Reflections on technology for meditation

The following is a responds to an interview about using "brain computer interfaces" and "virtual reality" to "enhance" the meditation experience. Even though i am a long term dedicated practitioner of the internal arts, this is just a momentary opinion and food for thought, from a beginners mind.

For me, one of the most beautiful and empowering aspects of meditation (and related internal arts, like qigong, yoga, etc.) is that one can perform it anywhere, anytime - completely with out the need for any complicated technology. There are almost no external dependency - it's just you, a cushion and some time. And many traditions (soto zen, etc.) emphasis that there is no "place to reach" or "thing to improve" (like some weird "mindful video-game high-score") - it is simply about sitting regularly in the here and now. I would argue it is precisely this simplicity, from which much of the power of the meditative experience emanates. While some scientists, technologists and designers make the case that "the ticket to entry is very high, hence we need more tech", i believe learning mediation and establishing it as daily habit, are very achievable goals - as illustrated by the quickly growing amounts of meditators.

One of the benefit of the traditional low-tech or no-tech approach to mediation/mindfulness, is that it deliberately makes/leaves space for direct human-to-human experiences (teaching and similar social activities.) and nature-to-human experiences. By introducing technology as definitive centre piece of a meditative praxis, we run the very real risk of deteriorating these essential human experiences. For all its blessings, the negative sides of technology should not be ignored - especially when talking about "tech for well-being" (for a nuanced view on tech, see this). 

Don't get me wrong, i think technology can certainly help and has an important role to play making mindfulness a universally accessible mainstream culture - i am just earnestly questioning where the line is between "this tool is truly useful and essential for my well-being - not addictive, distracting, etc." - and "I actually just want to play with cool tech-toys, but not so much just sit and do the wonderful but often very challenging inner work".

#Mindful #Qi #Technology #BCI #HCI #Comment