Guest post – Using Technology to Aid Meditation

Hey everyone! I will be back with a brand spanking new meditation at the end of the month. I am about to go to the Mayo Clinic for an on-site module for my health coaching certificate. I can’t wait to share with you what I learn (and I will also have some FREE sessions available when I am finished for anyone who is interested!).

In the meantime, I have another guest post from a wonderful writer! Her name is Cassie Phillips and she reached out to me as a fellow freelance writer. If we can’t help each other out as writers, what are we doing in this life, huh?

More about Cassie: she has a background in mental health and she is a regular meditation practitioner. Because of this, she says that she loves to learn about the advances being made every day that bring people a higher quality of life. As a busy mother, she believes good mental health starts early in life but can be attained at any age.

Mother-writer-meditator = superwoman in my eyes. Without further adieu, here is her article about technology and its possible role in your meditation journey (as backed by the Dalai Lama himself):

What Are the Benefits of Using Technology to Aid Meditation?

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Several years ago, in an attempt to regain some calm in my life, I decided to dip my toes into the world of meditation. After consulting with an experienced friend, I sat down in a relaxed position, closed my eyes, concentrated on my breathing and gave it a try. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever attempted. It was almost a decade before I gathered the motivation to begin again.

While meditation has gone mainstream in recent years, ten years ago it seemed a little more obscure in the western part of the world. In large part, the rise of its popularity can be credited to the simultaneous rise of technology. Today, you can download apps and videos that do everything from reminding you to meditate at regular intervals to actually providing you with guided meditations.

It was the second provision that brought me back into the fold. Once I realized I could reenter at my own pace and with the help of a guide, I realized meditation might not be as out of my reach as I once thought. These guided meditations come in all shapes and sizes, from the most basic mantras to far more authentic Eastern-based sessions and can be used to help remedy a variety of different problems.

The Next Wave of Technology

However, apps are only the most basic of the available technology. At the University of Massachusetts, for instance, fMRI and EEG technology have developed ways to measure brain waves, which leads analysis that then provides immediate feedback to facilitate more effective meditation and contemplation.

Others have taken this research and developed technology to offer affordable tools to the public providing the same results with the same tools. Unsurprisingly, as technology develops, so does the advancement of meditation aids.

Of course, some meditation experts and practitioners have their doubts regarding the marriage of technology and meditation. In their opinion, this departure from traditional methods holds risk; or, at the very least, a lessened meditative impact on the tech-user’s life. At worst, it completely misrepresents the goals, methods, and values of the contemplative life and leads the user down a completely false path.

However, it should be noted that the Dalai Lama himself has wholeheartedly endorsed the embracing of scientific and technological advancements. In fact, he has been credited with saying that should science disprove the claims of Buddhism, Buddhism should then change their beliefs. This leadership has provided a framework for some skeptics to reconsider their position.

The Use of Information

As technology has opened new avenues for the contemplative life, it’s also opened up the possibility for personal risk as well as potential ethical dilemmas. While some apps are merely guided meditations or some other innocuous offering, some are designed to track your personal data, meant only for your benefit. This includes your health stats as well as your relaxation levels and other identifying information.

Because of the rapid pace of technological development, ethical conversations are still evolving. For instance, when apps store our data, who ultimately owns that data? And who has access to that information? Is it the developer? The company that owns the app? Employees?

These potential risks shouldn’t keep us from utilizing the meditation technology as it becomes available, but they should encourage us to take the necessary steps to protect our information. Securing your connection is a good first step to preventing violations of your personal data. Once you do this, you can proceed with the knowledge that your personal information, including your health both physical and mental, is protected and private.

Though the field is still developing, it cannot be denied that technology has, for some, thrown open the gates. It has invited in the curious but skeptical, the one who would like to dip their toes into the waters of meditation without the full commitment. While this may seem lukewarm, it’s actually an effective method for introducing meditation to those who might otherwise never encounter it.

Guiding Me Forward

As I reentered my own contemplative journey, it was absolutely technology that smoothed the way. Though I would have liked to take a class, I found the accessibility of technology-supported meditation intriguing and inviting. What began as a curiosity turned into my full-fledged induction into this world. Despite finding many of the free apps useful, I now also have a paid subscription which allows me to access a large number of high-quality guided meditations.

Slowly but surely, my own practice has developed and become a natural part of my day, and ultimately, my life.

How do you meditate? Do you use something to guide you? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below so we can discuss!

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