Saturday, March 10, 2012

How Technology Can Really Help Me Stay Mindful

Almost every week now, a new mindfulness app comes out, with the goal to use tech to get me to practice more. I love mindfulness, I love tech. And I also think tech people have not yet figured out how to best serve people like myself. As with any new technology, the first thing is to figure out the psychology of the user. What is it that I need as a practitioner?

I will tell you first what I don't need. I do not need another fancy timer, the one in my iPhone is good enough. I do not need another website to go to, to find other fellows to sit with. I've got Twitter and #wannasit or #OMCru with the advantage of flexibility and simplicity. I do not need a counter to keep track of how many minutes I spend meditating. This is not a competition. I do not need tech to tell me when, where, how much, and with whom to practice.

Where tech can be helpful, though, is in mitigating the potential hazards from tech use itself. What I need are built in mechanisms for all the online worlds I visit, that remind me when I have gotten lost.  I want a google app that 'knows' and can warn me when I have been surfing mindlessly for too long. I want a Facebook app that lets me know when I have been spending a bit too much time looking at my friends' pages, or visited the site too many times in one day.  I want a Twitter app that keeps my visits to a predetermined (by me) number every day . . . Of course, there is a glitch. My intention to use tech more wisely goes in the face of advertisers' goals to keep me online longer, and outside of my habitual realms. 

What are your thoughts on mindfulness and tech?

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