Short on spending money, but want to find the perfect meditation app?
We’ve gathered the best free mindfulness meditation apps in 2019 based on features and user reviews. While some of these apps are completely free, we’ve also included a few that have optional upgrades.
However, you can still get a lot of value out of their free versions.
Choosing a free app to start is a good idea, especially if you’re new to meditation. Since there’s so much variation in meditation apps, try several and see which one feels right. Then you can get a better idea of what works for you. You might decide the free options are just what you need. Or, you can invest in an upgrade or subscription with confidence.
Let’s take a look at the best free mindfulness meditation apps, so you can get started!
Smiling Mind is an Australian nonprofit web and app-based meditation program developed by psychologists and educators to help bring mindfulness into your life.
They offer programs for all ages, divided into these categories: 3-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, and adults. The app also includes structured programs for educators looking to bring mindfulness into their classrooms and guidance for parents helping their children incorporate mindfulness into their day.
After you create an account, SmilingMind asks a few questions to recommend programs that would match your needs. Their programs are designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life, specifically at work, playing sports, and in the classroom. Examples include Mindfulness 101, Digital Detox, Sleep, Mindfully Back to School, and On the Field.
You can set reminders, save your favorites, track your progress, download for offline use, and create sub-accounts for your family members.
100% Free, except for the structured workplace program
Insight Timer offers the largest free library of guided meditations and music tracks with over 25,000 titles from thousands of teachers, plus the world’s most loved meditation timer.
With so many titles, Insight Timer really works for everyone – kids, teens, or adults. They also offer meditations in several languages, including Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, and Russian.
Since Insight Timer has such a variety of resources, they have a robust search engine. They’ve also broken them into helpful categories. You can search by:
Topic (i.e. sleep or confidence)
Benefit (i.e. performance or healing)
Audience (i.e. kids, women)
Practices (i.e. visualization, concentration)
Origins (i.e. scientific, Buddhism)
In addition to the meditation library, Insight Timer has a meditation timer that you can use to gently remind you that your practice is concluding. There are also detailed charts to track your meditation progress as well as hundreds of user groups to answer your questions and keep you motivated. You can even favorite specific titles and follow specific teachers, so you don’t miss their new releases.
The vast majority of their meditations are free. However, they also offer a premium subscription for $5.99 per month. This includes hundreds of 10 and 30-day courses, offline listening, night mode, and an advanced audio player. You can also do a seven-day free trial to test it out.
Stop, Breathe & Think is a free mindfulness meditation app that helps you check in with how you’re feeling and offers short activities tuned to your emotions.
Stop, Breathe & Think defines themselves as “the emotional wellness platform for the “under 25” generation.” Their mission is to help kids, teens and young adults build the emotional strength to tackle life’s ups and downs.
The free version of Stop, Breathe & Think provides over 40 recordings and videos on the foundations of meditation practice. They’re short but designed to quickly help you get centered in common life situations. You could choose to learn about core breathing or counting breaths. Or focus on topics like forgiving yourself, falling asleep, dealing with anxiety, or welcoming the day.
When you open the app, it asks you to “check in with yourself” by taking a deep breath, then answering a few simple questions with helpful prompts. The app will then recommend particular sessions. It also offers a timer, progress statistics, and it can integrate with your Google Fit app tracker.
The 40+ topics, timer, progress tracker, and Google Fit app integration are all free. If you’d like to access 100+ activities (more added monthly), customize the tracker, and enjoy longer versions, you can purchase a subscription for $9.99 per month (or $5.00 if you choose the annual plan).
Designed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, Breathe2Relax provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and practice exercises for diaphragmatic breathing.
Breathe2Relax was designed for adults. Teenagers could also use the app, but some might require initial guidance.
While this app doesn’t have the breadth of topics like other meditation apps, it’s high user rating and valuable stress management techniques make it worthy of a spot on the list. This app specifically focuses on diaphragmatic breathing, which has been shown to help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management.
You can set up preferences such as the length of the session, breath rate, background scenes, and music. Breathe2Relax also asks you to rate your stress before and after each practice session, graphing these responses to track progress.
Let’s Meditate is a curated list of guided meditation tracks – simply click and play with an uncluttered interface. You can take a quick break with meditations as short as five minutes or recharge yourself with tracks lasting over 40 minutes.
Let’s Meditate doesn’t have specific tracks for children or teens. However, older teens could easily benefit from some of the topics.
Let’s Meditate has over 50 tracks that cover the full range of modern concerns. Choose from meditations like No More Overthinking, Zen Breath Before Sleep, Attract Abundance, and Gratitude.
While Let’s Meditate is light on features, that’s kind of the point. They want to keep you focused. However, it does offer the option of reminding you to meditate each day. And you can download them to use when you’re offline.
Mindfulness exercises can help you manage the effects of daily tech use on your mental well-being and allow you to find balance in daily life, easing stress, developing self-compassion, and providing perspective. Read on to learn 4 exercises to help you do just that.
It was just yesterday that the first iPhone hit the market, and with it, renewed excitement for what the future could hold.
But more than a decade later, we’ve begun to realize that regular tech use– as incredible a quality of life improvement it has been in many ways– has potential negatives as well.
The adoption of smartphones across all aspects of daily life has led to:
Mindfulness brings balance to the craziness of daily life
Daily life is stressful, hectic, and complicated. But mindfulness has the ability to bring balance to that craziness.
Even a few minutes of practice, done effectively, can make a real difference in not only your mental well-being but your resilience toward future stress.
That’s where these simple mindfulness exercises come in.
4 Mindfulness Exercises to Manage Tech Use and Find Balance
Below are 4 mindfulness exercises that, taken together, can form the basis for an effective practice to help you manage the effects of technology and find balance in daily life.
However, each stands on its own as an effective practice as well, so experiment to find which provide the most benefit to you.
1. Managing the impulse
The first of our 4 mindfulness exercises is about helping you learn more about how your regular tech use is impacting your behavior.
When a chime sounds off on our phone, many of us pull out our phones without even thinking about it. The impulse has become so automatic that we never take the time to question what we’re doing.
If you have 2-3 notifications a day, that’s no big deal. However, when that snowballs– as it often does– to 20-30 (or more) notifications each day, it becomes a real problem.
At that rate, you’re being interrupted from whatever you’re doing several times an hour all day long, every day. That includes when you’re working on an important project at work that requires your full concentration to when you’re blocking out time with your family.
How to practice managing the impulse
To practice managing the impulse, the trick is to follow these steps whenever you:
Notice yourself reach for your phone when it pings
Go to click on a notification for an app (from Facebook, etc.) when you’re already in the middle of something else on your phone
Or when a notification pings on your desktop while you’re working
Follow these steps:
It might sound self-explanatory to pause when you notice one of these impulses arise, but it’s easily the most important part of the practice and therefore needs to be emphasized.
We’ll talk about acknowledging what’s going on and identifying patterns in a moment, but beyond that what you’re really trying to do is break the pattern of behavior the is supporting the impulse.
Each time you consciously pause when you notice the urge to check your phone when it pings, or a similar situation, you take a step toward reworking that unconscious habit.
Next, once you’ve paused, take a moment to acknowledge the thoughts going through your mind:
“Did Jen reply to me?”
“What’s everyone up to?”
“What am I missing?”
Or, it could simply be an emotion:
Whatever you notice, acknowledging those thoughts and feelings has a kind of power to it. It’s like bringing a problem to the surface.
Admitting there’s a problem is often half (or more of) the battle, so acknowledging that you feel anxious every time your phone pings immediately starts shifting the power back into your hands so you can begin to interact with your tech in a more mindful way.
3. Note down
This last step isn’t required, or at least can be done mentally, but it’s important to start keeping tabs on the different feelings you’re noticing.
You don’t just want to notice the emotions that arise when you’re interacting with these tech-related impulses, you want to identify patterns and get to the root of the problem, and you can only do that by seeing the bigger picture.
2. Mindfulness meditation
The most basic of mindfulness exercises, think of sitting in meditation as also the most concentrated form of mindfulness practice.
Diving deep into meditation is important– and different from simply being mindful of what you’re doing as you go about your day– because it allows you to uncover and explore your subconscious mind.
The subconscious is the place where your inner dialogue resides, and the more you can enter deep meditation the more you’ll help whatever internal challenges and limiting beliefs you might have risen to the surface.
We often feel and think things in our normal state that go completely unnoticed by our conscious mind.
For example, the icky disappointment, frustration, or envy you might feel after scrolling through your Instagram feed and only seeing a bunch of people who seem to have comparatively “better” lives, bodies, or stuff than you.
Sitting in meditation regularly helps these feelings and thoughts rise to the surface. And awareness is the first, most important, and often only step necessary for dealing with them.
How to practice mindfulness meditation:
To practice mindfulness meditation, find somewhere relatively quiet and private and then follow these steps:
This is a simple step, but it’s important to emphasize that no particular sitting form is necessary. You could even sit in a chair if that’s more comfortable for you (back problems, etc.).
Just sit, straighten your back, then allow yourself to relax a bit and you should rest in a position where your posture is good without being tight or rigid.
2. Turn your attention to your breathing
Now that you’re relaxed, turn your attention to your breathing.
Don’t attempt to control your breathing, even if it’s short or shallow. Simply noticing your breathing will automatically calm your body, mind, and as a result, lengthen and deepen your breaths as a result.
Concentrate from the beginning to the end of each in-breath and out-breath. Focusing on the movement of the breath through your nostrils or the rhythmic movement of the abdomen or chest will help you stay focused.
3. Count your breath
At the end of each out-breath and in-breath, count 1. Continue this count up to 10.
In most cases, you’ll lose focus and fall off your count somewhere early, often between 3-5, gradually and consistently being able to reach higher numbers as you practice more.
Don’t worry, losing focus constantly is perfectly normal in the beginning– even if it seems like you’re losing your concentration every 10-20 seconds.
4. Notice + Refocus your attention
So, you’re losing your attention constantly. Totally normal and nothing to worry about.
In fact, in the beginning, it’s a good thing to notice this. If you’re noticing it, it means your awareness is improving.
But what do you do about it?
Notice the distraction– even if you simply noticed yourself become distracted in general but can’t sense what it was that actually distracted you.
Start by labeling it “distraction”. You’ll gradually move to “thought”, “feeling”, or “sensation” as your awareness improves. And, finally, specific thought: “I’m anxious about the future” or specific emotion: “anger”.
Once you’ve acknowledged what it was that distracted you, refocus your attention on your breathing and continue your count.
3. Pausing to reflect
Earlier, we talked about managing your tech-related impulses.
In this exercise, we’ll move from a proactive exercise to a reflective one you’d do after ending a particular session (especially a session of distraction) with that same technology.
Once you’re done scrolling through Instagram, how do you feel about yourself? What kind of thoughts revolve within your mind? How does your mood change after spending half-an-hour on Facebook?
These are the kinds of questions you’ll want to ask as you go to put down your device or refocus after becoming distracted.
How to practice pausing to reflect
To practicing pausing to reflect, follow these steps:
Pausing isn’t the important habit-building step that it is in the ‘managing the impulse’ exercise from earlier, but it still serves the same basic purpose otherwise:
instead of rolling into the “next thing” unconsciously (getting back to your work, bringing your attention back to your loved ones, etc.), stop to become aware of the thoughts and feelings that arose in connection with the experience.
Jumping on your favorite smartphone game
Scrolling through Instagram
Checking your notifications on Twitter
Swiping through stories on Snapchat
Getting sucked into Yahoo!’s endless front page
Watching YouTube videos
Or any number of countless tech-related sessions that aren’t entirely productive (and, even when they could be misconstrued as such, noticing that checking your email at 7PM when you’re supposed to be spending time with your kids is ill-timed)
No matter what the experience was, when you catch yourself, take a moment to pause and fight back against your unconscious conditioning.
2. Ask: “How did that make me feel?”
Next, once you’ve put your device down, switched tabs, etc., before moving on, reflect on how that experience with your device made you feel.
Ask: “How did that make me feel?”
Take a moment to turn inward and notice how your body feels. The body often mirrors the thoughts and emotions we have going on within us without us noticing it. But by paying attention for a few moments you can pick up small insights.
For example, you might notice you feel anxious or generally ill-tempered after scrolling through Instagram. Maybe your experience with it is conditioning you to compare your life to one of the countless influencers who appear to have betters lives in every way than you (which, by the way, is almost always a fake representation).
There are all kinds of insights you might notice as a result of asking this question.
The mindfulness part of the reflecting exercise is simple and easy, but there’s an extra mindfulness-building step that’s essential to making this exercise effective. That extra step is experimentation.
Once you’ve begun practicing pausing to reflect, you may notice certain patterns of thought or feeling when you interact with your chosen piece of tech, including sites, apps, etc.
Continuing with our example, if you notice these negative feelings of anxiety and unhappiness spike every time you use Instagram, see what stepping away from it for the next 2 weeks does for your mental well-being.
You don’t have to stop using it altogether, but consider only checking it once a day at the end of the day on your desktop and delete the app from your smartphone, like vlogger and filmmaker Casey Neistat did:
Whatever you decide is the right action to take, be smart– and brave– and consider what is best for your life and mental health and how your choice could affect your loved ones.
4. Pomodoro break
The Pomodoro method, or the Pomodoro technique, was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
The technique uses a timer to break down an activity into pieces, from 25-55 minutes in length, which is then separated by regular 5-minute breaks.
The basic idea is this (and it’s been supported in several studies since): By taking regular breaks between any activity, particularly work, you’re more productive than if you were to work straight through without stopping.
That might sound weirdly counterintuitive, but it’s not. The brain works like a muscle, and muscles need regular breaks between reps when you’re working out, otherwise, you’ll tire yourself out faster.
Many of us believe that we can’t afford– or aren’t worth– to stop because we have to work harder to hit our goal. The result is that we work so hard we burn ourselves out and end up less productive than we could have been. Bummer.
You know what else you can use these regular breaks for? Mindfulness. By taking a minute to do some mindful breathing every 1-hour or so of work (or any activity), you can center yourself and start developing more self-awareness, which is critical for improving your mental well-being– and your life as a whole.
How to have a Pomodoro break
This exercise doesn’t have unique instructions, they’re pretty much identical to sitting in meditation:
Turn your attention to your breathing
Follow your breath (I suggest just following your breath since the practice will only take you a minute or so)
However, where this exercise differs is in time. A Pomodoro break using the mindfulness bell extension, or whatever else you prefer, should only last about a minute.
It’s a quick “check-in” with yourself during your day, however many times during the day you choose to check-in.
The Bell of Mindfulness Chrome extension is nice because you can set a timer to go off every hour, or whenever you prefer, and a traditional Buddhist bell will sound to summon you to mindfulness for about a minute, without you having to remember to take these regular breaks:
This exercise is unique because it creates little moments of consciousness in what is usually one big blur of a day where work whizzes by, then you head home, pick up dinner, spent time at home, and end your day all in what often feels like the blink of an eye.
It conditions mindfulness throughout your day, which is a skill that takes a lot of work to develop in daily life (at least spontaneously) and helps you check in with how you’re feeling, giving you all kinds of insights that help you create a greater sense of internal balance.
Find balance with mindfulness exercises
Daily life is more complex than ever with the introduction of recent technology.
This has led to some incredible quality of life improvements, among other things, but it’s also led to some negative side effects.
However, mindfulness can help you find the balance necessary to move forward with a clear mind, calm heart, and happier you.
The practices are simple, but it takes work– just as with anything else– to develop a regular mindfulness practice.
Use these mindfulness exercises to help you find balance and invest in yourself to make that practice a reality.
If you’ve ever been concerned about the psychological impact of our society’s increasing obsession with technology, Dr. Larry Rosen has studied it from every angle over the past 30 years.
You might be wondering what there was to study back in the late 1980s! Even then, as computers made their way into homes and workplaces, Rosen began to recognize and study signs of “technophobia.” In fact, his first publication TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play was published in 1997.
But with the exponential growth of personal technology like iPhones and social media, fear has been replaced with anxiety and distraction due to our constant connectedness. That’s been the focus of his research over the past decade.
Robert Plotkin had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Rosen on episode 23 of the Technology for Mindfulness podcast about what he’s learned from his years of research and how the fields of neuroscience and psychology can help us engage with technology in a healthy way. Here are three key insights we gleaned from their conversation on the psychology of technology.
The concept of mindful technology is edging its way into the mainstream as more and more people want to break free of unhealthy digital habits.
Pete Dunlap, Founder of Digital Detangler, is poised to help with this uniquely modern problem. He empowers individuals, schools, and businesses to transform their digital environments for greater well-being.
In our modern society, technology is often an obstacle to mindfulness. Itâ€™s so easy to reach for your smartphone when the pangs of loneliness, fear, or boredom appear. After all, it offers instant relief. And weâ€™re only human. If you want to break this reflex and empower yourself when it comes to technology, youâ€™re in the right place. In todayâ€™s blog, we begin with inspiration. Weâ€™ve gathered 25 mindfulness quotes to help you remember why itâ€™s so important to accept the present, embrace your feelings, and welcome the gifts that mindfulness offers us. Continue reading 25 Mindfulness Quotes to Help You Hit the Pause Button
You sit down at your computer, ready to tackle your day. And then it happens.
A notification pops up – you’ve got three new emails. Before you can open them, thereâ€™s an instant message on the bottom of your screen.
Then you hear your phone ping and think, â€œIs that the sound of a calendar reminder or just a reply on my social media post? Iâ€™d better check before I start workingâ€¦â€ And so it goes.
In todayâ€™s notification-obsessed world, itâ€™s harder than ever to focus. Distractions like these can really add up.
Not only do you lose time reacting, but it also takes time to refocus. In fact, according to a study from the University of California Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being interrupted.
For many of us, the holidays are a time when we spend precious connected moments with our loved ones. We may also engage in sacred rituals associated with these holidays. Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays â€” or even if you don’t celebrate them specifically â€” this may well be one of the few times during the year when you can enjoy the presence of your family and friends in person and celebrate your relationships together. Continue reading Social Media: Taking a Break
The so-called “desktop metaphor” has been around on personal computers for about 40 years and is still the dominant way of visually organizing information. It was originally designed to emulate a physical desktop on which you put folders, files, and other types of documents and devices.
Regardless of how you feel about computer desktops, they can become cluttered just like a physical desktop, which can be distracting, stress-inducing, and hinder your productivity.
If your desktop is filled from top to bottom with icons, are you aware of whether just glancing at that desktop hundreds of times throughout the day causes any feelings of stress? Perhaps you catch an icon for a document youâ€™re working on out of the corner of your eye. It may cause a thought or worry about how youâ€™re going to complete that document. The thought may be fleeting and you may only be semi-aware of it. However, consider the cumulative impact of having so many experiences like this throughout your day just because of how many times you are looking at that desktop.
Here are a few tips you can follow to remove the clutter from your desktop.
Relocate the Clutter
If you like having all of those icons on your desktop because you feel that they are easy to find, I have one simple suggestion that will let you access everything just as easily without cluttering your visual space and creating any anxiety. Just create a single folder on your desktop called â€œDesktopâ€ and move all of the icons from your desktop into that folder. Now your desktop is clear, but you can still access everything that was in it by opening that folder.
You lose virtually no productivity by taking this step while potentially making a very significant gain in how relaxed, calm, and de-stressed you feel when looking at your desktop.
To make sure you keep enjoying the benefits of this practice over time, you must close the folder after opening it so that its contents are no longer visible. Otherwise, you will be seeing the clutter just as regularly as you would if it were scattered around the desktop.
As an additional step, you can create a small number of subfolders within your new desktop folder. Keep it very simple â€” you might just have a folder for apps and separate folders for different types of documents (word processing, spreadsheets, photos, etc.). If you make too many folders, you will start making it hard to find documents and reduce the benefits that this simple method provides.
Maintain the Habit
Now, you merely need to keep your desktop from becoming cluttered again over time. The most common ways in which this happens occur when installing new apps or creating new folders on your computer. Move those icons and documents into your desktop folder.
Even if youâ€™re someone who loves having a full desktop, try out this approach and see how different you feel when booting up your computer in the morning and seeing a completely tidy space. You could even use a desktop background image that you love in order to stay motivated to keep it from being blocked by countless icons.
Once you make the small investment of time and energy required to start using this method, it takes very little effort to maintain it over time. You can get a huge payback in feeling calm while maintaining very high productivity.
On this blog, we often provide tips for how to make more mindful, productive, and efficient use of technology. It’s easier to describe what to do than to actually create and engage in the habit of doing it. Suggesting that you don’t use your smartphone immediately upon waking up in the morning or within an hour of going to bed doesn’t make creating and following that habit easy to do.
Today, I’ll offer three pointers that will improve your chances of forming a new and enduring technology habit.
Ease into It
Many of us try to create a new habit by just engaging in it directly. For example, if you want to practice not using your smartphone for an hour after you wake up, you might try going cold turkey right away. I’ve found that this approach often results in failure, as it doesn’t help change my behavior or reinforce the intended behavior.
Try easing into a habit like this: On the first night, start out by not using your phone for the last five minutes before you go to bed. That should be much easier than an hour. Practice that for a few days, a week, or until you feel like that habit is ingrained and does not need additional practice. Then increase the amount of time and keep expanding the habit in that way until you reach your original goal.
By easing into it, you may find that you’re more likely to create the habit than if you try to bite off the entire task from the beginning. Start with a smaller, more manageable version of it and increase it over time.
Make It Easy on Yourself
When I try to create a new habit for myself, I often do it in a very austere kind of way. This can work if I pose some structure around it, but it can be quite boring. Other than the reward of feeling like I’ve accomplished my goal, it doesn’t really create any other positive associations in my mind. As a result, I’ve found that trying to create a new habit in this way sometimes either fails or leads to habits that don’t stick.
With that said, there’s a wide variety of ways to make it easier to create the habit. For example, these are all things I’ve done and you can try:
Enlist the help of your friends, family, and coworkers to support you. For example, they can provide reminders for you or even just give moral support.
Use technology to set a reminder to do or not do something.
Associate a positive feeling with this new habit. Focus and draw your attention to that positive feeling.
You may worry that these tricks are crutches. If you ask friends to remind you of something, you may feel like you’ll rely on them and may stop engaging in the habit altogether if they stop reminding you. On the flip side, sometimes we can do things to help us create a habit and supports for the habit, and once the habit is ingrained in our minds and bodies, we no longer need those initial supports to keep the habit going.
Be creative when thinking about what you might be able to do to help you form a new habit. In addition, make the trigger for engaging in it fun if that helps you.
Pay Attention to How You Feel Each Time After Engaging in the Habit
Say you’re practicing not using your phone before bed. Maybe you set an alarm 15 minutes before bed to remind yourself not to use your phone. When that 15 minutes is over, pay attention to how you feel now that you have not used your phone. Bringing my attention to how I feel after I’ve practiced something I want to form as a habit actually helps that habit to form better. It’s a way to bring mindfulness to the formation of a new habit to help enforce the behavior you’re trying to habituate in yourself.
Bear in mind that you can apply these tips to any kind of habits. I hope you find them helpful for any change that you are seeking.
Our culture strongly promotes the idea that the newest technology is always the best. That belief is spread by its makers with their own incentives for encouraging us to always buy the latest version of every product. However, sometimes using older technology can be better in terms of reaching our mindfulness goals.
Today’s tip is to not automatically reach for the shiny new toy. Instead, be aware of your options so you can make wise and mindful choices about which technology to use in any particular situation.
I’ve given a few specific examples, but I encourage you to apply the same principle to all aspects of your life. Focus your attention on becoming aware of any opportunities to use older technology or no technology at all when you want to get something done.
Writing the Old-Fashioned Way
Most of us do nearly all of our writing on devices. When was the last time you wrote an actual letter to someone? Using pen and paper is just one of the writing options you should explore:
I often write first drafts of longer things such as essays or work memos by hand. I find it easier for me to dump out my ideas without distraction or editing that way.
You may also want to try some of the distraction-free word processors that we’ve mentioned before if you want to stay more focused while writing. They show you little more than a blank screen so that you can stay focused on the words you are writing and not the toolbar, menu, or any other visual elements.
Some authors have even switched back to using old-fashioned typewriters for their novels and other books â€” or at least their first drafts.
Try out different options and see what works best for you.
Although I use an app on my phone to keep track of my tasks, sometimes I find it more effective to quickly jot them down on a small piece of paper so that they’re easier and faster for me to find and look at as I move from task to task.
Efficiency and focus are not the only reasons you might want to try using older forms of technology for writing. If you want to convey a personal and heartfelt message to someone (such as a thank-you or condolences for a loss), many people find it more meaningful to receive that kind of message in hand-written form than by email or even a pre-printed card.Â
You may find that writing out the message longhand helps you focus not only on the content of what you’re writing but the feeling behind it. You might experience that feeling more deeply than you would on a device.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Now I’ll use the flip side of writing: reading. While I do an incredible amount of reading on devices, scientific research confirms that attempting to read anything longer than a paragraph on a modern device’s screen can be extremely frustrating and counterproductive. This is in large part due to the number of distractions that our devices present to us while we are reading.
The good news is that many other options are available to us, and they don’t all involve giving up on technology completely.
For reading books, I have an older black-and-white Kindle that only shows me the text of the book. This is a much more pleasant and calming way to read, and it helps me absorb more of what I’m reading than on a smartphone or computer.Â
Think about the size of the screen that you use to read different types of messages too. I don’t know anyone who’d want to read a long piece on an Apple Watch. On the other hand, a smartphone can be a great way to read text messages. As a general rule, most people find it easier to read longer works on bigger screens, but try out different options to determine what works best for you.
I don’t want to suggest wasting paper at the expense of the environment, but in some cases, I print out documents to read them on paper â€” particularly if I need to provide the author with feedback on what has been written because I find it both easier to stay focused on what I’m reading and to jot down notes on paper than on a word processor. Despite all of the advances with screens and document software, I still find it easier to quickly glance back at previous parts of a document on paper than on a screen.Â
When I’m done, I either scan the document with my hand-written edits or type the edits into the document on a word processor.
Consider Your Options
Writing and reading are just two examples of how many different technological options are available to help you avoid the common trap of automatically turning to the latest technology or whatever technology you happen to be using at the moment.
We all tend to engage in that kind of technological inertia or let it dictate which technologies we use and how we use them. But if we apply some mindfulness to pause, step back, and reflect on what our intention is for the task at hand while considering our options, we can then make a conscious choice based on our intention and understanding of our current situation.
As a result, we will be less likely to rush ahead automatically and more likely to engage in that task in a way that is not only more productive but also more satisfying.
I have no natural sense of direction. As a result, I think the GPS is one of the greatest inventions in human history. I rely on the GPS on my phone to get me almost everywhere and appreciate it not only because of its obvious purpose but also because it reduces the stress of driving, walking, and traveling to new places. It gives me the confidence to go places on my own that I normally wouldn’t try to travel to without a GPS.Â At the same time, I’ve become aware of how overly reliant I’ve become on my GPS and how I tend to use it in a way that does not necessarily help me become engaged with, aware of, and attuned to my surroundings.
Each of the companies has a different name for the department responsible for the initiatives. Apple calls it “Digital Health” whereas Google calls it “Digital Well Being.” Right at the top of Google’s Digital Well Being webpage, it says, “Great Technology should improve life, not distract from it.”
A Great Message
The initiatives are going to include a variety of features for their products, like an enhanced version of Do Not Disturb and other ways of giving users more control over how and when they’re interrupted or distracted by their devices. Some features will provide you with in-depth, quantitative information about how frequently you’re using your phone and what you use it for.
I think the details of these initiatives aren’t as important as the magnitude of the message Apple and Google are sending.Â
Like most companies on the internet, they have basedÂ a significant part of their business model on distracting people and encouraging them to maximize how much time they spend on their products and devices.
The launch of these company-wide initiatives is a pretty groundbreaking and historic event for two of the big five tech companies. The fact that they’ve decided to create and make major announcements about these initiatives shows that they are taking the problems seriously enough to invest in shifting their direction to enable people to live more balanced technological lives.
A Shift in Direction
It’s clear that some of the features of these initiatives will help people to spend less time using the devices and apps that Google and Apple make and sell. They must have decided that this would be more helpful to them overall from a business perspective.
I’m sure part of it was in response to increasing demand from individuals and businesses to address the problems of constant distraction and overuse of technology. Some of it may have been the result of a desire for people to use their devices in limited ways rather thanÂ not at all to avoid distraction. I don’t know what all of the reasons were behind these decisions. To a certain extent, they don’t matter to me.
In the end, it’s certainly a positive that these two huge tech companies have taken the initiative to display that they care about the well being of their users. I applaud Google and Apple for taking these steps and moving their future technology development plans in a direction that will give people more transparent information about how they’re using their products and more power over how they use them.
With all that said, both companies have previously taken other steps to address digital addiction and all of the issues we discuss on this blog. Let’s stay mindful of how they implement these major initiatives in response to our needs.
We all know that the image people portray of themselves on social media is highly selective and curated. People often post only the information that paints them in a positive light and makes them seem as interesting as possible. As a result, their social media lives don’t always reflect their full reality.
Trying to make plans with a group of people can be challenging. Obviously, everyone has their own schedule and it can be hard to coordinate a mutually convenient time for all of you to meet up. Many of us turn to group text messaging as a quicker alternative to group email. However, receiving text messages in a particular thread or conversation with one or a group of people can quite simply be annoying â€” especially if you keep getting notifications within that thread! Continue reading Group Text Messaging: Productive or Annoying?
Have you ever watched a tennis sequence in which a player serves and the receiver runs in reaction to the serve and then hits the ball back off balance? Throughout the exchange, the server stands firm and is seemingly dictating where and when the receiver moves.Â
Since I write and teach about using technology mindfully, many people assume that I’m somehow naturally gifted at that practice. Â They believe I’m always focused at work and never struggle with distractions when I should be doing something more productive. In fact, when I tell people about my work in this field, they get embarrassed and think I will look down on them because of how poorly or distractedly they use technology. Continue reading You Use Technology More Mindfully Than I Do
In recent years, many of us have taken to cancelingÂ plans at the last minute via text or by using our smartphones in other ways. It usually happens minutes from the meeting time. I try not to do this, but I am definitely guilty of it. Continue reading Make Plans as If the Internet Didn’t Exist
We all struggle with anxiety once in awhile, but for some it can feel worse and more difficult to control. At times, it can feel nearly debilitating. Some turn to meditation, others visit psychiatrists despite their fears of the stigma it holds. But thereâ€™s another way to help you control your anxietyâ€¦ no medication, no stigma, and you can do it from your phone! What is it?
Winter Feast is a 40 day Worldwide Spiritual Practice Period everyone is invited to join.
It’s for people of all faiths who take part in committing 40 minutes of spiritual practice each day for forty days. The intention behind Winter feast is to create peace in each individual’s life and to extend to others as well.
Participants are also invited to practice daily acts of kindness. Although it may seem like only a small group of people setting out to do this, the impact of such an act can be much greater.
â€œNever doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.â€â€Šâ€”â€ŠMargaret Mead
Winter Feast is from the morning of January 15th until February 23rd. As most of the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter during this time, itâ€™s a perfect way to begin the New Year to reconnect with spirit and bring our awareness to a new level.
â€œWhat nine months does for the embryo, forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.â€â€Šâ€”â€ŠRumi
Typically, when we think about mindfulness, we think about avoiding technologyâ€”putting away our smartphones, taking a break from TV or computers. But really, technology and mindfulness arenâ€™t so different. How? Theyâ€™re both tools to help us solve problems and achieve certain objectivesâ€¦ one is just focused on external problems while the other focuses on the internal.
In our busy lives, weâ€™re always going, weâ€™re always doing, and weâ€™re always helping others. So where does this leave time for taking care of ourselves? For most of us, self-care falls on the back burner. Weâ€™re burning ourselves out by always helping others, which actually isnâ€™t helping anyoneâ€”especially yourself.
Mindfulness is a very broad term; there are so many aspects of mindfulness and so many different ways in which it can be practiced. With the rise in popularity of mindfulness, there have been more studies popping up about mindfulness and its benefits. One recent study set out to differentiate how different components of mindfulness impact us.
Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and weâ€™re using them all throughout the day! In fact, many people spend 5+ hours per day using their smartphones. And while technology can help us in countless ways, itâ€™s not always the best thing for us. I mean, take a look at Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with technology, and youâ€™ll see the changes it brings about in us as individuals!
Weâ€™ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction can causeâ€”I mean, hilarious for us, rather embarrassing for them. Things like running into (and falling into) a water fountain in the middle of a city, or walking straight into a construction zone, both while staring at the phone screen. How are we so enthralled by our phones? How do we allow them to distract us so much? And what else are we missing out on if weâ€™re missing these blatantly obvious obstacles in front of us?
We all feel gratitude sometimes, even if weâ€™re not mindful enough to be aware of the feeling. And if we are aware of it, often times we forget or feel awkward expressing it. Feelings can be hard to talk about, even positive ones. But sometimes, thatâ€™s exactly what businesses need to improve! A great company isnâ€™t all about the number, itâ€™s about the employees as well.
If there were something that you could do for free, something that took less than a half hour per day, that was scientifically proven to boost energy and brainpower, would you do it? For most of us, that answer is a resounding YES! Unless itâ€™s hard or takes a lot of effortâ€¦
Well, I have newsâ€”it exists. Honestly, it could take as little effort as sitting silently and focusing on your breath for 25 minutes.
Weâ€™ve talked before about using mindfulness at a personal level in the workplace to reduce stress. But you may have also heard the term â€œmindful company.â€ So what does it really mean to be a â€œmindful companyâ€? This term has only started to gain popularity in recent years. In fact, many still question whether this is really possible or just a term brands like to toss around to sound more appealing to customers and employees.
Most people regularly (or at least semi-regularly) go through their stuff and declutter. We donate old clothes, we throw away broken items around the house, we host yard sales to sell off those things that we no longer want or need. It can feel cleansed and refreshing! So why should our digital clutter be any different?
Plus, eliminating digital clutter can have another benefit: reduced anxiety.
With everyone online account you have, with every device you own, your cyber security decreases. Itâ€™s great that youâ€™re watching out for phishing and got strong, unique passwords on all your accounts, but whatâ€™s even more helpful to your cyber securityâ€”and your peace of mindâ€”is cleaning things up!
We all know that each generation has different experiences, they grow up in a different time, so itâ€™s impossible not to! But is the latest generation, generation Z, missing out? Has their generation been destroyed by technology? Weâ€™ve all see the articles online saying things like â€œMillennials are killing fabric softenerâ€ or â€œMillennials are running the wine industry,â€ but what about the generation after them? The generation that is now beginning to reach early adulthood?
Generally, from generation-to-generation characteristics will change gradually. But Jean Twenge, a Psychology professor at San Diego State University, who has been studying the changes among generations for years, noticed a huge shift in the Z generation.
Robert Plotkin, co-founder of the â€œHack Your Mindâ€ series is pleased to invite you to the next event this Friday, October 6th at 12 pm on the campus of MIT.
Join us for the first program of the semester of ourÂ Hack Your MindÂ series with Dr. Susan Gabrieli. Dr. Gabrieli is a neuroscientist and Senior Research Scientist for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Â Continue reading Mindfulness Event This Friday!
Work is a place that we can easily feel stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe you have multiple projects going at the same time or an impossibly short deadline that your boss wants you to meet. Itâ€™s happened to all of us at one point! The key to keeping calm under all this stress? Mindfulness.
When a workplace promotes mindfulness a few changes begin to happen. The entire company culture changes. The workplace begins to attract (and keep) the best employees. And performance within the company improves!
As we age our cognitive abilities tend to decline. We begin misplacing items more often (keys and glasses, anyone?), it becomes more difficult to solve problems, or we may have trouble remembering names. Itâ€™s all just a natural part of aging, right? Maybe it doesnâ€™t have to be!
Research shows that the adult brain changes with experience and training. The healthier and more active your lifestyle, the better your cognitive performance will be as you age. But a healthy lifestyle isnâ€™t limited to just diet and exercise, new research is finding that meditation may also be a key factor in maintaining brain health as we age!
When you were youngerâ€”before your first smartphoneâ€”do you remember ever being bored? If youâ€™re like most people, youâ€™re probably thinking, â€œyeah, of course!â€ So what did you do when you got bored? Now, this answer is going to be immensely different for every single one of us, but the bottom line is: we entertained ourselves! And most of the time, this entertainment took a little creativity.
Well, now that smartphones have become such an integral part of our lives, boredom is virtually a thing of the past!
Years ago who would have ever imagined finding a date online? But then came dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony, and it took the effort out of meeting new people and dating. Today finding a date has become even more mindless with sites like Tinder where you simply swipe left or right to find a match and get a date. Now, though, as mindfulness is beginning to gain popularity, we seem to be reverting back to good olâ€™ conversation to find a date!
At MNDFL, a meditation studio in New York City, something’s starting to happenâ€¦ people have started finding relationships offline, relationships based on common interests, not just physical appearance.
With the price of healthcare today, many individuals and professionals are looking for ways to shorten treatment lengths and lower costs. The answer to this may be a simple thing called gratitude. There have been multiple studies done on the physical, psychological, and social benefits of gratitude, all of which come to the same conclusion: gratitude can lead to a healthier and happier quality of life. So, letâ€™s break down some of the reasons for practicing gratitude.
Last week we talked about how and why we need to recover from tasks in our daily life and we covered,Â recovering from work and technology. I challenged you to take on both of these, did you try it? How did it go? Did you notice a difference in your stress or sleep?
Today weâ€™re moving on to the other 4 areas of our lives that we need to learn to recover from: people, fitness, food, & being awake.
If youâ€™re like most people, in the past youâ€™ve probably thought something along the lines of â€œwow, Iâ€™ve been so busy all day, but what did I accomplish?â€ Right? So we all know that thereâ€™s definitely a difference between being busy and being productive. In fact, many of us are just doing too muchâ€”we arenâ€™t focusing finishing on one individual task. Instead, weâ€™re doing many things at once and not finishing any of them!
We need to keep up and keep going is driving people to doÂ more, but actually liveÂ with less.
Neil Seligman is the Founder ofÂ The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations and one of the UKâ€™s leading experts in Corporate Mindfulness, Wellbeing and Professional Resilience.
In this episode Neil discusses about his work at The Conscious Professional and what his mission and goal is. According to Neil his practice bringsÂ skillsÂ of mindfulness to professionals. His vision is enlightened executives and conscious businesses. Neil links mindfulness to professional excellence, and his vision is to find the missing link in many professionals who are not able to express themselves in the exterior reality. The internal world is the key to emotional intelligence and we have to find peace within ourselves.
Life moving too fast? Let expert Robert Plotkin teach you 3 simple mindfulness techniques to help you regain focus, better understand how technology affects your daily life, and take concrete steps towards improved mindfulness. Don’t miss out on this exclusive event on August 15th or 17th!
RegisterÂ for August 15th at 7 pm Eastern webinar here:Â
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? I bet itâ€™s probably more than youâ€™d expect! According to a new study, U.S. consumers spend an average of 5 hours per day on their phones. That means that about â…“ of your time awake is spent staring at a phone screen. If you ask me, thatâ€™s a lot of time wasted. And nearly 20% of that time is being spent on Facebookâ€”FOMO, anyone?
Our smartphones are constantly dinging and ringing, alerting us of notifications all day long. And donâ€™t get me started on how much time we waste looking at all of these (mostly unimportant) notifications. Sometimes it can make smartphones feel more stressful and annoying than a helpful tool. Does anyone else just slightly miss the days before smartphones? But it doesnâ€™t have to feel that wayâ€¦ in fact, our phones can be a tool of relaxation!
Have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you were able to tell that it was a dream and not reality? The concept of lucidity has been around for a long time. In Buddhist practice thereâ€™s something called â€œdream yogaâ€ the practice of meditating in a lucid dream. But now, researchers are beginning to learn how incorporate it into virtual reality.
You already know about meditation, and you may have heard that itâ€™s becoming more mainstreamâ€”itâ€™s not just for Buddhists or those totally chill hipsters. But technology is bringing mindfulness and meditation into the general public! Why? Because it can be beneficial to anyone. And with wearable relaxation technology and meditation apps, thereâ€™s no doubt that itâ€™s only just beginning.
And one place that needs it most is the workplace.
The worlds of technology and health and constantly growing closer and closer together. Whether youâ€™re at a medical hospital, physical therapy, or visiting a psychiatrist, chances are that technology is going to play a role in your treatment.
One such technology is making a name for itself in the medical and psychological community as an innovative way to help treat patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Those with MDD have an imbalance in their brain activity: the areas involved in emotion processing are in a hyperactive state, while the cognitive control and emotional regulation areas show decreased activity. Now, a new app is aiming to balance those two areas of the brain.
Itâ€™s been estimated that nearly 16 million adults age 18+ have been affected by depression, and close to 10% suffer from mood disorders. Can you guess what the most common treatment method is for both of these things? You guessed it: medication. And the number of people being prescribed these medications is on the rise. The second most common method for treating depression and other mood disorders is cognitive based therapy. But thereâ€™s another method thatâ€™s gaining popularity: mindfulness.
I know Iâ€™ve talked about this so many times before, but let me say it again for those of you that are new to the blog or new to mindfulness: technology is taking over our minds.
Whether we realize it or not itâ€™s happening. And a movement that goes by the name of Time Well Spent it looking that help change that! Fighting back against digital distraction. Asking technology companies to create app designs that â€œempower us and reduce pollution to our attention.â€