We all complain about how technology distracts us and makes it harder to be mindful. Now is the time to stop moaning and take charge. Here are five tips for using technology to help you be more mindful.
- Bet that you will stick to your intention. Setting a clear intention is one of the most important parts of practicing mindfulness. Yet it’s easier to set an intention than stick to it, and staying with an intention without support from others can be particularly challenging. If you find yourself falling off the intention wagon, try using stickK — a site that lets you announce your intention (such as “Exercise for 30 minutes a day”) — and make a bet that you will stick to that intention. To hold you accountable, you enter into a “Commitment Contract” in which you specify an amount that you will pay to a party of your choosing if you fall short of your commitment. Many people commit to paying a painful amount of money to a charity they dislike. You also select a “referee” (such as a friend or family member) who will hold you accountable to your commitment. Finally, you can pick “supporters” who are informed of your intention and can cheer you on. Although stickK is designed primarily to help people achieve concrete and objective goals, such as saving money or losing weight, it can also be used to help you stay true to any intention.
- Use sound and images to promote mindfulness. Search for images of meditation online and you will find people sitting on mountaintops, in front of waterfalls and on beaches. This is because some environments are more conducive to mindfulness than others. Many websites and apps can help to create such environments for you by using calming and focus-enhancing sounds and images. Among these are Focus@Will, Calm and Noisli. Interesting trivia fact: Focus@Will was co-founded by Will Henshall, member of British pop-soul band Londonbeat, which is famous for 1990s hits “Thinking About You” and “Come Back.”
- Schedule reminders to be present. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Part of practicing mindfulness is training your mind to return to the present moment after abandoning it. During a guided meditation, a teacher may use sounds — such as a bell or his/her voice — to bring you back to the present moment. A variety of apps, such as Mindfulness Bell, Enlighten and The Now, can do the same for you throughout the day by playing sounds and displaying inspiring quotes to bring you back into the present moment.
- Reduce distractions to help you focus on one task at a time. How often do you find yourself with 10 windows open simultaneously while your smartphone is ringing and someone is knocking on your door? This kind of sensory barrage isn’t conducive to focus or mindfulness. Try using a concentration app such as Isolator to hide everything on your screen except the window in which you are currently working.
- Silence notifications when you need to stay focused. Nothing is more distracting than a ringing, beeping or vibrating smartphone when you are trying to focus, sleep or just be present. When you need your devices to leave you alone, try turning off notifications temporarily by using Do Not Disturb on your iOS device, Quiet Hours on your Windows Phone or Interruptions on your Android device. With just the flip of a switch, your smartphone will leave you alone — at least until you flip the switch back.
Although technology can’t make us be mindful, it can help to create conditions which are conducive to mindfulness and — at the very least — avoid getting in the way of mindfulness when designed, configured and used correctly.
How do you use technology to help you be more mindful? Let us know!