Dominance of the apps
Meditation apps were already having a moment before the pandemic hit. Calm and Headspace, the two most popular apps in the U.S., both saw more than half a million installs in January 2020, before Americans were all locked in their homes. By April and May, downloads were surging, and the apps realized this was their chance to become fixtures in our lives.
The dominant apps announced a breathtaking number of partnerships and promotions: Headspace introduced content collaborations with "Sesame Street" and Netflix, and gave free subscriptions to New Yorkers, healthcare workers, and the unemployed. Calm made itself free for Kaiser Permanente members, raised $75M to offer exclusive content to corporations, and sponsored CNN's election coverage.
There's no definitive data I could find on how many meditators are using an app to facilitate their practice — though 52 million first-time users downloaded a meditation app in 2019. It appears that a significant number of Americans are relying on Calm, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, or another app for 15-20 minutes of quiet and peace per day. We'll have to check back in five years to see if this sticks — if it becomes part of a long-term trend of American mindfulness, or if the apps will go the way of Vine and Pets.com.