We don’t need a different probiotic, we don’t need more life hacks and we definitely don’t need another meditation app.
“Back to the breath…”, a voice reminds me as I try to shift my focus away from my calendar and back to my breathing. A few minutes pass before I open my eyes to check the incremental progress towards my 500-day streak. All of this made possible by an integral part of my day: a meditation app. It’s foundational to my mornings like water with lemon or a quick cold shower and other rituals that when neglected, result in perceived disarray.
But, is that really it? Is that why I get up earlier to make sure I fit it in every morning no matter what? That’s not my intent. I want to pursue a path each morning that will help me be my best for myself and for those around me. Yet I’ve realized on the days when I meditate, sometimes for as long as 60 minutes, I’m still stressed. And I know meditation isn’t a cure-all, but I also didn’t just spend 6,000 minutes meditating the past 9 months to feel okay.
Plus the more you read about it, the research is mind-blowing. The potential health benefits that such a simple, ancient practice can have for the human body seem limitless. Yet, the method of delivery through this app on my phone, despite the sleek design, award-winning content and mega rounds of venture funding, appear entirely limited if all it’s helping me do is achieve status quo.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for what meditation apps have done for the world. They made meditating as accessible as getting an Uber. Anyone with a smartphone can take the right steps to inner peace. It’s also an opportunity to get an education on the foundations to an amazing way of life. I think this is honestly how these apps were designed. To bring mindfulness, especially its core fundamentals, to the world for all to enjoy and appreciate. Mission accomplished. But, there’s still more to do.
Even with 1 in 4 Americans meditating, 80% of the workplace is still suffering from burnout, depression or a lack of sleep. It’s obvious that only meditating with your smartphone isn’t going to cut it. We need and deserve something more to help us navigate our intricate and complex personal journeys.
My co-founder and I are validating a thesis that the next evolution of digital mindfulness is more personalized, iterative and leverages solutions validated by data while striving to maintain a deeply compassionate experience that puts individual growth and privacy at the forefront. We’re aiming to go deeper than just helping you learn how to meditate. We want to know what you’re up against and how we can help with solutions like mindfulness-based stress reduction or behavioral therapy proven to help others or you in particular.
We also want to be transparent. We want to communicate the results of your efforts by connecting to wearables that monitor physical improvements. We want to gather insights that do more than encourage you to keep going. We’ll use them to build an algorithm that gets to know you better to offer effective solutions.
Harvard’s behavioral scientists believe the key to developing any habit is the plan you set to finish what you started. But, it’s important to first set an intention, reflect on it and course correct if needed. Intentions are powerful because they are insights into the inner workings of our minds. They are like company mission statements. They reflect core values, thought processes and directional aspirations. They’re an opportunity to see what you are all about. This is why we ask our users to set an intention when embarking on their journey to let us know what’s important to them today for their mental health. What are they going through? What do they want to work on? Where do they want to be? It allows us to understand them as a person, a parent or a co-worker. Only once we know our users as best as we can will we able to provide life-changing solutions. But, this isn’t about crushing goals. It’s not: “do x to achieve y”. It’s more: “this is where you are and this is where you are going”.
To consistently provide deeply personalized care, our offering needs to be iterative and fluid. This is why we have multiple feedback loops that assess the validity of our recommendations. Meaning we will be wrong. And, being wrong will make us right by pointing out our faults. It will determine what approaches work for some and what doesn’t for others. These are lessons that will let us assess each person differently to provide the best resources. This data-driven approach will dictate the development of our features like meditations, interactive journaling and lifestyle coaching.
The more we serve, the more information we’ll collect on what is effective and what isn’t to better help those in the future. It will take a village but to us, that’s what it’s all about. Building communities that help more people.
We have an opportunity to change the lives of hardworking people at a few amazing companies this summer. We’re eager to learn, to make mistakes and ultimately, make a lasting impact on culture and careers. We hope this is the beginning of a better relationship with digital meditation. One that is less superficial and more personal. One that turns our unhealthy experiences with technology on their head by being human-centric. One that cares greatly about personal journeys, that believes in the power of human connection and offers a helping hand intelligently and compassionately.
But, it all starts with a crucial first step. Something absent from many of our everyday interactions with each other and technology. An ethos to which I urge you to hold us accountable: championing the art of listening. To listen and to learn from all the journeys to better mental health we hope to spark. To find out what’s best for each person no matter what they experience. To make something that seeks to help everyone around the world in millions of different ways. It sounds difficult but that’s the beauty of where we are today with technology. As my co-founder always reminds me, it can be done.
If you want to learn more about what we’re up to and see how we can help your workplace, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. With this greater intention of listening and sitting still, all feedback is appreciated. We want to hear from you.
Either way here’s to fewer meditation streaks and more time with your kids, fewer posts about self-help routines and more personal growth, less screen time and more sleeping in.
Here’s to a better you.