To the Unconscious and Beyond
As mindfulness meditation apps face turmoil, new solutions targeting our subconscious mind are emerging. A new paradigm?
Meditation Apps' Zen Moment Fades
The COVID-19 pandemic had boosted the rise of meditation apps, but the post-pandemic resonance is proving to be more rock'n'roll than zen. Calm has already felt the tremors, laying off 20% of its staff in 2022. Headspace, too, has faced discord, parting ways with 15% of its team - a troubling repeat act within a single year.
The reason for this dissonance? A subscriber exodus. Data from Apptopia, disclosed by In Bed with Social, reveals a staggering downturn in the top 10 meditation apps since January 2021. Downloads have plummeted by 75%, and user sessions have fallen by 61%. These figures strike a harsh chord, casting doubt on a sector that once thrived in the wellness industry.
Meditation Becomes a Commodity
What's behind this industry shake-up? The answers are manifold. Meditation, once a specialized practice, is morphing into a mainstream commodity. Fueled by the mental health crisis, brands are reinventing themselves as 'psycho-brands,' creating wellness havens where meditation is but one service among a broader offering. Sensing the changing tide, sector leaders are forming strategic alliances: Headspace is partnering with Virgin Pulse, The Washington Post, and Pinterest; Calm is joining forces with Spotify, Xbox, and Adidas—just to name a few examples. But will this be enough to stay in the game?
The very nature of meditation is also transforming. Once a vague practice with a broad and nebulous aim of overall wellness, it's now becoming more targeted and nuanced, with newcomers focusing on specific verticals. For instance, Imagine Golf offers meditation sessions to help golfers reach the zen-ith of their swing. The brand's slogan, 'Think Better, Play Better,' reveals a new direction, showing how meditation can align with improving specific skills. This niche focus also enables the building of engaged communities, breathing fresh life into the practice.
The quest for mental serenity is evolving, with companies like Endel, Brain Fm and NuCalm, leading the way through the innovative use of sound, taking inspiration from social media where ASMR and other techniques have long taken the spotlight. They're crafting more than simple white noise for concentration or brown noise for relaxation; they're creating intricate, personalized soundscapes to suit a range of needs.
But it's not just sound that's captivating attention; breathworking is emerging as a profound practice, as seen in trending Google searches. Beyond the well-known technique of heart coherence breathing that synchronizes heart and breath, different methods are gaining ground. There's "Breathwork Rebirthing" meant to help you release emotions,"Holotropic Breathing" using hyperventilation to achieve altered consciousness, and "Somatic Breathwork" to foster full, oxygen-rich breathing. In the mix is O-p--en, seamlessly blending meditation, music, breathwork, and movement into a multisensory experience.
And this is just the beginning! The frontier of mental wellbeing is now expanding into the uncharted realms of the unconscious. Companies like Prophetic.ai are innovating with 'The Halo,' a headband claimed to induce and stabilize lucid dreams. NeuroViz uses light pulsations to stimulate the brain, promising deeper states of consciousness. As for Lumenate, it leverages smartphone lighting to create, they say, a unique altered state of consciousness. But the exploration doesn't stop there. These new technologies pave the way for unparalleled artistic expressions, such as projects connecting individuals through shared dreams or the Dalí museum experience that turns dreams into works of art.
Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer... Philosophers have long been fascinated by the unconscious, probing this mysterious dimension of human experience. Are we on the brink of unlocking these unexplored depths, where perhaps the keys to our existence and our place in a world soon dominated by AI are hidden? This electrifying new landscape, a blend of technology, art, and science, opens up unprecedented horizons. It invites us on a journey where unconscious self-exploration becomes more than a mere practice: it becomes a true art de vivre.