Rohan Gunatillake is a disruptor of sorts. Challenging the assumption that technology isn’t conducive to mindful living, his app, buddhify, and latest book This is Happening, demonstrate how the digital age can create a purposeful existence – it just comes down to good design.
How can mindfulness and technology go hand in hand?
One of the central ideas of my book is that it is possible to develop our mindfulness in all aspects of our lives, and technology – our devices, our communications systems and our media – is absolutely included in that.
Too often we think that the only way to use technology mindfully is to turn it all off. But now that we live in a world where all things digital are fundamental to pretty much everything we do, we really cannot afford to continue to think of technology as being the enemy when it comes to wellbeing. The prize on offer is that our phones and tablets move from being devices of distraction to devices of connection, both to ourselves and to others.
All we need to make that happen are three things – a basic understanding of how mindfulness works, the techniques to put it into practice and finally and perhaps most importantly, the belief that it is possible in the first place.
"Too often we think that the only way to use technology mindfully is to turn it all off."
Why do you think buddhify has been so successful?
Ultimately it’s down to good design, but design in all senses of the word. When working on the visual style, we wanted buddhify to not only look distinctive but also to make you feel a little bit more calm and joyful just by looking at it.
The other key aspect of the design is how convenient the meditations are. The main reason people don’t follow through with their interest in mindfulness is they think they don’t have time. buddhify was designed to solve that problem by having meditation tracks specifically for when you are at work, travelling, walking around town and so on. Most other meditation apps tell you when to do their meditations and in what order, but buddhify gives you that choice instead.
Add on the creative and effective techniques and the playful language and two years on from its initial launch, buddhify is still doing really well.
How can you change your routine to incorporate mindfulness?
The best way to start is not to change your existing routine at all! Given that finding quiet time for ourselves can be a real challenge, the best way to get into mindfulness is to layer it over what we are already doing rather than trying to find time in an already full schedule to squeeze in something else.
Developing our self-awareness, calmness and compassion alongside our everyday activities is what I call mobile mindfulness. This is in contrast to formal sitting meditation practice. The advantage of starting with mobile meditation is that you can start to enjoy the benefits of it all in as convenient a way as possible. Then you’ll want to do traditional sitting meditation as a way to deepen what you learn from the mobile style.
What impact do you hope your book will have?
There are so many people who could benefit from what mindfulness has to offer but think that it’s not for them. My hope is that my book presents an approach to mindfulness and meditation that allows more people to give it a go and enjoy the results.
For all the good work that’s helped mindfulness grow in the last few years, much of the existing mindfulness teaching is relatively conservative and so I also hope that the book shows that it is possible to present a mindfulness that is both deeply authentic and deeply innovative at the same time.
Find out more at buddhify.com