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Can Your Smartphone Make You Mindful?

Not backed up by science

Not backed up by science

While popular, researchers say there is a serious lack of evidence to back up mindfulness apps, even though they are increasingly perceived as proven treatments for mental health. 

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Can Your Smartphone Make You Mindful?

Can Your Smartphone Make You Mindful?

https://www.mindful.org/can-your-smartphone-make-you-mindful/

mindful.org

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Key Ideas

Not backed up by science

While popular, researchers say there is a serious lack of evidence to back up mindfulness apps, even though they are increasingly perceived as proven treatments for mental health. 

Seeking scientific validation

A handful of studies have been published on the efficacy of mindfulness apps, thanks in part to Headspace, one of the most popular apps in the field. In hopes of getting its app scientifically validated, the organization has partnered on more than 60 studies with 35 academic institutions. In the meantime, in lieu of research proving that apps work, marketers tend to draw misleading, but attractive claims.

The paradox of mindfulness apps

Mindfulness disrupts unhelpful habits. If you get distracted easily or have addictions, mindfulness helps curb these habits. But, in contrast, apps become popular and profitable by getting users lightly addicted to repetitive use. So, can an app really treat addiction, or is it inherently part of the problem? As of now, we don’t know the answer to that question.

Designing a culture

When people have their first meditation experience with an app, the nature of the app influences how they understand meditation. For the vast majority, meditation apps = meditation. So they miss the real point of mindfulness this - as a way to experience the present moment.

The positive in digital mindfulness

Digital mindfulness training could be effective in theory: it can be affordable, accessible, flexible, anonymous, empowering, and enjoyable. It might be in helping users see mindfulness as part of their lives. But when a meditation app becomes just another habit, like checking email, it risks becoming less mindfulness training and more so just another piece of technology taking up headspace. 

Apps Are Changing Mindfulness

  1. Most apps use a subscription model, that rely on user dependence—reinforcing, rather than breaking, habits.
  2. Apps encourage the idea that meditation is a solo practice, whereas in the past it was often learned in group settings.
  3. It’s always guided—something you do alone or with headphones in. Users can’t ask questions or get personalized instruction. 
  4. Meditation apps sometimes imply that their app’s brand of meditation is the only style of meditation.

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What mindfulness is
What mindfulness is

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

What meditation is

Meditation is exploring. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: sensations, emotions and thoughts.

Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. And then I sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”

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Mindfulness in major religions

Instructions for mindfulness meditations have been found in ancient texts of nearly every major religion, but it's Buddhism that exemplifies best mindfulness meditation: it...

Meditation and healthcare

Meditation has drifted from its religious connections and has been adopted by psychologists, healthcare professionals and other secular organizations as an effective way to deal with the stress and illnesses of the modern world.

3 core components of meditation:
  • Awareness: Focus on developing awareness. 
  • Non-Judgement: Witnessing an experience or sensation without attachment or criticism.
  • Peace: Though your feelings are valuable, mindfulness teaches you how to find serenity despite them.

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Mindfulness and simple knowing
Mindfulness and simple knowing

Mindfulness is the act of being aware of our present experience in real-time.

Normally people start processing inside their minds what they experience, creating perceptions. At its core, ...

One Medicine Many Cures

Mindfulness can be practised to:

  1. Manage pain, anxiety, stress, or mood swings.
  2. Provide the body and mind an oasis of calm in between a hectic lifestyle
  3. Reduce suffering, distress and trauma caused by pain and depression, along with the negative emotions that come with life-threatening diseases.
The Space Inside Us

Mindfulness opens up a space inside our minds that helps us respond to outside situations with ease, instead of just reacting impulsively.

We become aware and are able to detect our default setting, which is our ‘driven-doing mind’, and catch hold of it before any impulsive reaction is acted upon. It also helps us arrest our cycle of negative thoughts.

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