You then have the opportunity to continue, give feedback, or view your progress. The progress page tracks all the stickers you have earned, the number of times you have meditated, your top five emotions , and more. The company says it has had more than 13 million emotional check-ins so far.

App with a social cause

SBT operates on a freemium model. The paid model has 100 and more activities such as acupressure and yoga, and includes more narrators, and longer versions of guided and unguided meditations. To earn full access, users have to opt for a subscription plan (Rs 416 a month for an yearly subscription or Rs 20,500 for a lifetime).

The US-based wellness startup shares 10 percent of all its net revenue with California-based Tools For Peace, a non-profit dedicated to sharing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness with at-risk youth.

Subscriptions can be cancelled anytime. Users need to only turn off the auto-renewal option, by going to account settings.

A calming UI

The app has a calming, simple, and easy-to-use user interface (UI). The subtle colours and the background graphics in the app aim to create an environment that’s suitable for meditations for mindfulness and compassion. It can be used with a few taps without the need to type in anything. The features are easy to navigate, owing to the smart home screen with all features divided into four categories and placed at the bottom of the app. The app can also be connected to Google Fit.

The verdict

There are many meditation apps out there, but SBT stands out because of its customisation tools. It analyses your current mood through a short survey, then leads you through guided meditation sessions based on the results. The app, suitable for all ages, is extremely time-friendly, and customisation features can even help someone to achieve relaxation or peace in just one minute.

If you are extremely busy, stressed, and keen to start/maintain the practice of meditation, we would recommend you download this app. It’s sure to provide you with a quick, effective, and relaxing few minutes, no matter the time of the day.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)