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The Shortcomings of Mindfulness Apps

Michael Taft | 9:13


 The last place I was working, uh, with companies like that was Wisdom Labs. And at Wisdom Labs we created an app called Wise at Work, um, and, um, you know, created a, a bunch of material to. Help people specifically with mindfulness at work. So it's not a just, it's not a Learn mindfulness app. It's a applied mindfulness at work app.

And, uh, what we found is that, uh, Just as you mentioned, it's hard to get people to, it's easy to get them to download an app. It's very hard to get them to use it. The number one thing that people are finding that makes, uh, usage go up is having challenges. So all those things you see, like the monthly meditation challenge or whatever, that is effective in getting people to use apps.

Um, The big thing that I learned, uh, that was surprising in one way and should not have been surprising, uh, as app started to get more popular was, um, there's a particular fairly famous app in the marketplace that I was brought in as an advisor for, um, and I. I was like, look, we, we need to have, make this app actually teach people to meditate like in a long sequence, learn mindfulness and go deeper and deeper and deeper into mindfulness.

And um, and there was some buy in on that, and it turns out to not be the way people want to use. Uh, and instead what, uh, that app and virtually every, every popular one has done is create a specialized guided meditation for every possible situation, as I call it, the, you know, the cat peat on the rug meditation.

You know, it, it, you, to me, it makes no sense. I mean, you want to. , which would you rather do? Like learn how to meditate and then apply that to every situation or learn. Have a separate guided meditation for every possible situation that could come up in life. It just, that second model, I just don't get it.

But that's how people want to use apps and so to me it makes them even less useful. Uh, In, in my mind. And yet that's, that's, uh, because the, the person is not actually learning how to meditate. What's happening is the guided meditation on the app is sort of teaching them to soothe about a particular situation.

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