For many people, their introduction to a mindfulness practice comes from an app. While that’s an accessible resource that can add to your practice, it also presents limitations.
1) Can promote attachment to items
When you want to do mindfulness, you train your brain to reach for the phone so you can put on your app. This creates a connection between mindfulness and your phone/app. It can also, unintentionally promote the idea that we need all the right things to get into our mindfulness practice such as pillows, incense, crystals etc…because we are stimulating a connection between a thing (phone) and an action, which lightly activates the other connections we’ve made for items that support mindfulness.
2) Mostly not created for or by BIPOC users
Majority of the apps that are available are not created by or for Black, Indigenous, Mixed-race, People of Color. This can be very problematic because the roots of mindfulness are situated in many cultures of color and the most popularized type of mindfulness is a Westernized model of a pan-Asian based philosophy. As a result, some of the practices can feel disconnected and out of synch with the realities of BIPOC folks, such as completely washing over the various systemic challenges that our communities face. The focus of most of the practices is on the individual, without building socially-conscious interconnection.
3) Reinforces the idea of mindfulness as an activity rather than a philosophy
Most Westernized practices of mindfulness, which are popular in majority app based products, have purposefully separated mindfulness the activity with mindfulness the philosophy to “secularize it”. What this approach is missing is, while many religions include mindfulness practices, mindfulness itself is not a religion. The philosophy of mindfulness many have roots in Asian, Indigenous, or African cultures but like any practice of philosophy, the concepts shared are to help us reflect on ourselves, our community, and our values and are not doctrine. Arguably, the philosophy is what might be the most healing and transformative part of mindfulness. When we take our reflections of philosophy and funnel that into a practice, we create deep meaning, insight, and awareness.
Moreover, when we become accustomed to practicing mindfulness only when we use the app, we are approaching mindfulness like a discrete task such as brushing our teeth rather than a mindset or approach we can take with us in our everyday lives.
Does This Mean I Should Delete My Mindfulness App?
Not necessarily! If the practice of mindfulness can be centered around its decolonized roots, including philosophy, lifestyle, and mindset, then the app can be another accessory in helping us funnel our energy into the practice. Here are some reflection questions to help with this process:
What are the characteristics or qualities of mindfulness?
How does mindfulness support connection within myself, my community, nature, and society?
What insight and awareness can I take from my mindfulness practice to continue to practice in my day-to-day life?
What does mindful thought and mindful action look like in my life?
How does my culture practice mindfulness? How is popularized mindfulness influenced by ongoing colonialism and white supremacy culture?
Resources To Check Out
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
East Bay Meditation Center
Inclusive Therapists: How to Find a Meditation App That Works For You