What It's Like To Use An App That Claims To Make You Happier And Healthier

Screen Shot 2013 08 23 at 12.02.48 PMScreenshotThe Inner Balance app.

to Doc Childre, founder of
the Institute of HeartMath, “Heart-based living helps you learn to live in the now, bringing more of your real self into each moment. Becoming more of who you really are releases inner security, allowing you to relate to life with increased hope and confidence. Increased fulfillment is the result of this process.”

That’s a tall order for an app, but it’s exactly what Inner Balance aims to do.

HeartMath explores the relationship between the human mind and the human heart by researching what’s called heart/brain coherence. In plain language, they look at how well your heart can communicate with your brain.

The organisation suggests that the condition of your heart may have more to do with your emotional state than ever believed before. Because your heart generates an electromagnetic pulse with every beat, and because this pulse can interact with the human brain, HeartMath’s Inner Balance app helps the two organs get in sync. If you get your heart in “coherence” with your brain, you ostensibly have a happier brain.

The Inner Balance app is free, but it requires use of a $US99 heartrate monitor accessory. With the monitor attached to your earlobe, the app leads you on a series of guided breathing exercises while tracking your pulse. A colour wheel serves as a breath pacer. When it expands, inhale. When it shrinks back, exhale. Your pulse will start to change pace and the app will adjust its breathing guidance to preserve your “coherence.” You accumulate points based on how accurately you can maintain the breathing pace, and to notice any results we were encouraged to use the app for 15-20 minutes a day.

And that’s really the crux of if this app/accessory combo is worth the $US99 admission fee — does it actually get results? Does it make you better, stronger, faster, happier?

My incredibly helpful answer: maybe. I absolutely do feel noticably brighter and lighter lately, but I’m hesitant to give Inner Balance all the credit, as I’ve made some productive changes on my own to the same end. (One could also argue that it was my very usage of the app that got me feeling proactive enough to make said changes, I guess.) However, I’m perfectly comfortable saying that Inner Balance helped. Having cause to go sit quietly for 10 minutes twice a day can do wonders to ease your psychic burdens. I just don’t know if it was the app’s breathing guidance or the simple (and unfortunately uncommon) act of being alone in a quiet place with a clear mind, and doing so semi-regularly.

Although HeartMath’s ideas may sound like they’re riddled with it, that hippy-dippy crystal-rubbing mentality is nowhere to be found here. The organisation has only ever traced its results back to science or “We don’t know yet.” That said, if you find yourself sceptical or turned off by the very description of a “happiness app” that requires a $US99 accessory, this is very clearly not for you.

Personally, I’m torn on this one. Inner Balance provides a relaxing experience that basically forces a good mood out of you if you use it in earnest. But ultimately we’re too turned off by the the price of the heartrate monitor to give this our unmitigated endorsement, even though we want to.

The price is the catch-all as far as I can see it. If the money isn’t an issue, I say go for it. If you’ve got $US99 and an attitude problem this might be just the thing you need.

The app is free and available in the App Store. The monitor accessory is available right here.

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