Learning how to mindfully navigate mindfulness apps

mindfulness appThe Trou­ble with Mind­ful­ness Apps (Mind­ful):

Be pre­pared to be bored.

This is the gist of one of the noti­fi­ca­tions you receive before you try the body scan med­i­ta­tion from Mind­ful Mood Bal­ance, a web-based pro­gram cur­rent­ly being pilot­ed in a ver­sion for therapists…

Vis­it the app store, and you’re greet­ed with hun­dreds of mind­ful­ness apps, a few dozen of them claim­ing to ben­e­fit your brain in some man­ner. Some of the most pop­u­lar ones make health claims with no research to back up their programs—they rely on the sci­ence of mind­ful­ness in gen­er­al to prove the wor­thi­ness of their prod­uct. It seems enough to sim­ply pro­vide a link to the most recent mind­ful­ness study tak­ing place, or a com­pre­hen­sive four-year meta-analy­sis on mind­ful­ness and X, and then men­tion how their app relates—as if some sort of osmo­sis was tak­ing place between the research study, in no way con­nect­ed to the com­pa­ny itself, and the app…

Head­space employs an in-house chief med­ical offi­cer, David Cox, MD, who co-authored a pam­phlet on the “Quan­tifi­able Pos­i­tive Out­comes of Mind­ful­ness Train­ing” with Andy Pud­di­combe. But it’s dif­fi­cult to deter­mine how much research went into Head­space to bring it to mar­ket in 2012…if you can’t show that a cer­tain dynam­ic is at play in your app and in the brains of the peo­ple using your app, such as improved cog­ni­tive gains or reduced crav­ings, it’s going to become more dif­fi­cult to sim­ply say your app is “based in sci­ence” in the future. Lumos­i­ty is a les­son for the bur­geon­ing field, and a warn­ing to mind­ful­ness apps that are eager to har­ness the hype and the excite­ment around the ear­ly sci­ence into mind­ful­ness: it’s not enough to hitch your wag­on to cur­rent sci­ence and say that your app helps with “depres­sion” or the lat­est health fad.”

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About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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