Meditation apps grow in demand while secularizing

The growing interest in meditation practices—mostly disconnected from their traditional religious anchoring—means that some apps helping people to meditate are also enjoying an amazing success. In February, Calm, an application for meditating, relaxing and sleeping, with a stated mission “to make the world a happier and healthier place,” announced that it had succeeded in raising $88 million in funding. The company with a team of 50 and “over 1 million paying subscribers” is now valued at $1 billion.

In France, several media companies have paid attention to the success of Petit Bambou (“little bamboo”), a meditation app launched in 2014 and claiming more than 2.7 million users, not all of them subscribers. One of its co-founders, Benjamin Blasco (formerly with PayPal), explains that the meditation programs it offers have been “secularized and cleaned of any religious aspect,” according to a report in La Croix (March 21). It has also expanded its range of meditations to include those for getting better sleep. It launched Spanish and German versions in 2018 and has launched an English version this year. French Catholic observers remark that this meditation app has many more subscribers than French-language Christian apps with a spiritual content.