Do you dream in color? In 2008, a study conducted at Scotland’s Dundee University found that adults who had grown up in a household with a black and white television set were more likely to dream in black and white. Participants who grew up in the age of Technicolor nearly always experienced their dreams in color. The American Psychological Association seconded these findings in 2011. This is one of the earliest ways in which a glowing screen affected our brains.
Today, attention spans are shorter, personal communication skills are reduced, and there’s a marked reduction in the ability to think abstractly and creatively due to our increased reliance on technology. It is a blessing and a curse. While we are now capable of accomplishing more with our time than ever, our brains are actually retaining less. Under the influence of smartphones, wireless internet, video games, Bluetooth links – the list goes on and on – we are increasingly shifting toward a shallow mode of learning characterized by quick scanning, and reduced contemplation. These glowing screens are disrupting sleep cycles too, causing more difficulties with focus and wellbeing.
So we thought we’d see how this same tool can be of assistance in calming our distractible minds and centering them. We scoured the internet, asked our friends and yoga teachers, and surveyed strangers in order to prepare a list of digital resources used by people to meditate. Meditation offers a whole host of scientifically backed benefits, one of which is improved concentration. Neuroscientists found that, after just 11 combined hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring focus and self-control.* While many other important benefits of meditation exist, like lessening stress and improving relationships, for the purpose of this article, we are focusing on the benefit of improved concentration. We are focusing on focusing.
If you have found yourself wanting more focus, review our list of digital tools and see how the technology that has us all reading articles of anxiety-elevating discord and division, can offer you the relaxing benefits of focus and settling your mind.
Please do not drive while listening to any of these.
Calm: Meditate & relax with guided mindfulness meditation for stress reduction. Relax with Calm, a simple mindfulness meditation app featured in the New York Times and LifeHacker, that will bring more clarity, joy, and peace of mind into your life, at work or at home.
Couple this app with a Muse headband that actually measures your brain’s ability to meditate, and you will be using technology to unscramble what it may have scrambled for you. Muse is a personal meditation assistant that gives you feedback about your brain by translating your brain signals into wind sounds. When your mind is calm and settled, you hear calm winds. When your mind is active, the winds will pick up and blow. Learning to keep the winds calm trains your brain to stay focused and resist distractions. When you’re able to quiet the wind sounds for long periods, then birds sounds will appear.
Headspace: Guided meditation and mindfulness techniques. Headspace makes it easy for people just learning the art of meditation. Their level one course features easy, 10-minute sessions for each day that will help you get into the habit of meditating regularly. There are reminders, and you can choose to focus on aspects like foundation, health, and performance. Once you have mastered level one, you can purchase a subscription that allows you to access even more features and options so you can expand your practice.
Insight Timer: We heard this app referenced again and again, and their online claims are that it’s in the top 3 free apps for meditating. Insight Timer contains hundreds of customizable features for tracking a meditation practice; peaceful polyphonic bells, soothing ambient sounds, interval & random bells, personalized presets for storing favorite configurations, a journal, and session extensions which automatically commence without you having to open your eyes during meditation.
Smiling Mind: Smiling Mind was originally designed for children and young people, but adults are welcome to use it as well. Its programs are divided by age, starting at 7-11 years. Children who are struggling with their emotions could find it helpful.
Tara Brach guides meditations, reflections, and journaling, and invites you to enjoy periods of silence as well as interpersonal sharing. She invites listeners to experience the power of meditation to relieve emotional suffering and help them find happiness, openheartedness, and spiritual freedom.
My Meditation Station offers a series of guided meditation podcasts by Stin Hansen. Stin shares that daily use will invite stillness, joy and abundance to your life.
The Meditation Podcast is a free podcast designed to help you learn and benefit from meditation in your everyday life. The guided meditations contain audio technology that amplifies slower brain waves to induce a relaxed and powerful altered meditative state of consciousness. They suggest using headphones, not listening while driving or operating machinery.
About Meditation – Morgan Dix helps new and seasoned meditators to discover meaning, purpose, and life-changing positivity through meditation. He’s been meditating for 20 years and received 15 years of formal training while living in a yoga and meditation ashram. He co-founded About Meditation and hosts the popular OneMind Meditation podcast.
How to Meditate – On this website you can learn the basics of Buddhist meditation.
Meditation.com – This is not a how-to site, it exists solely to serve the meditation community by connecting students and teachers and meditation centers. They have some products for sale, but it detracts very little from the site’s primary aim.
Techniques for Beginners to Meditate – This web page offers many great tips for beginners or yet-to-become believers.
YouTube offers so many meditation resources, from music to guided meditations, YouTube can be an almost unlimited source for helping you achieve a mental state that brings about more focus in your life.
This list of technology-based meditation offerings is by no means exhaustive. We thank each of you who contributed to this article’s content and welcome any added suggestions. YoGoGirls is committed to offering readers content that brings about balance and wellbeing. Meditation has been miraculous for us. As digital marketers and software junkies, we have found technology can also be a friend in our quest for harmony and health. May you share in this benefit as well. Thank you. The #YogaEvangelists.
*Tang, Y., Lu, Q., Geng, X., Stein, E. A., Yang, Y., & Posner, M. (2010). Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107, 35. 15649-15652.
PHOTOS BY YOGOGIRLS:
Jamie Austin, founder of Mindful Movements, a non-competitive and encouraging atmosphere dedicated to making yoga accessible, beginner-friendly, and non-intimidating.
Raiza Fernandez, during her yoga teacher training at Yoga Six
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