Mind over Matter?

When one thinks of meditation, the image that comes to mind is sitting cross-legged in a spartan room or a natural oasis of calm, devoid of technological devices. Subverting this trope, MindFi, is a meditation app that allows users to meditate wherever, whenever. BLOCK71 interviews the creator of MindFi, Bjorn Lee to discover his motivations behind making the app!

Before reading on, here’s a short bio of Bjorn:

Bjorn is a graduate of the NUS Overseas College program and his Silicon Valley experience way back in 2005 inspired him to start E27 in Singapore upon his return, to help build the local ecosystem. He founded his first product-focused start-up with a fellow NOC alumnus Jarrold Ong in the edutech space and made an exit in 2013. He then joined local start-up Zopim at the egging of his good friend Royston Tay and stayed on through their acquisition by Zendesk. He took a sabbatical in 2016 to figure out how much start-up DNA he had and took the plunge with MindFi.

Bjorn Lee

Why did you choose to set up Mindfi?

I never believed in meditation until I physically encountered stress-induced chest pains in 2010. I was pulling 100+ hour weeks and believed I had limitless energy levels. It took 2 friends — Vinnie Lauria of Golden Gate and Chade-Meng Tan of Google to get me started. Vinnie shared his 10-day meditation retreat in India and I followed his footsteps. However, I did not maintain a habit until Chade-Meng’s book “Search Inside Yourself” gave me the insight that meditation was a UX design problem. Normal people constantly tethered to their phones cannot simply switch off to meditate in the traditional way — closing eyes and sitting down. We need to have a gentler learning curve and integrate meditation into the daily behavior and routine of busy people like you and me. During my time in Zendesk, I experimented a lot with making meditation lightweight yet incrementally challenging so I could maintain a habit. During my 2016 sabbatical, I figured I had a product vision and founded MindFi.

Why is it such a problem that workers feel stressed out?

Ask anyone “how are you?” and they say they are busy. Of course we all are, but it is not time we lack, but attention. In a world of abundant information, our minds are overwhelmed and are losing the gate-keeping ability to filter or prioritise. Our work lives bleed into our personal and family lives. When we are at work, we are constantly interrupted by messages and emails that pull us in often conflicting directions. Enter a meeting or meal table and observe how long before the people in front of you start getting distracted and checking their phones. If we can learn to focus and single-task on the most pressing matter in front of us, we will enjoy our lives and be much more productive, at work and in life. This is why meditation matters- it trains that most important attention muscle in our brain and will give us a higher quality of life.

How does MindFi help to solve this problem?

We studied the digital BEHAVIOR of people around us, married that with what SCIENCE tells us about the benefits of meditation and the PRODUCTIVITY habits of successful people. What we ended up with is an evolving curriculum of how to embed meditation into our daily routine, specifically during common activities like meals, commutes, rest breaks and deep, uninterrupted work. We see meditation as an enhancement to what you already do, not an additional exercise you squeeze into your busy routine. Open the app anytime and listen to a short and relevant mind exercise. Give your mind a pit stop so it can race better again.

How is MindFi different from other similar products in the market?

We focus on a practical format that is unobtrusive to your lifestyle. You don’t need to close your eyes and can add meditation to things you already do. Having a meal? Make it taste better by paying attention to the smell and taste. Commuting in Uber or the train? Observe your posture or scenery around you. Scrolling Facebook? Learn how you do it with empathy and care for your friend, no matter how long you haven’t seen them. The most important thing at MindFi is that we are not merely building a meditation app, but a mind fitness coach that focuses on training your attention and emotional intelligence. Meditation is just a tool to help us achieve that.

If you would like to dabble in a bit of mind fitness, check out https://www.producthunt.com/posts/mindfi for more information!

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