We read a great article in the Guardian this week about the growth, design and effectiveness of mindfulness apps from Amy Fleming.
Amy writes about ‘Spire’ a wellness tracker that you wear next to abdomen or chest to track breathing. It links to your smart phone or watch and lets you know when you are not breathing correctly and thus feeling stressed.
It costs about £300. It doesn’t teach you to breath correctly it lets you know when you haven’t been breathing well.
We know that learning to breathe consciously changes everything. But to have a lasting impact it takes practice, first to know how to breathe and then to breathe consciously. It’s an internal effort. It happens naturally and your progress will be ‘felt’, not measured on a small screen.
Having to look at a smart phone or watch to check your progress is part of the problem. Not a solution.
Turning your attention outwards towards yet more external things that you have acquired in the hope that they will change you builds yet more neural pathways that keep your attention on the surface.
The result? More anxiety. More worry as your attention is held away from the innate, authentic experience of yourself in favour of following an algorithm.
So do you need to spend £300 on Spire?
No. Not really. The cost of Spire would give you 56.4 hours of non-stop yoga teaching from the YogaLife Project.
Amy talked to Neema Moraveji chief scientist and co-founder at Spire, and director of the Stanford University Calm Lab. He apparently researched the physiological changes that manifest the body according to mood, he says they “found respiration to be a unique and interesting signal because you have direct control over it”.
OMG! as we say don’t sometimes say in our yoga classes.
Here is the point.
We already know this.
We have known this for about 6000 years…
So why rely on the gadget to tell you how be aware of your breath and then consciously control it
A good yoga class will reveal to you that you already have all the resources you need to breathe. The teacher will work with you through your body, breath and senses you have a mind. Yoga teaching is based on the fact that you have an intellect that decides to want to be well.
And as far as I can tell all of those aspects of you are all free.
You don’t need Wi-Fi or blue tooth; you don’t an expensive smart phone or a gadget like Spire to clip into you belt or bra to measure your breath and tell you when you are calm and present.
That’s what the breath is for. Its an invitation as well as constant companion to be in the here and now.
That’s where you need to be.
Not peering into a screen but peering into you!