SuttaCentral

Meditation apps might calm you but miss the point of Buddhist mindfulness


#1

#2

Everybody has to do first step on the path. I hope for some seekers it will be just the beginning of a beautiful journey.
I don’t think we can say the same about Angry birds app.


#3

I think it’s good that a wider audience is benefiting from Buddhist-derived methods.


#4

What about a meditation app attached to a cattle prod that shocked you whenever your mind wandered…

…erm…

I mean that’s kinda what happens in Rinzai meditation.
Spacing out is discouraged.

:grin:


#5

Talking about shocks reminded me of the Simpsons… :laughing:


#6

I use the timer on an app called Insight Timer because I like the sound of the bell. The app is all about “meditation” whatever that means. Mostly it’s “teachers” who want to get followers by offering guided meditations (perhaps more accurately hypnosis) for a host of ills. The app itself is basically social media with groups, friends, likes, and all of the trappings of addiction to the phone to validate one’s existence. It is so open minded that anything valuable is diluted. Truth is crowdsourced. Everybody has an opinion. It’s super toxic to me. I just use the timer.


#7

Had you considered counting breaths to gauge time?
That at least would foster breath mindfulness per EBTs.


#8

No, I had never considered counting breaths to gauge time. How might that work?

Often, when I begin my breaths are short and as my mind stills, my breaths become quite shallow, sometimes almost undetectable. Also, if (and when) my mind wanders or some state of mind arises, I investigate to discern what it is so that I can apply the appropriate awakening factor. That might make it challenging to gauge time.

I’m a lay follower and don’t have open-ended time to meditate, so 60-90 minutes is about my limit on weekdays. When I do self retreats, I leave it open-ended.


#9

In the beginning you can simply use the timer to let you know the approximate number of breaths in say…30 minutes. This might be 100 breaths. Oddly, although this number will be different for every person, I have found it to be stable for myself, even over decades. Once you have calibrated your own “30 minute breath count” you will have a great way to measure time internally.

The drawback of counting is that it involves a verbal process. This would eventually make it difficult to explore the cessation of the verbal process. Per MN44, there are verbal, physical and mental processes, which recede in that order. But by the time you wish to explore the cessation of verbal processes, you will probably have practiced counting to the point where you could simply rely on the corresponding physical process or mental process to gauge time. For example, one can reliably count physically without reciting any numbers (i.e., count to 10 on one hand, using the other hand for 10’s up to 100) Or one can mentally sense a span of time (i.e., “it’s time to get up now”) to end meditation.

Tracking time internally is quite valuable in many contexts and you’ll be able to use the stopwatch app instead of the timer app if that is of interest. However, if your meditation is fruitful as is with a timer, then the timer is granting you the freedom to explore meditation without minding time.


#10

In Ajahn Brahm’s book Mindfullness, Bliss, and Beyond he talks about “the Gatekeeper” who can handle little tasks in the mind, such as keeping focus on a topic. I use it to keep time and it works pretty well. I can feel how long I’ve been meditating. Oddly I can only keep time in 15 minute intervals, and so if I start on an odd time then I’m off a few minutes which isn’t a big deal. It’s pretty neat that you can get a feel of time and not think about it.