Technology gets a bad rap in the mindfulness department, but if you’re, well, mindful about how gadgets fit into your life, they can actually help you stay present—and help you reach peak performance in every aspect of your life.
Reams of research show that mindfulness is a panacea for peak performance on every level: A regular practice calms stress, shores up the immune system, fine-tunes focus, sharpens memory and strengthens your connection to your inner self. The results: You’re more certain of what you want out of life, you have the concentration to make it happen, and you’re poised to actually enjoy it when you achieve your goal. Yet too often, we don't take the time or make the space for a daily meditation practice—a bad habit that can stall out your ambitions.
With these behavior upgrades and tech tools, you can vault over the common pitfalls of our hyper-connected, always-on world—and harness the energy to transform your life.
Find the time for mindfulness.
Although the term “mindfulness” can feel abstract,the word merely means being aware and present without judgment. The first step to this state is understanding when and where we’re not living a mindful life—and perhaps the biggest culprit in a hamster wheel existence is your phone. Enter Moment, an app that tracks how much time you spend on your cell and allows you to set goals (say, not spending three hours zoning out on Instagram). Then it sends gentle reminders when you’re nearing your self-prescribed ceiling so you don’t accidentally waste your day on your phone—when you could be pursuing a daring, soul-filling life.
The EmWave2 uses biofeedback, a practice used by therapists, to help you get calm, focused and at peace—faster. When you hold the device, which is about the size of a deck of cards, lights show your heart rate, breathing patterns and your level of “coherence”—or how well your physiological and emotional systems are working together. You watch your readings go from red (like if you’ve been rehashing a confrontation at the office) to green, which is especially satisfying for results-driven folks. Bonus: You’ll get to zen more quickly the more you practice.
Make the space for meditation.
If you (like so many of us) have a hard time disconnecting during meditation, take your practice to a meditation pod. The futuristic, colored domes are designed to cocoon you from the outside world as you listen to ambient sounds, music and guided visualizations. If you’re not ready to invest more than $15,000 for one of your own, you can check Somadome’s website for locations where you can book a 20-minute session tailored toward your goal, such as Succeed, Manifest, or Recharge.
If you don’t live close to a pod but want a similar meditative escape, try out Provata VR, an app you can use on its own or plug into a virtual reality headset for an immersive experience. You can cue up targeted exercises—for calm or focus, for example—in whatever environment that makes you feel most at peace, such as alongside a waterfall, beneath the Northern Lights or even underwater in a coral reef. The app syncs with fitness trackers so you can visualize how meditation lowers your heart rate—and even correlates with a better night’s rest.
And consider creating a space in your home dedicated to meditation. A cozy, serene spot with a floor pillow, ambient lighting and perhaps an altar of meaningful items not only helps you settle into your practice more easily; having it visible in your home serves as a gentle call to breathe and be still.
Bring awareness to your everyday.
If you’re like so many busy adults, you may look up at some point and notice your body and mind’s stressed state: tense shoulders, shallow breathing, squinting eyes and a sore rear from sitting at a desk all day. With Spire, a beautiful wearable technology that measures your breathing by clipping to your belt or bra, you can track your stretches of calm or focus, just like a FitBit tracks the numbers of steps you take. You can see the progress you make toward hitting goals of stress-free streaks—and it’ll nudge you to practice your breathing exercises (or play a short guided relaxation session) when the device senses you need to chill out.
Even better, take a slightly longer break outside. If it’s nice out, you can find a quiet space in a nearby park and practice Shinrin Roku, Japanese “forest bathing.” Research shows that spending 20 minutes under the trees can lower blood pressure, reduce the presence of stress hormones and increase concentration—not to mention it simply feels good. If the weather is less cooperative, practice walking meditation. Notice the sound of raindrops on your umbrella, the sensation of wind blowing across your face, the crunch of gravel beneath your boots. Even a few minutes of conscious movement can shift awareness from the maze of your racing thoughts to the awe-inspiring power of your body. With a little intentional action, meditation and mindfulness can bring peak performance within reach.