Mindfulness and Technology

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Originating in Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the West as the incidence of anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders plague the undercurrent of our fast-paced industrialized way of life. Recent scientific research on mindfulness has demonstrated beneficial effects on several holistic aspects of personal health, including the mind, the body, and behavior.

Mindfulness meditation has been proven medically effective to decrease stress and improve well-being when practiced consistently. Yet many people still struggle with the concept or application of mindfulness-based therapy. A new wave of delivery is emerging which is combining this ancient practice with modern technology to bridge the gap and appeal to a modern generation of meditators. Studies show not only relaxation, but important shifts in cognition, emotion, biology, and behavior that may work synergistically to improve health. There is also emerging evidence that mindfulness training is associated with greater meaning and peace in one’s life (spirituality), as well as enhanced relationships with others (Carmody et al., 2008Carson et al., 2004)

Imagine you are sitting peacefully on a beautiful beach. You can hear seagulls against a backdrop of pebbles clinking together with each breaking wave. You take deep belly breaths and listen to your meditation teacher as she sits beside you and guides you through the film roll of anxiety and consciousness unfolding behind your eyes. Now imagine that you take off your virtual reality headset to discover you in fact never left your own living room (and saved hundreds of dollars on a flight to a meditation retreat in India.) This is an example of one scenario that modern entrepreneurs are envisioning the marriage of mindfulness and technology to enhance the effectiveness of well-being and relaxation intervention. Virtual reality devices can be combined with health tracking technology such as Provada Health‘s iOS app; “…incorporated into (the) app (is) the ability to link health-tracking wearables, such as the Apple Watch, to quantify the effects of a meditation session on, for example, your resting heart rate. Or look at how your sleep is being affected by taking time out to meditate.”

Modern gaming technology is another avenue where it seems there is potential for mindfulness to be cultivated. Take for example one gaming app available via Play Store called ‘Pause,’ which was created through the principles of mindfulness meditation and Tai Chi. The creator Peng Cheng explains, “It started with my own severe experience of stress and depression. I gave myself 6 months, I practically didn’t do anything but I meditated and practiced Tai Chi with the goal to do nothing but staying in the here and now as much as possible.” The simple game involves a little blob which follows your finger across the screen and facilitates focused awareness by growing in size as you maintain a slow concentrated speed. “Most of our stress only exists in our head and absorbs all our attention. To break this pattern, I need to focus on what is physical and tangible and actively put my attention in the moment.”

Cultivating focused attention in the present moment is the core foundation of mindfulness practice preached hundreds of years ago, in ancient India, and today via a squiggly blob on a hand-held screen or through a high-tech headset. Proper use of technology has the capacity to transform the quality of our lives and the delivery of ancient therapies such as mindfulness which are being lost on a section of the modern generation unaccustomed or afraid of ‘spiritual mumbo jumbo.’ Many trials of research have found that people with higher levels of mindfulness – even without “formal” meditation training – report feeling less stressed, anxious and depressed, and more joyful, inspired, grateful, hopeful, content, vital, and satisfied with life (Baer et al., 2006; Brown & Ryan, 2003; Cardaciotto et al., 2008; Feldman et al., 2007; Walach et al., 2006).

Another benefit of mindfulness is the ability to recognize and accurately label emotions (Analayo, 2003). More mindful people appear to have a greater ability to control emotional reactions in the middle part of the brain (the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex [ACC]) by engaging the front part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex [PFC]), which is associated with attention, concentration, and emotion regulation. This means when you’re practicing mindfulness you’ll better be able to control your emotions and correct unpleasant mood states.

Believe it or not, there is increasing scientific evidence to support the therapeutic effect of mindfulness meditation training on stress-related medical conditions, including psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic low back pain, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Several new technologies, including brain imaging, wearable tech. and virtual reality, are being used to look at and extend the potential health benefits of mindfulness. Finally, research is beginning to prove what mindfulness practitioners have known for centuries…that greater focus, awareness, acceptance, and empathy can make for more flexible, adaptive responses to stress, which, in turn, can help free us from suffering and realize greater well-being & happiness.

Original article

I Got Nerdy With It (“It” Being Jennifer Ruggerio)

2 hours. That’s a record. Not for continuous nerd talk, but for a recorded version that stretched from North Carolina, to Texas, to here in California. Listen below if you dare. Share if you care.

Get Nerdy With It

Thank you, Jennifer. Hope to have you on Lisacast soon!

“Google Now” Commands

An infographic from Trendblog.net, a cheat sheet for “Google Now” commands.

As a new user of Glass and Google Now on my Moto X (get one.), this new voice interface is really cool. My first issue was that saying “Okay Google Now” is awkward. I want to call it whatever I want, just like I wanted to call Siri whatever I wanted. But there was a problem with that. Instead of just keeping my lewd nickname between us, Siri changed every “From:” field to read “Bitch”.  I just learned that you can say “Okay Jarvis, …” instead of “Google”. :)

Google Now Voice Commands by trendblog.net
Google Now voice commands by trendblog.net

General Commands

  • “Search for [chicken recipes]?”
  • “Say [where is the supermarket] in [Spanish]?”
  • “What is [Schrodinger’s cat]?”
  • “Who invented [the internet]?”
  • “What is the meaning of [life]?”
  • “Who is married to [Ben Affleck]?”
  • “Stock price of [Apple]”
  • “Author of [Game of Thrones]”
  • “How old is [Michael Jordan]?”
  • “Post to Google+ [feeling great]”

Notes & Reminders

  • “Remind me to [buy milk] at [5 PM]”
  • “Remind me [when I get / next time I’m at] [home / work / other location] [to send an email to John]”
  • “Wake me up in [5 hours]”
  • “Note to self: [I parked my car in section D]”
  • “Set alarm for [8 PM]”

Time & Date

  • “What time is it in [Tokyo]?”
  • “When is the sunset [in Chicago (optional)]”
  • ”What is the time zone of [Berlin]”
  • “Time at home”
  • “Create a calendar event: [Dinner in New York] [Saturday at 8 PM]”

Communication

  • “Call [Daniel]”
  • “Send [email] to Daniel, [Subject: Meeting], [Message: Will be there in 5]”
  • “Send [SMS] to Philipp mobile, don’t forget to buy milk”
  • ”[Contact name]”

Weather

  • “Weather”
  • “Is it going to rain [tomorrow / Monday]”
  • “What’s the weather in [Boston]?”
  • “How’s the weather in [Portland] on [Wednesday] going to be?”

Maps & Navigation

  • “Map of [Flagstaff]”
  • “Show me the nearby [restaurant] on map”
  • “Navigate to [Munich] on car”
  • “How far is [Berlin] from [Munich]?”
  • “Directions to [address / business name / other destination]”

Conversions & Calculations

  • “What is the tip for [125] dollars?”
  • “Convert [currency / length …] to [currency / length …]”
  • “How much is [18] times [48]?”
  • “What is [45] percent of [350]?”
  • “Square root of [81]”
  • “….. equals”

Sports

  • “How are [the New York Yankees] doing?”
  • “When is the next [Los Angeles Lakers] game?”
  • “Show me the [Premier League] table”
  • “Did [Bayern Munich] win their last game?”

Flight Information

  • “Flight [AA 125]?”
  • “Flight status of [AA 125]”
  • “Has [LH 210] landed?”
  • “When will [AA 120] land / depart?”

Web Browsing

  • “Go to [Huffington Post]?”
  • “Open [xda.com]”
  • “Show me [android.com]”
  • “Browse to [reddit.com]”

Entertainment

  • “Listen to / play [Intro] by [The XX]?”
  • “YouTube [fail compilation]?”
  • “Who acted in [Ocean’s 11]?”
  • “Who is the producer of [Gladiator]?”
  • “When was [Alien] released?”
  • “Runtime of [Avatar]”
  • “Listen to TV”
  • “What’s this song?”

Easter Eggs

  • “Do a barrel roll”
  • “What’s the loneliest number?”
  • “Make me a sandwich!”
  • “When am I?”
  • “Okay Jarvis, …” (Instead of “Okay Google, …”)
  • “Who are you?”
  • “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”
  • “Beam me up, Scotty!”

Selected Lisacast Shows

I’m rebroadcasting a few shows, in case you missed some of the better ones:

Lisacast with Guest Vipul Vyas of Skewz.com
Lisacast with Guest Jeff Robbins of Lullabot
Lisacast with Guest Juan Carlos Soto
Lisacast with Guest Marla the FlyLady
Lisacast with Guest Marcien Jenckes, Voxant
Lisacast with Guest Michael Leach
Lisacast with Guest Jon Hammond
Lisacast with Guest Alan Levy, BlogTalkRadio
Lisacast with Guest Steve Gal of ProQuo.com
Lisacast with Guest Daphne Kwon
Lisacast with Guest Liad Agmon of Delver
Lisacast with Guest Gina Bianchini, CEO of Ning.com
Lisacast with Guest John Battelle
Lisacast with Guest Don Pierce of Micoy
Lisacast with Guest Elad Yoran of KoolSpan
Lisacast with Guest Jeff Crigler, Voxant CEO
Lisacast with Guests from NY to South Korea
Lisacast with Guest K. Daniel Glover of Aircongress.com
Lisacast with Guest Noam Lemelshtrich-Latar
Lisacast with Guest Thomas Frostberg, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Rapidus
Lisacast with Guest Sean Wise of WiseMentorCaptial
Lisacast with Guest Rafe Needleman of Webware
Lisacast with Guest Rafael Martinez Alequin
Lisacast with Guest Lee Dryburgh, eComm
Lisacast with Guest Thomas J. Buckholtz, PhD
Lisacast with Guests Claire Ulrich (Le Monde) and Thierry Bezier
Lisacast Interview: Dr. Wong
Lisacast Interview: Dr. Wang, Georgia Tech
Lisacast Interview: David Fox
Lisacast Interview: Dr. Julian Vincent, University of Bath

Lisacast interviews

Do you have a suggestion for a guest on Lisacast? Email me.