Tag Archives: listening

Smart Phones: Mindful Phones?

Meg Barker reflects on the possibilities for using smart phones in a mindful way.


Along with my very recent arrival in the world of social networking I have been behind the curve in upgrading to a smart phone. I only managed this last week (one week after my Dad which is indicative of something).

So finally I understand what the ‘smart’ in smartphones is all about. For the uninitiated (or anyone whose taking even longer than me to figure it out) they are about more than just being a computer in your pocket that is able to do more than a mobile (take photos, listen to music, check email, surf the web, tweet, play games, watch movies, read books, get directions, etc.).

A big element of their appeal is that from the basic piece of technology that you receive you can effectively design your own perfect machine, tailored to yourself in every way. Obviously you can download the specific programmes, games and social networking devices that appeal to you, and collect together your favourite photos, movies, etc. But beyond this you can also download apps and widgets (basic software) specific to your individual needs.

For me, the first few days of owning the device has been a process of realising what I would like my phone to do and then finding an app (or managing the settings on an existing app) to make it do that. For example, I thought it’d be useful to sometimes take notes on the phone so went through all the available notepad programmes to find one that suited me. I downloaded an app which flashes different coloured lights when people contact me in different ways (text, voicemail, email, etc.). And I went through the wallpapers and found a one which mimics maple leaves falling on water with remarkable accuracy. In fact I’ve spent more time on poking my phone to create water ripples than anything else so far.

Of course, where previous mobiles were relatively static once you had got them up and running, a smartphone can be a work in progress as you continue to develop it to meet your own changing needs and to draw on developing technologies.

Potentials and limitations

This is not a post about the technological possibilities of smartphones. Obviously as a new user I’m completely unqualified to write such a thing. Rather I wanted to raise a possibility which I haven’t seen many people writing about yet but which seems important from what I’ve heard and observed, and now experienced myself, with smartphones.

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Mindfulness and social engagement: Communication

This blog follows the previous one where Meg Barker reflected on tensions emerging from a weekend retreat about the possibilities of social mindfulness.

Kindness / honesty

The second tension which emerged, for me, over the weekend was perhaps less explicit than the other one, and harder to capture. It is about whether we prioritise kindness or honesty in our interactions with others (and with ourselves).

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Mindlessness and the Riots

In this post, Meg Barker writes about the Summer 2011 UK riots and mindfulness:

Following the news reports over the last few days I, like many people, have struggled over what, if any, response I can make that would be useful. As the rioting and looting which started in Tottenham spread across London and then to other large cities, it became clear that something complex was happening which could not be wrapped up in any singular, generalised, explanation. Even as a social psychologist, I don’t feel that I know enough about all the economic, social and political aspects of the situation to comment wisely about this. Similarly, I can’t claim enough understanding of how the current circumstances are playing out through the experience of those directly involved to talk in anything other than a patronising way about what this might feel like on an individual level.

So what can I offer? In the news reporting, one word has jumped out at me time and time again, and that is ‘mindless’. As an article in the New Statesman pointed out, this is the ‘explanatory cliché’ that politicians and journalists are constantly falling back on: ‘”mindless acts of violence and destruction” and “mindless criminality” carried out by “mindless thugs”‘.

As someone who is currently writing a book about mindfulness, mindlessness does seem like something that I am knowledgeable enough to comment upon, so here are my thoughts.

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