Plum Village: Zen Meditation

App review by
Ana Beltran, Common Sense Media
Plum Village: Zen Meditation App Poster Image
Mindfulness, Buddhist teachings; suicide, abuse mentioned.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

This tool encourages mindfulness, reflection, and meditation. Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, offers techniques to relive stress, embrace happiness, address fear, and more through guided meditations, movement for mindfulness, Dharma Talks, songs, poems, and short teachings.  

Ease of Play

The interface is simple and user friendly. Users can explore all options under resources, talks, meditations, and extras by scrolling and tapping on the screen. 

Violence

Some of the talks and short teachings address fear, managing and expressing anger, opinions on assisted suicide and the death penalty, and dealing with suicide within the family. 

Sex

Some of the talks and short teachings are a direct response to people's questions, which may include mature topics, such as sexual misconduct and sexual abuse at the family level. 

Language
Consumerism

The app is free and ads don't interrupt the experience; however, donation links appear at different points throughout the app encouraging users to support Plum Village monasteries and their initiatives, one of which is the free digital mindfulness content. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Plum Village: Zen Meditation is a health and fitness app for teens and adults. The app is an extension of the Plum Village monastic practice centers, founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, offering teachings grounded in Buddhism, mindfulness, and meditation. The digital content includes guided meditations, songs, chants, poems, and mindfulness movement exercises. It also includes talks and short teachings led by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Parents should be aware that some of these talks address and share a stance on serious topics such as assisted suicide, the death penalty, sexual abuse and misconduct, depression, and faith in humanity, to name a few. Although the app is free, users will see a little blurb within each resource description encouraging them to donate to the Plum Village organization to support their efforts in creating digital content and making it available to everyone for free. The in-app donations link takes users to the Plum Village support page where they can choose to make a one-time donation or monthly donations. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Upon launching PLUM VILLAGE: ZEN MEDITATION, users are presented with a brief highlight of some of the app's main features, including content download for offline access, bells of mindfulness, and the icons used to distinguish video content from audio content. There are five categories: resources, talks, meditations, extras, and an about page. The resources page offers key texts, chants, songs, poems, and mindfulness movement videos. The talks category offers a collection of content led by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh himself. Users will find talks in both video and audio format. Some of these talks are direct teachings from a Buddhist and mindfulness standpoint. Others are presented as recorded Q&A, where followers openly ask questions about a wide range of topics and ask advice about personal problems or experiences. The app offers over one-hundred guided meditations, with categories including short meditations, silent meditations, deep relaxation, guided contemplations, and eating meditation. One of the meditation categories is dedicated to children, offering lullabies, guided breathing exercises, deep relaxation practices, and a series of video-based teachings that delve into dealing with strong emotions and fostering mindfulness. Some resources and meditations are also available in French. Under the extras category, users will find the bell of mindfulness which can be used as a reminder to take a break from daily routines to focus on mindfulness for a few minutes. The bell can be configured with a specific start time, end time, and duration of intervals. Users also have the option of syncing Plum Village: Zen Meditation with the Health app so that their meditation sessions are recorded as mindful minutes. 

Is it any good?

Teens and adults will find tons of tools to promote mindfulness, relaxation, and reflection in this user-friendly platform where Buddhism and mindfulness techniques interconnect. The interface is gimmick-free and super simple to use, with tools organized into clear categories. Users will find a wide collection of guided meditations and mindfulness resources that can be used to increase awareness, tackle anxiety and stress, embrace happiness and connections, and celebrate being in the moment. What makes Plum Village: Zen Meditation unique is its clear connection to Buddhist values and beliefs as interpreted by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Some of the content addressed in the Q&A and teachings is too complex to merely explore or understand with no context. It surfaces many serious topics, such as suicide, sexual abuse, and death, making it a questionable tool for teens. Especially when considering that there are other options out there that just focus on mindfulness techniques without emphasizing spirituality or religion, these factors might not make it a first choice. On the other hand, if you're curious about Buddhist insight or love TThich Nhat Hanh, this is the tool for you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how mindfulness and meditation can help teens deal with stress, strong emotions, and challenging moments when using Plum Village: Zen Meditation. When do you feel anxious, angry, frustrated, or stressed? How can mindfulness techniques help generate peace and a clearer headspace?   

  • Since many of the talks and teachings are grounded in Buddhism, invite teens to openly discuss beliefs and values around some of the topics presented in the app. This will give them an opportunity to explore these ideas outside what's presented in the app and help them form their own opinions and beliefs. 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Skills: Self-Direction: goal-setting, identifying strengths and weaknesses, initiative, personal growth, self-assessment, self-reflection
    Emotional Development: handling stress, identifying emotions, labeling feelings, moving beyond obstacles, persevering, perspective taking, self-awareness
    Health & Fitness: meditation, mental health
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: January 6, 2021
  • Category: Health & Fitness
  • Size: 67.40 MB
  • Publisher: Centre for Applied Ethics Ltd
  • Version: 2.5.4
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up.
  • Last updated: August 10, 2021

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