iOS: What if a meditation app didn't ask you to focus on your breathing? What if you didn't have to listen to someone's voice telling you what to think about? A new meditation app, Sway, takes a different approach.
Spoiler alert: These are the colours of the six levels.
Instead, Sway (iOS, $4.49) connects your mind and body by asking you to move your phone slowly and continuously. When you do, it plays soothing sounds and undulates a colourful landscape on your screen. If you move too fast or too slow, it chimes and asks if you're ready to end the session.
I've tried a lot of meditation apps, and Sway is the most beautiful I've seen. The aesthetic comes from UsTwo, the same people who designed the achingly gorgeous Monument Valley game. And I love that it doesn't ask me to focus on my breathing, because when I do that my nose always starts to feel weird.
Meditation apps can help you carve out time in your day to meditate, and can teach you how to meditate or introduce you to new techniques. They range from simple timers to extensive series of lessons and subscription tutorials. Let's look a few, and what they can do for you.
To keep you coming back, Sway has six levels, and you can only unlock one each day. If you miss a day, you backtrack a level. On the first day, you meet your goal (announced with a gentle chime) after just three minutes. The next day, it takes four. Then six, then 10, and finally 20 minutes. The app's makers hope you build a 20-minute-a-day habit.
The levels have different colours and, I think, different soundscapes. Each level introduces a different idea, too. At first, you just move your phone. In the second level, you're encouraged to look away from the screen (pretty as it is) and use sound from your headphones as your feedback. My favourite was the level called "Balance", where you walk as slowly as possible, challenging yourself to stay steady even while you're on one foot. You're just walking, but mindfully.
You may feel a little self conscious Swaying while waiting for the bus, although happily it works just fine to have the phone in your pocket while you're walking from place to place. In any case, this app is a novel way to meditate that is easy on the eyes and the ears.