Jay Vidyarthi is the inventor of the Sonic Cradle. He led the UX Department of Muse: The brain-sensing headband. He’s been involved with Brightmind, Character Lab, Retreat Guru, and many more companies as an expert in using technology for meditation, wellbeing and mental research.
When we think about technology for mindfulness and compassion its kind of a weird thing, right? It’s a weird topic because we often think “what does technology have to do with mindfulness and compassion? Technology is the opposite of it”.
We often think about technology like that thing we’re developing and developing, and then we turn into these automatons that are just addicted, never move and are stuck in their virtual realities. That’s certainly understandable given the direction smartphones and social media are going.
We’re more and more hooked to our devices in some way but this is also an example of technology: painting and art supplies, musical instruments and, of course, the entire prospect of recording and listening to music. These are technologies that don’t stress you out, they’re technologies that calm us down.
Technology is a large umbrella so we have to be a little bit more specific about what we mean when we say “technology” and I wanted to start here so that we can get on the same page about some of those reactionary concerns that people might have when they see this guy ready to talk about technologies for mindfulness and compassion.
Mental health and Mindfulness in the Information era
If you really look at the heart of it, technology is a very broad topic area. It basically means “based on some theory or science to create something skillfully”. It’s sort of a craft or an art form of manifesting our ideas and applying them to the real world to create something.
Here’s how I think about it Technology manifests its creators’ values into the world, so whatever those values might be, we can manifest them into technology and the technology can reflect, amplify and expand those values. It’ll lead to both: intended and unintended consequences. Sometimes it can spin out of control, all the way to the point that we actually have a mechanistic understanding that’s emerging of how this actually affects the brain.
Not only do we start to see changes in the brain when you meditate, we can also see long-lasting traits, long-term changes in the brain of people who actually spend a lot of time meditating, people who’ve meditated for years or even decades and, perhaps most interesting, we’re also correlating those changes to positive impacts on symptomology related to anxiety and depression. We’re seeing physiological impacts we’re seeing changes to relationships, pain, the immune system, even skin conditions, heart diseases, and we’re even starting to see the positive psychology in terms of how mindfulness increases your sense of well-being and your psychological and mental health.
Merging Technology and mindfulness
I want to shift your perspective about technology. I want you to understand that, sure you can say something like “I’m addicted to technology” or “technology is ruining society” or whatever it might be, and there are areas where that’s true. But there’s also areas where technology is extremely beautiful and actually transforming society in a wonderful way, we need to get a little bit more nuanced.
The second reason I want to talk about this is I’m super passionate about what these technologies can do in our lives and I want all of you to try some of them. Some of these are things you can look up, you can watch YouTube videos about, you can actually download to your phone and play with.
The third reason is: I know some of the people behind the technologies I’m going to talk to you about and their work is amazing and I think it deserves more attention. I really want to profile some of that, so join me in the video and get to know the apps, games, techniques you can use to increase your mindfulness in a fun, easy, and daily way.
There’s a lot of really cool technologies out there. I really wanted to encourage you to try them out and to shift your perspective on what technology can be in terms of happiness so I hope this was helpful.