Use of cell phone as a Meditation Timer

David Kadavy writes, “If you have two iOS or Android devices, and you use a meditation app, pick a device — preferably not your mobile — to be your “meditation” device”

Good advice.

This is an excellent article that lays out a nice strategy and a rationale as to why we need dedicated devices for dedicated tasks. I really like the analogy of “if you do not sleep in your kitchen, do not likewise a device not meant for meditation and constantly distracts you, for meditation”.

Yet for those of us who have to do this alone or without a Sangha, you should be able to keep the device, but divorce yourself from the distraction it brings along. I’d argue against another device to be invented, but perhaps argue on hacking yourself to a process that makes you do single tasking and bring yourself pay close attention to life.

The point of using a meditation timer at all is that it keeps time and sets alarms. You can hack a regular analog clock to sound alarms at the end of your meditation session, and that should work fine in most situations. But you can also use a mobile phone as a meditation timer if you follow the rules of divorcing the idea of distraction device from an attention enhancing device. It is not so much as a device, but the process.

So, put your phone in Airplane mode, and turn on your meditation app’s ringer function at set times. The benefit is you still have a nice timer with bells that simulate the bells you’d hear at a real meditation session say in a monastery, close your eyes and simulate the environment. No other device will easily make that happen if you are all by yourself. If you are setting up a sangha, then it makes sense to have a little meta bowl and a gong (that Thich Nhat Hanh says an ‘inviter’) that you gently touch and make a ting sound. But you need someone else to sound the end bit.

I’d argue that instead of blaming the device, or divorcing from the device, divorce from the practice of getting constantly disengaged or distracted and still keep the device. Before you start meditation, bow down to the device and acknowledge its power, accept it into your life. Then, set the timing intervals, and let it awaken the force of deep concentration within you.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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