Mindfulness practice and technology use

I’m curious about how many people have a mindfulness or meditation practice, and if so, how their personal mindfulness practice helps them have a more functional/self-regulated/humane and less addictive/compulsive/reactive relationship with their gadgets.

3 Likes

My mindfulness practice is very informal. It enables me to live without a smartphone and to limit my presence on social media to less than an hour a day.

Hi Dan - the two go hand-in-hand for me. I’ve been exploring this intersection quite actively. I have a deep mindfulness practice and I also work in UX / human-centered design, and the two definitely inform each other.

Jay.

2 Likes

@jayvidyarthi it would be great if you could elaborate a bit more on how you apply mindfulness practice to UX design. These kinds of knowledge, techniques and patterns is something HTC and CHT are particularly interested in (part of the 4th strategic pillar Humane Design).

I also created a topic for listing resources on human-centered design: List of Human-centered Design resources

1 Like

Hi @aschrijver - here are some resources to give you an idea:

An article I wrote about mindfulness’ relevance in our attention economy:

A talk I gave at UofToronto and Harvard on this intersection between tech/design/mindfulness:

You can also check my website for more: www.jayvidyarthi.com

Hope that’s helpful :slight_smile:

Jay.

1 Like

I’ve been meditating for about three years, being able to take a step back and observe your mind with all its chatter is something I’ve found really helpful.

In reply to your question, I think it must have helped with regulating my relationship to tech, but it wasn’t something I was monitoring when I started. One of Meditation’s main elements is withdrawing from stimulation and just being content with the moment, so you can see how well suited to this problem it is.

1 Like

Very interesting question. I look forward to reading about your responses. I would like to suggest you view my TEDx Talk, Saving The Magic Of Childhood. The focus is on cell phone addiction. Scroll down at www.psmccandless.com

So, to answer my own question, I’ll being with some background. My experience with meditation and Buddhism goes back over 20 years. My clinical practice focuses on mindfulness-based psychotherapies and I teach courses on the intersection of Buddhism and psychology at Maitripa College where I’ve been an adjunct professor for 8 years. maitripa.org. I also helped start a non-profit teaching evidence-based mindfulness skills to physicians called Mindful Medicine https://mindfulmedicinepdx.org. I was the lead curriculum developer and was one of their original meditation instructors. I give this background because I want to give the context for my response, which is that I’ve been involved with studying, critiquing, practicing and teaching mindfulness and related skills/ideas for quite some time.
My sense is that mindfulness can be viewed as a set of practices and ideas that relate to attention and emotional regulation skills (and, for Buddhists, awakening/enlightenment, but I won’t get into that now). Mindfulness when divorced from ethics can become a shallow version of self-control, where it helps you to stay focused on some things while ignoring others. I’ve known lots of people who misuse mindfulness as a way to avoid uncomfortable emotions and cooperate applications of mindfulness aimed to increase productivity. So ethics are traditionally a very important aspect of mindfulness, something that the secular mindfulness communities are beginning to appreciate and emphasize.

My belief is that people who use tech in inhumane ways, are addicted to it, etc, as well as people who design inhumane tech, could benefit from the ability to regulate their attention and emotions in service of ethical values such as non-harm, kindness, compassion, etc. A set of basic questions that could arise are “How is my tech use harming me? How is it harming others? How is it helping me and others? How does the tech I create or support harm others? How could helpful versions of tech be created? How can we talk about these issues in helpful ways?”
My concern is that much of the mindfulness taught in cooperate or work setting is shallow and serves the interest of the cooperations, which is to have workers who are less stressed and more productive. Productivity is not a traditional value associated with mindfulness. The traditional values are things likes compassion, kindness, joy, and equanimity, which if we take seriously, are quite disruptive to most cooperate structures, so we have to be critical of the values that a mindfulness program or practice is grounded in.
So, my take on mindfulness is that we have to ask, “What values and assumptions are behind the practice? What values and ethics does this practice develop in me and what I doing with them?” Do we become more attentive and more emotionally stable narcissistic cooperate overlords (I’m looking at you Jack Dorsey) or kinder, gentler, more humble people who prioritize humane values and actions over our own power, fame and glory? Our mindfulness is only as useful as what we do with it.

1 Like

Very much agree with this! I had/have plans to apply these concepts in a startup and focus on bringing forgotten human values back. (BTW the sounds on the teaser page are in fact chiming mindfulness bells).

1 Like

Also, cultural appropriation. Briefly, don’t do it, and there are many ways to practice mindfulness without being insensitive, inappropriate, or straight up colonist. Be wary of mindfulness programs that are “improvements” upon traditional Buddhist techniques. Be wary of mindfulness programs that traditional Buddhist teachers disapprove of and look for ones know to and approved of by Buddhist teachers. The question worth asking is “who created the program, who’s that person’s teacher, what are that person’s credentials, what’s that person’s level of training, what’s that persons’s motivation, etc.” Being well trained in something like yoga, medicine, or psychotherapy does not make you automatically qualified to teach mindfulness. There are lots of shallow frauds out there and well meaning people who don’t have the depth of experience and training they think they have. Mostly, be wary of people who claim to gurus who sport lots of guru bling. If they’re trying hard to sell it, don’t buy it. If its new and improved, the fastest and easiest path to enlightenment, its probably shit. If people make moderate claims about the benefits of mindfulness, which can only be attained through hard work, that’s probably the real deal.
I think one of the best mindfulness programs out there is MBSR. Almost anything evidence-based is solid. If you go the Buddhist route, find a community that has a humble, earthy culture, a clearly defined and widely recognized lineage, and a sense of humor and perspective about itself.
Cults bad, regular people good.

1 Like