Your Quantifiable Self, Your Essential Self: An Interview With Linda Stone
The brilliant Linda Stone joins Spire for an interview. We had the chance to discuss quantifiable self and how technology has the potential to help a person tap into their essential or best self.
Could you describe your vision of quantified self and essential self? What is the difference?
The thing that’s exciting to me about quantified self is that there are times and places where data matters. For example, if I’m a diabetic, to be able to test my blood and get a number and know what high blood sugar and low blood sugar feels like, this can bring me back in touch with my body. That’s exciting to me.
My concern about quantified self is this: there’s a lot of wisdom in the body, and with quantified self, the technology dictates to the mind and the mind dictates to the body. The body becomes, in some cases, a victim of whoever designed the technology. “You’ve got to do 10,000 steps.” [The technology] doesn’t know you and who you are at your essence, or what shape you’re in, or assumes that everything is a constant, or whatever.
My greatest wish is that we discover the wisdom of the body, and we learn to listen to the body, and that any technologies that come into this area, not just the healthiest among us, but for the broad group of people, are technologies that integrate the mind and body.
In my experience, quantified self technologies can sometimes be disintegrating and disembodying, as our mind tries to translate these streams of numbers, and then, come up with yet another directive to the body.
What essential self is, is really about getting in touch with our essence, the essence of who we are. Technologies can help support us in coming back into contact with the wisdom of the body and with our essence.
I’m excited about technology that supports our contact with our essence, and our personal state of oneness which enables us to have this greater sense of oneness, because it’s in that state that we do feel and experience love for others.
We don’t have the mind scolding the body. We have a relationship of the kind of perfection that we were born with. That relationship is peace.
Do people feel like their essence needs to be changed?
The essence is the purest form of self.
We look at babies, and we’re so madly in love with them, and they are so much their essential self. Then, we layer on stresses, but most of what we layer on is the mind dictating to the body who and how to be. There’s so much wisdom in the body. The thing that interests me the most is what technologies begin to tap the wisdom of the body and support and enable a true peace, a true friendship, a true transparent relationship and oneness.
When you have that oneness of mind and body, the way you feel, also, is so loving and connected to everybody else. It starts with yourself. It starts with the mind and body connecting and the oneness of yourself. Once you experience that oneness here, it’s something that expands.”
It’s a re-connection to learning who you are.
It’s a re-connection to who you are, to your best self. This is about your best self. This isn’t about technology telling you who to be. This is about technology revealing to you who you are at your best.
Your basic technology enables that, and everything that you put on top of that is what’s going to take you, either in the quantified self direction, or to this bigger place that I see.
You mentioned earlier that you feel like essential self technologies address actually a broader amount of the population. Can you tell us why you think that?
The number of people who are in chronic pain today [for example], children carrying these heavy backpacks of books, who are experiencing unparalleled levels of back pain, and who are overriding that experience of pain, because they’re supposed to carry their books.
You probably know many adults with back pain, or some other kind of pain condition that they’re having to deal with. Chronic pain is really something that is on the rise, as are chronic illnesses.
When you have these chronic illnesses what you really want is to get back into your body, back into contact with the wisdom of your body that’s going to help guide you. Technology could help you reconnect.
How do you know when you are tapping the wisdom of your body?
It’s that place where the data that you have in the background starts indicating that you’re in a state that opens you up, where you experience breath, you experience health.
We were designed to breath. I mentioned this before.
Breathing massages every organ in the body. Breathing is referred to as chi. It gives us life. It’s the first thing we check when a baby is born, to have this temporary prosthesis that supports us in states of embodiment is part of what returns us to our essence, or to our essential self. In that state, the mind isn’t bullying the body. When mind is bullying the body that’s a fight or flight state. That’s a much more tense state.
When you’re in the moment, and you’re in a state where you’re really relating to someone, that’s the state we want to get to. That’s where your breathing is, shifted and open. That’s where you are. And the emotion that correlates with that as well. That’s the essence of who we are, and the breathing. It’s all part of that.
Spire is a wearable device that tracks your breathing, activity and state of mind — helping you tap into your essential self through the breath. Learn more at https://spire.io