I came across a review of an app called 'Mountain' several weeks back. The general idea is that it generates a mindfulness reminder in the form of a mountain that sits on your phone or tablet. The reviewer seemed a bit confused by the whole concept but I thought I'd give it a whirl given that I'm an enthusiastic Buddhist practitioner, so new tools are always fun to have at hand. Practice in the digital age!
I downloaded the app and went through the series of questions given to me to determine what shape my mountain would take.
There are several fun things right away about this app which really entertained me. For example, as it's loading when you first open it the words 'patience' are on the screen. I love this. So much. It reminds me of a practice I do when I'm waiting for something. I call it my 'waiting practice' - to keep things simple.
I focus on my breath while I'm waiting, wherever I'm waiting. For the doctor, in a queue, for the train to arrive at the station - these are all fabulous chances to just be.
It was a real challenge for me when I started because the compulsion to look at my phone was so strong. I hadn't realised how much I turned to it for entertainment or distraction. Or how much I used it to feel 'busy' when I had nothing else to do or something was taking longer than I'd expected.
I still feel the compulsion but it's much easier to just sit with that and experience it. Examine it like, "Oh, that's what's going on now" instead of acting on it.
Anyway - this app starts with 'patience' instead of telling us to wait, and that's pretty cool and a very good indication of what's to come.
After the first time it loads you are never asked questions again. You get your mountain and it rotates slowly on the screen. There are clouds and stars come out at night. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it snows. The trees change colour and occasionally there's something random imbedded in it - but the mountain remains largely the same.
I showed it to a colleague and was promptly met with the question, "But what are you supposed to DO with it?"
Well - nothing. It's not about doing. It's an app about being. And I find it extremely effective. For example, one morning I was eating my breakfast and trying to read a book. My mind was all over the place though and I couldn't seem to concentrate on the words. So I thought, "I'll check out my mountain for a bit."
I loaded it up - patiently - and sat eating my breakfast and just watching the mountain slowly turn. My brain almost instantly calmed down. It was just focused on my mountain. The clouds got thick and it began to snow, which was actually really exciting because I'd seen rain on the mountain before but not snow!
And then some words popped up on the screen. I AM BEAUTY. That was great. Just - something else to contemplate in my day and in that moment as I sat there with my liquid breakfast in hand.
I have to say - this is probably one of the coolest apps on my phone and a brilliant example of functional design. The creator has managed to successfully capture the essence of mindfulness practice in a digital format.