Finally, technology to help steer us to mindfulness
Virtual meditation sounds like an oxymoron, given the ongoing narrative on digital distraction. Is the way to inner peace really through a device?
The proliferation of meditation apps, however, show a growing demand and need for setting aside a few minutes of guided breathing each day. To the uninitiated, meditation can seem hokey. The same people may also think they’re too busy to just sit there and do nothing—but it is these people who could benefit the most from a session of stillness.
Meditation has come a long way since its early ties to the hippie counterculture of the 1960s. What was once a spiritual practice with deep cultural roots has become secular, one in which religion is beside the point. The fact that we need not go to a sangha or even out of our rooms to practice is a big catalyst. Meditation has become available and accessible to anyone with a smartphone.
Specialized apps like Headspace and Calm and programs on Alo Moves and other exercise apps offer windows of serenity through recordings that help you visualize relaxing at the beach, looking at fluffy white clouds. Some programs provide you with positive affirmations to foster self-love, while others immerse you in soothing sound baths, for example, the vibrations that emanate from alchemy crystal singing bowls, or three hours of uninterrupted forest sounds.
If you want to practice with a group, you can attend live meditation classes on streaming platforms from anywhere in the world, guided by your choice of teacher. Energy management and women’s wellness coach Dona Tumacder-Esteban holds meditation classes and attends mentoring programs through Zoom. “Zoom and recorded meditations on audio enhance my connection with my teachers when I am not physically with them,” she says.
Atma Prema Wellbeing Group, a global wellness community with local roots, offers online courses on a variety of topics from healing to manifesting. “When I meditate, I use music, sound frequencies, or sound healing from gongs, tuning forks, or bowls. I also like using guided meditations from Spotify or the ones we produce,” says founder Dr. Lia Bernardo.
Perhaps tech is not the problem, but our relationship with it.
“Any kind of meditation practice is better than none, from the perspective of expanding awareness,” says Esteban. But, she cautions, “spiritual consumerism is just as real as material consumerism. If the tech doesn’t help us access and attune to what’s inside us, then it’s just clutter.”
Still, both Esteban and Bernardo agree that modern meditation tools can be helpful to beginners. “These mini pauses are a great way to start,” says Bernardo. “What’s important is carving the time to be in stillness.”
Neuroscience research shows substantial proof that meditation offers relief from modern malaise such as chronic anxiety and impaired focus, while fueling our creativity and getting us into a state of flow. We can certainly benefit from meditation without help from tech. But a tool can aid in establishing consistency, which is what makes a practice a practice, just a click away. A ping to mindfulness may just be what the doctor ordered.
A version of this article originally appeared on Vogue Philippines.