Updated: Feb 20
Mindfulness is by definition a Technology and we can enhance our lives with it in very practical ways.
While mindfulness is a concept that originates in Buddhism, there are recognized scientific benefits that are being practically applied in the industry. The definition of technology is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry” (The Oxford Dictionary)
The main practical applications of mindfulness related to stress relief, attention training or enhancement, and complementary therapy — aiding for example treatments for depression, chronic pain, cancer, and burnout.
Of course, no technology has ever been a silver bullet to all human problems. But well used, tech can really improve our livelihoods and even save lives. Let’s look at what is the definition of mindfulness and 3 key ideas of how it works as a “technology”.
Mindfulness, according to Mindful Nation UK, is “paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the body, mind and surroundings, with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgement.” Another definition by Kabat-Zinn, one of the main advocates of science based mindfulness, sees mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. You get the idea.
Mindfulness as a technology through 3 short videos.
1: Mindfulness as a Social Behavior Enhancer.
This video explains that mindfulness is a superpower that conditions us to act instead of reacting to external stimuli. This enables us to make better decisions in our lives and positively affect those around us. Viktor E. Frankl says “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Mindfulness can help us create that space.
2: Mindfulness as a GPS or Location device
The conscious leadership group explains that at any given point we are somewhere between “Above-the-line” and “Below-the-line” — which is a way of calling the mindsets of Thriving (Open-minded, curious, playful, and abundant) and Surviving (closed-minded, judgemental, defensive and scarce). It reminds us that we evolved to survive, but that mindfulness can help us identify where we are (Location, Location, Location) so we can correct our course.
3: Mindfulness as a “Time Machine”.
This one perhaps seems more conceptual but the magic is in the practice. Imagine if your perception of time could change and you could switch from out of time to plenty of time?
Many who have already tried mindfulness meditation struggle to maintain the practice claiming there is no time (See above for Below-the-line mentality).
The great Martin Boronson explains that we can meditate in a moment and be able to make a meaningful change in our state of mind in just a moment and somehow create time because it can take no time. He also reminds us that we can learn to bring that to different life scenarios such as dealing with traffic emergencies, coping with annoying queues, or preparing before entering work meetings.
Bonus track: Mindfulness as a brain enhancement drug.
I called it a drug because mindfulness meditation can be active. This video shows evidence that mindfulness meditation can reshape our brains. For example, meditation over time reduces the size of the Amygdala, the main processor for emotional responses like fear and anxiety. Meditation can also help reduce the rate at which our prefrontal cortex thins as we age — this helps us retain our cognitive abilities for longer. This video is slightly lengthier but worth your while.
Sarah Lazar is a lead scientist studying the effects of Yoga and Meditation in the brain at Harvard Med School
I hope that was interesting or thought-provoking. Can you think of another way mindfulness could be a technology? Let me know in the comments.
Happy to chat if you want to bring mindfulness to your workplace, team or personal life. Best! Rio
About the author
Rio Otoya is a Holistic Transformational Coach. Rio also guides Yoga, Meditation, and Breathwork. He formerly worked at Google, leading startup acceleration programs, and pioneering mindfulness initiatives. Rio combines modern with ancient practices. He did several courses on traditional Yoga in India, studied science-based Mindfulness with Google’s gPause, and learned several contemporary healing modalities. For more info and booking a call please go to riootoya.com