An eye-opening new way to meditate is now quite literally at our fingertips, thanks to the MindFi App, a smart meditation mobile app aimed at helping busy people find tranquility, whenever they need, wherever they are, however much (or little) time they have. Our editor at Re:well Rebels interviews its CEO & Founder, Bjorn Lee, to find out more about how it all started.
MindFi is built on the concept of helping people achieve mindfulness. What exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a research-based version of meditation developed in the 1970s by Jon Kabat Zinn, a MIT alumnus. It involves paying attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental and intentional manner. the object of your attention can be anything from your breathing to your hand or even the sky. It's the process and not the object that matters.
Why is mindfulness important?
Mindfulness is to the mind what running is to the body. For too long, our mental health has been neglected, relative to our our physical health. This is particularly urgent today with the chaos and volatility of our world and the constant onslaught of information overload via our technology devices. The irony of a mindfulness app is not lost on me here :-) You will see how we should embrace this new medium and leverage its advantages rather than dismiss its ubiquity and utility to our lives.
Tell us more about this concept. What motivated you to build the MindFi app?
I was working odd hours at my previous job due to the teams being in four different time zones. Somewhere along the way, I started to experience chest pains caused by stress. At one point, I thought I was having a heart attack! I saw a doctor, and it turned out that I was so stressed out when I was working to the point of not breathing enough. I eventually used meditation, a skill I picked up several years ago on a retreat in India to cope with my stress. It really helped me, and I felt that it was a useful technique people can use to manage the stress in their lives.
So, I consulted some of my doctor friends, and immersed myself in local and US-based meditation communities – my aim was to find a way to address society’s need to calm down while navigating a busy world. And I knew from the start that we had to work with – instead of against – the medium (our smart devices) that has played a role in causing us stress. That was when I embarked on this journey of transforming the (sometimes) unhealthy relationship between humans and technology into something beneficial by creating a meditation app that is socially conscious and ethically responsible.
What is one common misconception people have of meditation?
Most people think that we need to meditate with our eyes closed – some time ago, I was one of them! It is, in fact, possible to be mindful with our eyes wide open, and this way of meditation opens up more opportunities to stay mindful anywhere, anytime. For example, with the MindFi app, you can work around four key parts of a typical everyday routine – your meals, commutes, breaks and work or school. You can enjoy your meals mindfully and really savour your food instead of scarfing them hurriedly while doing something else, or learn to be aware of your fellow commuters. When you’re at work or school, you can focus better using some of MindFi’s features.
Give us a little insight into what users can expect from the MindFi app.
MindFi focuses on short meditation, where users can engage in three- to ten audio guided practices. When in a time crunch, use the ultra-short one- minute vibration based practises. The app also measures your stress and sleep levels. What’s special about it is that you can essentially do it anytime, based on the activities you do, or the mood you’re in – with your eyes open.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to anything at the present moment – it can be anything, from our clothes, to accessories, fingers, environment and more. Pick one and watch it with curiosity. Pretend you are looking at it for the first time and pay attention to its details, and see if you’re able to notice something new. You can also use your other senses such as smell, hearing and touch.
A short exercise like this can give an anxious mind a brief moment of clarity or awareness of the present moment, pulling it out of its default "time-travelling mode" of worrying about events in the past or future. Those who find long exercises a challenge can start with short three-minute sessions in the app. They can use these micro-workouts to build up a consistent habit and gradually level up to longer sessions.
Tip: It’s more about practising regularly and not so much of the duration of each session!
Thanks for reading,