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Mobile Apps and Mindfulness: Can the Two Co-Exist?

October 13, 2016

In today’s buzzing high-tech world, it can be hard to take a moment to switch off – literally. We rely on our devices for virtually everything, to the point where it’s become the norm to wade through hordes of scurrying pedestrians hunched over illuminated screens.

Thus, the idea that one can bridge a healthy marriage between technology and mindfulness seems somewhat obsolete. “How is that possible?” you say as you throw your smartphone-wielding hands up in the air. But lately, the need for mindfulness and meditation has trickled heavily into society’s stream of consciousness and as a result, tech companies are starting to pay attention and look for ways to shift the stigmas associated with a digitally-saturated world.

Just look at Apple’s newest product: an app that reminds us to ‘Breathe’

After releasing the Apple Series 2 Watch a few weeks ago, consumers were delighted to find the latest smart device incorporates a new app called ‘Breathe’. Sure, it seems like a pretty innocuous activity that people manage to perform pretty well on their own all day long, but the latest feature is said to be part of a general health routine Apple is adopting as a refreshing facet of its brand identity. Basically, users can set a deep breathing session for either one or five minutes, which the app then guides you through via graphics while monitoring your heart rate. At the end, you receive a summary of your results.

With gentle reminders nudging you to indulge in a breathing session every five hours, the app is kind of like a handy pocket-sized meditation coach. So far, it has been praised for its encouragement of mindfulness and assistance with stress-reduction, anxiety and depression.

Other popular mindfulness apps right now include Headspace, which trains users in daily 10-minute meditation practices, and Smiling Mind, which targets all age groups and addresses things like stress management and relationship-building for wellbeing, education and in the workplace.

Mindfulness apps are great stepping stones for beginners

While some sections of society have certainly latched onto the idea of practicing mindfulness in its original, organic state, others are hesitant to embrace the trend. Hence, by adding it to those devices we use every day, there’s a good chance more people will be tempted to ‘give it a shot’. After all, it’s being delivered to them via one of the most popular mediums of the modern age.

This has the potential to pave the way for a more ingrained culture of mindfulness and meditation, serving as a great introductory phase before the user feels confident enough to progress on their own.

…However, your surroundings make a big impact on the success of a mindfulness app

Whipping out your phone or smartwatch to squeeze in a spot of mindfulness while on the daily commute or at your work desk is fairly counter-intuitive. While we tend to binge on our digital devices in bustling situations, this isn’t exactly the ideal atmosphere to practice the art of de-stressing.

If you are going to indulge in meditative technology, it’s recommended that you delegate a specific space for the activity. The idea is to essentially disassociate yourself from stress-inducing triggers and find a quiet, calm place to sit in stillness.

While most mobile apps these days are designed to encourage users to do more, mindfulness apps are virtually the opposite. And that’s a good thing.