It’s 11:30 p.m., and I’m waltzing, rather awkwardly, around my room. If you were to walk in, you’d see me performing the slowest of slow dances, my iPhone clutched in my left hand, my AirPods nested in my ears, and my feet shuffling over my small, blue carpet.
What may look like a drug-fueled trip is my attempt at meditation using Sway, a movement-based mindfulness app for the iPhone. Since I picked it up over a weekend, I’ve been setting aside moments of my day to perform my tiny routine and attempt to center my mind.
I think it might be working.
Although you might not move the same way I do, Sway will require you to – you guessed it – sway back and forth. It’s what the developers call “interactive meditation,” an experience that requires you to slowly wave your phone from side to side.
The premise is that through movement and the ambient sounds and music being pumped into your headphones from Sway, you’ll be able to focus on the relaxed activity and calm your mind. With six different “levels,” Sway attempts to push you toward significant mindfulness habits by requiring you to accomplish a daily goal before unlocking the next level. If you miss a day, Sway will bump you back a level, so you have to complete it again.
Between its use of sound and goals, Sway goes beyond reminders, acting as a sort of meditation companion. Each level provides similar experiences that are pleasantly familiar, yet distinct enough that they also feel new and memorable.
As I use Sway, I’m continuing to find new reasons to open it daily: colorful animations, pleasant audio, and more. But what ultimately keeps me coming back to it is the basic experience it offers me, one that I’ve never had before.
Finding myself dancing around my room is bizarre to me not because of what I’m doing, but because I’m doing it at all. I’ve never been able to consistently meditate, and my previous attempts never quite left me in a state of mind that I desired.
With Sway, my experience has been different. Through getting me on my feet and moving in a methodical way, the app has helped me relax and focus. I’ve gotten lost in the audio, the sounds of rain, the beach, or birds chirping. I’ve found myself craving time to open Sway, hoping to unlock further levels and maintain my streaks. Sway is very different from so many other tools I use everyday because it offers immediate, short-term benefits, rather than incremental progress like checking off tasks on a long-term project.
Of course, your mileage may vary, but I've found that Sway has all the right elements that make it a stellar productivity app: fantastic audio, an intuitive interface design, and motivational features, all of which keep me coming back for more. Although I haven’t built any long-term habits with Sway, it's had the same sort of initial staying power that has kept other apps on my Home screen for years.
For those looking for a fresh and effective meditation tool, I cannot recommend Sway enough. At $2.99, it feels perfectly priced for its value, especially for users who log many hours of mindfulness.
You can pick up Sway in the App Store for $2.99 here (iPhone only).